Archive for August 20th, 2011

Poverty in America

August 20, 2011

According to the Census Bureau, approximately 14.3% of the people in the United States were living in  poverty in 2009. This amounts to 43.6 million people. This does not sound good, and it isn’t, and yet the truth is than poverty isn’t what it used to be.

When I think of poverty, I imagine people who go without food on a regular basis. People who wear rags and go about barefoot. It would seem that there is very little of that sort of poverty in America, The trick is, how to define “poverty”. According to the Wikipedia article linked above, poverty in the United States is measured in more than one way.

The most common measure of poverty in the United States is the “poverty threshold” set by the U.S. government. This measure recognizes poverty as a lack of those goods and services commonly taken for granted by members of mainstream society.[5] The official threshold is adjusted for inflation using the consumer price index.

Relative poverty describes how income relates to the median income, and does not imply that the person is lacking anything. In general the United States has some of the highest relative poverty rates among industrialized countries, reflecting both the high median income and high degree of inequality

Note that either way, poverty is a relative measurement. Someone considered poor in America could easily be considered fabulously wealthy by the standards of Africa. Poverty in the United States then is not a matter of living on the edge of starvation, but of not having as much stuff as many others.

Which brings me to this article by John C Goodman at Townhall.com, in which he asks “are the poor really poor?” Consider these facts:

• The average household defined as poor lived in a house or apartment equipped with air conditioning and cable TV.• The family had a car (a third of the poor have two or more cars).

• For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, a DVD player and a VCR.

• If there were children in the home (especially boys), the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation.

• In the kitchen, the household had a microwave, refrigerator, and an oven and stove.

• Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone and a coffeemaker.

The home of the average poor family was in good repair and not overcrowded. In fact, the typical poor American had more living space than the average (non-poor) European, the Heritage scholars note. The poor family was able to obtain medical care when needed. When asked, most poor families stated they had had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs.

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Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century

August 20, 2011

In the last century, science has made great strides in understanding the world. For the first time in human history, scientists seem to have uncovered the basic laws that the universe runs on. There are however many mysteries not yet understood by science and perhaps they never will be. These include; how salmon can return to the stream they were spawned in, what lies in the middle of a black hole, and how can seemingly intelligent and progressive people be duped into supporting the most evil regimes in history.

 

Paul Kengor does not attempt to answer that question in his book Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.

Instead, he reveals the history of those dupes who often unwittingly contributed to the Communists efforts against their own country, and often against their stated ideals. We see the strange story of men and women who have fought tirelessly for civil rights in the U. S. justify the most horrendous human rights abuses done in the Soviet Union and other Communist countries.

 

Kengor is no mere red-baiter. He carefully distinguishes between actual members of the Communist Party of the USA, sympathizers who never actually joined the party, and well meaning dupes who helped the Communists without realizing it. His facts are backed up with careful research, including from the Soviet Communist archives, which were briefly opened for study after the fall of the Soviet Union.

 

 

Some of the dupes came to realize they had been fooled and tried to repair the damaged they had caused. John Dewey wrote a glowing book on the educational progress made in Russia after the Revolution, only to turn against Communism when he saw that he had been lied to during his visit to the Soviet Union.  William C Bullitt was a radical who learned the truth while ambassador the Soviet Union and tried to warn President Roosevelt, who was a dupe, that “Uncle Joe” Stalin simply could not be trusted under any circumstance.  Another dupe was a young actor named Ronald Reagan who joined a front organization. His experience with Communist deceit eventually served him well as president.

 

Unfortunately, all too many dupes never realized that the Communists were using them in the most cynical fashion.

 

One might think that this history might be interesting but irrelevant to the present day. After all, Russia is no longer Communist, and although a Communist Party rules in China, they do not seem to be following the teachings of Marx any more. However, as Kengor points out, too many of these dupes remain dupes and continue to give aid to America’s enemies, providing excuses support for Islamic radicals.

 

Also, there is a certain politician who has connections with left-wing radicals like William Ayers and Hawaii Communist Frank Marshall Davis, who just happens to be president. Is Barak Obama a radical, a sympathizer, a dupe? Who knows, but it is certain that many dupes and worse think of him as one of their own.

 

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of the Cold War, and especially to liberals.  If there is any lesson the liberal or progressive needs to learn from Dupes, it is that the Communists were never the progressives’ friends, only their useful idiots.


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