So it turns out that Barack Obama is succeeding in his effort to become a transformative president in…
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New Poll: Americans Who Say Federal Gov't Has "Too Much Power" Matches Record High

So it turns out that Barack Obama is succeeding in his effort to become a transformative president in the manner of Ronald Reagan after all.  Unfortunately for him, that's because his presidency has reinforced rather than reversed Reagan's axiom that "government isn't the solution to our problem, government is the problem."  Think of him as a Midas in reverse.

This morning, Gallup released a new survey on the question that it has asked Americans every year since 2002:  "Do you think the federal government has too much power, has about the right amount of power or has too little power?"  Hardened by almost seven years under Obama, the number who say that it has too much power maintains its record high:

The 60% recorded in this survey ties the previous high from 2013 for the question…[more]

October 09, 2015 • 10:28 am

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What Constitutes “Poverty” In America Today Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, August 04 2011
Throughout the millennia of human history, malnourishment has been the scourge of mankind. Today, obesity disproportionately plagues lower-income Americans.

Here’s an interesting fact:  The typical “poor” American enjoys substantially more housing space than the average European. 

Vive la France! 

That insight comes courtesy of the Heritage Foundation and its fascinating July 21 report entitled Air Conditioning, Cable TV and an Xbox:  What is Poverty in the United States Today? 

So how do we define “poverty” in contemporary America? 

For its part, Webster’s describes poverty as, “1. Lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts.  2. Deficiency in amount: scantiness.” 

That seems reasonable. 

Or take the words of Franklin Roosevelt back in his second inaugural of January 1937, at the beginning of the welfare state as we now know it:  “I see one-third of a nation ill-clad, ill-housed, and ill-nourished.”  That also sounds fair enough, although Roosevelt’s agenda ended up perpetuating the Great Depression rather than ending it. 

By those measures, however, “relatively few of the more than 35 million people identified as living ‘in poverty’ by the Census Bureau could be characterized as poor,” according to Heritage. 

Back in 1964, when Lyndon Johnson commenced the “War on Poverty,” even the fabulously wealthy didn’t possess cellular phones, satellite or cable television, DVD players, microwave ovens or color television to watch the Beatles’ debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”  The average American at the time didn’t own air conditioning. 

Today, most Americans now defined as “poor” own all of those things.  Throughout the millennia of human history, malnourishment has been the scourge of mankind.  Today, obesity disproportionately plagues lower-income Americans. 

In fact, as noted by the Heritage Foundation report: 

“Relatively few of the 35 million individuals labeled as ‘poor’ by the Census Bureau would actually be considered impoverished by the typical American.  As Rector and Sheffield point out, the average poor family in America is well-housed, adequately fed, and has enough money to pay for all essential needs, including medical care.  Furthermore, according to the government’s own survey data, in 2005, the average household defined as poor by the government had air conditioning, cable TV, and a family car.  For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, a DVD player, and a VCR.  If there were children in the home (especially boys), the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation.  In the kitchen, the household had a microwave, refrigerator, and an oven and stove.  Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker.” 

This issue isn’t mere philosophical frolic.  Nor is it an attempt to demonize anyone.  Reasonable people agree that we should collectively help those who are truly impoverished, particularly those who cannot help themselves. 

At the same time, however, the “poor” should not be used as political pawns.  They should not be exploited by demagogues to justify more federal power, more regulation of our lives, more reckless deficit spending, more dependence upon government or higher taxes.  For instance, Roosevelt exploited poverty in his second inaugural to demand even more unprecedented government power, saying, “for we have begun to bring private autocratic powers into their proper subordination to the public’s government.” 

“Proper subordination?”  Those words are hardly worthy of James Madison or Thomas Jefferson. 

Similarly, the poor should not be exploited today by Barack Obama as a lever to reelection.  Unfortunately, the Heritage Foundation study reveals his ploy to do just that: 

“Sadly, President Barack Obama plans to make this situation worse by creating a new ‘poverty’ measure than 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 around’ and will eventually displace the current poverty measure…  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 new meaning to the saying that ‘the poor will always be with you.’” 

Ultimately, observes Stanford scholar Victor Davis Hanson, such short-term tactics create longer-term civic rot: 

“The West has mostly conquered the existential poverty that plagued it for 2,500 years.  Obesity, not malnutrition, is a national epidemic in the United States.  But the obsession today is ensuring absolute material equality, or the impossible notion that everyone must have more or less the same things, regardless of how they are to be paid for.  Behind the rioting in Greece and the demagogic speeches in Washington is the common premise that our individual well-being must be judged in relative, not absolute terms, and only in terms of material rather than spiritual wealth…  In short, the more we have, the more we want, and the more we feel deprived at seeing others with more than what we have.  That is at the heart of the current Western malaise, from Washington to Athens.”  

Continued misunderstanding and liberal demagoguery must be remedied, for the good of the truly poor and the longer-term welfare of America. 

Question of the Week   
Which one of the following events brought the U.S. and the Soviets (Russians) closest to the point of direct conflict following the Cuban Missile crisis?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
"The Republicans have decided to have a little bit of authentic democracy within their party, and polite Washington is flipping out. ... The House is about to find out whether the more energetic conservatives long dissatisfied with the leadership of John Boehner can effectively put forward one of their own for the top House job -- and, if they do, Congress and the country are about to find out what…[more]
—Kevin D. Williamson, National Review
— Kevin D. Williamson, National Review
Liberty Poll   

How much do you care who becomes the next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1 indicating you care a great deal and 5 indicating you don’t care at all?