Patterico's Pontifications

1/11/2008

L.A. Times: 60 Million People Live on Less than $2,555 a Year?

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:03 am

The L.A. Times editorialized in December:

If tranquillity is best assured by “a more equal distribution” of the nation’s wealth, we have much to fear. Our schools are faltering; our healthcare system leaves millions without access to doctors. Many are homeless or face the loss of homes. Some seethe at illegal immigrants who compete with Americans for jobs. In our America, 60 million people survive on $7 a day.

Annie Jacobsen was skeptical of that number, and wrote a fascinating piece about where this statistic came from. She notes that, if you accept this number, it means that fully 60 million live on less than $2,555 a year — even though the U.S. Census Bureau says only 37 million people live in poverty.

So, 23 million live on less than $2,555 a year . . . but aren’t in poverty?

If you think about it for just a second, it makes no sense. Nevertheless, Annie decided to hunt down the origin of the statistic.

The immediate source was a writer who calls himself “very liberal” and describes himself in this way:

“William Brandon Shanley, iconoclast, dreamer of dreams, hatcher of schemes, shatterer of graven images and neocon socio-war-mongering-psychopaths!”

Of course, that doesn’t make him wrong, so Annie kept digging. What was his source?

Annie Googled the phrase and also found it on the World Socialist Web Site. Ultimately, it traced back to the New York Times, which had given the number based on IRS data, which is based on reported income — which does not include, say, welfare or food stamps.

Ultimately, Annie clearly demonstrates that the figure is bogus — just by exercising a little skepticism, and showing a willingness to check things out that don’t ring true.

Isn’t that what Big Media is supposed to be doing?

20 Comments

  1. Ultimately, it traced back to the New York Times, which had given the number based on IRS data, which is based on reported income

    So, in the reality based mind of a liberal, reported income for collecting Federal taxes morphed into daily subsistence. According to 2004 census information, 65 million Americans were 15 years old or younger. Virtually none of them is earning or reporting an income. Likewise, 36 million Americans were 65 years old or older. Many of these are not earning an income (social security is not always taxable “income” to the IRS, particularly if participants don’t have other income sources). So why not report that, under Bush, an additional 101 million Americans are unemployed?

    Comment by Perfect Sense (b6ec8c) — 1/11/2008 @ 12:43 am

  2. I will be surprised if this reporter is still employed in a week.

    Comment by PCD (5c49b0) — 1/11/2008 @ 5:12 am

  3. Anyone confront the LATimes for not doing their due dilligence with this editorial?

    Comment by PCD (5c49b0) — 1/11/2008 @ 5:13 am

  4. The statistic is actually low. I make a good income, but my wife and four children make less than $2500 a year! That’s five out of six living on $500 a year.

    Seriously, the editorialists look as dumb as a stone in this. If America is that bad off, don’t they wonder why those illegal immigrants they invoke in the previous sentence would want to be here?

    Comment by Amphipolis (fdbc48) — 1/11/2008 @ 5:35 am

  5. The way the sentence is written it seems the LAT is claiming that 60,000,000 people are splitting $7 a day.

    Comment by Pigilito (5d4652) — 1/11/2008 @ 5:49 am

  6. You can’t pay rent on $210/a month, let alone eat. If this were true, we could reduce our fleet of garbage trucks by at least half, as America’s dumpsters would be picked clean by the 1 of every five American’s living on $7 a day or less.

    PCD,

    I will be surprised if this reporter is still employed in a week.

    That’s the Editorial Board writing. Which, you know, should be chock full of editors. It’s time for the LAT to sleep with the fishes.

    Comment by Pablo (99243e) — 1/11/2008 @ 6:10 am

  7. “William Brandon Shanley, iconoclast, dreamer of dreams, hatcher of schemes, shatterer of graven images and neocon socio-war-mongering-psychopaths!”

    I didn’t know one could put “spoke truth to power” on one’s resume.

    Comment by Techie (ed20d9) — 1/11/2008 @ 7:21 am

  8. Thats still quite a lot of money even for today i mean this is the usial amount of poppycock you can ever expect from these birdcage liners especialy the L.A. Slimes

    Comment by krazy kagu (614414) — 1/11/2008 @ 7:38 am

  9. poverty is not a problem of production. and it’s not a problem of distribution. it’s a problem of killing dictators and despots and thugs who prvent society from being healthy.

    Comment by Jem (9e390b) — 1/11/2008 @ 7:44 am

  10. My reported income is far less than that. If you assume IRS-stated income is what people are actually living on, it’s no wonder. Dumb.

