Poverty in the U.S. can't be compared to Europe's

I question some of the assertions in a recent letter to the editor ("Ehrlich's talk of Obama's radicalism strains credulity," July 25).

For example, the writer claims that "European social democracy" has provided "lower poverty" than found in the United States, but he fails to state what he means by "lower poverty." Nor does he identify the source of his information.

Is the "poverty" he mentions "absolute" or "relative" poverty? Did he take into account the fact that different countries measure poverty in different ways, or that standards of living vary from country to country?

Many of our "poverty-stricken" families live in middle-class neighborhoods, in subsidized housing. They receive food stamps and welfare assistance, health care through Medicaid and often subsidized transportation or even cell phones.

I'll hazard a guess that many people living at or below the poverty line in the U.S. enjoy a standard of living that would make many "middle-class" people living in Greece or Spain, for example, envious.

Mr. Ehrlich's critic should take his own advice and "tone down his over-the-top rhetoric if he wants to be taken seriously."

Richard T. Seymour, Baltimore

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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