'Poverty Is Not as Bad Here'

The thrust of Wattenberg's article on poverty statistics and distribution of wealth in the United States is clearly to play down our growing consciousness of the extent of poverty in this country.

We have 35 million people below the government's poverty line and millions just hovering above it. The Census Bureau reported last August that those under the poverty line have increased by over 9 million, or 35% from 1979 to 1984.

The massive poverty in this country exceeds that in the leading industrial countries of Europe except for England.

The Congressional Budget Office stated last April that the poor have lost more than $19 billion through cuts in aid and increases in taxes while the rich have gained $9 billion in tax cuts. Both over a period of 3 years (1979 to 1983).

Furthermore, under the new Treasury tax proposal the underprivileged will receive another bad blow while the rich will have a second big tax cut. The class bias is plain.

The private welfare agencies say they are overwhelmed by pleas for help and have not seen such widespread poverty before. Their description of what they are encountering is harrowing.

Statistics can be carried too far and become heartless. The anguish of the poor cannot be measured with numbers. RUTH SCHRAM


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