poor population today.” The new po-rnertv threshold would range betweenrn$15,700 and $15,900, “plus a litdc more”rnthrown in for other “needs.”rnAt least three ideas in the report arerngood ones: counting welfare benefits asrnincome; subtracting taxes from incomernin calculating the poverty threshold; andrntaking into account the city or town inrnwhich a poor person lives. After all. FoodrnStamps provide free food, taxes representrnmone’ earned but never used, and liingrnin Manhattan costs more than living inrnButte, Montana.rnBut the panel did not stop there. Itrnwould also change the threshold in anotherrnsubtle but significant way. histeadrnof simplv using after-tax income andrnwhat a familv spends on food to calculaternpovertv, it recommends setting arnthreshold relative to the amount of disposablernincome left after the familv pavsrnfor “basic needs,” which arc defined asrnfood, shelter, and clothing. Moreover,rnthe panel’s plan would deduct medicalrnexpenses, health insurance premiums,rnexpenses related to work, and child supportrnpavments vhen it calculates disposablernincome.rnThe proposal mav sound reasonable.rnBut the result, sas lone panel dissenterrnJohn Cogan, is that the number of familiesrnconsidered poor will increase aboutrneight percent faster than it would underrnthe old definition because more Americansrnwill fall under the threshold. Howerncr accurate that estimate is, Cogan isrnright about one thing: “These recommendationsrnare not scientific judgments.”rnhi a fi’e-pagc dissent buried inrnthe report’s appendices, he continued:rn”They are value judgments made byrnscientists—with a particular point ofrn iew. hi essence, the panel has mostlyrneschewed [science] . . . and insteadrnassumed the role of government policyrnmaker.” Cogan wants to know, for instance,rn”what scientific basis exists forrnconcluding food, clothing and shelter arernbasic needs and health care or personalrncare services are not? What scientificrnbasis exists for concluding that all typesrnof food, clothing and shelter, rather thanrnonly a subset, are basic needs?” Coganrnwonders whether Air Jordan or Reeboksrnarc “needs.”rnVery good questions, since deductingrnhealth care, child care, and insurancernpremiums from a family’s income couldrnpull it beneath the poverty line. Considerrntwo families, Cogan asks, both earningrn$16,000. By the panel’s new measure ofrnpoverty, neither family is poor. Yet if onernfamily decides to spend $3,000 on healthrninsurance, it suddenly becomes “poor”rnand therefore eligible for a variety of welfarernbenefits. Oddly, Cogan notes, “afterrnmaking adjustments to countable income,rn[the report] concludes that familiesrnliving near the current poverty linernhave fewer countable resources than theyrnwould have under the current povertyrnmeasure.”rnMaybe, but pace Mr. Cogan, the lackrnof valid “science” is not the problem.rnThe problem is “defining poverty” itselfrnand the consequence of decanting onernpart of the population from the rest of it:rni.e., expanding the power of the state,rnwhich in this country seeks to underminernthe family and create a populationrnof indiaduals whose needs are met byrnanother “family,” the state bureaucracy.rnNo wonder, then, that the panel alsornwants to change the definition of family,rnwhich would finish the job of pushing fatherhoodrnand marriage out the frontrndoor, histead of a mother and father, thernfamily will now include “cohabitatingrncouples.” Of course, “cohabitating couples”rnand their bastards are not families.rnThey arc individuals living under thernsame roof, for neither one of the “cohabitating”rncouple has a reason to stay in thern”family” without a sacred marriage vowrnenforced by law. But in any event, becausernso many “couples” this day and agern”cohabitate,” the yvelfare rolls will norndoubt expand far bevond what theyrnwould be if government recognizedrnonly a man and woman married to eachrnother. This new definition of family willrnimplicitly recognize and reward the veryrnbehavior that may have led the “cohabitatingrncouple” to poverty’s open arms.rn”Cohabitating” invariably leads to littlernthings called children, \ ho in turn leadrnto poverty for those unprepared or unequippedrnto care for them.rnThen again, considering their academicrnand government credentials, perhapsrnthat’s exactly what the eggheadsrnwho published this stud’ want. The newrndefinition of poverty, after all, will addrnpeople to the welfare rolls. WhateverrnSpeaker Newt’s “Contract” says, an expandingrnclass of poor people will furnishrnthe state with an excuse to confiscaternmore money from its subjects, which inrnturn will require it to further “define”rnand stratify the population. Once thatrnhas been accomplished, the government’srndoctors will have just the diagnosisrnthey need to justify concentratingrneven more power in the bureaucracy andrntransferring even more wealth from thernhealthy rich to the sickly poor.rnThe NAS panel’s work was begunrnwhen Democrats still controlled RiverrnCity, but the timing of its release seemsrnalmost perfect: Republicans are talkingrnwelfare reform. Of course, the new definitionrnof poverty is likely to be adoptedrnby the phalanx of government agenciesrnthat attend to such matters. So once thernGOP enacts whatever reforms its braintrustrnhas in mind, it will not be longrnbefore we learn that more Americansrnthan ever are poor, thanks to the re’isedrndefinition. Using the artificially inflatedrnnumber of poor Americans, thernDemocrats will no doubt concoct anotherrn”crisis.” By that time, if Republicansrnstill control Congress and have dismantledrnas much of the welfare state as theyrnpromised, it will be interesting to seernwhat “federalist” programs they conceivernto deal with it.rnRepublicans, wc know, do not reallyrnmind big government and the welfarernstate; they merely do not like Democratsrnrunning them. So perhaps while thern”experts” are at it, they can contrive arnnew definition for Republicans andrnDemocrats that would clarify their differencernand how they differ from us.rn—R. Cort KirkwoodrnOBITER DICTA: America’s immigrationrndisaster was the subject of a speechrnb Peter Brimelow at the Chicago Clubrnon May 22. Chicago-area readers ofrnChronicles attended a reception and dinnerrnat the Club hosted by The RockfordrnInstitute before listening to Brimelowrnaddress the issues raised in his bookrnAlien Nation and in Chronicles’ recentlyrnreleased volume of essays. Immigrationrnand the American Identity. In a speechrnmarked by wit and his customary candor,rnBrimelow trenchantly debunked the economicrnand cultural myths that fuelrnopen-door policies.rnChronicles subscribers who read thernNew York Times may have experienced arnfeeling of deja vu upon coming across anrnApril 17 story in the Times on the internationalizationrnof crime control. Thisrnwas precisely the topic Samuel Francisrnaddressed in “Principalities & Powers”rnlast January. To quote Peter Brimelow onrnChronicles’ coverage of the immigrationrnissue, “You read it here first”!rnAUGUST 1995/7rnrnrn