Does America Have More Poverty than Turkey?

Does America Have More Poverty than Turkey?

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Liberals like Chris Matthews mock conservatives when they point out that the left uses uber-radical Saul Alinsky’s scorched earth tactics in order to shove their statist agenda down our throats, but here is yet another case in point that shows that is precisely what they are doing.

Dan Mitchell of Cato reports that the OECD has produced a study that claims to show that poverty is worse in America than it is in  Greece, Hungary, Portugal and Turkey (emphasis is mine).

Supporters of individual liberty and national sovereignty have been skeptical of the United Nations, and with good reason. With the support of statists such as George Soros, the UN pushes for crazy ideas such as global taxation and global currency.

But there’s another international bureaucracy, also funded by American tax dollars, that is even more pernicious. The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has the same leftist ideology as the UN, but it actually has some ability to change policy.

With this dismal track record, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that the Paris-based bureaucracy has a new propaganda initiative that seeks to bolster a left-wing redistribution agenda. And as part of this new scheme, it has put together numbers that supposedly show that there is more poverty is the United States than there is in bankrupt and backwards nations such as Greece, Hungary, Portugal, and Turkey

Here’s a chart (click for larger image), produced from the data at this OECD website, which you get to by clicking the “Poverty: Country comparisons” link on this OECD webpage.

You may be wondering whether the bureaucrats at the OECD who put together these numbers are smoking crack or high on crystal meth. Well, they certainly can afford lots of drugs since they get tax-free salaries (just like their counterparts at other international bureaucracies), but these numbers are the not the result of some ketamine-fueled binge.

Instead, the OECD is lying. The website refers to “poverty rate” and “poverty threshold” and “poverty measure,” but the OECD is not measuring poverty. Instead, they have concocted a new—and deliberately misleading—set of data that instead measures the distribution of income.

And if you’re wondering where they got this crazy idea, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that this is a scheme developed by the Obama Administration and it is designed so that “poverty” is only reduced if incomes become more equal, not if poor people become better off.

Even moderates such as Robert Samuelson recognize this is absurd, and here is some of what he wrote:

…the new definition has strange consequences. Suppose that all Americans doubled their incomes tomorrow, and suppose that their spending on food, clothing, housing and utilities also doubled. That would seem to signify less poverty — but not by the new poverty measure. It wouldn’t decline, because the poverty threshold would go up as spending went up. Many Americans would find this weird: People get richer but “poverty” stays stuck.

The most amazing thing about this crazy approach is that it makes it seem as if America has more poverty than nations such as Bangladesh, even though the average “poor” American has much higher living standards than all but the wealthiest people in the developing world.

And it also generates the laughable numbers in the OECD data-set, showing that Turkey and Portugal have less poverty than the United States.

The main thing to understand, though, is that this new approach is part of an ideological campaign to promote bigger government and more redistribution. Which is very much consistent with the OECD’s overall agenda… .

The real outrage is that American taxpayers finance the lion’s share of the OECD budget, even though it is a hard-left organization that pushes policies that are contrary to U.S. interests.

And this is why I wrote that defunding the OECD is a minimal test of fiscal seriousness for lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

I have written about this until I am blue in the face. The left is not concerned with lifting the boats of the poor, but rather, with sinking the ships of the rich. This is why they react violently to conservative claims that supply-side economics work i.e. give more money to the people who will invest it and benefits will inure to everyone. They don’t want benefits to inure to everyone, but rather, detriments to be visited upon the rich.

This is also why you will never hear a liberal celebrate an increase in the purchasing power of poor people when that increase is accompanied by an increase in the purchasing power of rich people. A case in point is a CBPP study I wrote about in 2010:

Case Closed: Trickle Down Economics Works

I recently wrote about the increasing American wealth gap here and here, but I never get tired of pointing out the stubbornness of class warfarists, so I’m giving it another go.

Americans everywhere should be celebrating, rather than bemoaning the findings of a recent study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) that shows that the gap between the wealthy and the poor has increased over the last thirty years.

Why celebrate? Because the study also shows that all classes of Americans have improved their financial condition since 1979.

Here’s the CBPP chart:

Table 1: Average After-Tax Income by Income Group 1979 – 2007 (in 2007 dollars)
Income Category19792007Percent Change 1979-2007Dollar Change 1979-2007
Lowest fifth$15,300$17,70016%$2,400
Second fifth$31,000$38,00023%$7,000
Middle fifth$44,100$55,30025%$11,200
Fourth fifth$57,700$77,70035%$20,000
Top fifth$101,700$198,30095%$96,600
Top 1 Percent$346,600 $1,319,700 281%$973,100
  Source: Congressional Budget Office, Effective Federal Tax Rates: 1979-2007, June 2010.

Sadly, but predictably, the anti-rich left, rather than being joyful that all canoes have lifted, are consumed with grief that the yachts have not sunk.

But this, my friends, is no honorable grief, but one borne of envy and class hatred.

Unless and until the rich experience a significant decline in their own incomes, no amount of increase in the incomes of the poor and the middle class will assuage the class warmongers.

And Stalin, Mao and Che will be playing ice hockey in hell before anti-capitalists will ever admit that supply-side economics works and that when the rich get richer so does everyone else.

About Peter Pappas

Peter is a tax attorney and certified public acccountant with over 20 years experience helping taxpayers resolve their IRS and state tax problems.

He has represented thousands of taxpayers who have been experiencing difficulty dealing with the Internal Revenue Service or State tax officials.

He is a member of the American Association of Attorney-Certified Public Accountants, the Florida Bar Association and The Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants and is admitted to practice before the United States Tax Court, the United States Supreme Court, U.S. District Courts - Middle District of Florida

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