Poverty, American Style

The state of being poor; lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts.

Tis’ the season and no, I’m not talking about the Christmas season – at least not directly. I’m talking about the season for the leftist think tanks, policy wonks and government bureaucrats to start coming out of the woodwork with statistics on the poor. After all, what better time to do it, when we are all out spending money like crazy on kids, family and friends, decking that halls, putting out lights, having parties, eating too much. It’s a wonderful time to make all of us feel guilty about people who have less than we do. The thing about it is that, as much as the liberals try to convince us that there are literally millions of waifs running the streets barefoot and in rags this December day – the actual definition of poverty as shown above – few people in this country fit the definition. It’s something that we, as a country, can be proud of: pitifully few people in this country actually live in poverty. Nonetheless, the state of Iowa came out with poverty statistics last week and media outlets dutifully reported them without any further investigation: Sixteen percent of Iowa’s children live in “poverty” – a little lower than the 2002 national average of 16.7%. I’m sure this little routine was repeated in other states as well, in a conveniently-timed attempt to make the rest of us feel guilty about our holiday excesses. As a public service today, I’m going to take a look a one real-life case of child poverty in Iowa that I know is more the rule than the exception.

Witness two kids that I know quite well. One a grade-schooler and the other in junior high – brother and sister. Their parents are divorced. They live with their mother and her boyfriend in a nice three bedroom duplex in the ‘burbs. For the last five years of her marriage, the mother was rather aimless and didn’t contribute a whole lot to the family income – holding and losing or quitting no fewer than 30 jobs in that period – which kinds of puts the lie to the idea that there aren’t any jobs out there because she seemed to find plenty of them to quit or get fired from – and half-heartedly going to community college from time to time while they lived on the husband’s income.

Although she’s been divorced for 18 months now, this mother hasn’t done much in the way of waking up the realization that she needs to get it together and support her family because she’s had no fewer that four jobs since her divorce. It isn’t as if this mother couldn’t get a good Jasminlive job. Years ago she made good money and had some extremely marketable skills that she could use in the workplace, But why face the hard realities of getting back out in the working world when that means losing all the govt. programs she takes advantage of now? First, her ex-husband makes decent money and she gets a hefty child support check. Second there are a myriad of government programs at her disposal to “supplement” her “income” which mostly consists of her ex-husband’s child support. The first of these is food stamps of course. But in Iowa, as in many other states, they’ve decided that they don’t want “poor” people to suffer the indignity of having to whip out a book of “stamps” to obtain food aid. So now, it’s done with a little plastic debit card. Whip it out, swipe it through the machine just like the rest of us who pay their own way do, and – viola – the food’s all paid for and even the person behind you in the line at the grocery store in none the wiser. Wouldn’t want to subject people on the public dole to the public humiliation of having the people who are paying for their food know that they are in the public dole.

Next there are housing subsidies to take advantage of. Many landlords actively solicit folks who receive public assistance because it’s a great way to guarantee at least a portion of their rental income from the government. And this mother takes advantage of this to the hilt. Social services figures how much housing assistance you get based on your income and since this mother doesn’t have any income since her last job ended in August, she does pretty well.

Another thing we can’t forget about is medical assistance – Title 19. Your actual income has to be pathetically low to qualify for Title 19, but, again, this mother fills the bill and with a little paperwork, everything’s paid for – physicals, eye exams and glasses, dental – the whole shootin’ match – better than most of the rest of us.

And of course what would a cozy little duplex be without a way to heat it in the winter. Enter heating assistance, figured on what you make and in this case that ain’t much, so the subsidy is pretty good, paid for by our tax dollars and by the generous donations of other power company customers who actually pay their own bill and chip in a little extra to help offset the cost to the power company of subsidizing “those in need” of which this mother is one.

And of course we can’t forget the “assistance” provided by the school lunch program. Those of you without kids probably don’t realize that the nanny state actively pushes welfare in the school systems under the guise of looking out for the interests of the child. All of us, no matter what our income is have faced insulting questions about whether we qualify of free or reduced price lunches and breakfasts for our urchins. In my opinion, it’s none of their damn business as long as my kids appear to be properly fed and clothed but some parents welcome and even actively solicit these inquisitions and this mother is one of them. My hunch is that she could probably assemble a damn fine cold lunch for her kids with the food assistance she receives to stock her kitchen with, but why bother when they are practically pushing a free hot lunch on you and throwing in a breakfast for good measure.

