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October 29, 2009

Defining Poverty Down, Again

Ever noticed that the more Americans have, the more we can't live without?

If you earn less than 150% of the gummint-defined poverty line, that means those of us who earn more than that are going to buy you a phone *and* pay for your phone use.

Soooooo, tell me, Congers, just *how* will this stimulate the economy? Exactly *what* benefit will this have -- aside from the obvious one of purchasing *you* a whole bunch of votes?

Notice the bolded part: it's no longer enough to be poor (as defined by the federal poverty line). You can make 50% over the cutoff income defined as "poor" and still rate a free cell phone.

This is precisely what's wrong with well intentioned programs like the so-called "War on Poverty" (well into its 4th decade with no exit plan in sight). They're inherently unwinnable because it's in the interest of politicians to arbitrarily redefine poverty upwards over time. It can never be eliminated because what was considered "poverty" yesterday is now "poverty plus".

Worst of all, since prolonged poverty has a lot to do with lifestyle choices, rewarding it means there is even less incentive to make the kinds of choices that result in prosperity.

On the other hand, creating a permanent underclass has proven extremely efficient at the ballot box. If you just look hard enough, you can always find a disadvantaged minority requiring urgent intervention from the federal government.

Posted by Cassandra at October 29, 2009 08:36 AM

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...creating a permanent underclass has proven extremely efficient at the ballot box.

Meh. Extremely *beneficial* at the ballot box, especially for the Dems.

Recent quote from a "stimulus check" applicant:

Q: "Why are you here?"

SCA: "Obama is giving out money."

Q: "Where is he getting it from?"

SCA: "I don't know -- maybe his stash? Who cares? Obama is gonna give *me* money!"

The permanent "disadvantaged class" neither knows nor gives a damn where the money comes from, as long as "they get theirs."

Posted by: BillT at October 29, 2009 09:53 AM

I do not have a cellphone. I had one for all of 6 months before cancelling my contract and letting the thing serve as a paperweight. I never used it.

My own father has asked me, "What would you do if your car broke down?" I shot him the hairy eyeball and said, "Dad, what would you have done at my age if your car broke down?" He replied sheepishly, "Oh... yeah."

Folks, a cell phone is NOT a necessity. I'm actively sick and tired of folks treating it like it is. Exactly ONCE in my life have I really wished I had one. Once. And you know what? I didn't NEED it, it just would have been handy at the time.

In many ways, that offends me more than defining "poor" down to a level that probably includes me (single income house in my area lives well on what would be abject poverty on the west coast). Money is tight, no doubt. But even if I get classified as "poor" that's no big deal. My parents were poor as well. Their first furniture was orange crates as chairs. But no one, NO ONE needs a cell phone. Just as no one needs a tv. And my god does it make me angry that the pimps in congress whore out our money to buy votes and have the GALL to claim that this is constitutional.

Posted by: MikeD at October 29, 2009 11:25 AM

Elf and I have cellphones, mostly because we don't want to deal with AT&T's homelines.

The poverty line is BS, anyways-- I grew up well below it, we had at least two computers in the house, internet, dish TV and when I started driving we got a kid-car. All because mom and dad were very careful about how they spent money, sure, but that is very comfortable in my book!

Posted by: Foxfier at October 29, 2009 12:25 PM

Right now, my cell phone is MY only phone. Parents both have cells, and a land line. If I didn't have a cell phone, I would miss out on jobs, since I get a fair number of them from getting calls, and if I didn't have my phone on me (I'm not at home more than I am, during my waking hours), I'd miss out on work. Such is the nature of being a substitute teacher until I land that elusive first teaching job...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 29, 2009 07:58 PM

But, I don't expect anyone else to pay for it. I'm not sure, but I might currently qualify as "poor". I don't let myself be defined by my income level, so I haven't ever investigated...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 29, 2009 08:00 PM

We gave up cell phones in 2005, partially on the grounds that they were just too expensive for the good we thought we got out of them. How nice to know I've been paying for someone else's, though!

Posted by: Grim at October 29, 2009 08:32 PM

I have a question - whatever happened to the homeless people? I mean, we have unemployment hovering at 10%, but the homeless people have disappeared. They were here when Reagan was in office, and they were around for George H. W.. Somehow, they managed to disappear when Clinton came into office, and reappeared a day or two after George W. took the oath. Obama, it seems, has some of that disappearing homeless people luck that pops up whenever a Democrat enters the White House.

Posted by: RIslander at October 30, 2009 08:15 AM