6/14/2012 7:35 PM ET|
America's own Third World
The percentage of US residents living in poverty is on the rise, according to the Census Bureau. We shine a light on the diverse faces of America's underclass.
America's poor: The grim statistics
● U.S. population: 313.7 million (June 2012)
● U.S. poverty rate: 15.1% (2010), up from 14.3% in 2009
● U.S. unemployment rate: 8.2% (May 2012)
● Real median household income: $49,445 (2010), down 2.3% from 2009
● People without health insurance: 49.9 million (2010), 16.3% of the population
The numbers are startling. But the names and faces tell the raw story.
Gary Thompson is one of those faces. At age 68, he's broke and sick, and he sleeps in a charity mission surrounded by homeless strangers in Atlantic City, N.J. It's not a pretty picture.
In general, poverty in America today is disturbingly unattractive. It is gritty and pervasive and hard to break out of. It's a story of men and women all around us who are suffering great pain, frustration and deprivation. It sounds banally dramatic, but only, gratefully, because most of us have never endured those circumstances. For the minority that has -- and, let's be clear, it is a small minority -- the suffering is substantial, and it has not lessened in recent years. Political divisions have made sure of that. Partisanship has frequently hindered or scuttled initiatives that each political party has proposed.
Democrats and Republicans manifest very different notions of how to cope with poverty. Some of us believe that people should take full responsibility for their actions under all circumstances and that "neediness" is a character flaw overcome through hard work and determination.
That's one point of view.
Others believe the government's main purpose is to care for the well-being of its people -- not just the "cans" but also the "cannots," the "have-nots" and sometimes even the "do-nots." They believe compassion is integral to civil society, that government's role is to make sure Americans are safe and healthy, and that if you don't or can't work, or can't get by on your paycheck, you should not be relegated to Dickensian penury.
We profile five people who come from different backgrounds and circumstances but now find themselves in America's underclass -- the working and nonworking poor. Some of these people have lived most of their lives in poverty. Others are new to it. Most say they never could have imagined they would be as dependent as they are today on friends, family, charities and government programs to support themselves and care for their families.
Click through the following pages to read their stories.
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My wife & I dropped below the poverty from middle class about 2 1/2 years ago. We've been poor before, so we made plans, & now are living well if precariously.
What happened to us is this; our employers preferred employees who would take lower salaries to those who were hard working, knowledgeable, experienced, capable, efficient, & possessed of integrity. This is natural under a system where business schools teach payroll is a company's biggest expense. The employers proudly went to their execs & boards of directors with their reductions in "expenses".
They missed the fact that without payroll you have no production, & without production you have no business. Indeed, we've seen many businesses go under. The only way to get around this need for payroll is through slavery. Any proponents of slavery onsite? No? Didn't think so.
Our business schools need to completely reconsider their curricula. Their graduates are uniquely unqualified to manage businesses.
Does anyone else notice a recurring theme here? People unwilling to leave the town they were born in even though it's dead or dying economically. I mean the writing is on the wall for most of the towns listed. Sometimes you have to move on to survive whether you like it or not.
Another problem is people having children they can't afford to support and then almost inevitably their kids have kids they can't support. Enough already.
I feel for those who've lost their jobs and are having a hard time finding another or have chronic debilitating illness and can't work anymore, but I've no sympathy for those who routinely depend on gov't assistance as a way of life or who aren't willing to make changes to help themselves.
This is just wrong...We are supposed to be a first world leader.
The measure of a nation’s compassion is in how its own citizens fair on a day to day basis.
Everyone should be able to have access to some basic needs, housing, food, medical care and a job to be able to pay for this.
This fits into “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
I recently drove thru a poor government housing community the other day. OMG, so many fat (obese) people....OMG they must be eating 8 meals a day, & check out the cars in the driveway......nice.
Dam, I need to get me some of that welfare.
