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Half of America In Poverty? The Facts Say It's True


Society & Culture  (tags: americans, children, culture, education, family, politics, poverty, rights, society )

Kit
- 844 days ago - commondreams.org
The concept of "low income" is controversial. It has been defined as earnings between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, a claim which, if true, would place every American family making $50,000 or less at a near-poverty level.



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Comments

Jae A. (321)
Saturday December 31, 2011, 7:02 pm
Only half ? Wow, the Republicans in Congress seem to still have a ways to go to reach their goal of all but 1% are near or below the proverty line. The rightwingcrazies better get their whips out to their reps in Congress to make sure that goal is met before the next election me thinketh.
 

Kit B. (277)
Saturday December 31, 2011, 7:36 pm

Who would have thought that $50,000 a year could be seen as near or at the poverty line? This is the proof we need to see, costs have out reached income.
 

Past Member (0)
Saturday December 31, 2011, 8:00 pm
I got my retirement check early.

I now get $965 a month.

That may put me as poor. I feel rich. I have everything
I need and more. I love my life. I lack for nothing
important to me.

If I want something, it shows up in a day or so.

I am blessed and my cup overfloweth.

Course I don't have a car or a tv or a cell phone
or a whole lot of things that would defeat
my simple life.

I like it like that.
 

Yvonne White (232)
Sunday January 1, 2012, 3:46 pm
"Who would have thought that $50,000 a year could be seen as near or at the poverty line?" It certainly feels that way in Illinois!
 

Eileen R. (13)
Sunday January 1, 2012, 4:53 pm
i get no help from the government, don't have savings, my income is $0. can't get work and cause they keep bringing in and giving work to filipinos and east indians as foreign workers. meanwhile i have nothing, i fractured my back in a head on collision and alli want is to be able to support myself. my background is engineering, so it's not like i don't have a good background.
 

Dave C. (205)
Sunday January 1, 2012, 5:00 pm
It doesnt really seem to matter the actual dollar amount....however, we as a nation should be sad that we have created a country with such wealth diversity, poverty and call it "capitalism" as if its a good thing.....just like having a "defense industry" that is used for creating war offensively..........how much money is enough for the greedy who don't want to pay their current workers, hire new workers, decrease their profits, or pay taxes??????
 

Kit B. (277)
Sunday January 1, 2012, 5:05 pm

Indeed Dave, just how much is enough? Eileen, I am sorry to read your story, and all I can say is that you among those we are fighting for. Care2 allows me to post the informational facts, and the rest is done through volunteer efforts and donations. Close communities do not allow one among their midst to be without the basics of life, we must turn back to our communities. Far too many are in need.
 

Bill Eagle (31)
Sunday January 1, 2012, 5:18 pm
We most certainly have a lot of poverty in America. Our poverty is increasing, just as the wealth on the very top0 of America is increasing as well.
There is something wrong when we are seeing this great a disparity in our nation.
 

Past Member (0)
Sunday January 1, 2012, 5:51 pm
$50,000 the poverty line? My family can live on that for 2 years! ( right now one USD is worth almost 98 AUS cents, so not a lot of difference) The cost of living in the US must be extremely high. Noted.
 

Kit B. (277)
Sunday January 1, 2012, 5:55 pm

Yes, Michelle the cost of everything here has sky rocketed out of control.
 

Debbie Bush (12)
Sunday January 1, 2012, 5:56 pm
Awe yes, poverty. What a fickle little word., at least in Idaho, and suspect most other places since I can't imagine only one state pulling off a loophole saving the government tons of money at the cost of the tax payer and not spread the word. According to guidelines we are most definately considered ' don't know how you manage'. We more than qualify for help. At least so every agency seems to say. Way below the cutoff line for energy assistance, and want to know why we aren't on any assistance. But when my husband aquired a hernia that had torn his muscles to a frightening situation, the clinic that goes by scale (which we are on the ' anything you can' instead of a sat amount) wanted to know why we didn't have medicaid. Well its like this, not wanting to go in indigent, I made a call to inquire on options to know if something was available and were told if we made $300 a month we didn't qualify. So there you have it folks. Sound familiar? Because I know people at Care2 do care, rest at ease. It took over a month with his intestines outside of his stomache muscle which tore more twice, for him to get surgery, but he finally did and he is on the road to recovery, and we are now another $4000 in debt. But it is indeed a debt well worth it. Thank you for your earnest care. And for making these issues known so we may do something to help make this world a better place.
 

Kit B. (277)
Sunday January 1, 2012, 6:02 pm

No one should ever be turned down for health care nor forced into debt for health care. Not only is America not the best health care in the world, it is the most expensive.

