Here's the quote from Samuelson:
Second, the poor's material well-being has improved. The official poverty measure obscures this by counting only pre-tax cash income and ignoring other sources of support. These include the earned-income tax credit (a rebate to low-income workers), food stamps, health insurance (Medicaid), and housing and energy subsidies. Spending by poor households from all sources may be double their reported income, reports a study by Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute. Although many poor live hand-to-mouth, they've participated in rising living standards. In 2005, 91 percent had microwaves, 79 percent air conditioning and 48 percent cellphones.The fallacy here is closely related to the phenomena of the wrong-way coefficient. You fit a model and you see a statistically significant variable with the wrong sign. For a fairly silly example, you build a model predicting how long it takes travellers to get from New York City to DC and you find that the indicator for being searched by a uniformed officer has a negative coefficient which would suggest that being searched somehow shortens your travel time. The explanation for this counterintuitive result is that there's a relationship between this variable and one or more of the other variables in your model. In this case there's a strong correlation between being searched and flying vs. driving.
For people living in residences with functioning kitchens, good ventilation and a land line, getting a microwave, an air conditioner and a prepaid cellphone clearly represents an increase in well being. If, however, there is an inverse relationship among the poor between having a stove/having a microwave, or ventilation/AC or land line/cell, then the high incidence rates could easily indicate a lower standard of living.
So many immigrants, homeless people and others of limited means living in single-room occupancies (SROs) have no kitchens, no legal or official place to cook. To get a hot meal, or eat traditional foods from the countries they've left behind, they have to sneak a kind of kitchen into their places. Crock pots, hot plates, microwaves and toaster ovens hidden under the bed. And now, the latest and safest appliance, the appliance that comes in so many colors it looks like a modern piece of furniture: the George Foreman Grill. It is, quite literally, a hidden kitchen.