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Spring Cleaning: A Leadership skill


Spring is a time for cleaning, you know, Spring Cleaning…

- Yard work

- All the closets in the house

- The Garage

- The Windows

- The Walls

Every surface and every corner gets a good deep cleaning, places you haven’t looked at all winter and now you are obligated to, for Spring Cleaning is a passage, a passage from the bleak dark days of winter in to the glory of spring and all she offers. The new growth, the smells and the sun. Yep, spring cleaning is as much apart of spring as Halloween is of autumn. And for the most part, we look forward to spring cleaning because we understand the importance of it. Not just the simple fact that we are clearing out the dust of the past 8 months, but there is more to it, it goes deeper than just that. There is something about it, something that seems to touch our deepest being.

How do I know this, just look at that facts, a quick search on Amazon for books on spring cleaning and I get 2201 hits, and a Google search returns about 112,000,000 hits…. Now tell me that people don’t feel a deep need to clear out the dust and cobwebs once per year, starting off fresh and new.

Now, I offer you Spring Cleaning: A Leadership Skill, a skill that every leader or want-to-be leader needs in their tool box. So what is it, what exactly is Spring Cleaning for Leaders? Well it’s not cleaning out the old corner office nor is it having all the workers clean up the work place. It’s not a fresh paint job, although all those things should be done from time to time. But that’s not leadership, that’s cleanliness.

Spring Cleaning Leadership has more to do with the person than the possessions. It’s a time for a leader to stop and look deep into the corners of their minds, to scrub every surface of their hearts and to open up the windows of their souls and let the fresh air in, once again.

Cleaning the deep corners of the mind

This is a perfect time to look at your deeply held thoughts and beliefs, a time to reevaluate your long-standing positions and to seek out new ways to approach issues, people and life. Lets say that you have always held the position that your job, as a leader, has always been one of dictatorship, that you give orders and they follow. And lets say that it has worked for you, that over the years people have always said that you’re a dictator, but you always get the job done right and on time. Over all, not a bad record. The job is done and on time and as a bonus, it was done right the first times.

So your thinking, great, this leader can skip the first step, they have no room for change or improvement. Why mess with what works… As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

But lets look at it anyway, lets pretend…

So what would the leader have to look at, what corner of the heart needs fixin’? Well, a lot of the depends on what the leader considers important in their life. Is the only goal to complete the task or do they see more? Do they see personal development of their people as important? Or is it just get the job done, do what you have always done, the same way you always have, we have a proven method that has worked for years and years and will continue to work for years to come. We are like a well oiled machine, no monkey wrenches needed.

Sure, the job will get done, and sure it will be right the first time, but are we missing something that may have improved it, something that may have saves time, effort or money? Maybe that person you hired to do job “X” had a new idea that would have save time and effort for the person doing job “Z”… Or maybe the person doing job “X” would be better at job “Z”… the possibilities are endless, yet we will never know them if we hold true to our deepest convictions that this is the way its done, always has been and always will be…

 

Even the best leaders can get caught in the trap of familiarity. So spring is a perfect time to re-examine your methods.. Are they really the best way or just the known way?

 

Scrubbing every surface of the heart

Leaders, true leaders are servants, and must have a servant’s heart. This is a fact, not just a nice saying. Someone can be the boss and call themselves a leader, but if they do not have a servant’s heart they are nothing more than a boss. And truth be told, anyone can be a boss, its really not to hard to “boss” people around. But a leader, a true leader, they are few and far between, leaders grow into true leadership, it is rare to find a natural servant leader, it is more often than not that the person worked long and hard scrubbing the surfaces of their heart before anyone would truly call them a servant leader. So what exactly is scrubbing of the heart, and how does one do so?

We all have dark places with in our heart, places where we hold deep grudges or prejudices. Places within our hearts where the light of servanthood cannot and does not shine. Places that even we fear to go. It is exactly those places that we must scrub. But how? How does one scrub the deep dark places of the heart…

Work, lots and lots of work… Prayer and humility are the best places to begin.

Lets look at the example from above, the same leader who got the job done on time and right every time. Once again, not a bad thing, and lets say that over all they are open-minded to new and different approaches… So, so far a good leader, they allow people of offer new ways of doing things, and allow people to try new and different jobs, if time allows for it and the circumstances are appropriate.

That’s a good over all rule, one would not want to risk messing up on a major project, sometimes the old ways are the best ways. But if the job is less risky and time permits, it makes sense to allow a little experimentation to take place.

But now lets say that such a job was taking place, a job that allows for this. Perfect… So worker “A” wants to try their hand at something new, they ask for the opportunity and its granted… Perfect… so far… worker “B” also asks to try their hand at something new, but this time is denied. Now lets say that both workers have the same level of experience and time on the job, that both workers are qualified to do the tasks at hand, but for some unknown reason, worker “B” is denied.

The leader gave a reason, something along the line of, we just can’t afford to put you on that job, you are needed here. Sounds good, in fact it sounds like a complement. Sounds like you are so valuable to the task at hand tat we can not afford to risk losing you to the other job.

Here is where the leader must stop and look deep within… Is that the real reason or is there a deeper darker reason. Is it because the person is no the same-sex, age, race or religion as they are? Is it because once, many moons ago they did or said something that you found hurtful or offensive, or maybe once, in the distance past, they messed up a job, and you had to take the blame for it… There can be millions of reasons why… But none are valid.

It is time to scrub the heart, to remove the old hurts and hate and to replace it with understanding and forgiveness. You may not like that person very much, on a personal basis, but that should have no bearing on the job at hand. If they can do the work and do it to the standards that everyone else on the team must meet, than they should be given the opportunity, to succeed or fail, the same as anyone else.

But change does  not happen over night, it is a long and hard process, one that needs to be worked on little by little… The first step is for the leader to recognize that there heart needs a good spring cleaning, the second step, list the dirty spots down, know what needs to be scrubbed away. And the lest step, start cleaning, pick one dirty spot, clean it and then move on to the next. Just like cleaning the walls of your house, you don’t move around randomly from wall to wall, spot to spot… You pick one wall to start on and clean it before moving on to the next.

Open up the windows of the soul to let the fresh air in

Leadership, authentic leadership, is a relationship with yourself and others, the group and individual. Leadership is never in a void or vacuüm, it is always in the eye of the storm, and this is where we will discover the soul of any great leader.

The image  of the eye of the storm is a strong image, one that invokes many other images, such as power and calmness, force and anti-force. Any great leader will tell you that is with in the storm that leaders are often times born. The forces that play upon the soul of such a person do not destroy them, but rather they ignites within them the sleeping giant that waits to be awaken.

We have all witnessed such leadership, think of times in your life when just the right person steps forward to take control, think of times of tragedy or strife, times of chaos and confusion.

Leaders seem to always emerge from such things. It is the soul that moves them into action. It was the winds of change and chaos that propelled them into the eye of the storm. They opened up the windows within their souls and allowed the wind to blow thru and into their soul. Leaders not by choice but by baptism, baptism of fire.

I could go back to the example I used above, but to  me, it seems it would cheapen the soul to do so. This spring cleaning project stands on its own…

Not every great leader was born of the eye of the storm, but every great leader must walk into that very same eye, and the only way to do so is to open your windows…

So what are the windows of the soul? and how does one open them…?

The eyes are said to be the windows of our souls, and I, for one believe this to be. How often have I heard the phrase, look me in the eyes when you are talking to me… and how often I have said the same… But why… Why is it so important to look into the eyes…

Because we all seem to see something more than just the eyes, we all seem to see deeper…

Leaders need to work with open eyes, nit just eyes that see the task at hand, but eyes the seem to see the underlying current of their team, eyes that can see the slight difference in a persons face or eyes that notice the off color of a persons personality. Eyes that are open to see the colors of the world, even in the darkness of it.

Leaders do not need to be told what is going on, they should be able to perceive it from not what there eyes see but rather from what there eyes tell them. Leaders learn to listen to there eyes (souls) rather then to see with them. The windows of the soul are the eyes that are open, that see the path that leads in the storm, if that is necessary, and out of the storm, if that is required. Leaders think not of the safe exit of themselves, but of the team whom they lead. And the soul, if allowed to do so, will lead them into the storm or around the storm, but it will never avoid the storm.

So how do we open our windows, and allow the fresh air in? We allow the eyes to do the souls bidding, we allow the winds to guide us. But to do this we need to first learn how to open the windows… How to feel the wind upon our soul and how to freely go wear the wind directs.

We have to practice observation, we need to learn to see the tree with in the forest and the breeze upon the leaf. In the office this means seeing everyone as a person, not just a worker, at home this means seeing family members as individuals and not a collective and in the community at large it means seeing each member of the community as a individual being.

For example, how many times have you ever been compared to others, such as, When so-and-so did this job, they did it this way… In the eyes of that person, you are not an individual, but rather part of the collective, many of the one, rather than one of the many. In larger companies this seems to be, more often than not, the case. How often people say, I feel just like a number to them, not a person”. The eyes of the corporation are closed and has no soul. But leaders to, if there eyes are open.

Experiment, learn to see things differently, try to notice one new thing in your office/home/school/community each day, teach your eyes to see deeper and allow your soul to take you… Pray and be still, be open to hear the soul and allow the moment to take you… Like any other skill, this takes practice…

And in the End…

Like anything in life, hard work and dedication to the task at hand is paramount in completing the task, the same can be said for leadership and change. The opportunity to do a little “Spring Cleaning” is an opportunity to start fresh… no examine your life, your leadership and to make changes for the better,

God Bless

Paul Sposite

Guided Insight Life Coach

 

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Gen Leadership


7_generationsLeadership is all-to-often defined in terms that can often times sound controlling or manipulative. Back in 1982 or 83 I was given the opportunity to take the Dale Carnegie course in Effective Communications, part of the course content was his book, How to win friends and influence people, the title never sat well with me, and it was not until years latter when I took the Christopher’s Leadership course did I understand why I did not like the book title, and truth be told, was not overly pleased with the Dale Carnegie course as a whole, the reason, to me it seems that the Dale Carnegie course was all based on manipulating people, not leading them. To me, leadership is not about manipulation but more about Generosity, Generations, Generativity and Engender.

Leadership in not about control or manipulation but rather relationships.

The four words I above to describe leadership all share the root of GEN – from Greek genoa, from Latin genus -  Greek -genēs born, produced; akin to Latin genus, kin. Leadership is Kinship, relation. When we are being true leaders we are building a kind of kinship, a kind of family as it were. Leadership depends upon a feeling of belonging, a feeling of being part of the over all group – the extended family – and manipulation of others does not achieve that goal.

Lets look at each word:

Generosity:

gen·er·os·i·ty

/ˌdʒɛn əˈrɒs ɪ ti/  [jen-uh-ros-i-tee]

noun, plural gen·er·os·i·ties.