    Comment by Anwyn (a130c1) — 1/11/2008 @ 8:28 am

  11. I guess there might be a few people who are very wealthy, but with no current income, that might affect the statistic. Household well-being depends on both income and wealth.

    Comment by gp (72be5d) — 1/11/2008 @ 9:21 am

  12. 70% of Americans are overweight because 35 millions of them go to bed hungry.

    Comment by Zinovi Golodner (4c2a40) — 1/11/2008 @ 9:21 am

  13. If tranquillity is best assured by “a more equal distribution” of the nation’s wealth…</blockquote

    IOW, if tranquillity is best assured by socialism.

    When will these idiots learn that nations do not create wealth, individuals do?

    Comment by Patricia (f56a97) — 1/11/2008 @ 9:22 am

  14. “…which does not include, say, welfare or food stamps.”
    Let’s be real. Welfare supplies money for housing. It supplies free medical services for these people.
    No one on food stamps need go to bed hungry. (The state has an agency that will teach them how to do this.) Churches and state run agencies give food away constantly to low income people.
    Clothing and special energy funds are available.
    Using the right welfare program, a car will not only be furnished for you, but you will get help paying for insurance and repairs.
    Money is given to you on both Federal and State income tax returns if your income is low.
    There are many, many perks that a reasonably intelligent person can use to live well, while having an extremely low income.
    Oh, and if you are not reasonably intelligent, the state will supply a case worker to get these “benefits” for them.
    The nanny state is here, folks.

    Comment by Catmoves (56a0a8) — 1/11/2008 @ 10:37 am

  15. I’m not the first to suggest if you
    “WANT TO HIGHLIGHT A PROBLEM”
    you have to pump UP your statistics.

    It’s just you are not supposed to
    jump into the realm of the
    “easily proved you are entirely ridiculous”.

    “Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics”
    should be required reading for every
    single newspaper/TV employee. Once a year.

    Comment by Dan_P (a4bddb) — 1/11/2008 @ 1:14 pm

  16. It’s interesting how uneducated the left is on things like science, finance, even basic math. Combine that with their susceptibility to definitional abuse (e.g. “blacks aren’t human” which challenged Democrats for over a hundred years), and they’re perpetually challenged.

    It’s like an Omaha individual I knew who considered himself middle class, since he “only made $25,000 a year” in his salary. Of course, the several hundred million dollars in net-worth, the fleet of Lexus SUVs and luxury cars which were leased through the business, the inherited 12,000 sq. foot georgian mansion north of Warren Buffet’s home by 10 blocks (behind the Fonda home), the company-leased executive jet, and all the other assets, millions in tax-free municipal bond interest payments, etc. were not part of his definition. Oh, I can assure you the IRS thinks he’s a middle class chump.

    And of course, he’s a Democrat too. “All of this, on just $2,000 a month…”

    Comment by redherkey (9f5961) — 1/12/2008 @ 8:46 am

  17. I get paid once every two weeks. That means that for 13 days out of 14, or 338 days a year, or more than 9 days out of 10, my family survives on nothing, nothing at all, while the fatcats at Halliburton sip their champagne through silver straws.

    Comment by sherlock (b4bbcc) — 1/12/2008 @ 8:47 am

  18. Geez, Louise, I’m used to the MSM editorializing on questionable data (see Lancet) for the purpose of promoting teh narrative but now we’ve come to the point where “provocative” and “controversial” statistics are vomited up even though they make no frickin’ sense at all!

    Fer cryin’ out loud the average panhandler in a major city does better than $7 a day!

    Screw the sourcing: How about simple common sense?

    Never mind. I already know the answer to that question.

    Comment by bjtexs (55ab41) — 1/12/2008 @ 9:05 am

  19. Shame on all of you for questioning the overwhelming misery of the American people as reported by our glorious progressive survey-takers! I have it on good authority that 50,000 women are dying of anorexia in the US every year and that Super Bowl Sunday is the worst day for domestic abuse every year, too!*

    *–closed-captioned for the sarcasm-impaired.

    Comment by M. Scott Eiland (299f3e) — 1/12/2008 @ 10:32 am

  20. I have no reported income, because the IRS would much rather I didn’t file taxes this or any year (they’d owe me money). I do get less than $12,000.00 a year from California and the Feds. But that does not mean I’ll support any attempt to robin hood available wealth. Though I will accept donations, contributions, and gifts should they come my way (no blatant pressure :) ).

    Comment by Alan Kellogg (013164) — 1/12/2008 @ 9:26 pm

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