Monday, March 5, 2012

North Carolina Becomes First State to Have No Extreme Poverty – Republican Hails Success After Just One Year Of Republican Control of the State Legislature

Homeless Hungry People in Asheville, Greensboro and High Point Are Ecstatic

A wonderful thing about hunger and poverty is that politicians can make it go away with just the flick of their tongue.  That’s right, if a right wing politicians says that there is no extreme poverty in the United States, then there is no extreme poverty in the United States.  Really, that’s all it takes.

This leads us to North Carolina representative George Cleveland, who represents the town of Jacksonville, North Carolina in the state legislature.  Here is Mr. Cleveland’s take on things like extreme poverty.

"We have no one in the state of North Carolina living in extreme poverty," Cleveland said. Extreme poverty is prevalent in other countries, not in the United States, he added.

"Poverty is a governmental definition in this country, and through the years they keep redefining poverty to make sure we have a poverty class. Poverty is you're out there living on a dollar and half a day. I don't think we have anybody in North Carolina doing that."

 Okay, that takes care of poverty.  And unless anyone thinks this is just one lone crackpot talking,

Cleveland was voicing an increasingly popular argument among some conservatives that federal poverty statistics overstate actual hardship because they do not take into account government aid such as food stamps, Medicaid, subsidized housing and other examples. A report from the conservative Heritage Foundation last year said most poor people have air conditioning and cable TV.

Notably absent from Mr. Cleveland’s ignorant rant is data and analysis to back up his claim.  Of course it helps if Mr. Cleveland is blind to conditions in his own backyard.

Cleveland, who is in his fourth term, comes from Onslow County, where poverty grew by more than 7 percent between 2007 and 2010, and median household income dropped by 5.7 percent in that time, according to a report by the left-leaning N.C. Justice Center. The report used information from Census reports and the state Employment Security Commission.

Onslow Community Outreach, a nonprofit that runs a soup kitchen, homeless shelter and health clinic in Jacksonville, reported that shelter use increased by 18 percent last year compared to 2010, and that 52 homeless veterans and 50 children slept there last year. The clinic served 218 patients and turned away 310, according to the agency's annual report.

But Mr. Cleveland is talking about all of North Carolina.  So this fact based report from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) which lists Asheville as the third ranking MSA in food hardship and the Greensboro/High Point area as the fourth highest in terms of  food hardship has to be ignored.  After all, facts and data have that notorious anti-Conservative bias.  As for the entire country, the FRAC report says this.

Seventeen states had at least one in five
respondents (20 percent or more) answer that they did
not have enough money to buy food at some point in the
last 12 months. Forty-two states overall, including the
District of Columbia, had 15 percent or more of
respondents affirmatively answering this question. In only
two states did fewer than one in eight respondents answer
the question affirmatively.

And on that statistic North Carolina, with its total absence of extreme poverty was 12th out of 50 states.

Have a nice dinner Mr. Cleveland.

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