As part of its well-established feed-back loop, the collective sent Pres. Obama a message: update the definition of "poverty". One such call was actually not nonsensical; it asked the new administration to adopt the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy had ginned up 500 pages of stuff in support of a new measure of "poverty". In general, it suggested a more multifaceted, more sensitive (to locale, for instance) measure of poverty than the one we've used for over 30 years. We could argue the fine points of the recommendations, but they were not irrational. Some even augured for the calculation of "poverty" to include the contributions of government, rather than ignore them. We could also agree the old government definition of "poverty" was a pretty clumsy hammer.
We could also agree that "poverty" as experienced by Americans is what Europeans call "middle-class", and the vast majority of the world's population would literally die to give their children. As Robert Rector noted:
The government’s own data show that the typical American defined as poor (according to the traditional, pre-Obama poverty measure) has two color televisions, cable or satellite service, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He also has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry, and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family’s essential needs. While this individual’s life is not opulent, it is far from the stark images conveyed by the mainstream media and liberal politicians.So, maybe we needed a new definition of "poverty" for government to use. But Mad King Barack, rather than adopt the National Academy recommendations for a more nuanced, multifaceted measure, ran the other direction; he changed "poverty" to mean "different than other people", in addition to a certain level of income. Here's how.
Under the new definition, "poverty" is determined not just by a set level of purchasing power, but by the difference in people's income. Hence, two outcomes are possible in America--
First, we could experience a period of wild economic success (fat chance any time soon) that saw every American's income increase by 500% in real dollars (not inflated paper), and we would still have "poor" people. We can't end "poverty" by making every American wealthy. It is impossible, according to the Mad King Barack's crazy definition of "poverty", so long as some are wealthier.
The second outcome would be for America to become universally "equal". Every American could be reduced to an income equal to the official poverty level, plus $10, in which case we would have no "poverty" in the U.S.!!!
Why? Why would Obama adopt such a patently mad, tortured definition of a very powerful term? Because it is important to the collective to institutionalize need, even if it is only according to a standard that is utterly irrational. There have to be victims to drive the push to "fairness".