Have the rich gotten richer? Indeed they have, Bill Whittle says in his latest Afterburner — but so have the poor. As wealth expands, living standards rise, and Whittle shows just exactly how it did over the last 40 years in the US. In fact, he argues that the better comparison is not between the rich and the poor in this country, but between the American poor and the average citizen in Europe, Asia, and Africa:
The ultimate arguments are this: what exactly does “poor” mean, and what is the best way to alleviate poverty? If poor in the US is defined such that 97.7% of those households have televisions, 98% have refrigerators, almost 40% have computers, and 78% have air conditioning, then we’re defining “poverty” rather loosely — and that’s the point. The Left wants the definition as wide as possible in order to keep more Americans on public-subsidy rolls, which then incentivizes them to support larger and more intrusive government.
What is the best way to alleviate real poverty? The data Whittle presents shows that a dynamic economy based on private property and capital choice lifts the living standard for everyone. Europe went in the nanny-state direction, and now their average qualifies as our poor, at least by living-standard metrics. That’s something to keep in mind while we debate the nature of safety nets, government spending, and fiscal reform.
Addendum: The data here comes from the Heritage Foundation, so be sure to check it out.