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.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Every one that has left a message here for someone to read! I quit voting back in the seventies'!
Tricky dick Taught us a lesson then "BUT" no one saw the trick or the lesson!. I love feeling clean
of this screwed up world! because I had nothing to do with putting anyone in controll over me!
They take controll over our constitutional rites'! I didn't put them in that seat!, they take controll over
our food! I had nothing to do with it!, they take controll over who gets' jobs'! I didn't put them in that position to be able to take controll! I did Not Vote!. And for those that I see in a grocery store pushing three carts' surrounded by at least seven kids' just raking the food off the shelf into the basket !.
I do not get welfare!, call any government agency and see what nationality answers' the phone as if it were their home phone!. Again I had nothing to do with it!! I did Not Vote!! AND THAT IS MY BUISINESS!. Why vote for some a$$hole that has Millions' of Stocks' in his pockett! and why vote for a man that has never had a real job!??? I learned my lesson By signing Up for WAR!!!! and letting some Marine turn me into a brainwashed killing machine!. Oh Yeah! Is there a job for Snipers' in the newspaper?. Is there a job for a machinegunner?. I'm a" CHRISTIAN" and I Proudly vote on that!. GOD IS TRULY COMING! LET THIS BE A LESSON! OR JUST LAUGH!! YOUR IGNORANT A$$ OFF! Think of what I say !. You Voters' Its' all Youre fault! Believing that You can change something that will never change and, You think you are so much better than those that don't vote!. See what You get when You vote? whish in one hand and $&!t in the other & see which hand gets' full first!!. I think that a new way to vote should be established! If I knew It wasn't RIGGED I mite vote! I'm sick of this rat race! there will be a terrible war and all shall perrish!.
It is interesting how Americans love to blame someone when things go wrong!
Where were these people when things were good! The economic problems did
not happen overnight. This country needs to wake up !!! It has always bin a attempt
to balance the Haves vs. The Have Nots. If you truely believe in the American Dream
you should keep in mine the ideals that America is for all Americans and not those
who can afford it. Last but not least all should VOTE when given the chance.!! The goverment
is watching !! Please remenber many Americans died for that right!!!. One last thing I would like
to share with my fellow Americans ,don't throw the baby out with the bath water,
Lets let our elected officials know they were hired to legislate or work for all of us.
If they have somthing to say put their efforts into spelling out their plans not holding
up the jobs they were elected to do!!!!!!
Poverty is rampant due to the idea that either Government or Corporations will help us with jobs. Waiting for either is POOR thinking. Create you own JOB do what you love. Create a business and grow it. There are two forms of slavery one is to debt. The other is to the illusion of limited resources. I know this for a fact I have been homeless and jobless more than once. All the while wondering what I wanted to do with my life. Who I want to become. I have tried many different JOBS. Only to have them leave the country and such.
Then I started to Create my own income and have not been employed for 7 years. Yet I still eat have a roof over my head and clothes on my back. All without being slave to poverty or Corporate greed.
I notice in this article only the government is compassionate because they make sure nobody has to suffer less than a median lifestyle, while the Republicans feel that compassion is never warranted under any circumstances. Really? I think most Republicans feel there is a role for government to help those, who through no fault of their own, cannot take care of themselves. Republicans would argue that compassion is given through helping those that are not working by ensuring that they have a job which would help their own self image, improve their financial standing and help break the cycle of feeding off the government. Prior to the "welfare state" and the policy of the government being the safety net, compassion came from neighbors, family and the church. I guess since church is a dying institution with so many people now, the government has to take over that role. Is that really compassion?
By the way, nobody wants to see people in poverty, but keep in mind the definition of poverty. Most studies show that those in poverty earn enough to have several t.v.s in their homes, cable, the internet, cell phones and a car. Personally, I am in the median income range, but I don't have a smart phone because the package costs $30-$40 per month, nor do I have a premium cable package with HBO or Showtime. It's called living within your means.
The once middle class people are being marginalized not only economically but maybe even more importantly politically. Most people still are unaware that they have been sold out not only by the wealthiest few but by the politicians they elected who couldn't care less about their plight.
At the end of the day the ideology of international corporate power with its' manifest destiny of maximizing profits at the expense of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should be apparent to even the most brainwashed whatever-major-political-party-dupes.
The relocation of the manufacturing bases to places like China, which was largely financed by wealthy Americans. This was done for reasons other than turning a fast buck through the large profits netted by paying very little for labor; it was done to break the backs of the middle class to force them to accept much less for their labor.
We are now in the final stages of this corporate takeover of our country where they feel that we are a just a mindless mob who are easy to manipulate that nobody will have the guts to come out and call them the true titles of what they are 'traitors' and then mutiny against this current system of government which was bought out by the ruling class.
Last segment of the article points out poverty in the South, story about the Mississippi couple who at the age of 29 and respectively 33, already has 8 (eight) children and living off welfare. He is disabled since he was 15, the articles reads, which supposedly stopped him from working YET he was able to conceive 8 children... Newsflash: his disability and welfare money to raise their hoard of children is coming from people who work for a living and pay taxes, so the lazy ones can leach off of, and perpetuate more generations of welfare deadbeats who do nothing but moan, complain and cry poor.
And while I feel bad for the unfortunates who cannot find work in their areas and struggle to meet their ends, I have little sympathy for the ones who refuse to help themselves
Poverty is the future for anyone who won't or can't compete - and many in government are empowered by the poor since the poor vote for handouts.
One of the most common misconceptions is the assumption that if someone is hungry, that means they do not have a job and are living on the streets. What most people don’t understand is that anyone can experience hunger. It is a silent epidemic that affects 49 million Americans.
According to the US Census Bureau, in 2010, 21 million people lived in working-poor families. This translates into nearly 9.6 percent of all American families living below 100 percent of poverty have at least one family member working . In fact, 36 percent of client households served by the Feeding America network have one or more adults working. ii
Working Poor Facts
- Female-headed households were more than twice as likely to be among the working poor as male-headed households in 2008.
- Among families with at least one member working at least half a year, families with children were 4 times more likely than families without children to live in poverty in 2008.iii
- According to a survey on hunger and homelessness conducted by the United States Conference of Mayors, 88.5% of cities participating in the survey cited unemployment as one of three major causes of hunger in their city.
- Thirty-nine percent of all adults served by Feeding America have completed high school or equivalent degree with no further education beyond high school. ii
- 34 percent of all households served by Feeding America have had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care. ii
- Sixty-five percent of working families that received SNAP were single-parent families. "
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