Sorry to read of your plight Debbie, I wish your husband all the best in his recovery.
 

Past Member (0)
Sunday January 1, 2012, 6:40 pm
Bankrupted..IMF about to foreclose..about to go into another war and print another few trillion for that..fiat currency..no money.. no debt..just crooked govt and IMF pillaging the planet with impunity..read up on fiat currency then..is scam.. corporate anarchy..fascism..
friends on yet ???? doh.
 

Patrick Donovan (306)
Sunday January 1, 2012, 7:33 pm
$50,000 is poverty when you have to feed a family, drive a car, pay for college, and save for retirement.

Believe it or not, it is very hard for a family of 4 to live on that amount in NYC.
 

Wayne W. (12)
Sunday January 1, 2012, 10:58 pm
Thank you, Kit.

The GOP is coming for our second-hand refrigerators!

The US is far from broke. Believing that it is will lead to horrendous decisions.
 

Deb L. (3)
Monday January 2, 2012, 1:24 am
i AM A NOW A PROUD MEMBER OF THAT CLUB! :-
 

Jutta N. (25)
Monday January 2, 2012, 4:37 am
The gap between the very rich and very poor is getting bigger
 

Cheryl B. (64)
Monday January 2, 2012, 5:40 am
scary news
 

Brenda Towers (0)
Monday January 2, 2012, 8:59 am
Perhaps it is time for people to adjust their priorities in life. It often depends on expectations rather than basic needs.
 

Alllan Yorkowitz (462)
Monday January 2, 2012, 12:10 pm
I stopped reading after reading $50,000 is near poverty level. I would assume this is before taxes, which would bring the figure to about $35,000. STILL, depending where you live, how many people are in your family, etc., this does not compare to those who are living in true poverty.
 

Michael Feinstein (58)
Monday January 2, 2012, 2:08 pm
Some might choose to dispute the number of Amercans living in poverty. The government's guideline for the poverty level for 2011 was set at $22,350 (total yearly income) for a family of four. What is indisputable is that so many Americans have so little economically while the few are awash in wealth. Nothing on the horizon from the democrat or republican party offers a hope of remedying this disgraceful inbalance. On the contrary, a number of our legislators are part of the few and don't hesitate to participate in this injustice by bowing to lobbyists and utilizing personal insider trading. So we are constantly faced with choosing from the lesser of evils while many in our society suffer the consequences.
 

Sacha Jones (11)
Monday January 2, 2012, 9:45 pm
Perhaps America should shut down its absurd multi trillion dollar wars and look after its own people? No one need live in poverty in the richest country in the world.
 

Crystal C. (7)
Monday January 2, 2012, 9:49 pm
Half seems to me like an understatement. My family falls in the poverty line, and other people in the family as well. We seem to know people who are just as poor as we are, and it just seems like I'm not the only one.
 

monica r. (41)
Tuesday January 3, 2012, 3:57 am
So why do the CEOs make 100s of times what the workers driving increased productivity make? A Wal-Mart store employee gets about $13,500 a year (WELL below poverty) but the CEO of Wal-Mart makes $16,000 PER HOUR. Does he REALLY need to keep his front line workers in poverty despite their full time work? Could he not survive on less than that?

Just one reason I won't shop there. It puts money in the pockets of the 1% but keeps store employees poor, and drives local businesses out wherever they come in with their 100% made in China garbage-y products.
 

Michael Feinstein (58)
Tuesday January 3, 2012, 6:41 am
Excellent point Monica, why do so many CEO's have such exorbitant salaries and benefits? Do they really contribute that much more than their employees? If they are worth their salt it's the contributions of those with which they surround themselves not necessarily their individual contributions. It's a tough nut to crack. Increased taxes is one answer. I'm not in favor of wage control at any level. What's the answer?
 

Kit B. (277)
Tuesday January 3, 2012, 7:34 am

Why indeed Michael? Could it be that America has a case of wealth worship? It is really the carpenters, mechanics, brick masons, electricians, teachers, etc... that make this country work, make things keep running. Yet, we have always valued those with money far above those who actually made the wealth possible. Listen very carefully to the candidates when they are speaking (double speak) who are they really talking to - you or those who finance them?

I have a neighbor that is very cautious with his income, a vice president of a Big Bank that makes 52,000 a year; has 3 children and he too (a republican) must juggle food verses monthly payments to get by; and stills worships the wealthy. Americans want to believe that any day now they too will suddenly be a part of the super rich.
 

