11.6.04

ROBERT BYRD GETS RESULTS, as do Trent Lott and Bill Clinton.
France, Italy, Great Britain and Germany have lower GDP per capita than all but four of the states in the United States. In fact, GDP per capita is lower in the vast majority of the EU-countries (EU 15) than in most of the individual American states. This puts Europeans at a level of prosperity on par with states such as Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia.
Thus from a Swedish policy study picked up by Winds of Change. The study continues,
Poverty is a highly relative concept .... 40% of all Swedish households would rank among the low-income households in the USA and an even greater number in the poorer European countries. .....

The media image of the American poor is that they have great difficulties to contend with, that they are dossers and junkies and in various ways marginalized. There are of course such groups in the USA and they are relatively large, but -and this is an important "but" - such groups exist in European countries too. There is another image of poverty in the USA, namely that the great majority of those considered to be poor have a relatively good material standard of living. .....

What does it mean to be poor in the USA? Major living standard surveys carried out in the USA at regular intervals show the poor to have a surprisingly high standard of living. A large proportion (45.9%) own their own homes and have one or more cars. Domestic appliances of different kinds are also relatively common, as are one or more TV sets with video or DVD. Material prosperity, in other words, is relatively high and not associated with the material standard of living which many people in Europe probably associate with poverty ....

The report sounds like an echo of Cato and Heritage policy research in the States. Sometime this weekend, I shall endeavor to follow up on this story a bit more. There are hints that the vaunted "long European vacations" are an urban legend. Heck, I'm planning some research for this afternoon, classes not in session notwithstanding.

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