Well, for God’s sakes: I’ve gotten so wrapped up in rattling on about the government largess this less than productive mother has been receiving, I’ve almost entirely forgotten about it.

He’s a boyfriend of course, not a husband. Because if he were a husband, this mother would actually have to declare his income and list him as a resident in the cozy little home she’s making on child support and govt. assistance. Oh sure, his income goes into the household kitty, but it’s so much easier to make ends meet with the government assistance they wouldn’t be receiving if they were to actually have to DECLARE his income. Regardless, this guy isn’t used to actually supporting his family either. He’s had nearly as many jobs as she has in the intervening months between her divorce and the publishing of this little tale. Right now, he makes decent money but if the feds catch up with him, it will be less. Because he created another dependent family in another state where he fathered five kids that he doesn’t pay child support on. Which is the reason for his frequent job changes. Getting paid cash under the table is good work if you can get it, but sometimes you can’t. And when the state you owe child support in catches up to your legitimate employer, it’s time to move on.

I mentioned that the mother hasn’t really been busy trying to find good work even though she has some very marketable skills and used to make good money. Why would she? She’s got several years to suck off the government teat before she really has to worry about being productive. And by that time, one of the little ones will be out of the nest and the other one will be well on the way. But there is an area in which this welfare mother is being productive – reproductive that it. Yes, you read me right. While she hasn’t had the time to go out and find a job with which she can support her kids, she HAS had the time to go out and create another welfare baby. And there are a whole set of other benefits that go along with having a baby: free formula and food from the state, the Healthy and Well Kids in Iowa (HAWK-I) program, that provides well-baby care from birth until age five or so and other benefits that may be renewable due to the child’s age as long as the mother doesn’t get married or take any steps to improve her condition. So this father – the boyfriend’s – most sterling accomplishment in life to date is to father six kids that are now, or have been at some point in their lives, living on the public dole. Is he, you may ask, supporting this new child? Apparently not because either is income isn’t reported in the household or his income falls below the amount at which these benefits accrue.

So lives the happy family in poverty: Nice duplex in the ‘burbs, three bedrooms, three color TVs, two with 150+ satellite channels, a microwave oven, dishwasher, washer and dryer and three older, but still dependable cars (as many as I have, but I PAY for mine). And all they have to do is play the welfare game right.

And statistics show that this happy family in poverty is more the rule than the exception. Consider these statistics on the poor from the U.S.

But despite the fact that the vast majority of poor folks in this country live better than 99% of the folks in the rest of the world, we consider them to be “in poverty” and liberals whine about them as if they are truly deprived. And this time of year, the whine becomes as loud as an air raid siren as liberals attempt to make us all feel sorry for these deprived individuals during this season of joy and plenty. And once the government has your number, it’s hard to shake being labeled a poverty statistic. The father of the two children in our example fights having his kids being labeled in need of government assistance every day. Getting them to stay off of the free lunch roles is a constant battle because every year they are automatically enrolled because their mother meets the “poverty” standards and he’s had to call and get them off the list three or four times so far. Imagine this father’s shock when he took his son to the doctor to find out that the young man he was required to carry health insurance on had Title 19 listed as his primary insurance. Numerous calls and letters to the welfare bureaucracy haven’t helped because as long as the mother is labeled “poor”, her income continues to support that label, and she actively solicits aid, his kids continue to be on the roles and labeled as “in poverty.”

Maybe you’d like to hear a little more about the father in this case. He’s a department manager at a medium-sized manufacturing firm who makes decent money. Together, he and his fiancé provide nicely for their kids, all four of them. Did I mention he has joint physical custody of his kids? In Iowa, as elsewhere, that means that he shares custody with the mother – they are required by the divorce decree to live in the same school district and the kids live with him half the time and with their “poverty stricken” mother half the time. During the week that they live with him, this father’s kids live in a 2100 sq. ft. four bedroom house in a nice small town with everything growing kids could ask for, high speed Internet access (their “poverty stricken” mother has Internet access as well, but they have to slum it with 56k) with a computer dedicated specifically for the four kids in the house, satellite TV, they are transported to dance and school activities in a reasonably new mini van, go on nice trips in the summer – in short they don’t want for much of anything. And his kids are part of 16% of kids in Iowa labeled as being “in poverty”.