1. readiness or liberality in giving.

2. freedom from meanness or smallness of mind or character.

3. a generous act: We thanked him for his many generosities.

4. largeness or fullness; amplitude.

A leader is one who is ready to give, to give of there knowledge and experience, with out expecting anything in return. A leader is large in Character, one who works hard to remove meanness as one of there attributed and is quick to give thanks and praise when needed. Leaders, true leaders, do not look to others to make themselves look good, but rather help others to achieved there goals and allowing them to take all the credit once the goal has been achieved.

Generation:

gen·er·a·tion

/ˌdʒɛn əˈreɪ ʃən/ [jen-uh-rey-shuh n] 

noun

1. the entire body of individuals born and living at about the same time: the postwar generation.

2. the term of years, roughly 30 among human beings, accepted as the average period between the birth of parents and the birth of their offspring.

3. a group of individuals, most of whom are the same approximate age, having similar ideas, problems, attitudes, etc. Compare Beat Generation, Lost Generation.

4. a group of individuals belonging to a specific category at the same time: Chaplin belonged to the generation of silent-screen stars.

5. a single step in natural descent, as of human beings, animals, or plants.

Leadership is not in a void, no leader can ever claim to have become a leader without look back to past generations. We do not exist in a void, we are not omnipotent – having very great or unlimited authority or power – we achieve greatness but learning from the past. Our present is based on the great leaders of past generations, and out future generations will be built upon our examples of leadership. No leader stands alone, all leaders build upon the leaders of generations gone by.

Generativity:

generativity

Part of Speech: n

Definition:
a concern for others developed during middle age, esp.a need to nurture and guide younger people and contribute to the next generation

Leaders, authentic leaders, do not keep there knowledge to themselves, they freely give of it, they use there skills to help build the leaders of the generations yet to come. Mentoring is an essential pare of leadership, a leader with out  monitories is like a ship with out a sail, no leader can lead if they do not first and foremost  teach there skills to others, Leadership is teaching on a higher plane, and a teacher with out a pupil is no teacher at all, they are nothing more than a blowhard with an audience.

Engender:

en·gen·der

/ɛnˈdʒɛn dər/ [en-jen-der] 

verb (used with object)

1. to produce, cause, or give rise to: Hatred engenders violence.

2. to beget; procreate.

verb (used without object)

3. to be produced or caused; come into existence: Conditions for a war were engendering in Europe.

Leaders produce they rise up and they procreate, leaders bring into existence ideas and actions, they procreate but helping to build the leaders of tomorrow, they are, in short, the mothers and fathers of the next great leader, the next big revolution and the next breakthrough for humanity. Leaders are anything but static, they are dynamic in all meanings of the work.

Gen Leadership

Gen Leadership calls us to reexamine our motives and techniques we deploy as leaders. Are we leaders for our own sake, or leaders for the sake of others? Do we believe that we stand alone as a leaders, or we we stand with many generations of leaders?  Do we procreate, are we actively engaged in mentoring new leaders or do hold our leadership cards close to our chest?

Take some time to truly reflect upon the questions, reread the the four different GEN leadership qualities, examine the deeper meanings and see how they currently fit into your leadership style. If they don’t fit in, how can you add them in, what can you do to start to incorporate them into your leadership tool box?

Gen Leadership is more about others than about self, Gen Leadership looks to the past to see the future. Are you a Gen Leader?

God Bless

Paul Sposite

Guided Insight Life Coach

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Guest Blogger: Is Having an Ego Good or Bad? By Rolland D Hurley


Is Having an Ego Good or Bad?

By Rolley D Hurley

Expert Author Rolley D Hurley

As I study the realm of thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and emotions in the psyche of humanity; I have become intrigued by the diverse description and explanation of the human Ego. Although it is found in every one of us, the usual reference has depicted its meaning as an unworthy or negative trait. There has been very little comparison otherwise and therefore lays my dilemma. When I look into the unseen forces of nature, and evaluate what I believe is my true spiritual essence, it is hard for me to discard this natural inherent element called "Ego".

(Read More here)

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Rolley_D_Hurley

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I hope you enjoyed this article, for my point of view read: Ego: Good or Bad

God Bless

Paul Sposite

Guided Insight Life Coach

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Ego, life coach, Self, selfhelp

 

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McLeadership


McDonalds' sign in Harlem.

McDonalds’ sign in Harlem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is Leadership? What makes a leader? How does one become a leader. Theses are questions that many people ask, and for everyone person who asks, there are dozens of books, seminars and blog sites like this one with answers. But how do you know who is right. What method will work for you, and can you even become a leader? Is everyone born to be a leader? Can anyone study and become a leader, or is it in our DNA, are we just born like that?

Leadership, personal development and self-improvement is a multi-billion dollar industry, and like any industry there are the McDonald’s and the fancy shirt and tie eateries of Leadership development companies and individuals. Some offering the “fast food” of leadership and others offering you the 7 course meal, both serve a purpose, but like food, there is quality differences. Like a good fast food restaurant, McLeadership fills a purpose, but also like a fast food joint, to much of it can cause health issues. So what is McLeadership?

The McLeadership

McLeadership is, simple stated, the consumption of Leadership values, ideas and material in a fast, successive fashion that ignores the need for digestion of said material. We all know the feeling we get after we scarf down a value meal on our way to the next meeting or appointment. The bloated over stuffed sluggish feeling that leaves us with an upset stomach and an on satisfied hunger. We didn’t bother to take the time to sit back and relax and enjoy the meal, but rather we stuffed in our mouths, washed it down with a pop and followed it with a few fries. Doing this once or twice wont have to much of an effect on our over all health. But turning this bad habit into a  lifetime of eating will. Well the same can be said for our Leadership and Change couping skills.

The market is flooded with books, CD’s, DVD’s and Seminars we can attend, and I am sure most of them are well produced and worthy of our attention. However, like the food we ingest affects our body, the information we ingest affects our mind. The habit of reading, as anyone who reads my blog will know, is a habit I strongly support. I recommend 15 minuets daily, at the very least. But, I also recommend journaling, reflecting and digesting the input. I strongly recommend that when you read, you find a quiet place, a relaxing place, and read in peace. This allows your body and mind to work together on digesting the input.

The fast food mentality that we are raised in as permeated our daily lives, it has infected our Faith, Family, Work and Being. We are programmed to think in sound bites and to deliver messages in Tweets and Status Updates. We are encouraged to abbreviate everything. We are living in the information age, more information is available to us than ever before, yet we seem to truly know less. We have the ability to truly connect with each other in ways never imagined, yet we don’t.

McLeadership is the result of reading, attending and listening to principles on Leadership, yet never putting in to practice the principles we have learned. Our thirty-second retention of information along with our forced acceptance of multi-tasking has created a generation that expects instantaneous results for no or little effort on their part.

True Leadership

True Leadership is a leadership of value, a leadership of effort and time. Like a good meal, one that you take time to enjoy and savor, a meal that is prepared with love and kindness. A true meal, a good meal, is one that we sit down at the table together, we pray and give thanks for what we are about to partake, and we enjoy the food, atmosphere and company. The meal itself, be it meatloaf or the finest cut of beef, is almost secondary to the time spent, digesting the whole experience.

Over the years I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel, and in doing so have made friends all over the world. One set of friends reside in Germany. They have become like family to me, we have spent many a nights together eating and drinking and conversing. He is a home gourmet cook. His food is simple but very pleasing to both the eye and the taste buds, and I have had the pleasure of many a meal with him and his wife. Each meal is a pleasure, but some of the most memorable meals where the less fancy, the more traditional family meals. Meals where he was not occupied with preparations, but was able to sit and enjoy the conversation, glass of wine and the simple family meal with us. He was able to digest in a relaxed fashion.

True Leadership is achieved in much the same way, we cannot be to concerned with the preparations, to hung up with the presentation that we miss the main point. I have learned many-a-thing about Leadership in moments of confusion and dysfunction, the moments of lack of planning and miss planning. But I have learned more, not in the McLeadership moments, but in the fine dinning moments. The moments were I can sit back, relax and slowly discover the truth hidden in the moment.

Leadership

Leadership is not reserved for the few, it is something we all must archive, in once fashion or another. But we must learn to slow down, to chew on it for a while and to savor its flavors. We must decide what Leadership looks like, taste like and is for us. My Leadership is not your Leadership, each of us have our own taste, our own cravings and each of us must discover our own style.

Fast food is fine, every-now-and-than, but as a steady diet, not so much, the same can be said for Learning and growing your Leadership skills. A quick read with no processing is fine, every-now-and-than, but as a daily diet, not to healthy for your mind.

I would recommend a steady diet of relaxed learning and reading, at least 15 minutes per day, in a quiet place, be it the bath tub or your car pared in a Church parking lot. I would also recommend that you journal about what you just read or learned. Your reading does not have to be only Leadership books, I am a strong believer in mixing it up, reading in general is a positive action, and reading different types and styles of books. I feel you can learn from anything and everything, so be it a Stephen King book or the latest guru in the self-help section, you can learn from it.

What I don’t recommend is that you substitute books with audio-books to often. Audio-books would be the fast food of reading, nothing replaces the written word. It is ok to enjoy a good audio-book on your long drive to and from work, I love to listen to talks on CD, but I always make it a point to follow it up with more reading on what ever topic truly captivated me. Same holds true for DVD’s or TED videos. Great sources for information and entertainment, but do not make a steady diet of it. The act of reading works your mind in ways a CD or DVD can not even come close to, and it is the working of the mind that causes active learning to take place.

God Bless

Paul Sposite

Guided Insight Life Coach

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Finding Ourselves in our Past


Albert Einstein Français : portrait d'Albert E...

Albert Einstein Français : portrait d’Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.

~Albert Einstein

How often do you think about who has come before you? How often do you look to the past to understand the now, to understand the self? Mr. Einstein, once again, has hit the nail on the head. Our now, who we are, has a direct connection to that which comes before us. Our human understanding of self comes to us from our ancestors. We owe gratitude to human history, to human expression and our basic curiosity about our own existence.

All too often, we look for the new and exciting ways to discover self, to change and we give praise only to ourselves and to the “new gurus” of today. Yet, we fail to give credit to the past, to those who came before.

If Einstein can humble himself to acknowledge that others, those who came before him, have laid down the groundwork for whom and what he is, surly we can do the same. However, the idea of become Renaissance men is gaining an understanding of the great men and woman who have come before. We read the classics, study the great ones that have come before us and expand our horizons beyond ourselves to include the great men and woman of history.

