Home Class Politics So We Can All Ignore Bhaskar Sunkara Then

So We Can All Ignore Bhaskar Sunkara Then



Bhaskar Sunkara is the bubba behind The Jacobin, that magazine that wants to bring socialism back into modern life. This would be a good reason to denigrate him of course, desiring that another 100 million bourgeoisie get eliminated as a class.

We can do further though and point out that we can and should ignore him given that he spouts piffle. This from his recent Guardian column:

Forty million Americans are impoverished, according to the UN.

Well, no. That’s actually from the UN special rapporteur on poverty, Philip Alston, who is an idiot. Yes, I have had correspondence with Alston and he doesn’t understand the first thing about poverty statistics.

The actual report he made about the US being here – or at least his report about his report – which contains this:

IV. The current extent of poverty in the US
13. There is considerable debate over the extent of poverty in the US, but for the purposes of this report principal reliance is placed upon the official government statistics, drawn up primarily by the US Census Bureau.

14. In order to define and quantify poverty in America, the Census Bureau uses ‘poverty thresholds’ or Official Poverty Measures (OPM), updated each year. In September 2017, more than one in every eight Americans were living in poverty (40 million, equal to 12.7% of the population). And almost half of those (18.5 million) were living in deep poverty, with reported family income below one-half of the poverty threshold.

That’s simply wrong.

The Official Poverty Measure is a measure of who would be living in poverty if it weren’t for the things that government was doing to alleviate poverty. It does not include the effects of Medicaid, the EITC tax credits, Section 8 housing vouchers nor, in fact, near all the things done to alleviate American poverty. Because it does not include any poverty alleviation done either in kind (Medicaid, food stamps, Section 8) nor through the tax system (EITC and some others). It only include the transfer of actual cash to poor people and the US system is deliberately – and possibly even wrongly – very light on that as a method of poverty reduction.

The number below the OPM is not the number living in poverty. It is those who would be poor without government. Given that the US spends somewhere between half and a full trillion $ (depends what you want to count) on poverty reduction each year it does manage to reduce poverty quite a bit.

He’s either lying or ignorant that is – and thus should be ignored.



  1. These characters are protecting their industry–the poverty industry. Were they honest and admitted that the problem had already been solved there would be no use for them. As you mention, however, there is plenty to discus about the way the US has addressed the problem.

  2. There is actual Poverty and there is “poverty” as defined by malicious non-idiots.
    Some years ago, while Albania was part-way through its recovery from Hoxha’s extreme communism, I calculated (yeah, self-referencing is dodgy but I *am* good at calculating) that a single mother on benefits in New York was better off than a Bank Manager in Albania (naturaly I used PPP rather than nominal exchange rates and I did have inside information on the salaries of bank managers).
    My wife repeatedly tells me how badly-off women are in the USA based on emails from her contacts (all, or most, of whom spend more on themselves than I do); I have observed genuine poverty.

    • I remember many years ago, just after the Gulf war, a fuss being made about the starving Ethiopians. The Yanks had naturally accumulated a huge over-supply of army rations to feed the troops. They naturally offered them to the do-gooders to feed the Ethiopians.

      The wokists were naturally utterly outraged. The Ethiopians wanted money. Not food.

      Thus these days whenever the howl for help arises, I always try to check whether the locals want actual food, or whether their government is simply after the money. A fine example is the Houthi rebels in Yemen. They’re always demanding money, saying that the locals can easily buy the plentiful local food. I of course feel it is the duty of the Houthis to steal the food and give it to the starving themselves.


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