My post this past Sunday took note of a prominent Wall Street Journal op-ed last week that drove home some points that I have been making here for a few years about the measurement and incidence of “poverty” in the U.S. Most important is the systematic exclusion of some $1.2 trillion of government redistributions, $500 million of private charity, and as much as $2 trillion of underground economy from the incomes of lower income people when “poverty” is measured and reported. Since these three categories, in the aggregate, come to a large multiple of the amount that ought to be sufficient to eliminate all poverty under the government’s definition, I have long asserted that the government “poverty” data are systematically fraudulent, misleading, and useless for their intended purpose. . . .
Into this mix on September 12 the Census Bureau dropped its newly-released data on poverty for the year 2017. Admittedly that release does not itself contain the definitions and lists of exclusions that you need to understand how useless and deceptive this is. For that you’ll have to go on a hunt through the Census website; or, alternatively, read the Manhattan Contrarian or the Wall Street Journal op-eds, or maybe this big study from John Early for the Cato Institute. But again, if you are going to report on this subject, there is no excuse for not knowing this basic information.
So shall we take a look at how the New York Times and Washington Post reported on the Census release? In the New York Times, the big story by Glen Thrush, headlined “U.S. Recovery Eludes Many Living Below Poverty Level, Census Suggests,” appeared on September 13. The Washington Post ran an op-ed by Jared Bernstein on September 12 headlined “New census data show gains to low- and middle-income families but stalled progress on health coverage.” . . . .Read More