Through the trials and tribulations of history, we discover the ebb and flow of life. It is within the historical ebb and flow that we will discover the secret of discovering self. There is nothing new under the sun; all that we need to understand about our humanity is in our past. Yes, we have lots to learn about the science of the human body, but there is nothing new to learn about the human condition. Plato, Cicero, Buda along with Confucius and Jesus Christ have given us the road map to perfection, and the great men and woman of the past studied and emulated the great sages of antiquity.

We have much to learn about respecting our past, and growing our future. Nevertheless, we are capable, and we have the tools we need. Most, if not all, of what we need is free and available on the internet. We can go to our local art museums and historical museums to visualize the human condition or attend the local Orchestra concert to hear our collective human heart beat. We are never more than a few miles or few clicks away from the classics, unlike any other time in history, we, in this day and age, have the ability to read, watch and listen to the voice of history. The digital age offers us total access to online studies of the classics.

We need to establish clubs and organizations for adults and youth that delve into the classics that teach the lessons of Plato and Jesus, we need to experience, as a group and individuals, the masters such as Leonardo and Dante. We need to reconnect to our past, not through the filtered message of political views, but as unfiltered historical documents of humanity.

The human condition is defined in our art, literature and wars. How we treat others and care for the less fortunate among us. Our art is our soul and our literature our heart, it is time we reconnected to them.

God Bless

Paul Sposite

Guided Insight Life Coach

 

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An Equal and Fair America


English: This is a high-resolution image of th...

Image via Wikipedia

What is fair? What would you consider fair? That is the big question, and it seems Obama is going to use that as his campaign theme. No longer is Hope and Change the charge, but now Fairness. But really, what is fair?

fair

/fɛər/   [fair]  adjective, fair·er, fair·est, adverb, fair·er, fair·est, noun, verb

adjective

1. free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice: a fair decision; a fair judge.

2. legitimately sought, pursued, done, given, etc.; proper under the rules: a fair fight.

3. moderately large; ample: a fair income.

4. neither excellent nor poor; moderately or tolerably good: fair health.

5. marked by favoring conditions; likely; promising: in a fair way to succeed.

(source)

Free from bias, dishonesty or injustice, that is the most common use of the word fair, yet many people distort this word to mean equal. Fair and equal are not the same thing

e·qual

/ˈikwəl/  [ee-kwuhl]  adjective, noun, verb, e·qualed, e·qual·ing or ( especially British ) e·qualled, e·qual·ling.

adjective

1. as great as; the same as (often followed by to or with ): The velocity of sound is not equal to that of light.

2. like or alike in quantity, degree, value, etc.; of the same rank, ability, merit, etc.: two students of equal brilliance.

3. evenly proportioned or balanced: an equal contest.

4. uniform in operation or effect: equal laws.

5. adequate or sufficient in quantity or degree: The supply is equal to the demand.

(source)

Equal, as great as, the same as… Hmmm, that does not sound at all like free from bias, dishonesty or injustice, but maybe its just me… So let see, the argument goes something like this, the Constitution guarantees fairness.. so lets look at that…

The Preamble: 

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

(source)

Nope it’s not here.. general welfare doesn’t state equal or fair, just general… So maybe it was the Declaration of Independence…

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,[75] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

(source)

Ok, so this time the word equal is here… “…That all men are created equal…” but you have to read on, “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

Yes, we are all created equal, by God, we all are Gods creation, and love by him. We all have the right to pursuit happiness, but the pursuit of happiness does not mean that we will ever achieve it. That is up to us, as individuals. This does not change the fact that we are all created equal. This truth remains.

The current use of the word Fair as Equal is misleading and unjust. It is divisive and corruptive, it is poison to the mind of millions of people who are taught that fairness means equality and that equality redistribution and punishment of the successful.

Romney is Obama’s lattes example of this, Romney is now the poster child of an Unfair America, an America

where he makes millions and you and I do not. The Obama mantra is this, take what he has, give it to those who do not… But how is this fair? How is this American? Do you not think that is the Founding Fathers had wanted to create a governmental system that redistributed wealth, they would have written it into the governing documents? They did not do this for the very simple reason that they believed in the individual, they believed in fairness, they believed in the words they wrote “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,[75] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….” They believed in freedom, freedom from the government, freedom to succeed or to fail. freedom to live life and to define your own happiness.

The Obama attack on wealth is as anti-American as J. Edgar Hovers attack on Hollywood stars for their political interest (source).  Freedom does not mean equal, but it does mean fairness, we, as Americans, al have the same rights, we all can achieve greatness or we all call remain mediocre, the choice is ours, and ours alone. History is full of people, disadvantaged people, who have stepped up and achieved their dreams and goals.  History is also full of people who have lost their wealth and become one of the marginalized. This, my friends, is freedom at its best, no government picking losers and winners, but rather, everyday Americans working hard to achieve there dreams, some making it and others not, that is Fair, that is equal, equal rights to try and equal rights to fail. That sounds fair to me…

This election, the election of 2012, is an election were we, the people, once again have to chose how we define America, do we define America as the founding Fathers defined her, as a nation of Free People, Free to follow their dreams, Free to achieve their Dreams or do we define America as a nation that punishes success, that takes from some to give to others. The rewards hard work with taxation and redistribution. The Founding Fathers fought a war, and shed their blood for the privilege to define their own destiny, to make it on their own, or to fail on their own. Yet, today we see a new definition emerging, one that wants to redefine America as a nation of people who want the government to define who makes it and who does not. They wish to recreate America into a Nation that no longer believes in humanity, but rather believes in Government. We have to fight for the preservation and restoration of America, to get back to the basics of what made this Nation the greatest Nation ever to adorn this Earth. A Nation that is blessed by God, as the Founding Fathers believed her to be. This November I, without a doubt, the most important election in the history of our great nation. This election will decide the fait of generations to come, as Ronald Reagan said

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

~Ronald Reagan

This election we will decide if Reagan was right, will we be telling out grandchildren and great-grandchildren what America use to be, how freedom use to be…. God will, no, instead we will be telling them how we saved freedom, preserved it for them and how they must always be diligent and alert in the cause of freedom.

God Bless

Paul Sposite

Guided Insight Life Coach

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Could Boys Town work today? And other thoughts on Charity and Social Justice.


Cover of "Boys Town"

Cover of Boys Town

“What’s “just” has been debated for centuries, but let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then, tell me how much of what I earn “belongs” to you — and why?”
– Walter Williams

Williams was born into an AfricanAmerican family. His family during childhood consisted of himself, his mother, and his sister. His father played no role in raising either child.[3] He grew up in Philadelphia. The family initially lived in West Philadelphia, moving to North Philadelphia and the Richard Allen housing projects when Williams was ten. His neighbors included a young Bill Cosby. Williams knew many of the individuals that Cosby speaks of from his childhood, including Weird Harold and Fat Albert.[4]

Williams was a talented high school student who displayed a very inconsistent performance in his studies. Following high school he came out to stay with his father in California, and attended one semester at Los Angeles City College, in regard to which he would later state that he was not ready yet to be a serious student.[5] In 1959 he was drafted into the military, and served as a Private in the United States Army.[4][6] While serving in the Army, he “waged a one man battle against Jim Crow from inside the army (where he was nearly court-martialed for challenging the racial order).”[4] Williams:

wrote a letter to President John F. Kennedy denouncing the pervasive racism of the American government and military. “Should Negroes be relieved of their service obligation or continue defending and dying for empty promises of freedom and equality,” Williams demanded of the president. “Or should we demand human rights as our Founding Fathers did at the risk of being called extremists….I contend that we relieve ourselves of oppression in a manner that is in keeping with the great heritage of our nation.”[4]  (Link)

The above article, or at least part of the article from Wikipedia and the beginning quote should be an inspiration to all Americans, it talks of Faith, faith in the American system, faith in self and faith in humanity. It talks of self-reliance and justice, not handouts and welfare.  It talks about picking yourself up and taking care of business, your business, and not relaying on the government to do it for you. I like that!

So what is “just”?

As a Catholic, social justice is a huge part of my faith, we have Bishops and everyday pew sitters working on this issue daily, we have documents coming from the Vatican and our local Church. I could spend hours reading and re-reading the documents, many of them online and available for free. I can read the words of many a great men, saints and some not so saintly. But in the end, I think that simple quote above states it very distinctly:

I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then, tell me how much of what I earn “belongs” to you — and why?”

 

That about states it all… Now I can hear everyone asking, what about the poor, who is going to help them… We need to take and give to them.. True, I agree, you are correct. But… And this is a big but… It’s not the government’s job to decide who or what charities I want to support, it is not the governments job to decide how much is too much. That my friends, it totally up to me… That is “just”.

Humanity will, if allowed, care for herself. In the United Stated we have proven this, prior to big government stepping in, it was left to the local communities to care for one another, and they always did. During the many recessions and depressions this country has gone through, the local community always cared for their own. As it should be. The “Great Society” and the “New Deal” and all other forms of Social Engineering has done nothing to change the simple fact that we will always have the poor. But what it has done is created a whole generation that is now dependent upon the government to fix and provide for all there needs. No longer is it a community coming together, but now it laws and regulations and dependency.

The local out reach programs, Faith based community services and alike are now governed by the Federal Government, bogged down with regulations and paperwork that much of there “good deeds” go undone due to lack of resources to meet the ever-expanding hands of Big Brother. Prior to the government handing out the tax payers money, the local community gathered its resources from the community itself, depended on the community and thrived with in the community it served.

The Catholic church was the prominent provider in many communities, depending upon the Church and the community at large to provide free services to whomever needed them, regardless of their faith. Look at Boys Town as a perfect example. Fr. Flanagan did not ask the Federal Government for moneys to build his Town, nope, he depended upon the common person to send in donations, and the work of building the town, well that was left up the him and the boys. In todays “regulated” world this could never happen, the government would not allow the young men who made up the community of Boys Town to do the labor, they would consider it “degrading” and “child labor”, were as Fr. Flanagan and his boys considered it “Character building” and “Edifying” . How times have changed.

The government would have required trained social workers were as Fr. Flanagan required love and respect. There is not law or regulations for love and respect, so the government would not consider them to be important. How times have changed…

“Charity” and “Social Justice” and not be regulated or forced, they have to be organic in nature. they have to come from the souls of the ones offering. When government sticks its hands into our pockets and forces us to “give” the act of Charity and Justice has just become an act of redistribution and extortion.

In the books “Who Really Cares” and “Gross National Happiness” Arthur C. Brooks, the author, makes the case that charity is a human act, not a governmental act. That it is the benevolence of man and not the redistributionist of government that keeps charities rolling. Both books are well worth the reading.

The Catholic Church, like many organization, has its fair share of redistributionist, who feel that humanity in-of-its-self is not able or capable of caring for each other. To me this is a travesty and a slap in the collective face of man kind! But, truth be told, we allowed this mind-set to happen, we, as a nation have become “dependent” upon the government to not only govern our national affairs, but also our personal affairs.

