The Soviet Union, the story goes, brought the film ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ over from America as propaganda, trying to pass it off as an example of capitalism gone amuck. The long struggle of the Joads on their trek to California and the bitterness they found when they got there were to show how bad things were in the so-called “free world”. The film had to be banned, though, after Soviet citizens became jealous that even homeless peasants in America owned cars.
True? I don’t know. But I was reminded of it when I saw this:
The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:
Forty-three 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. Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, 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; 31 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. Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.
A while back, the Grand Rapids Press ran a story on local families who were living in poor conditions, due to either overcrowding or dilapidated homes. A photo accompanying the story showed one living room with bare wall studs and a few wisps of insulation. The kids sat on the floor. Playing XBox. On a very large (50″+) rear projection widescreen television.
Poverty, in many cases, is all relative. It’s not a description, it’s an arbitrary line.