The poorest counties in America

These 15 counties have the nation's highest poverty rates, with the worst at or close to 50%, according to the most recent Census Bureau data.

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105Comments
Apr 19, 2012 11:49AM
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I grew up in the South, Alabama, in fact. And I cherish my Southern heritage. People who make derogatory comments about the South have obviously never lived there and experienced true Southern hospitality and a few quiet moments on the front porch. My family was below the poverty line 40 years ago. I went to school, worked, went to university, graduate school, got married, finished paying off my student loans, have two children, same husband and a great job. My mom used to say, "poor is just a state of mind."    I chose to have a different "state of mind".  Anyone else can too.  Oh, you can also qualify me as one of those "Bible thumpers".  It's been a great way of life for me.
Apr 19, 2012 9:52AM
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Self-sufficient rural dwellers don't require the same income as people living in a city.  When you own your home ... your car ... fish ... hunt  ... have no outstanding debt and your activities are community or church based, you're probably living better than then your city neighbor with their mortgage, high taxes, car payments, credit cards and grocery, fast food and restaurant bills. 
Apr 19, 2012 11:56AM
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This America of mine is one of the best places to live.  I can not keep from thinking about the single woman in FL that was getting around $7000.00 dollars a month for having 5 kids.  I never made that

much and working 2 or 3 jobs every day,  for 40 years.  Maybe I need to move to FL and start having some kids. Would love to have 7000 dollars a month. 

Only one other thing that gets me really upset is  that the US congress can work one four (4) year term and draw their pay for the rest of their life.  . 

Apr 19, 2012 12:05PM
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Many problems in the South (where I live) are tied to poor education. You can throw as much money as you want at it and it will not solve the problem I have listened to many teachers on television interviews and many of them do not even speak proper English. Is it any wonder that the students cannot communicate properly either? I know that there are teachers out there that a trying hard to provide students with a proper education, but I have also noticed that some parents are unwilling or unable to help their children with homework.
Another problem I have noticed is that, generation after generation, many of the poor children are raised into the government handout mentality. They (or their parents) do not worry about education because they know that they will be able to go onto the government dole. If you know that you do not have to work in order to eat, you have very little incentive to "work in order to eat". I noticed  that people blamed the Republican Party for not "providing" for these people. The problem is that  too many people now "expect" to be provided for by the government. We, as a people, are no longer self sufficient. We are dependent on the government and the government is out of money.
It is a combination of education and dependency that are the issues in the South. They can only be solved by good teachers that are allowed to develop curriculum for their students. Teachers also need to be held accountable for their own ability to communicate effectively with students. They need to be advocates for their students, not the government or the union.
Those living on the government need to be trained to get a job (or forced to get a job). Many times, at the grocery store, those with EBT cards are buying better food than I am (paying cash). I do not mind helping those that are in an emergency situation, but I think that when I see a mother, daughter, and grand daughter at the store, each with an EBT card, there is a problem and someone needs to go to work!
The Reservations are another story. I have friends in Montana and Arizona and they have told me how pathetic the conditions are on the Reservations. I know that the government provides medical clinics (at least on some of the reservations) and these clinics are underfunded. Having been through some of these areas myself, I saw a great deal of poverty. I do not know about these areas enough, though, to provide insight on how to solve the problems in those areas. As far as the medical clinics, I think having Medical students and student nurses have clinical rotations in these clinics may help.

Apr 19, 2012 9:30AM
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why do so many people in this country want everyone else to take care of them? Instead of looking to blame others why not look at yourself for the conditions you live in? I get so sick of hearing the liberals complaining that the big buisiness gets all the breaks, they should pay their share, they should give us free stuff, etc. etc. Keep raising taxes on corporations and watch the unemployment rise. The corporations are moving out of America (and taking their jobs with them) because of the high taxes they pay. If you want better conditions for you and your family then do something about it.. Get a better education, or get trained in a better career. Its up to you to take care of yours. I am not wealthy, in fact Im barely making it myself right now, but I dont blame others, and certainly dont think others need to pay for my failures. Grow up America
Apr 19, 2012 3:44AM
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If instead of wastinf Billions in the war in the middle East we put those dollars to work for our "poor" maybe we can improve their quality of life don't you think?