A return to a simpler time, a time when communities cared for each other, relied upon each other and depended upon their neighbors was when true social justice existed in this nation. We now live in a nation of not social justice, but a nation of social engineering, other wise know as socialism, tyranny or any other work to describe personal liberties and personal responsibilities being replaced by group think. We are teaching our children not to depend upon themselves and the community at large, but rather to look to and depend upon the government. We have generations of Americans that have no concept of charity and giving, of time, talent and treasure. But we do have generations of Americans who understand the concepts of give me, I deserve and “fairness”. Using the term “fairness” not as it was meant, “Equal opportunity” but rather as “Equal treasures” regardless of effort put forth.

The America of pre-New Deal and The Great Society is not yet lost, but is quickly becoming so. We have the opportunity and obligation to change the course of this great nation. To right the wrongs and return American and her citizens back to personal responsibility and community minded obligations. We have a unique opportunity in America, the opportunity to wage a revolution with our guns and blood, a revolution that uses the most powerful weapon ever know to man, the vote. This November we must vote to return America back to Americans, to restore Charity and Social Justice back to the people. It is time to take up the mantel of liberty and forge a new path to prosperity by returning to the founding principles of this great nation. Principles spelled out in our founding documents, the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Documents that outline the path to prosperity and freedom, documents that never, not once, call upon the Government to care for the personal lives of its Citizenry. But rather call upon its Citizenry to care for the Government.

God Bless

Paul

Guided Insight Life Coach 

 

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Air Conditioning, Cable TV, and an Xbox: What is Poverty in the United States Today?


 

heritagePublished on July 18, 2011 by Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield Backgrounder #2575

Abstract: For decades, the U.S. Census Bureau has reported that over 30 million Americans were living in “poverty,” but the bureau’s definition of poverty differs widely from that held by most Americans. In fact, other government surveys show that most of the persons whom the government defines as “in poverty” are not poor in any ordinary sense of the term. The overwhelming majority of the poor have air conditioning, cable TV, and a host of other modern amenities. They are well housed, have an adequate and reasonably steady supply of food, and have met their other basic needs, including medical care. Some poor Americans do experience significant hardships, including temporary food shortages or inadequate housing, but these individuals are a minority within the overall poverty population. Poverty remains an issue of serious social concern, but accurate information about that problem is essential in crafting wise public policy. Exaggeration and misinformation about poverty obscure the nature, extent, and causes of real material deprivation, thereby hampering the development of well-targeted, effective programs to reduce the problem.

Each year for the past two decades, the U.S. Census Bureau has reported that over 30 million Americans were living in “poverty.” In recent years, the Census has reported that one in seven Americans are poor. But what does it mean to be “poor” in America? How poor are America’s poor?

For most Americans, the word “poverty” suggests destitution: an inability to provide a family with nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter. For example, the Poverty Pulse poll taken by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development asked the general public: “How would you describe being poor in the U.S.?” The overwhelming majority of responses focused on homelessness, hunger or not being able to eat properly, and not being able to meet basic needs.[1] That perception is bolstered by news stories about poverty that routinely feature homelessness and hunger.

Yet if poverty means lacking nutritious food, adequate warm housing, and clothing for a family, relatively few of the more than 30 million people identified as being “in poverty” by the Census Bureau could be characterized as poor.[2] While material hardship definitely exists in the United States, it is restricted in scope and severity. The average poor person, as defined by the government, has a living standard far higher than the public imagines.

As scholar James Q. Wilson has stated, “The poorest Americans today live a better life than all but the richest persons a hundred years ago.”[3] In 2005, the typical household defined as poor by the government had a car and air conditioning. For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. If there were children, especially boys, in the home, the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or a PlayStation.[4] In the kitchen, the household had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker.

The home of the typical poor family was not overcrowded and was in good repair. In fact, the typical poor American had more living space than the average European. The typical poor American family was also able to obtain medical care when needed. By its own report, the typical family was not hungry and had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs.

Poor families certainly struggle to make ends meet, but in most cases, they are struggling to pay for air conditioning and the cable TV bill as well as to put food on the table. Their living standards are far different from the images of dire deprivation promoted by activists and the mainstream media.

Regrettably, annual Census reports not only exaggerate current poverty, but also suggest that the number of poor persons[5] and their living conditions have remained virtually unchanged for four decades or more. In reality, the living conditions of poor Americans have shown significant improvement over time.

Consumer items that were luxuries or significant purchases for the middle class a few decades ago have become commonplace in poor households. In part, this is caused by a normal downward trend in price following the introduction of a new product. Initially, new products tend to be expensive and available only to the affluent. Over time, prices fall sharply, and the product saturates the entire population, including poor households.

As a rule of thumb, poor households tend to obtain modern conveniences about a dozen years after the middle class. Today, most poor families have conveniences that were unaffordable to the middle class not too long ago.

Poverty: A Range of Living Conditions

However, there is a range of living conditions within the poverty population. The average poor family does not represent every poor family. Although most poor families are well housed, a small minority are homeless.

Fortunately, the number of homeless Americans has not increased during the current recession.[6] Although most poor families are well fed and have a fairly stable food supply, a sizeable minority experiences temporary restraints in food supply at various times during the year. The number of families experiencing such temporary food shortages has increased somewhat during the current economic downturn.

Of course, to the families experiencing these problems, their comparative infrequency is irrelevant. To a family that has lost its home and is living in a homeless shelter, the fact that only 0.5 percent of families shared this experience in 2009 is no comfort. The distress and fear for the future that the family experiences are real and devastating. Public policy must deal with that distress. However, accurate information about the extent and severity of social problems is imperative for the development of effective public policy.

In discussions about poverty, however, misunderstanding and exaggeration are commonplace. Over the long term, exaggeration has the potential to promote a substantial misallocation of limited resources for a government that is facing massive future deficits. In addition, exaggeration and misinformation obscure the nature, extent, and causes of real material deprivation, thereby hampering the development of well-targeted, effective programs to reduce the problem. Poverty is an issue of serious social concern, and accurate information about that problem is always essential in crafting public policy.

Living Conditions of the Poor

Each year, the U.S. Census Bureau releases its annual report on income and poverty.[7] This report, though widely publicized by the press, provides only a bare count of the number of Americans who are allegedly poor. It provides no data on or description of their actual living conditions.

This does not mean that such information is not available. The federal government conducts several other surveys that provide detailed information on the living conditions of the poor. These surveys provide a very different sense of American poverty.[8] They reveal that the actual standard of living among America’s poor is far higher than the public imagines and that, in fact, most of the persons whom the government defines as “in poverty” are not poor in any ordinary sense of the term. Regrettably, these detailed surveys are almost never reported in the mainstream press.

One of the most interesting surveys that measures actual living conditions is the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS),[9] which the Department of Energy has conducted regularly since 1980.[10] The RECS survey measures energy consumption and ownership of various conveniences by U.S. households. It also provides information on households at different income levels, including poor households.

The first half of this paper uses RECS data to analyze and describe one aspect of the living standards of the poor: ownership and availability of household amenities.[11] The second half provides a broader description of the living standards of America’s poor.

Availability of Amenities in Poor Households

This section uses RECS data from 2005, the most recent year for which data are available, to analyze the amenities typically found in poor households.[12] The 2005 RECS data represent the living conditions of the poor before the current recession. Conditions are likely quite similar today.

Because the current recession has increased the number of poor persons in the U.S. since 2005, it might seem likely that poor households would have fewer amenities and conveniences today than in 2005. However, the increase in poverty during the recession is, to a considerable degree, the result of working-class families losing employment. One would not expect these families to dispose of their normal household conveniences in those circumstances. Thus, paradoxically, the increase in the number of working- and middle-class families who have become temporarily poor is likely to increase slightly the share of poor households that own various items. When the present recession ends, the living conditions of the poor are likely to continue to improve as they have in the past.

Chart 1 shows the percentage of all U.S. households that owned or had available various household amenities and conveniences in 2005. For example, it shows that 84 percent of all U.S. households had air conditioning, 79 percent had cable or satellite television, and 68 percent had a personal computer.[13]

Chart 2 shows the same information for 2005 for poor U.S. households (those with cash incomes below the official poverty thresholds). While poor households were slightly less likely to have conveniences than the general population, most poor households had a wide range of amenities. As Chart 2 shows, 78 percent of poor households had air conditioning, 64 percent had cable or satellite TV, and 38 percent had a personal computer.[14]

Percentage of All U.S. Households Which Have Various Amenities

Percentage of Poor U.S. Households Which Have Various Amenities

The Household Amenity Scale. Living conditions can be analyzed by creating a household amenity scale based on the 30 items listed in Chart 1. The RECS database reports which households have each specific amenity. For each affirmative response that a household has a particular amenity, we gave the household one point. All the affirmative responses of the household were then summed to produce an overall amenity score for the household.

Thus, a household’s amenity score can range from 0 to 30. A household that responded negatively to all 30 items would have an amenity score of zero, a household that responded affirmatively to half the items would have an amenity score of 15, and a household that answered affirmatively to all 30 items would have a score of 30. The amenity score of a household is roughly equal to the number of amenities present in the household.[15]

Chart 3 provides the cumulative distribution of amenity scores for all U.S. households in 2005, showing the percentage of all households with an amenity score at or below each specified level. The median amenity score for all households is 19. This means that half of all households had a score at or below 19 and half of households had a score at or above 19.[16]

Having determined the median amenity score, we then examined every household with that score to determine which amenities appeared most frequently within the median group.

  • The analysis showed that households with the median amenity score most frequently had the following 19 items: air conditioning, a personal computer, Internet access, a computer printer, a ceiling fan, a cell phone or phones, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker.
  • For entertainment, these households had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR.
  • In the kitchen, the households had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, an automatic dishwasher, and a microwave.
  • In the laundry, they had a washing machine and dryer.

These amenities may then be considered representative of the living standards of the median or typical U.S. household in 2005.

Distribution of Households by Amenities Score

Amenities in the Median Poor Household. We then examined poor households, meaning households with a reported income below the official government poverty income thresholds in 2005. Analysis revealed that poor households had a median household amenity score of 14. This means that half of all poor households had a score at or below 14 and half of households had score at or above 14.

Having determined that the amenity score of the median poor household was 14, we then examined all poor households with that score to determine which amenities appeared most frequently within the median poor group.

  • The analysis showed that median poor households most frequently had the following 14 items: air conditioning, a clothes washer, a clothes dryer, ceiling fans, and a cordless phone.
  • For entertainment, these households had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR.
  • In the kitchen, these poor households had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, a microwave, and a coffee maker.

These items may then be considered representative of the living standards of the median or typical poor U.S. household in 2005.

