Making Poverty Permanent

The Census Bureau’s new system of measuring income inequality makes poverty statistically permanent in America.

There were a record 49 million poor Americans last year, or 16 percent of the population, according to the Census Bureau which filed a report on Monday. The rise, however, isn’t necessarily the result of tough economic times but new statistic analysis which makes poverty permanent.

The Census Bureau’s new way of determining the level of poverty in the United States uses an income threshold that rises automatically in proportion to any improvement in the living standards of average Americans. As Robert Rector of the conservative Heritage Foundation points out, “even if the real income of every single American were to double, the new measure would show no drop in poverty because the income thresholds also would double.”

The result, according to Rector, is that, over the long term, “poverty can be reduced only if the incomes of the ‘poor’ are rising faster than the incomes of everyone else.” This isn’t likely to happen so there will always be poor in America.

The new system actually measures inequality, not poverty. And this is very convenient politically for those who champion income redistribution. If “poverty” is endemic, after all, there will always be an excuse for government to take money from some and give it to others, no matter whether they could do without or not.