 

Apr 19, 2012 3:40PM
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It is just my opinion, but I believe that a large part of our poverty problems are due to population control and the generation gaps. As Americans we see several people having kids with several other people. Most children today do not see what I might call a structured family. For example a mother, a father, and their children. People see shows where men and women have sex with multiple partners thinking it's O.K. While at the same time people like "The Octomom" get all kinds of publicity. Like I stated before it is only my opinion, but morally how could a single mother give 8 children a normal life. Most of the country has enough problems if they have two children and both parents are working. So to sum up what I am trying to say is that a lot of our problems are teen pregnancy, being over populated, not creating quality Americans, an unstable social security system, and politicians not living to the same standards as what an average American has to. I would like to see politicians try and live on $10 an hour. Maybe then they could actually relate to their so called fellow Americans.   
Jul 12, 2012 9:22AM
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Oh my.   As I see it, there are a myriad of reasons for poverty.  No help is to be gained by ignorant attitudes about why people are poor or why they stay poor.  Most of those who live in poverty were born into it.  Sure, some become poor, but that's not usually the case.  The diverse opinions posted below about the poor needing to get a job, get an education, and get off government assistance are strong indicators that none of those commenters have any ability to comprehend life from inside the mind of someone who was born poor.  Similarly, those born into poverty cannot view life from the mind of someone born into middle class lives or higher.  Poverty is their reality.  When daily life might consist of living in unsanitary or filthy conditions, unsafe neighborhoods marked by crime such as murder, rape, theft, drug use, etc., it is difficult to imagine living in a happy, sunny, neighborhood surrounded by neighbors who want more than they already have and who blame the poor for their own predicament.  When you have lived in poverty every day since birth, you don't aspire to achieving things like a decent education, making a decent living, or even having proper health care for that matter.  You spend your time figuring out where the next meal is coming from, how you can avoid being raped on your way home from school, and avoiding the local drug dealers.  I know I can't really imagine the reality of those who are truly living in poverty.  So I don't imagine they can imagine my reality--born lower middle class, lived in a safe neighborhood, dreams of college, having a family and a middle class life.  I dreamed and imagined those things for myself because that was what surrounded me.  And, yes, I grew up knowing there were people who lived much better than I did--those who could afford college without loans, got a car on their 16th birthday, had designer clothes, a backyard pool, a savings account with a balance larger than my parents had, huge gifts of cash for their birthdays and holidays, dreamed of becoming a lawyer or a doctor because that's what their parents/aunts/uncles did.  Sure, I knew it existed--it didn't mean I had the means of creating or obtaining if for myself.  We are all limited by our own circumstances.  When you are born poor and have little chance of getting a decent education--and you are raised by parents who did not have the benefit of a decent education--you stand little chance that your parents can teach you what they never learned themselves.  Go ahead, just try to raise yourself to the next income bracket with what means you have at your disposal right now.  Sure, you work hard, but most of the complainers here are also complaining about how they, themselves, are working their asses off and can't get ahead either.  So, essentially, you are asking people who live in dire poverty to miraculously find that great education and high-paying job with even fewer tools than you have.  SERIOUSLY?  Maybe the complainers should further their own education (even though they lack the means to pay for that education, or the time to commit to it).  Perhaps that education would help you actually UNDERSTAND poverty, why poverty begets poverty, and why it is so difficult to escape.
Apr 19, 2012 8:42AM
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Poor in money is one thing; poor is literacy is another. Absolutely no one has to be poor in spelling. I wonder how most people responding to this list even know how to use the computer. Even the most basic skill - spellcheck - is available on practically all computers and devices. “There” (a place) “their” (belonging to them) and they’re” (they are) are totally different. Take a minute off from texting and check a dictionary before responding. Perhaps others may take your next response more seriously if it sounds like you know what you are talking about.

Apr 19, 2012 10:03AM
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The "education myth" that this country has perpetrated on it's citizens is criminal.  The schools have become a tool for propaganda.  Basic skills are ignored while "gay history month" is celebrated.  History is history.  This country was built by people with an 8th grade education. I believe in vocational training, intenships and apprenticeships.  Many rural people are family business owners and they function better than their city neighbors who's kids are in school until their 30 ... can't get a job, think the world owes them a living and don't move out of their parents home until in their 40's ... and that's the good senario.   
Apr 19, 2012 9:53AM
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Native Americans degraded? I am PROUD to be half Blackfoot but I believe many native americans degrade themselves. Did I steal your land or did this happen hundred years ago? Our ancestors did it, not me and you! I watch thousands of native americans living off the system since our government supplies housing, insurance, tuition etc. I see poor people and senior citizens everyday who can't afford medical care or even food but can't get help because they are not 'native american' I go to work everyday and pay my taxes so people like you can sit on your butts and live off the Indian system.
Apr 19, 2012 11:15AM
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its very hard and very honest to see that the majority of the poorest counties are Indian reservations.  We live in a messed up country.  I have a lot of friends that live on the rez and it is ridiculously hard living.  So many wonderful people out there struggling.  We need to support our fellows.
Apr 19, 2012 2:03PM
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@  lennonsqms

I just want to say - yours is the most thought-out, intelligent comment I have ever seen on these posts! 