Rose K. (0)
Tuesday January 3, 2012, 7:35 am
noted
 

Michael Feinstein (58)
Tuesday January 3, 2012, 8:21 am
Absolutely Kit, America most certainly has a case of wealth worship. Unfortunately it's not the candidates but those of both parties who are well entrenched in Congress. Each panders to their own constituents. When it comes time to vote out the bad apples, voters aren't as prone to throw out their own legislators. What can be done to overcome this wealth worship. Very little if anything I think. A lot was lost with the demise of the family unit. Perhaps there are some ways to try move toward restoring that.
 

Kit B. (277)
Tuesday January 3, 2012, 9:10 am

Family units began to dissipate as people became suburbanites. For a while sub-urban communities were fairly well organized and transferred some of the dependency of family and neighborhood to the new sub-urban community. That has continued to lose it's ties. People have become extremely mobile, companies shift families from one sub-urban community to another, few even know the names of their next door neighbors. (I don't see this as accidental.) Yet, I do believe the real answers to poverty, joblessness and angst over the financial crisis is not with the actions of the Federal government but within our reach in a coming together of each community. Humans are essentially social beings, we want to congregate as social communities, but have become attached to politically and religious orientation, which tends to separate and not bring together people. This works well for political parties and the wealthy that own those parties, it has worked against the common man/woman. As long as we look at one another through the eyes of being an enemy because of religious or political differences, we continue to be nothing more then fodder for the wealthy.

The republicans like to think of themselves as organized, financially conservative meaning they attempt to live within their family means and not gain debt, therefore they are convinced by their "leaders" that this is factual thinking.

The democrats tend to think of themselves as open and inclusive of all ideas, therefore, less organized and less concerned about the Federal budget, more concerned about human rights. The politicians on this side of the fence feed those ideas.

Yet, if we really look at what Congress does, how they actually vote; they show allegiance to neither idea. Rather they are, as they have been, firmly owned by those in the far stratosphere of wealth. Or the oligarchy rules.
 

Yvonne F. (160)
Tuesday January 3, 2012, 10:39 am
Should give thought to the inequality on earth! Thanks for posting
 

Carmen S. (607)
Tuesday January 3, 2012, 1:48 pm
noted, thanks Kit
 

Phyllis Baxter (40)
Tuesday January 3, 2012, 2:44 pm
The poverty in the US is shocking. It doesn't matter which political party is in power, poor people are ignored and exploited. The Hope and Change manifesto was clearly a ploy to get elected- what a disappointment!
 

Kit B. (277)
Tuesday January 3, 2012, 3:47 pm

If people want hope and change then they better stop thinking about getting that from the government and begin to share with one another. I think there is a small difference between the parties, in that the voters believe there is a difference.
 

Michael Feinstein (58)
Tuesday January 3, 2012, 4:53 pm
Quite true Kit. Those of us that can give back to the community should do so, each as they can.
 

Alice C. (1797)
Wednesday January 4, 2012, 4:19 am
Yikes...I didn't know we were living in poverty !
 

John S. (294)
Wednesday January 4, 2012, 6:57 am
Noted.
 

Kristen H. (25)
Wednesday January 4, 2012, 7:27 am
I believe it. I make roughly $33,000/yr and am barely meeting my basic bills. No frills here in NC - and no COLA or merit raises for 3 years now, going on 4.
 

Ruby W. (21)
Wednesday January 4, 2012, 8:29 am
It really depends on where you live, a lot. I mostly know about what it takes where I live, so here's my estimates. 50,000 earned by one person might support a small house and one other person (either a spouse not working, one child, or a parent, but not all three). 50,000 earned by two people working would probably support one child fairly well, but if there are more children, an apartment is probably all they can hope for. This is without saving much money at all or having any luxuries like hobbies. To support a good-sized house, two or three children (or two children and an elderly parent), plus normal luxuries like hobbies, yearly vacations on the cheap for everyone, pets, savings accounts, a little charity, healthier food, will take two people who each make 50,000. I don't live in NY - this is Raleigh NC prices. So what does that tell you? It's worse in bigger cities. Of course no one has houses in some of the biggest ones, but the apartments there cost more than houses here. About that non-working spouse - if mom can't make enough to offset child care and stays home, some will applaud her. But it may condemn the family to a lifetime of renting. If dad or mom loses their job and can't find another right away, as zillions of people have lately, the whole picture falls apart - no savings, bad credit, lousy rentals in lousy school districts, and the chain of effects may extend into future generations. The comfortable, relaxed middle class family is becoming a myth. Instead, in order to stay middle class, people drive themselves like they are in the Marine Corps to keep their jobs and their heads above water, to give their children the experiences that will help them create these elusive, precious middle class lives. And the poor... well I've been broke, but not poor, I know the difference. But I've gone months on too little food, putting food money into the gas tank to get to a faraway, low-wage job that just perpetuates the situation. Refrigerators and dishwashers and clothes washers are great, but you can have all that and still be starving, with your clothes and shoes falling apart, no hope of medical care any time soon, no money for vitamins or decent shampoo or pet food. It sucks.
 

