Tuesday, March 01, 2005

An Absurd Non-Story from the BBC

“The US has one of the highest rates of relative child poverty among the world's wealthiest countries, according to a report by the UN,” the BBC reports. In fact, the US “is second only to Mexico in the UN children's agency report.” This is shocking, shocking stuff! Only Mexican children are poorer than our own!

Further down the page, however, the reporter explains how the UN arrived at its “relative child poverty” figures. “The figures refer to relative poverty defined as households with income per head below 50% of the national average.”

So if you were raised in a household where income per head was .001% less than the average in the United States, you were raised in poverty. This is silly and pointless measurement. If the average income in the United States was one million dollars a year, and you were raised in a household with an income of merely $999,999, then you were still raised in poverty according to the UN. On the other hand, if you are from Paraguay and the average income in your country is, say, $100 a year, and your household income is one hundred dollars and fifty two cents per annum, you are not impoverished.

The truth is that the report doesn’t measure poverty at all. All it tells us is that in the United States 22 percent of the under 18 population is living on less than the national average income. I fail to see how this is a problem.

The UN, however, sees this as a terrible crisis for the United States, and, of course, they have their usual glib solution: more social spending. This is ridiculous. The disparity between the United States and the Nordic countries praised in the report can be easily explained by the fact that in the United States (and Mexico) people tend to have more children, and thus there is less money per head than in Europe.

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