The ability to unload babies to increase the welfare check has been going on for generations, nothing new in that. The population is really too much now and unlike Edison who's inventions boosted employment, we now have a computer chip that has eliminated more jobs than I can shake a stick at. That 9 or 10 gal office is now a one gal office with a computer. That floor that employed hundreds to tack weld in an automotive plant is now done by robotics. Soon the banks will be nothing but ATM machines and tellers will be obsolete and some are now. Stores will also learn quicker ways for the sale and eliminate workers. America was founded on immigrants and also those here deprived of birth control cause the good ol' boys of politics wanted a lot of "workers" for their foundaries etc. It took many years and many fights to get in birth control. My mother often said that doctors and lawyers only had one or two but she got stuck with five and she only wanted one. Today, we have an over abundance of workers available and no jobs and still we haul in immigrants. The boneheads have screwed it all up in their ever hunt for more power. Too bad society didn't learn to vote the jerks out after one term, maybe they would have been more receptive to the wrongs in America. Who said senators get to retire in their nineties???
This is why president obama has signed a bill so FREE contraception become available to the poor so they won't have children they cannot afford !!
Also, who's fault is it if poor have so many children ??? does'nt the religious wingnut right teach them that contraception and abortion are evil ???
Again, when you vote for a republican, don't be surprise if your country is going down the hill and becoming a 3rd world, country !
WHen you see "fat" poor remember what foods are the cheapest. A poor diet is more the culprit than using seeing Fat Poor to justify comments created in ignorant uniformed brains. Food stamps are not so much that it puchases bounty. Yes there are people abusing the system just like every other program, but this does not justify unfeeling calously stated comments. there are more people suffering from malnutrition in this country than during the Depression in years long past.
Moving to the cities to avoid poverty?? the bigger the city the more the cost of living goes up, jobs are harder to get and those that are availably would not cover the cost of living.
seeing the comments posted saddens , knowing that the lack of empathy and ignorance of life's struggles and basic facts has created a hard biased people. Get off your soap boxes and really look around yourselves. Todays poor, living in poverty and suffering are more of the middle class than ever before. No one chooses poverty, struggle and fear as a life style so before your lips flat and show what a fool looks like THINK
The programs for those in need are not being productive in getting our proverty back in the working force. I am not blaming the politicians as we all know they only think of their needs not our country.
Again I say: Give assistance but not for free, even if it means picking trash up or painting fire hydrants. One day a week for assistance. And for God sakes stop giving illegals free everything (healthcare, education, and welfare). If we are to stay strong as a country we need to see to our own. No more free rides!!!
I have lived every facet of life that you think you understand! Yet you call me Stupid... you need to rethink your accusations. I was a child of a single mother, I lived through poverty and sometimes lived in a vehicle. I later become a single mother not by choice! I worked mutiple jobs to raise my girls. I know what our programs have to offer and not offer. If you had even thought about what you wrote in the reply you would see that I know there are exceptions to working for assistance. However, there are many that get assistance that can work for it and should be working for it. Educating those using assistance to get back or be better contributors to the economy as viable option to this also. P.S. I have gone longer than three days without food or clean clothes. The most basic life needs I have been without... dont call me stupid.. turn the finger around to yourself!!!
Stupid is, saying you have to spend money to get out of debt... Everyone of those that said this or supported this should have been taken out of office that very day and placed in a insane asylum.
The day Pelosi said,we have to pass this bill before we can know what is in it. That statement moved her to the top of the stupid list for me.
Earlier I read another post which ended with, "God help America." God is done with helping America.... Just as He used unrighteous leaders in Israel centuries ago to draw the hearts of the people back to himself. So too is He doing the same with America. Just as He used those from heathen nations to bring His judgment upon the people, so too is He doing the same for us.
I tell how 9/11 was the 1st of 3 major terrorist attacks and the 2nd is soon to come for S. California, and most likely in or near Philly & Boston and 1000 times that of 9/11 attack. The 3rd. attack.... There will be no need to worry about the next month's bills.
To read what's coming for America google: Hand of Help Ministries and click on Dreams/Visions
Manage your money like a democrat and wind up in poverty.
Manage your money like a Republican and wind up rich.
The poor are not fat because they eat too much, but because they can only afford JUNK FOOD that is poisonning them slowly !
Many poor in america do not have access to grocery stores because they live in very remote areas.. they buy what they can find at gas stations ! Many never eat healthy food like fresh fruits and vegetables !
I beleive is helping people get back on their feet but this last family troubles me the most. To be so young and to have 8 children shows a total lack of responsibility. While I don't fault the kids of course the parents should have been a lot more sensible with their decisions. If you can't work, then don't have kids. It's bad enough that when you can't work you depend on the citizens of this country to foot the bill but to add children to the equation is total irresponsible.
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