The median poor household had five fewer amenities than the median household in the general population. Specifically, the typical poor household lacked the following items that were in the typical middle-income household: a personal computer, Internet access, a computer printer, a dishwasher, and a cell phone.

Amenities in Poor Families with Children. Poor families with children have more conveniences and amenities than other poor families. In 2005, the median amenity score for poor families with children was 16. We examined all poor families with children with an amenity score of 16 to determine which items appeared most frequently in these homes.

  • These homes typically had both air conditioning and a personal computer.
  • For entertainment, they typically had cable or satellite TV, three color televisions, a DVD player, a VCR, and a video game system, such as an Xbox or Play Station.
  • In the kitchen, they had a refrigerator, a stove and oven, a microwave, and an automatic coffee maker.
  • Other amenities included a cell phone, a cordless phone, and a clothes washer.[17]

These conveniences may be considered representative of the living standards of the median or typical poor family with children in 2005.

Amenities in Typical Households

Improvement in Poor Households over Time. Because the RECS has reported on the living conditions of the poor for several decades, it is a useful tool for charting the improvement in living conditions among the poor over time. For example, Chart 4 shows the percentage of all households and the percentage of poor households that had any type of air conditioning between 1970 and 2005.[18] Although poor households were less likely to have air conditioning in any given year, the share of households with air conditioning increased steadily for both groups over the 25-year period. By 2005, the two rates converged as air conditioning became nearly universal in U.S. society.

Chart 5 shows the percentage of all households and the percentage of poor households that had central air conditioning between 1970 and 2005. Because central air conditioning is more expensive than window units, it is less common in U.S. society. Nonetheless, the share of the general population and the share of poor households with central air conditioning have increased at a similar pace for the past 25 years.

Finally, Chart 6 shows the share of all households and the share of poor households that had a personal computer from 1990 to 2005. Personal computers were rare in 1990 but spread widely through society over the next 15 years. Computer ownership among the poor increased substantially during the period. In 1990, only 5 percent of poor households had a computer. By 2005, the number had risen to almost 40 percent.

Households with Air Conditioning

Households with Central Air Conditioning

Households Owning A Computer

Charts 4, 5, and 6 show a common pattern. The share of poor households that have a given amenity tends to equal the share of all U.S. households that had the same amenity 10 to 15 years earlier. There seems to be a general lag effect in which poor households acquire a given amenity roughly a dozen years after the general population acquires it.

Housing and Poverty

Of course, the typical poor family could have a host of modern conveniences and still live in dilapidated, overcrowded housing. However, data from other government surveys show that this is not the case.[19] Poor Americans are well housed and rarely overcrowded.[20] In fact, the houses and apartments of America’s poor are quite spacious by international standards. The typical poor American has considerably more living space than does the average European.[21]

Forty-three percent of all poor households 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.[22]

Nearly all of the houses and apartments of the poor are in good condition. According to the government’s data, only one in 10 has moderate physical problems. Only 2 percent of poor domiciles have “severe” physical problems, the most common of which is sharing a bathroom with another household living in the building.[23]

Food Shortages, Nutrition, and Poverty

It is possible that most poor households could be well housed and have many modern conveniences but still face chronic food shortages and undernutrition. Poor families might have microwaves but a limited and sporadic supply of food to put in the microwave. Government surveys show that this is not the case for the overwhelming majority of poor families.

On average, the poor are well nourished. The average consumption of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children. In most cases, it is well above recommended norms. Poor children actually consume more meat than higher-income children consume, and their protein intake averages 100 percent above recommended levels. In fact, most poor children are super-nourished and grow up to be, on average, one inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.[24]

However, even though the poor, in general, have an ample food supply, some do suffer from temporary food shortages. For example, a poor household with an adequate long-term food supply might need temporarily to cut back meals, eat cheap food, or go without if cash and food stamps run out at the end of the month.

Still, government data show that most poor households do not suffer even from temporary food shortages. As Chart 7 shows, 92.5 percent of poor households assert that they always had “enough food to eat” during the previous four months, although 26 percent of these did not always have the foods that they would have preferred. Some 6 percent of poor households state that they “sometimes” did not have enough food, and 1.5 percent say they “often” did not have enough food.[25]

The bottom line is that, although a small portion of poor households report temporary food shortages, the overwhelming majority of poor households report that they consistently have enough food to eat.

Enough Food to Eat over the Past Four Months

Temporary food shortages have increased during the current recession but still remain atypical among poor households. During 2009, less than one poor household in five experienced even a single instance of “reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns” due to a lack of financial resources.[26] Strikingly, only 4 percent of poor children experienced even a single instance of “reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns” due to a lack of financial resources.[27]

Food Banks and Soup Kitchens

TV news stories that inform audiences that one in seven Americans are poor routinely depict “the poor” collecting free groceries at a food pantry or eating meals at a free food kitchen.[28] The audience is led to conclude that gathering free food from a charity pantry or eating free meals at a soup kitchen is the norm for those in poverty.

In fact, while the use of food pantries and emergency kitchens has increased during the current recession,[29] poor families generally did not use charity food pantries or soup kitchens. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that only one poor family in five took food from a food pantry even once during all of 2009. Far fewer ate at a food kitchen.

In the whole U.S. population, 5.6 million households (4.8 percent of all households) used a food pantry at any point during 2009. Far fewer ate meals at a soup kitchen. Only 625,000 of all U.S. households (0.5 percent) had a member who ate a meal in a free-food kitchen at any time in 2009.[30]

Poverty and Homelessness

The mainstream press and activist groups also frequently conflate poverty with homelessness. News stories about poverty often feature homeless families living “on the street.”[31] This depiction is seriously misleading because only a small portion of persons “living in poverty” will become homeless over the course of a year. The overwhelming majority of the poor reside throughout the year in non-crowded housing that is in good repair.

The 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) states that on a given night in 2009, some 643,000 persons in the U.S. were homeless (without permanent domicile).[32] This means that at any given time, one out of 470 persons in the general population or one out of 70 persons with incomes below the poverty level was homeless.[33]

Moreover, two-thirds of these 643,000 homeless persons were residing in emergency shelters or transitional housing. Only 240,000 were without shelter. These “unsheltered” individuals were “on the street,” meaning that they were living in cars, abandoned buildings, alleyways, or parks. At any point in 2009, roughly one person out of 1,250 in the general population or one out of 180 poor persons was homeless in the literal sense of being on the street and without shelter.

Odds of Being Homeless on a Single Night in 2009

Homelessness is usually a transitional condition. Individuals typically lose housing, reside in an emergency shelter for a few weeks or months, and then reenter permanent housing. The transitional nature of homelessness means that many more people become temporarily homeless over the course of a year than are homeless at any single point in time.

Thus, HUD reports that 1.56 million persons resided in an emergency shelter or transitional housing at least one night during 2009.[34] The year-round total of individuals who ever stayed in a shelter or transitional housing was nearly four times larger than the 403,000 who resided in such facilities on an average night.[35]

Based on the year-round data on shelter use, roughly one person in 195 in the general population resided in emergency shelter or transitional housing for at least one night during a full 12-month period. Roughly one in 25 poor persons (4 percent of all poor persons) resided in an emergency shelter or transitional housing for at least one night during the full year.[36]

Despite news stories that assert that the current recession has caused a great increase in homelessness, homeless shelter use, in general, has not increased during the current economic downturn.[37] In addition, shelters are not overcrowded. On a typical night, shelters have an average vacancy rate of 10 percent.[38]

Odds of Residing in a Homeless Shelter or Transitional Housing for at Least One Night During Full Year: 2009

While the overall number of homeless has not increased during the current recession, there has been a small increase in the number of families with children who use homeless shelters. Some 168,000 families with children resided in a homeless shelter for at least one night during all of 2010.[39] This figure was up from 130,000 in 2007. The increase of 38,000 families represents only one family out every 1,000 families with children. While the misfortune is real for the families involved, these numbers scarcely show a tidal wave of increased homelessness.

Although news stories often suggest that poverty and homelessness are similar, this is inaccurate. In reality, the gap between the living conditions of a homeless person and the typical poor household is proportionately as great as the gap between the poor household and a middle-class family in the suburbs.

Essential Needs

Although the public equates poverty with physical deprivation, the overwhelming majority of poor households do not experience any form of physical deprivation. Some 70 percent of poor households report that during the course of the past year, they were able to meet “all essential expenses,” including mortgage, rent, utility bills, and important medical care.

It is widely supposed that the poor are unable to obtain medical care, but in reality, only 13 percent of poor households report that a family member needed to go to a doctor or hospital at some point in the prior year but was unable because the family could not afford the cost.[40]

Public Understanding of Poverty

In 2005, the typical poor household, as defined by the government, had air conditioning and a car.[41] For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. In the kitchen, it had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker. The family was able to obtain medical care when needed. Their home was not overcrowded and was in good repair. By its own report, the family was not hungry and had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs.

The overwhelming majority of the public do not regard a family living in these conditions as poor. For example, a poll conducted in June 2009 asked a nationally representative sample of the public whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: “A family in the U.S. that has a decent, un-crowded house or apartment to live in, ample food to eat, access to medical care, a car, cable television, air conditioning and a microwave at home should not be considered poor.”[42]

A full 80 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of Democrats agreed that a family living in those living conditions should not be considered poor.

Census Poverty Reports Are Misleading and Inaccurate

Nonetheless, each year, the U.S. Census Bureau issues a report claiming that over 35 million Americans live in poverty. The annual Census poverty report is flawed in two respects.

First, the report provides no information on the actual living conditions of the persons identified as poor. It simply states that a specified number of persons are poor without giving any information on what poverty means in the real world. A detailed description of the living conditions of the poor would greatly enhance public understanding. In fact, without a detailed description of living conditions, public discussions of poverty are meaningless.

Second, the Census report massively undercounts the economic resources provided to poor people. The Census asserts that a household is poor if its “money income” falls below a specified threshold. In 2009, the poverty income threshold for a family of four was $21,756. However, in counting the money income of households, the Census ignores virtually the entire welfare state. For example, there are over 70 means-tested welfare programs that provide cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to poor and low-income persons. Major means-tested welfare programs include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; Supplemental Security Income; the Earned Income Tax Credit; food stamps; the Women, Infants, and Children food program; public housing; and Medicaid. (Social Security and Medicare are not means-tested welfare programs.)

In 2008, federal and state governments spent $714 billion on means-tested welfare programs, but the Census counted only about 4 percent of this as “money income” for purposes of determining whether a household was poor. The bottom line is that the economic resources available to poor persons are vastly greater than the Census claims.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor finds that the lowest-income one-fifth of households appear to spend $1.87 for every $1.00 of income that the Census says these households have. If the free medical care and public housing subsidies given to these households were counted, then the gap between expenditure and income would be even greater.[43]

Misrepresenting Poverty in America

As noted, for the average American, the word “poverty” implies significant material hardship and deprivation. Politicians, activists, and the mainstream media reinforce this image, asserting that each year, over 35 million Americans live in chronic material deprivation, unable to obtain “the basic material necessities of life.”

