With things like RUSSIA!!!! and the tax bill and the extreme corruption of our law enforcement and national intelligence bureaucracies getting all the attention lately, the subject of poverty in the United States -- aka "the poverty scam" -- has been out of our view for a while. But something has just happened to bring that particular scam not only back into view, but into sharp focus. Last Friday (December 15) a guy named Philip Alston, the UN's "Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights," issued a Report (or maybe it's a "Rapport") on a "visit" he made to the "USA."
You may be aware that the UN actually has an official definition of "extreme poverty," which is "liv[ing] . . . on less than $1.90 per person per day." This March 2017 post from Our World in Data -- using data sourced from the World Bank -- contains a country-by-country list of all the people in the world deemed to be living in this condition of "extreme poverty." The United States (along with the main countries of Western Europe, and also such places as Canada and Australia) does not even appear on the list. So undoubtedly you would expect the Report of the UN's Rapporteur on "extreme poverty" as to the U.S. to be a one-liner saying something like "there is nothing like that here."
You would be so wrong! Remember, this is the UN. And, because this is the UN, you get exactly what you should expect from the UN. I mean, these are the people whose main business is keeping the poor people of the world poor by supporting and facilitating every kind of socialism and statism and dictator and parasitic bureaucracy and by intentionally jacking up the price of energy and by every other destructive thing you can think of. It goes without saying that this Report (and any other report the UN might come out with) comes filled with extreme malice and hatred toward the U.S. and everything it stands for; with complete ignorance of the most basic things about how an economy works, including that capitalism and freedom are the only effective way to alleviate poverty; and with supercilious demands for immediate taxpayer-funded and socialist-model solutions to any and every remaining human problem that can still be found in the U.S. The combination of malice and ignorance is so extreme that it impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins.
In a short blog post I can only scratch the surface of what is wrong with this Report. But let's start with this: Section IV of the Report, titled "The current extent of poverty in the US," buys right in to the completely fake Census Bureau poverty statistics to gin up some large numbers to try to embarrass the U.S.:
In order to define and quantify poverty in America, the Census Bureau uses ‘poverty thresholds’ or Official Poverty Measures (OPM), updated each year. In September 2017, more than one in every eight Americans were living in poverty (40 million, equal to 12.7% of the population). And almost half of those (18.5 million) were living in deep poverty, with reported family income below one-half of the poverty threshold.
Of course, Alston won't even tell you what this "official poverty measure" might be quantitatively, or how it relates to the UN's international measure that is supposedly what his job is about. The official Census Bureau poverty level for the U.S. for 2017 is $12,060 per year for an individual, and $24,600 for a family of four. The international standard of $1.90 per day would come to $693.50 per year. In other words, the U.S. official "poverty level" ranges from about 9 to about 17 times the international standard. People earning at U.S. "poverty level" rates would be considered quite wealthy in most of the countries of the world where real poverty is prevalent. And of course, that's only the start. Alston also completely fails to mention that the U.S. "poverty" statistics:
- Count only "cash income," and therefore sweep in as "poor" millions of people with substantial resources from other sources that do not count as "cash income," such as college students on scholarship, early retirees drawing on savings, and young people living with support from parents and grandparents.
- Systematically exclude almost all of the approximately $1 trillion per year currently spent by governments at all levels in the U.S. to alleviate the "poverty" -- about $25,000 per year for each and every person deemed to be in "poverty" in the country. That $25,000 of additional resources per person for each person "in poverty" in the U.S. is another 36 times the size of the UN international poverty level.
Tim Worstall, writing in the Washington Examiner on December 18, nails Alston's Report for its total illiteracy about the numbers discussed. For example, on Alston playing fast and loose with statistics about child poverty:
[W]hen they talk about child poverty (para 25) we’re told that 18 percent of children live in poverty, 13.3 million. Then in paragraph 29, we’re told that food stamps (SNAP) lift 5 million out of poverty, the EITC another 5 million. So, the number of children “living in poverty” is not 13.3 million, is it — it’s 3.3 million. That comes out to just 4.5 percent of children “living in poverty,” after the effects of just two of the things we do to reduce poverty.
And that's just what Alston has admitted to, if only he understood his own numbers. But what if we also included all the other forms of assistance to the poor, including other nutrition programs (CSFP, CACFP, WIC, FMNP, etc., etc. -- you mean you've never heard of these things?), housing assistance (HUD alone spends about $50 billion per year), clothing assistance, energy assistance, free cell phones, yada, yada, yada. What then would be the number of children in the U.S. remaining in "poverty" if all of these handouts were counted as alleviating the poverty? Could it be as much as 1%? Of course, you can't actually find out the answer to that question because the government reports the data in a way to make answering the question impossible.
The malice and ignorance of the Alston Report is by no means limited to the issue of the measure of "poverty" and the number of people experiencing it. Alston veers wildly off his mission, taking the occasion to excoriate the U.S. on everything from tax policy to the criminal justice system to income inequality to alleged racism. On that last issue, get this:
Who then are the poor? Racist stereotypes are usually not far beneath the surface. The poor are overwhelmingly assumed to be people of color, whether African Americans or Hispanic ‘immigrants’.
Speak for yourself, Philip! He just throws around such wild accusations, in the passive voice of course, without knowing a thing about what he's talking about.
To pick one example from many of extreme and embarrassing ignorance from the Report, consider Section 10 on "Environmental sustainability":
10. Environmental sustainability
44. In Alabama and West Virginia I was informed of the high proportion of the population that was not being served by public sewerage and water supply services. Contrary to the assumption in most countries that such services should be extended systematically and eventually comprehensively to all areas by the government, in neither state was I able to obtain figures as to the magnitude of the challenge or details of any government plans to address the issues in the future.
Hey Phil: In rural areas in America, people dig wells for water and provide their own septic systems for sewerage! Even the richest people! It has to be the same in Europe of course. Nobody would pay to dig a sewer line for ten or fifty miles to serve one house. Could this guy really be this dumb?
Ignorance, even ignorance this extreme, I could forgive. But the malice, no. Alston excoriates the U.S. for not adopting massive socialist-model "solutions" to ameliorate non-existent poverty, while seemingly remaining completely unaware that the socialist model, foisted on the world by the UN, is what keeps the real poor of the world poor. And not U.S.-level poor, with a "poverty level" 10 times or so the world standard and additional resources of another 30+ times the world standard provided to be sure they are comfortable in their "poverty." No, the UN keeps the world's poor in real poverty, $1.90 per day or less poverty.
When is Alston going to pay a visit to Venezuela?