This is not to say that there aren’t truly needy families out there: The battered women with children, those that have some type of disability who are unable to work for whatever reason and the truly unfortunate. But these numbers are far fewer than official “poverty” statistics indicate. So in the final analysis, most of the “poor” families us taxpayers provide the basics for use their actual income for more frivolous things – satellite TV, cell phones, extra cars, video games, home PCs – none of which could be considered the bare necessities that children truly need. And basics are, logically, all these “poor” families are entitled to by virtue of their lack of effort. Last time I checked no one was paying for my food so I could make my nice fat car payment or pay my cell bill. How many of you had the same experience I had as a young father trying hard to provide for my kids: Standing in line at the meat counter to order your lean hamburger right next to someone buying top sirloin only to discover when you go to the checkout that you are paying for hamburger for yourself so your tax dollars can buy that “poor” person steak via food stamps. It’s a ridiculous situation that, as I said, is more the rule than the exception.

As far as the truly needy go, I have no problem with the government helping them get back on their feet, But cut these folks who are living the life of poverty American style off now. Actually having to do without will do wonders to stimulate their productivity.

A Heads-Up I Hope is Wrong-headed

I noticed something interesting in the media reports concerning the recent murder of a Mr. “Dimebag” Darrel Abbott of the heavy-metal group “Damageplan.” It’s not a high-profile item, but it may be a foretaste of things to come in the media world.

For those who missed the news yesterday, a 25-year old man named Nathan Gale stormed the stage in Columbus, Ohio, at the outset of a Damageplan concert, grabbing Dimebag with one hand and shooting him with the other several times, then turning the gun on the Livejasmin.cc audience. By the time a policeman arrived, Gale was apparently holding a hostage, which media outlets assume (though they admit they are not sure) was Mr. Abbott’s brother, drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott (both Abbott’s formerly of “Pantera."). The officer (foolishly, though heroically, arriving without backup) saved the hostage’s life by shooting Gale dead.

That said, there is a great deal of confusion as to why Gale did this heinous thing. Damageplan was the Abbotts’ new group, and there is some speculation that Gale was disappointed in the breakup of Pantera, which music he often listened to on his headphones to get psyched up for football games. This speculation appears to be based on unverified claims that Gale shouted something about the breakup of Pantera to Abbott as he approached him.

Yet there’s another small notation in the media reports. Gale–a weird loner with an apparent inability to fit in socially–told people that he was in the Marines for a time, but wouldn’t talk about it. It sounds like just another detail, but it could be more.

During the Vietnam War, it didn’t take long for returning veterans to begin being painted as (you’ll excuse the expression) “damaged goods.” Television dramas, drive-in quality movies, and public perception was so suffused with the idea of the Vietnam veteran as crazed and dangerous by definition that, by the time “Taxi Driver” came out in 1976, it only took one line in one scene for the majority of reviewers to modify assassin Travis Bickle’s name with “Vietnam vet.”

While the first serious Vietnam war movie was 1968’s “The Green Berets,” it was so critically destroyed that Hollywood didn’t return to the field for another ten years. In the meantime, it ripped the heart out of the Vietnam veteran, painting him as a deranged psycho-killer. Beginning with “Satan’s Sadists” in 1969, Hollywood treated its drive-in audiences to an unending festival of violent events for which the only motivation given was that the perpetrator was a veteran.

At the same time, television was using the Vietnam vet as its go-to guy for free-form violence and unexplained mental disturbance. From Mod Squad to Police Story to Baretta, tv writers used Vietnam veterans to attract chaturbate audiences and sell soap, painting them as wounded warriors, mental defectives, and bloodthirsty killers.

As the War on Terrorism continues and the media grows increasingly frustrated with their inability to drag the Bush presidency into a spitting contest in the fashion of the hardhats-hippies contretemps that the war at home became for Vietnam, expect to see more such small notations. When the media has found enough American soldiers behaving badly, on the field or at home, you should not be surprised when it becomes a “syndrome,” and Law and Order jams a tinfoil hat on the head of the American fighting man.

I may be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. The early-warning signs are there, though.

Let’s hope it’s a false alarm.


Professional baseball–America’s pastime. You don’t have to be an avid fan of the game to know the names of Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig and other greats, or to realize that the sport of baseball today is not as it was when the three previously mentioned greats played. As a radio ad I once heard asked rhetorically, “how did the word ‘negotiate’ make it from the business page to the sports page?’ Admittedly, I am not a huge sports fan. Nevertheless, I understand the basic rules, now how to read the statistics, and whenever the Red Sox make it to the playoffs (and this year, they finally won the World Series), I get particularly interested in the game so as to avoid being called “not a true fan.”