Nancy M. (219)
Wednesday January 4, 2012, 10:16 am
It's true that it depends a great deal on where you live and how many are in your family (kids?)

I remember when I lived in New England in the 1990s. Someone remarked that it took $100,000 to give the children a middle class life such as she had had. It took two incomes to give that (if you're lucky) and yet when she was growing up she had a stay at home Mom and a factory worker Dad.
 

. (0)
Wednesday January 4, 2012, 11:39 am
no middle class anymore...
 

Ingrid A. (532)
Wednesday January 4, 2012, 1:49 pm
How sad. Could be more than half though.
 

Dandelion G. (397)
Wednesday January 4, 2012, 8:18 pm
I recall those days in New England, Nancy. One could have a decent life in New England before the mid 80's without having to be the Bank President to do so.

Well if half are already in poverty, more are soon to be there if things keep going. It is bad enough on Countries that have so much poverty, but to take a Country that seemed to have so much going for it and run it into the toilet is shameful.

Guess the expression we all will be in the same boat soon will pertain, it sort of looks like the word Titanic is written on the side.
 

Cynthia Scionti (46)
Wednesday January 4, 2012, 8:33 pm
And the US is the greatest country on earth? Something is very wrong if half our population are in the poverty level!
 

Michael Feinstein (58)
Thursday January 5, 2012, 4:38 am
There seems to be a focus on the number of people in poverty rather than what we can do about it. Whatever the number is, it's by far too many. Not only that, our standard of living is not what it should or could be. How many make an attempt to Buy American where possible and practicle? I know that I could improve in this area. How many try to give back to the community even just a little? Community volunteering is such a worthwhile cause even if it's only a few hours a month. Ours has never been a nation of quitters. Just witness the OWS movement.
 

Su Mrnda (5)
Thursday January 5, 2012, 4:50 pm
One of the major reasons why inequality has reached these proportions is that there really isn't any market incentive to ever increase wages unless other employers happen to be doing so, and with pretty much no real labor movement, there hasn't really been any sort of push in that direction. Corporations went after people on the bottom, and have been moving up reducing the status of the middle class to the kind of (in)security that working class people used to have. There's no rule that the standard of living for workers can't drop to people living in their cars, as long as they keep showing up for work.

Also, taxes are lighter on income earned from capital gains and investment than they are from working. This allows the wealthy to consolidate ownership and put a bigger squeeze on workers. If you own 100 hotels and buy 100 more, you can start making people work harder for less money, or make fewer workers do more work. Our system rewards passive ownership more than actual work.

We need workers to absolutely revolt - this could help the unemployed because if there is enough demand, the government might have to put people to work like during the FDR administration.

The goal of the wealthy is to make it impossible to live without acquiring debt. Forget the nonsense about "the market" determining prices and wages. PEOPLE decide things things. Rich people. The rest of us need to leverage out political power against their economic power.
 

Amanda Adams (201)
Friday January 6, 2012, 4:41 pm
Scary statistic
 

KS Goh (0)
Sunday January 8, 2012, 1:53 am
Thanks for the article.
 

Catherine S. (7)
Monday January 9, 2012, 7:59 pm
A single person in San Francisco would not be able to afford a house on $50k. In fact, you'd probably have to share an apartment.. forever. Saving for retirement would be difficult if not impossible. A health problem or joblessness for a couple months could ruin your life, send you spiraling into homelessness. It's a very fragile situation.
 

Past Member (0)
Saturday January 28, 2012, 9:08 pm
They may call it poverty but it seems like affluence to me.

I've lived most of my life in poverty.Tonight, I look around my cozy little nest. It's just the way I want it. I enjoy browsing in thrift stores but there's nothing I need.....nothing to buy. I have lots of yummy food in
my kitchen. I have a few dollars left in the bank and plenty of money to get by 'til I get my retirement
Social Security check for $935. If there's anything I decide I want, it'll show up in a couple of days. Me
and the universe get along really good.

I love this simple life. I'm happy. I'm healthy. I have friends. I have a successful daughter who is happily married and calls me from her home far away and we enjoy long talks. I have Care2 which provides me with the opportunity to give service. I have my studies. I have my Higher Power and we're in love, each with
the other.

I got it made.

It's been this way for 3 1/2 years.

I like it like that.

 
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