In the midst of nationwide protests over inequality, Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield at the Heritage Foundation, a think tank, released a study arguing that most poor people in the United States shouldn’t actually be considered poor. Without offering a formal definition of poverty, they claim that Americans view poverty as deprivation in three things—food, clothing, and shelter—and by that standard, current poverty statistics grossly exaggerate the severity of living conditions. They point out that many poor people own consumer electric products and even cars, suggesting that the poor suffer from, amongst other things, a weak work ethic as a result of welfare policies. First off, while the notion that poor people use welfare programs to enjoy the accoutrements of a middle class lifestyle fits in neatly to the “welfare queen” trope that has been used to justify cuts in public transfers to poor people, it is far from reality. The latest Consumer Expenditure Survey tells a radically different tale: The poorest 20 percent of Americans spend much less than the average American on every category of spending, including alcohol (37 percent of what the average American spends), entertainment (41 percent), housing (52 percent), food (54 percent), audio/visual equipment (56 percent), and education (59 percent). Overall, expenditures of the poorest group are just 44 percent as high as the average American. Even that low level of spending is twice as high as their after-tax earnings, suggesting it is funded by borrowing, savings, and government transfers.