Poor in America

From The Economist – Free Exchange:

  • Forty-six percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
  • Seventy-six percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
  • The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
  • Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 30 percent own two or more cars.
  • Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
  • Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
  • Seventy-three percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher.

. . . Overall, the typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family’s essential needs. While this individual’s life is not opulent, it is equally far from the popular images of dire poverty conveyed by the press, liberal activists, and politicians.

Fascinating. I’ve always been interested in what constitutes “poor”.


I was a nightmare traveling this week from M-Th. The whole week I was forgetting things/accused of making others forget things.
  1. I forgot to pack three shirts Sunday night. I only packed two. I had to reuse a shirt on the last day.
  2. Monday morning, I forgot to wear a belt. Which is odd, because almost all of my pants require me to wear a belt.
  3. Also Monday morning, I wore my thick jacket to head to San Antonio. Not good, given that my contractor badge was in the pocket of my thin jacket.
  4. Wednesday I forgot my laptop bag, complete with laptop and notes, in a client’s office for over an hour.
  5. After the meeting Wednesday, my manager was driving, and even with three of us in the car we managed to go for 20 minutes in a direction before realizing we were on the wrong road.
  6. That Wednesday night we went to a downtown gym with a trial membership, but they wanted to charge us $15/person instead of the $10 that would have allowed us to expense the gym costs. Bad decision on their part, as we may have come back three times per week for the next few months. (Note: I technically didn’t forget anything here, but I was forced to waste about an hour nonetheless).
  7. Thursday morning we couldn’t find the car in the garage. We went to floors 6, 7, 8, 7, and 6 before realizing that it was on 5.
  8. I left my notebook in my room in the Westin. I only realized this after getting to the client, 20 miles away, and after #7 above.

The week isn’t over yet, so cross your fingers for me that I forget nothing else.

UPDATE: 8 forgets was enough for one week.