For example, former Senator and Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards made poverty the centerpiece of his repeated campaigns for the presidency. Edwards proclaimed that 37 million Americans “struggle with incredible poverty.”[44] He explicitly equated poverty as defined by the Census Bureau with dramatic unfulfilled material need. According to Edwards, America’s poor, who number “one in eight of us…do not have enough money for the food, shelter, and clothing they need.” The poor, he said, were forced to live in “terrible” circumstances.[45]

In Edwards’s stump speeches, the “plague of poverty”[46] in America was typified by a 10-year-old girl who lacked food and clothing. Edwards proclaimed, “Tonight, a 10-year-old little girl will go to bed hungry, hoping and praying that tomorrow will not be as cold as today because she doesn’t have the coat to keep her warm.”[47] Confronted by skeptics, Edwards’s staff ultimately admitted that the girl was “metaphorical,”[48] but Edwards continued to feature her in speech after speech.

Liberal advocacy groups routinely echo Edwards’s claims. For example, the Children’s Defense Fund equates government-defined poverty with daily hardship and suffering. CDF President Marian Wright Edelman states, “It is a moral outrage that in the wealthiest nation on earth there are still 12.8 million children living in poverty” and “inexcusable that 12.8 million children are forced to suffer through hardship every day.”[49]

In a campaign to promote higher welfare spending, Catholic Charities USA tells the public that the government-defined poor lack the basic material necessities of life:

We speak of [the United States] being the land of plenty: a country with living standards so high that others wish to emulate our success. But for nearly 37 million Americans there is another story. What is life like in this other America? How can it be that millions of us lack the basic material necessities of life?[50]

Advocacy groups often equate official poverty with hunger, malnutrition, and homelessness. When asked what it means for children to live in official U.S. poverty, Marion Wright Edelman informed TV audiences that official child poverty means “hopelessness for too many, it means homelessness; it means being hungry.”[51] The activist Web site Spotlight on Poverty asserts, “An increasing number of Americans face poverty and, as a result, hunger.… In all, 15 percent of American households…did not have the resources to obtain adequate nutrition and lead a healthy lifestyle.”[52]

Confusing Poverty and Deprivation

Protestations by anti-poverty activists almost always involve two incompatible ideas: that poverty in America is widespread, affecting as many as one in seven Americans, and that being poor in this country means serious material deprivation. The fusion of these two notions leads to a profound misrepresentation of the actual living conditions in the nation.

For example, confusion of this sort can be found in Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America by evangelical Ronald J. Sider.[53] Sider begins his book with a chapter entitled “What Does Poverty Look Like?” in which he informs his readers, “In 2005, in the United States, 37 million people lived in poverty in the richest society in human history.” He asks, “Who are the poor? Where do they live?”[54] and proceeds to answer these questions with a lengthy description of the home of Mrs. Onita Skyles, a 68-year-old widow:

The foundation was collapsing. Sections of the floor had rotted. The walls and ceiling were cracked. The tub and toilet had sunk below the floor level and were unusable, and there was no running water. Mrs. Styles cooked with a hot plate and carried water in gallon jugs from a neighbor’s house.[55]

He then describes the shack where the Perez family lives: “The walls are old doors, tar paper, chicken wire, and rotting boards. The ground provides a dirt floor. There is no bathroom, no running water, no electricity, no heat. Their toilet is a reeking outhouse across the street.”[56]

The descriptions of these two individual households are indeed appalling, but Sider is seriously misleading when he implies that such living conditions are representative of 37 million poor people.[57] In fact, the situations he presents are not at all representative of the poor in America. The described conditions are very unusual and probably found in no more than one in 500 households.[58]

Confronted with this fact, activists usually respond that the exact numbers are irrelevant because no American should live in such deplorable conditions. This may be true, but when formulating effective public policy, it matters a great deal whether one in seven households or one in 500 households live in such conditions.

However, if the goal is greater income redistribution—rather than policies that precisely and effectively target those truly in need—then big numbers matter a lot. Liberal activists continue to insist that very large numbers of Americans live in severe deprivation.

This is no accident. The interlocking assertions that poverty is widespread, affecting one in seven Americans, and that the poor live in desperate conditions are both ideologically necessary for the Left. Together, they provide justification for policies to greatly expand the welfare state and further “spread the wealth.” But if one or both assertions proves to be untrue, the impetus for expanding the welfare state is greatly undermined.

Depictions of Poverty in the News Media

Mainstream news media also present poverty in America as severe material hardship. For example:

  • A CBS News story on the “faces of poverty” features a mother living with five small children in a “27 square foot camper” beside the railroad tracks.[59]
  • An NBC News story on “poverty in America” depicts the poor as homeless or feeding themselves from food pantries.[60]
  • An ABC News story represents poverty as families who are homeless or living with empty refrigerators.[61]
  • A moving ABC News story on poverty in Appalachia focuses on a 12-year-old girl whose single mother is a drug-addicted high school dropout. The girl lives in a tiny house with 11 other people, with no car and limited food.[62]
  • Another network news story features an unemployed couple living in a tent in Reno, Nevada.[63]

The families in these stories are real. Their suffering is real and a cause for serious concern. But such families are clearly atypical of America’s poor. To the extent that the networks suggest that the living standards of these families are representative of the living conditions of 35 million poor people across the nation, they are profoundly misleading viewers.

The ongoing use of examples of severe hardship in TV news should not be surprising. TV news thrives on drama, and reporters naturally seek out the starkest and most sympathetic examples of poverty to build the most compelling stories. By contrast, a realistic portrayal of the living conditions of the typical poor family in America would not make compelling viewing. In fact, the audience would be unlikely to regard such a family as seriously deprived.

While substantial hardship does occur in U.S society, it is limited in scope. At any given time, only a small portion of the more than 35 million “poor” Americans will experience the sort of dramatic deprivation presented in the above newscasts. Moreover, when dramatic hardship does occur, it is generally temporary or caused by multiple behavioral problems in the home.

Ironically, suggesting that tens of millions of poor Americans suffer from chronic substantial deprivation actually makes solving social problems more difficult. Such misrepresentation leads to a misallocation of resources and, by obscuring the causes of deprivation, impedes the development of effective countermeasures.

Official Government Poverty Numbers Misrepresent U.S. Around the Globe

One of the most regrettable aspects of official U.S. government poverty statistics is the misleading negative image that they project around the world. U.S. government poverty numbers are like a Potemkin village in reverse, suggesting to the rest of the globe that living conditions in the U.S. are much worse than they actually are.

For example, Al Jazeera uses U.S. government poverty numbers to tell the world what a terrible place the U.S. is. Al Jazeera tells a global audience: “37 million people—that is one in eight Americans—live below the official poverty line. That means these people are often homeless, hungry, and have no health insurance.”[64] Al Jazeera shows a representative poor American family: six people living in a one-bedroom apartment.[65] Other stories go farther. An Al Jazeera special report on “poverty in America” shows America’s poor as homeless or living in rat-infested, crumbling shacks while suffering from life-threatening malnutrition.[66]

Al Jazeera is not alone. The Teheran Times informs its readers:

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an astonishing 47 million Americans out of a population of about 310 million live in poverty in the Unites [sic] States, a number equivalent to one out of every seven people…. [O]ne in five children in the United States live in poverty, with almost half of them living in extreme poverty. [67]

Similarly, the Chinese government uses the U.S. Census Bureau’s misleading poverty reports to condemn the U.S. government for human rights violations. In its official report on The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010, the Chinese government asserts:

The United States is the world’s richest country, but Americans’ economic, social and cultural rights protection is going from bad to worse….The U.S. Census Bureau reported on September 16, 2010 that a total of 44 million Americans found themselves in poverty in 2009, four million more than that of 2008.[68]

Beijing fumes that, in America, the number of “[p]eople in hunger increased sharply…. About 50 million Americans experienced food shortage [in 2009]” and that “nearly one in four children struggles with hunger.”[69]

Russia Today (RT) is a multilingual television news network funded by the Russian government. RT broadcasts news in English, Spanish, and Arabic to over 100 nations around the globe. Like Al Jazeera, Russia Today has a fascination for U.S. government poverty figures, which it uses to project a horrifying picture of the U.S. around the globe. Using official Census figures, RT informs audiences that “one in seven Americans [are] living in poverty.” It then gives “a perfect example of the face of poverty in the United States”: a tent village for homeless people in the woods in New Jersey that is run by a church group. According to RT, the homeless living there apparently work without ceasing for less than the minimum wage.[70] RT leads viewers to believe that one in seven Americans crowd into charity soup kitchens each day to fend off starvation.[71] The network gleefully tells viewers that widespread poverty in America is “like a third world nightmare.”[72]

Al Jazeera and the governments of Iran, China, and Russia have their own ideological and geopolitical goals. Their depictions of the U.S. as a failed, nightmare society are no surprise. However, it is ironic that the U.S. government’s own misleading poverty report has become a major prop in anti-American propaganda around the world. Poverty in America is far from the nightmare of extreme material deprivation that it is portrayed to be, but the U.S. government has yet to explain that fact to the rest of the world or even to the American public.

Increasing the Misinformation: Obama’s New “Poverty” Measure

There is a vast gap between poverty as understood by the American public and poverty as currently measured by the government. Sadly, President Barack Obama plans to make this situation worse by creating a new “poverty” measure that deliberately severs all connection between “poverty” and actual deprivation. This new measure will serve as a propaganda tool in Obama’s endless quest to “spread the wealth” and will eventually displace the current poverty measure.

Under the new measure, a family will be judged poor if its income falls below certain specified income thresholds or standards. There is nothing new in this, but unlike the current poverty income standards, the new income thresholds will have a built-in escalator clause. They will rise automatically in direct proportion to any rise in the living standards of the average American.

The current poverty measure counts (albeit inaccurately) absolute purchasing power (how much meat and potatoes a person can buy). The new measure will count comparative purchasing power (how much meat and potatoes a person can buy relative to other people). As the nation becomes wealthier, the poverty standards will increase in proportion. In other words, Obama will employ a statistical trick to give a new meaning to the saying that “the poor will always be with you.”

The new poverty measure will produce very odd results. For example, if the real income of every single American were to triple magically overnight, the new poverty measure would show no drop in poverty because the poverty income standards would also triple. Under the Obama system, poverty can be reduced only if the incomes of the “poor” are rising faster than the incomes of everyone else. Another paradox of the new poverty measure is that countries such as Bangladesh and Albania will have lower poverty rates than the U.S.—even though the actual living conditions in those countries are extremely low—simply because they have narrower distribution of incomes, albeit very low incomes.

