Figures Don’t Lie but Liars Do Figure

Generally attributed to Mark Twain, but it’s apparently not. Regardless. This was originally written to link to an article Sorry, Bernie: America’s Poorest Are Richer Than 60 Percent of Developed Countries. A few quotes.

A new study debunks liberal claims about grinding poverty in the U.S. compared to other developed countries. Accounting for how much America’s poorest 20 percent consumes — rather than measures like income that can be misleading for reasons explained below — the study finds that the poorest fifth of Americans consume more resources than the average person in 64 percent of other countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).


Our study shows that because of unreported income, charity, and non-cash government benefits like Medicaid and food stamps, consumption by America’s poorest 20 percent exceeds the national averages even in developed nations like Japan, New Zealand and Denmark,” James Agresti, president of Just Facts, said in a statement on the report.

Do figure, yes:

[...] The OECD [poverty rate] measures relative poverty within nations, not between them. The figures represent the proportion of people with “less than half the median household income” in their own countries, so “two countries with the same poverty rates may differ in terms of the relative income-level of the poor.”

The OECD assigns a higher poverty rate to the U.S. (17.8 percent) than to Mexico (16.6 percent). World Bank data, however, shows that 35 percent of Mexico’s population lives on less than $5.50 per day, compared to only two percent of people in the U.S.


These numbers [...] show that even the poor in America are better off than millions in other rich countries — and billions in developing countries like China. Bernie Sanders and others like him are misleading the American public with relative rates of poverty, when the poor in the U.S. consume a great deal more than the average in so many other countries.

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