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Poverty In the USA

By Tomas Sancio | Venezuelan Politics

01.09.05 | Please people, stop the nonsense. President Chávez speaks about making special concessions to the "poor" in the United States. Although throughout these years we have heard many ridiculous things from this man's mouth, this statement seems to rank among the most impressive.

Let's go to the facts: according to the 2004 USA Census, the poverty rate that year was 12.7%. However, if we look at how this figure was calculated, we can see that for example, for a family of three, the threshold is US$ 15,205 if you have a kid under 18 (i.e. father, mother and child). I picked this example because the $15,205 annual salary is the starting figure for a Venezuelan engineer (at the official rate) in the multinational corporation where I worked not long ago.

So if Venezuelan engineers are poor according to the US Census Bureau, how are the rest of the Venezuelans? According to the data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) from its "Reporte Social 1er Semestre 1997 - 2do Semestre 2003" (Social Report 1st Semester 1997 - 2nd Semester 2003), the average income of the non-poor was Bs. 246,700 per capita. If we use the official exchange rate of the time (Bs. 1650/US$), it would amount to US$ 1,800 per year. The non-poor rate for the 2nd Semester of 2003 was 44.9%. Hence, pretty much comparing apples to apples, the percentage of Venezuelans under the USA poverty rate is at least 77.5% (= 100-44.9/2). Additionally, according to this (ironically) official government article, a family of four (two kids) with a monthly income of Bs. 4.5 MM (US$ 25,116 per annum at the official rate) are among the "privileged" 1MM Venezuelans in the top social classes (top 4%). However, this family's income is barely 31% higher than the USA poverty threshold of US$ 19,157. That leads us to think that at least 90% of Venezuelan families should be under the USA poverty rate.

However, the uncrowned "King of All Things Oily" is willing to donate our money to people that are richer than at least 90% of us (after donating to Cuba, Jamaica, Uruguay, etc.). His eyes only see the data that indicates that poor voters that live on beans and rice are happy when given more beans and rice. It's not surprising that Jesse Jackson kept a straight face throughout Chávez's donation speech. After all, it's not the Americans who are being ripped off.

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