According to Obama’s measure, economic growth has no impact on poverty. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the incomes of nearly all Americans have increased sevenfold after adjusting for inflation. However, from Obama’s perspective, this increase in real incomes had no effect on poverty because the incomes of those at the bottom of the income distribution did not rise faster than the incomes of those in the middle.

In plain English, Obama’s new poverty-measure system will measure income “inequality,” not “poverty.” But he cannot call it an inequality index because the American voter is unwilling to support massive welfare increases, soaring deficits, and tax increases just to equalize incomes. However, if the goal of income leveling is camouflaged as a desperate struggle against poverty, malnutrition, hunger, and dire deprivation, then the political prospects improve.

The new measure is a public relations Trojan horse, smuggling in a “spread-the-wealth” agenda under the ruse of fighting significant material deprivation—a condition that is already rare in American society.

Poverty as traditionally defined by the Census Bureau has little connection with poverty as understood by the average American. The new Obama poverty measure will stretch this semantic gap, artificially swelling the number of poor Americans and severing any link between the government’s concept of poverty and even modest deprivation. It will make grappling with the real deprivation that does exist even more difficult.

Conclusion: What is Poverty?

In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau declared that one in seven Americans lived “in poverty.” Catholic Charities has declared, “The existence of such widespread poverty amidst such enormous wealth is a moral and social wound in the soul of the country.”[73]

To the average American, the word “poverty” implies significant material deprivation, an inability to provide a family with adequate nutritious food, reasonable shelter, and clothing. Activists reinforce this view, declaring that being poor in the U.S. means being “unable to obtain the basic material necessities of life.”[74] The news media amplify this idea: Most news stories on poverty feature homeless families, people living in crumbling shacks, or lines of the downtrodden eating in soup kitchens.

The actual living conditions of America’s poor are far different from these images. In 2005, the typical household defined as poor by the government had a car and air conditioning. For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. If there were children, especially boys, in the home, the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation. In the kitchen, the household had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, a clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker.

The home of the typical poor family was not overcrowded and was in good repair. The family was able to obtain medical care when needed. By its own report, the family was not hungry and had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs.

Poor families clearly struggle to make ends meet, but in most cases, they are struggling to pay for air conditioning and cable TV while putting food on the table. The current recession has increased the number of Americans who are poor, but it does not appear to have greatly reduced the living standards of the average poor family.

True, the average poor family does not represent every poor family. There is a range of living conditions among the poor. Some poor households fare better than the average household described above. Others are worse off. Although the overwhelming majority of the poor are well housed, at any single point in time during the recession in 2009, around one in 70 poor persons was homeless. Although the majority of poor families have an adequate and reasonably steady supply of food, many worry about keeping food on the table, and one in five experienced temporary food shortages at various times in 2009.

Those who are without food or homeless will find no comfort in the fact that their condition is relatively infrequent. Their distress is real and a serious concern.

Nonetheless, wise public policy cannot be based on misinformation or misunderstanding. Anti-poverty policy must be based on an accurate assessment of actual living conditions and the causes of deprivation. In the long term, grossly exaggerating the extent and severity of material deprivation in the U.S. will benefit neither the poor, the economy, nor society as a whole.

Robert Rector is Senior Research Fellow in the Domestic Policy Studies Department, and Rachel Sheffield is a Research Assistant in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, at The Heritage Foundation.

Appendix

Amenities of All Poor Households

Amenities of Poor Households with Children

__________________________________________________________________

References in this report

[1]See Catholic Campaign for Human Development, “Poverty Pulse: Wave IV,” January 2004, at http://www.usccb.org/cchd/PP4FINAL.PDF (June 21, 2011). Interestingly, only about 1 percent of those surveyed defined poverty as the government defines it: as having an income below a specified level.

[2]The Census Bureau defines an individual as poor if his or her family income falls below certain specified income thresholds, which vary by family size. In 2006, a family of four was deemed poor if its annual income fell below $20,615, and a family of three was deemed poor if annual income was below $16,079. In 2009, the thresholds were $21,954 for a family of four and $17,098 for a family of three. U.S. Census Bureau, Poverty Thresholds by Size of Family and Number of Children, at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/threshld/index.html (June 23, 2011).

[3]James Q. Wilson, The Marriage Problem: How Our Culture Has Weakened Families (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), p. 1.

[4]U.S. Department of Energy, Residential Energy Expenditure Survey, 2005, at http://explore.data.gov/Energy-and-Utilities/Residential-Energy-Consumption-Survey-RECS-Files-A/eypy-jxs2 (June 23, 2011).

[5]According to the census, 14.3 percent of the population was poor in 2009, almost the same percentage as in 1966 when the War on Poverty was just starting.

[6]U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Community Planning and Development, The 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, at http://www.hudhre.info/documents/2010HomelessAssessmentReport.pdf (June 29, 2011).

[7]Carmen DeNavas-Walt, Bernadette D. Proctor, and Jessica C. Smith, “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States,” U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60-238, September 2010, at http://www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/p60-238.pdf (June 21, 2011).

[8]These surveys include the Residential Energy Consumption Survey, What We Eat in America, Food Security, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the American Housing Survey, and the Survey of Income and Program Participation. See U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Residential Energy Consumption Survey, at http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/recs/ (June 22, 2011); U.S. Department of Agriculture, What We Eat in America, NHANES 2007–2008, at http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/12355000/pdf/0708/Table_4_NIN_POV_07.pdf (June 22, 2011); U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Security, at http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/EIB56/ (June 22, 2011); U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/about_nhanes.htm (June 27, 2011); U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, American Housing Survey, at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/ahs/ahs.html (June 27, 2011); and U.S. Census Bureau, Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2001 Panel, Wave 8 Topical Module, 2003, at http://www.bls.census.gov/sipp_ftp.html#sipp01 (June 27, 2011).

[9]U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, 2005 RECS Public Use Microdata Files, at http://www.eia.gov/consumption/residential/data/2005/microdata.cfm (June 22, 2011).

[10]See U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Residential Energy Consumption Survey, 1980–2001, at http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/recs/historicaldata/historical_data80_02.html (June 22, 2011).

[11]In households that rent a dwelling, large fixed amenities such as air conditioning, refrigerators, washers, and dryers usually belong to the property owner rather than the renter. In this situation, the amenity will be available to but not owned by the renter.

[12]Although the Department of Energy has produced some tables from the 2009 RECS survey, the microdata files used in this report were not available for 2009. See U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, RECS Survey Data Tables, 2009, at http://www.eia.doe.gov/consumption/residential/data/2009/ (June 22, 2011).

[13]Statistics on the reliability of the estimates in Table 1 are presented in Appendix Table 1.

[14]Statistics on the reliability of the estimates in Table 2 are presented in Appendix Table 2.

[15]The amenity score varies slightly from the number of amenities in the home because a wide-screen television receives a score of two points: one as a television and one as a wide-screen unit.

[16]Chart 1 shows that 21 different amenities are present in over 50 percent of U.S. households. By contrast, the median amenity score is only 19. The median amenity score is less than 21 because, while those 21 amenities are widely available in U.S. households, a single household at the middle of the distribution will not have all 21 amenities simultaneously in its home.

[17]Other items that appeared frequently in poor households with children and with a median amenity score were a non-portable stereo system, a clothes dryer, and ceiling fans. These items frequently replaced the third television, computer, and coffee maker in poor households.

[18]Pre-1980 data were taken from the American Housing Survey. Data for 1980 and later years were taken from the Residential Energy Consumption Survey. See earlier reports at U.S. Census Bureau, “American Housing Survey (AHS),” at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/ahs/ahs.html (June 27, 2011).

[19]U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, American Housing Survey, http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/ahs/ahs.html (June 22, 2011).

[20]The current recession caused a slight increase in crowding among poor households. In 2009, 6.1 percent of poor households were overcrowded with more than one person per room. There was no increase in overcrowding in the general population in 2009. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Commerce, American Housing Survey for the United States: 2009, March 2011, p. 15, Table 2.3, at http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/h150-09.pdf (June 22, 2011).

[21]This comparison is to the average person in European countries, not to poor Europeans. Robert Rector, “How Poor Are America’s Poor? Examining the ‘Plague’ of Poverty in America,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2064, August 27, 2007, at http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2007/08/how-poor-are-americas-poor-examining-the-plague-of-poverty-in-america.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26]According to the USDA food security report, 18.5 percent of poor households experienced “very low food security” during 2009. The report defines “very low food security” as a condition in which “the food intake of one or more household members was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food.” Mark Nord, Alisha Coleman-Jensen, Margaret Andrews, and Steven Carlson, “Household Food Security in the United States, 2009,” U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service Report No. 108, November 2010, pp. i and 10, at http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err108/ (June 22, 2011).

[27] Ibid., p. 12. Only 3.9 percent of poor children experienced “very low food security” during 2009. Ibid., p. i.

[28]See CBS News, “Poverty Increasing in the U.S.,” YouTube, September 13, 2010, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJIl1Zr9l7c (June 22, 2011).

[29]The number of households that used food pantries at any point during the year increased by 1.7 million between 2007 and 2009. In 2007, 3.9 million (3.4 percent of all households) used food pantries at some point in the year. By 2009, the number had risen to 5.6 million (4.8 percent of all households). The number of families that used emergency kitchens at any time during the year increased from 535,000 in 2007 to 625,000 in 2009. Mark Nord, Margaret Andrews, and Steven Carlson, “Household Food Security in the United States, 2007,” U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service Report No. 66, November 2008, p. 33, and Nord et al., “Household Food Security in the United States, 2009,” p. 34.

[30]Nord et al., “Household Food Security in the United States, 2009,” p. 34. In contrast to the USDA numbers, Feeding America estimated that 10.3 million households used food pantries in 2009, but this estimate is not scientific and is not based on a representative sample of the U.S. population. The report uses complex and subjective estimation techniques, which include arbitrarily adjusting some results upward. Feeding America, Hunger in America 2010: National Report Prepared for Feeding America, January 2010, esp. p. 38.

[31]For example, a 60 Minutes story equated child poverty with homelessness. CBS News, “Hard Times Generation,” 60 Minutes, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cR3jQOgs9gc (June 22, 2011).

[32]U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Community Planning and Development, The 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, June 2010, p. 8, at http://www.hudhre.info/documents/5thHomelessAssessmentReport.pdf (June 22, 2011).