While in general, the minutia of the game means little to me, the latest news from the world of baseball concerning the use of steroids and other performance enhancing substances has caught my attention. Take for instance Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees, who has admitted using steroids, or Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants who has finally admitted that he used substances that are consistent with known BALCO “designer steroids.” In the case of Barry Bonds, he maintains that he thought they were harmless products like flaxseed oil and rubbing balm for arthritis.

What do we do now?

Arizona Senator John McCain has vowed to introduce legislation to deal with this problem if Major League Baseball (MLB) does not get its act together by January. If and when MLB does start cracking down, or legislation in Congress forces the issue, what does the league do about those players who have admitted to having used performance-enhancing drugs?

For the sake of argument, let us consider the record of Barry Bonds. He is on the verge of breaking long held historic league records, including lifetime home runs (Babe Ruth’s 714 home run record, which was subsequently surpassed by Hank Aaron who ended his career with 755).

The admission by Bonds that he used performance-enhancing substances is a scarlet letter on his record. This is in the same league as Democrats dependence on voter fraud, and the preposterousness of Affirmative Action–eh, perhaps I’ll stick to sports analogies. Steroid use in baseball–or any athletic sport–is as wrong as if NASCAR fans were to find out that the great Dale Earnhardt used NOS (Nitrous Oxide Systems)? Should Bonds be banned from baseball? Perhaps. I certainly wouldn’t mind, but what should the league do about his “stellar record?” There is no way to fully quantify the effect steroids had on his record, but we can be reasonably certain that it did have an overall positive effect. Outside of disciplinary action, I would like to see his record get that scarlet letter: an asterisk.

Currently, Barry Bonds has 703 home runs. From this point forward, anywhere his record is printed, I want to see it asterisked. Barry Bonds should not have 703 home runs, but rather 703* home runs. Every Barry Bonds baseball card should contain that asterisk, at least his statistics from 2003 onward, along with the explanation for it somewhere at the bottom of the card. What should it read? Perhaps, “statistics not adjusted for steroid use, proceed with caution.”

The Olympics have strict guidelines regarding the use of substances such as steroids, and with good reason. What happens when it is found that a gold medal winning athlete cheated by using steroids? You most certainly would think less of him or her, and agree with the medal being revoked. The same standards should be applied in baseball. However, Major League Baseball should implement these strict guidelines on their own and not at the behest of Congress. If Major League Baseball proves unable or unwilling to deal with the problem on their own, then shame on them. They have diminished themselves and the game.

On the opposite side of the coin, John R. Lott, Jr. asks, what’s wrong with players on steroids? While his article raises some interesting questions, I do not feel they are not in the same ballpark, if you will. Lott points out that no one in baseball has died from the use of steriods. That may be true, but is it a valid point? I do not think it is. There are many things athletes can do on and off the field that may cause injury or death–that’s part of life. Football is of far greater risk to players’ health than most other sports, yet we don’t think much about it. We are not arguing these points.

Lott poses the most likely reason for not wanting steroids, followed by a justification for allowing them.

I agree, let’s keep Congress out of baseball. I don’t mind if politicians go to games, throw pitches, or whatever. However, MLB itself should be the one to take responsibility for themselves, their actions and to protect the tradition of the game. Perhaps it is my conservative tendencies that prefer traditional values and stability to that of more dynamic and flexible rules and regulations. The issue for me is not the health and well being of the players, it’s the health and well being of the game of baseball, or any sport threatened by performance enhancement substances. The purity of the game lies in the fact that all the players have varying degress of skill, and their performance varies from time to time, and steroid use dilutes and threatens that.

A great hitter could hit 4 for 4 one night, and the next night strike out 4 times. It is this unpredictability which makes the game fun, and isn’t that what our little league coaches always told us before each game. Professional sports leagues need to keep these threatening substances out of sports, because what is the alternative? We could allow – or perhaps, require steroid use. Then what? Everyone is home a run champion? All the pitchers are strike-out kings? 100 yard field goals everytime? Every player wins the MVP? What kind of fun is that? As Woody Allen asked, “what if everyone were famous?”

Let us rout out the steroid users, and a put a big asterisk on their records.

Nasty Little Racist on the Left

Pass me my white hood. I’m gonna’ go hunt me some conservative Black boys. And I’ll take that burning cross while you’re at it!