I just want to add to that by saying:  I live in probably one of the most Republican (red) states there are and we have our share of people who think it's easier to 'just get it' than to 'work for it'.  We just passed laws making welfare recipients pass drug tests first.   On the other hand, we passed laws against panhandling, and a civil rights lawyer sued the state on behalf of the panhandlers.  The lawyer won, and panhandling is now legal again, and everywhere.  I saw a guy holding a sign just the other day that said he 'accepts credit cards'! I saw a woman just this morning standing in line for free medical care, or a room for the day, not sure which, but she was texting on a cell phone.  When we let people learn it's easier to have other people take care of them - well, that's where we get into trouble.  I agree with 'forcing' people to get jobs.  People rely upon the generosity of others, and you can make more money panhandling than you ever could with a job.  That part is disgusting.

I work in a law firm and we have a client who lives on an Indian Reservation.  The government gives him $7000 a month.  He lives in a 5th wheel, but drives a nice big truck.  He's in a lot of trouble, but can't afford his legal fees.  He cries 'poverty' and that he 'can't hardly afford to live'.    They also get free medical care on the reservations.  I have a great job, but I still can't afford health insurance premiums, and the firm is still to small to provide it.

I saw a documentary on t.v. a few weeks ago.   They went down south, to the poverty stricken areas.  They asked 'poor' people about President Obama.  They cussed him, swore about him, just hated him.  Most of these people were on government assistance.  When asked about their welfare and food stamps, these people actually DENIED getting help from the government.  They actually BELIEVE they were only getting things they had WORKED for!  OMG - now THAT is a problem!!  But it's like lennonsqms says.  It's because the parents pass down to the kids that you don't have to work - there's always someone there to take care of you. 
Jul 12, 2012 5:24AM
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wow what white people will say to explain away tryanny.i am NATIVE AMERICAN thats yankton sioux to you.and i can trace my blood and ancestors back to when we were pitching tee/pees on the lands of the dakotas ,WE WERE HERE FIRST and that makes me native american and we are changing things for the better we are finally in control of our future and teaching the children our language and educating them,so yeah we are still poor but we are striving to make things better.
Jul 12, 2012 12:43PM
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Sometimes we take for granted for what we already have even it's just a small amount. We can't judge others by the environment that they live in, nor by the color of their skin. As true Americans, we ought to have the wisdom to try to understand the needs of others, rather than to talk about their misfortunes in just a negative way. Tomorrow all our lives could change in a instant. We should be thankful for where we are at, and not feeding off the pain and suffering of others who are less fortunate. If you want to change the world, then change it, no one wants to be oppressed by those who think they are better than others..........Think Before You Speak!!!  Words can hurt. I rather be poor and living among friends than to live in your neighborhood.
Apr 19, 2012 10:28AM
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I was pleased to see that WVa had no counties on this "poverty" list.  I have observed the people in this state for a number of years, and found them to be honest, hard working folk, for the most part, yet they have a bad rap from most people.  Somehow, they manage to beat a living out of those beautiful wooded hills, where they are untouched by the ravaging of strip mines, etc.  As I drive through on their somewhat improved roads, I see less of the ravage that was so evident a few years ago.  I hope that means that the mining industry is becoming more responsible, but I think it is perhaps that the people of that beautiful state have wised up and are fighting to preserve their best natural resource.  Poverty can be overcome in most instances by hard work, but unfortunately, so many of the jobs that might have provided a living in these areas have been "outsourced."  I just read an article that many of our road and bridge projects have been outsourced to laborers from China.  What government official could possibly sanction or vote to allow that?  That individual should be imprisoned for crimes against the people of this country.
Jul 12, 2012 5:29PM
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Never take for granted what you have, for it can dissapear in a blink of and eye . 
Jul 12, 2012 4:43PM
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The really sad part of this situation is that the current administration is sending BILLIONS of our tax dollars overseas to help feed, cloth and educate every damn country there is and allows uncontested illegal immigrants to cross our borders, but can't help our own people who really deserve to be helped.  What a sad and in my opinion criminal government we put up with! It's time we start thinking and caring about our own citizens first!
Jul 12, 2012 11:25AM
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First of all a lot of these places are Native American Places please check out the state SD is high on the poverty list .Native Americans suffer the most they have been dealing with the poverty issue for years and now they take notice what a joke.Wow you just took notice that Native Americans live in poverty WHAT A JOKE .Half of you on this page know nothing about Native American issues Please feel free to be ignorant just as your 4 fathers and mothers were .Take a deep look at what your people have done since stepping foot on there shores everything you touch you destroy. Take a look and pick up a history book .Better yet go to the REZ and ask what has the white man done to you. And have we  made a better way for you. Oh i for got you hate to face what was done you want to wish this one away like everything else you have done.For get the past  wow  
Apr 19, 2012 3:45AM
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Interesting indeed.  For an eye opener on why the people living in these areas tend to still vote against their interests, read "Deer Hunting For Jesus:Dispatches From America's Class War" by Joe Bageant.  
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