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But I still don't think that the third world is an appropriate comparison. There's poverty and there's third world poverty. I think Americans often forget just how much poorer most of the world is.

I have no idea how the census functioned in LA but in NYC the authorities pulled out the stops to maximize participation. They did not want a repeat of the massive undercount of 1990 since population determines both funding and political power.  

But the point really isn't whether or not our poor are living better than in poor or middle income countries. The US is a very wealthy nation and should easily be able to minimize abject poverty. Its failure has been dramatically illustrated in New Orleans.

Finally just a quick illustration of what upper middle class life is like in Poland, based on some relatives of mine in Krakow who earn about 25,000-30,000 per year pre-tax:
Two parents, two children, modern three bedroom apartment, two cars. TV, computer, regular vacations, good education. So far so good. But... that three bedroom apartment is seventy square meters meaning that the bedrooms are about the size of a full sized bed. The cars are both bottom end sub-compacts, one a few years old, the other ancient. Vacations are to relatives who happen to live in a nice rural lake district. The kids occasionally get a trip abroad for language learning. The parents never vacation abroad (remember that in Europe a vacation abroad is a much more normal thing than in the US).  Going out is a rare luxury.  And these are people whose standard of living is well above the average for Poland where the average gross salary is, IIRC, about 600/month.

by MarekNYC on Fri Sep 9th, 2005 at 12:15:41 AM EST
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