When Harry Reid was selected as a replacement for Tom Daschle, he was widely praised as a wonderful, even handed, mild mannered bi-partisan senator from Nevada who could be counted on to work with Republicans and the Bush Administration to get things done on Capitol Hill. I nearly gagged on the leftist media’s description of this guy as the poor hard-working son of a hardscrabble miner (the Western State equivalent of being born a poor Black child) who lived in a ramshackle hut in the mountains without electricity and running water, walked 83 miles one-way barefoot to school, and spent his weekends busting rocks in the quarry. Well, unfortunately, it turns out that newly-minted Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is just another snide partisan political hack who graduated from the “I want to be just like Tom Daschle” school of partisan political hackery. And a racist one as well.

Racist you say? Yes, another race-baiting political hack who wants to make sure that Blacks don’t venture off the liberal plantation. And making sure that Blacks don’t venture off the liberal plantation means that we need to make those uppity conservative Blacks pay for opinions that don’t march in lockstep with the liberal ideology. We’re talking specifically here about Reid’s staunch opposition to seeing Clarence Thomas appointed Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court while saying he would have no problem seeing Antonin Scalia nominated for the chief justice spot. This is what Reid had to say about a possible Thomas appointment to Tim Russert on Meet the Press this past Sunday:

I’m not the only one who thinks that Reid showed his little liberal racist piggy tendencies is his Meet the Press comments. Denver Post columnist Al Knight, from whose column the above quotes were excerpted, nailed the issue in today on the Post’s web site:

Conservative talk show host and columnist Armstrong Williams had a similar response on Fox’s Hannity and Colmes last night when Alan Colmes suggested that Reid opposed Thomas on ideological grounds, rather than because he was Black. As Williams pointed out, this is utter nonsense. Problem with Reid’s opinion of Thomas and Colmes’ defense of it is that Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas are ideological blood brothers. As Knight points out in his column:

Personally, I think either one of these two justices would make a great replacement for Chief Justice William Rehnquist. They are the two most conservative justices and, with the appointment of another like-minded constitutional scholar by Bush to compliment these two could set a nice conservative trend for the court – something that is badly needed. The edge that Thomas has is that he is just a couple years younger than Scalia and therefore may have more years on the court. And it would be a tremendous precedent for GW to be able to have the first Black Supreme Court chief justice confirmed. But it appears that Clarence Thomas wouldn’t get past the little liberal racist piggy Harry Reid and his band of obstructionist thugs and the bogus “super majority” filibusters the that they threw up for Bush’s judicial nominees in his first term and will no doubt throw up in his second term. No, Thomas has strayed off the liberal plantation and in fact was probably never on it. And when you’re Black and you’re not on the liberal plantation, you’re gonna pay.

They claim

Allow me if you will to say what everyone – even the libs who post on this site know although they would be loathe to admit it: Liberals – most all liberals – are first-rate hypocrites. The evidence is indisputable – it’s all around us and I can cite you dozens of examples on any given day:

· They claim to support self determination but invented the current failed welfare system and fight tooth and nail against any attempts to fix it.

· They say they are strong on defense even as their leaders oppose every war and military expenditure that keeps our country strong and free.

· They claim to support free speech but they complain bitterly about and work actively to stifle speech with which they disagree.

· The last Democratic president gave us a promise to have the most ethical administration and gave us one of the most corrupt.

· The last Democratic presidential candidate was the richest in history and complained constantly about “the rich not paying their fair share” in taxes. Yet the billion-dollar man took every opportunity he could to pay LESS in taxes.

· The Democrats and their acolytes in the liberal media hype “negative campaigning” and “mudslinging” during every presidential race and yet these are the folks who just spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the last campaign raising mudslinging to an art form.

· They complain about non-existent “voter disenfranchisement” on the part of Republicans and yet their adventures in voter fraud during all of the presidential campaign in the last 50 years are legend.

· The leaders of the Party of Institutional Hypocrisy push a hard left agenda while at the same time veering to the right during election years to attempt to appeal to the majority of the electorate. Prime example: Hillary used-to-be-Rodham then became Rodham-Clinton and now runs right as Hillary Clinton.

But enough of the list here. As I said I could go on for literally pages and pages and days and days listing liberal hypocrisies. They’ve always been there and will continue to be until the demise of the Democratic Party and beyond. But rarely have their been so many prominent, in your face examples of this hypocrisy in the news at one time.