[33]The 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report estimates that 633,000 individuals were homeless on a given night in 2009. The Current Population Survey states that the U.S population in 2009 was 303.6 million. Thus, the single-night homeless were 0.2 percent of the population, or one in 500 persons. The Current Population Survey states that 43.6 million persons were poor in 2009, which means that the single-night homeless were 1.48 percent of the poor population, or one in every 68 poor persons. (This calculation assumes that all of the homeless would have an annual income below the poverty level.) Technically, persons who are homeless at the point of survey would not be included in the census count of persons or poor persons. To be precise, the homeless should be added to the denominator in both calculations, but this would affect the results only marginally.

[34]U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, The 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, p. 18.

[35]The number of evictions has increased substantially during the current recession. Nonetheless, in the American Housing Survey of 2009, only 191,000 households (0.2 percent of all households) reported being evicted during the previous year. This figure does not include persons who at the time of the survey were in homeless shelters or were doubled up with relatives. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Commerce, American Housing Survey for the United States: 2009.

[36]U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, The 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, p. 26, Exhibit 3-2.

[37]U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, The 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress.

[38]U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, The 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, p. 43, Exhibit 4-12, and p. 68, Exhibit 5-6.

[39]U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, The 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, p. 10.

[40]Rector, “How Poor Are America’s Poor?”

[41]Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car, and 31 percent own two or more cars. See Rector, “How Poor Are America’s Poor?”

[42]This survey question was asked of a nationally representative sample of 10,000 adults in June 2009. The poll was conducted by a national polling firm on behalf of The Heritage Foundation.

[43]For average household income by quintile, see U.S. Census Bureau, “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009,” September 2010, p. 40, at http://www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/p60-238.pdf (June 22, 2011). For consumer expenditures per quintile, see U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey: Quintiles of Income Before Taxes, 2009, at http://www.bls.gov/cex/2009/Standard/quintile.pdf (June 22, 2011).

[44]John Edwards, letter to President George W. Bush, July 19, 2007, at http://blog.johnedwards.com/story/2007/7/19/13140/5388 (August 21, 2007; unavailable June 22, 2011).

[45]John Edwards, “Conclusion: Ending Poverty in America,” in John Edwards, Marion Crain, and Arne L. Kalleberg, eds., Ending Poverty in America: How to Restore the American Dream (New York: The New Press, 2007), pp. 256 and 257.

[46] Ibid., p. 256.

[47]Mark Steyn, “The Tearjerker,” The Telegraph (London), July 11, 2004, at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3608310/The-tearjerker.html (June 22, 2011). See also John Edwards, speech at 2004 Democratic Convention, Boston, at http://www.lademo.org/ht/display/ArticleDetails/i/137615/pid/index.php (June 22, 2011).

[48]John Tierney, “Nader Searches for His Roots” The New York Times, February 15, 2004, at http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/15/politics/campaign/15POIN.html (June 22, 2011).

[49]Children’s Defense Fund, “CDF Calls 12.8 Million Children in Poverty in American Inexcusable,” August 29, 2007, at http://www.childrensdefense.org/newsroom/cdf-in-the-news/press-releases/2007/20070829-census-bureau-poverty-data.html (June 22, 2011).

[50]Catholic Charities USA, “Campaign to Reduce Poverty,” YouTube, November 10, 2008, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZpc-W7yBvg (June 22, 2011).

[51]CBS, “The Talk—Marian Wright Edelman on Children Poverty in America,” YouTube, March 21, 2011, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbvdiX6jbiQ (June 22, 2011).

[52]Jonathon Bloom, “Waste Not, Want Not: Hunger and Food Waste in America,” Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, May 9, 2011, at http://www.spotlightonpoverty.org/ExclusiveCommentary.aspx?id=b8180c74-3b26-4f85-88cb-00860489ec6b(June(June 22, 2011).

[53]Ronald J. Sider, Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2007).

[54] Ibid., p. 31.

[55] Ibid., pp. 32. Ironically, Mrs. Skyles’s circumstances were due, at least in part, to the fact that she had paid a nonprofit group to repair her house, but the work was never performed.

[56] Ibid., p. 36.

[57]On the other hand, many of the anti-poverty policies advocated by Ron Sider are quite reasonable.

[58]Estimate based on data from U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, American Housing Survey.

[59]CBS News, “Poverty at 11-Year High—and Still Rising” September 10, 2009, at http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/09/10/eveningnews/main5301548.shtml (June 22, 2011).

[60]NBC News, “Poverty in America,” September 15, 2010, at http://www.heritage.org/multimedia/video/2010/09/rector-nbc-9-16-10 (June 22, 2011).

[61]Lyneka Little, “On the Brink,” ABC News, September 21, 2010, at http://abcnews.go.com/Business/Savings/face-poverty-food-banks/story?id=11682134 (June 22, 2011).

[62]ABC News, “Children of the Mountains’ Simple Dreams,” February 13, 2009, at http://abcnews.go.com/video/video?id=6848540 (June 22, 2011). This news piece is actually quite informative. It makes no suggestion that it is portraying a widespread national condition, and it clearly identifies the behavioral and cultural roots of the poverty that it is presenting.

[63]CBS News, “The Other America,” YouTube, October 1, 2008, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N6npQzqwcU (June 22, 2011).

[64]Al Jazeera English, “We the People—Poverty: No Way Out,” YouTube, October 20, 2008, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmaSrg4Ww-E (June 22, 2011).

[65]Al Jazeera, “US Poverty Rate ‘Hits 15-Year High,’” Al Jazeera English, September 16, 2010, at http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2010/09/2010916182855740657.html (June 22, 2011).

[66]Al Jazeera English, “Poverty USA—Healthcare,” YouTube, November 15, 2007, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUV66P5Lr6Q (June 22, 2011).

[67]Press TV, “Poverty Spikes to Record Highs in U.S.,” Tehran Times, May 8, 2011, at http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=240117 (June 22, 2011).

[68]People’s Republic of China, State Council Information Office, “The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010,” Xinhua News Agency, April 10, 2011, at http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-04/10/c_13822287_5.htm (June 22, 2011).

[69] Ibid. The Chinese reference to 50 million persons in hunger is taken from the USDA’s annual food security report. Nord et al., “Household Food Security in the United States, 2009.” Those who read this report will find that it explicitly does not measure hunger. Moreover, the report asserts that most of the 50 million persons referred to do not experience food shortages. Regrettably, like the Census poverty report, the press consistently misreports the annual USDA food security study abroad and in the U.S. as showing there is widespread hunger in the U.S.

[70]Russia Today America, “The Poor and Impoverished Turn to the Forest,” YouTube, September 16, 2010, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGRkC4YM62k (June 22, 2011).

[71]Russia Today, “From Bad to Worse? US Face of Poverty,” YouTube, September 17, 2010, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8KS2XFUMYY (June 22, 2011).

[72]Alyona Minkovski, “1 in 7 Americans Poor: How Did This Happen?” The Alyona Show, Russia Today America, September 13, 2010, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjfmccfxTNU (June 22, 2011).

[73]Catholic Charities USA, “Poverty in America: A Threat to the Common Good,” 2006, p. 1, at http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/Page.aspx?pid=1158 (June 22, 2011).

[74]Catholic Charities USA, “Campaign to Reduce Poverty.”

About the Author

Robert Rector Senior Research Fellow

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2011 in Family, Life, Media, Politics, Press release

 

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Pope allows condoms?


Pope Benedictus XVI at a private audience (jan...

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Pope Benedict XVI says in a new book that condoms can be justified for male prostitutes seeking to stop the spread of HIV, a stunning comment for a church criticized for its opposition to condoms and for a pontiff who has blamed them for making the AIDS crisis worse.

The pope made the comments in a book-length interview with a German journalist, “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times,” which is being released Tuesday. The Vatican newspaper ran excerpts today.

Read more: Pope: Condoms can be justified in some cases | freep.com | Detroit Free Presshttp://www.freep.com/article/20101120/NEWS07/101120025/Pope-Condoms-can-be-justified-in-some-cases#ixzz15vNd0DIH

Sometimes reading the mainstream press can cause shock, and this is one example. They love to hate the Catholic Church and the pope, so any opportunity they can reshape his words or the teachings of the Church they will. Here is what the pope really said:

“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.”

A tab bit different meaning that what the press is letting on to. Dose anyone really think the pope would change church teachings? Come on, the Catholic Church teaches that life is sacred, so why would she ok the use of condoms on male prostitutes? I mean really, next they will be reporting that the pope said abortions are ok, if the mother really don’t want the child. NOT!

The article also states that the Church has not standing on condoms, really….

Contraception is wrong because it’s a deliberate violation of the design God built into the human race, often referred to as “natural law.” The natural law purpose of sex is procreation. The pleasure that sexual intercourse provides is an additional blessing from God, intended to offer the possibility of new life while strengthening the bond of intimacy, respect, and love between husband and wife. The loving environment this bond creates is the perfect setting for nurturing children.
But sexual pleasure within marriage becomes unnatural, and even harmful to the spouses, when it is used in a way that deliberately excludes the basic purpose of sex, which is procreation. God’s gift of the sex act, along with its pleasure and intimacy, must not be abused by deliberately frustrating its natural end—procreation. (Read more here…)

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2399 The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).

2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil:

Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.

The media, as always got it wrong. The Catholic Church has lots to say about birth control, they just don’t want to hear it, or read it or even know or understand it. So it is much easier to make things up or distort facts. The pope should hold the media responsible for the lies and misdirection’s they give the faithful and the general public, we, as faithful Catholics or any faithful Christian should not allow this persecution to continue, we should write letters to the editors, boycott the newspapers and other media outlets that continue to propagate an anti-Catholic atmosphere, we need to stand up and fight back!

In a day-an-age where information is at our finger tips, there is no reason why they should not know the facts. The only reason they have is they are to lazy to research or they did what they did with the intention of misleading the public. And to tell the truth, I would hope for the first, laziness over misleading. At least with laziness we know that they had not malicious intent. But I am not holding my breath on that one, we have seen way to many examples of the media taking pot-shots at the pope and the Church. They are just down-right malicious, and they don’t care who knows it!

the Holy Catholic Church has survived for over 2000 years, I am sure she will survive this also, but what I am not so sure about is the marginal Catholics or the non-Catholics that will read this and take it as a papal ok to use condoms. Or how many souls will leave the Church based on this article? How many will be lead into sin? The effects of such attacks are not always seen today, but many years from now, for example, look at how long it took for the effects of Vatican II abuses to come to light. How many souls were placed in danger because of misleading the faithful how many left the Church because of abuses and how many entered the Church under false pretenses?

We all need to pray for the pope,, pray that the Holy Spirit continues to use him as an instrument of God, and we need to pray for all the reports such as the one that wrote the misleading article, that they will one day see the light. Until than we all must stand strong and stand tall..

God Bless

Paul

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Posted by on November 21, 2010 in Catholic, church, Faith, Media, news, Religon

 

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