What Children Need

Apropos of this post this morning, Sara showed me the Department of Agriculture’s annual study on what people spend on children. There are a lot of difference ins-and-outs of these factors, but to make a long story short, a typical two-parent, two-child middle class family spends between $20,000-$25,000 per year on their minor children. This table sums up some of the estimates:

By contrast, a family of four living at the poverty line has a total income of $21,200 a year which, as you can see, is more than what you need to spend to give middle class kids what they need. And that’s not just a trivia fact — sixteen percent of American children live in households that are below the poverty line. A single-mom working full-time at a job that pays $7.25 (what the minimum wage will be after recent increases full phase-in) earns just $15,080 in a year and conservatives think that’s too much money. Unless we manage to, yes, spread some of the wealth around so that these kids can have their needs met, the idea that we’re going to substitute equal opportunity for worrying about the income distribution is a joke.