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
Read through this article to understand how much the Federal Government and national media overstate the level of "impoverished" people in this nation (all statistics come directly from the latest US census): heritage.org/research/reports/2011/09/understanding-poverty-in-the-united-states-surprising-facts-about-americas-poor
I am not saying those 15.1% of people don't have any struggles, and living paycheck to paycheck is hard, but is it poverty? I think anyone who has visited impoverished people in a REAL third world country would be embarassed by what we call "poverty" in America.
The percentage of American's who truely face something resembling poverty, regular lack of sufficent food, overcrowded and disrepaired housing, long term homelessness, lack of access to modern conveniences, are only a small percentage of what the US Government considered "impoverished," much less the general population. Even those truly impoverished American's have access to charity and government care programs, a stable government, and simple things such as clean running water, that billions of people in real Third World countries will never have, and can only dream of. The average "impoverished" person in the US, per the federal guidelines, has to make decisions such as "can I really afford that HBO subscription and go out to dinner every Saturday night" not "can I afford a roof over my head and a hot meal." Is the first situation really poverty?
As long as one person in the US is still in poverty, we still need the hard work, dedication, and donations of charities around the country, but the truth is we should be PROUD how few people are truely poor in this country, by looking at the facts, not a madeup federal guidelines.
As much as this president has claimed to be on the side of the middle class, all his policies have done is take the middle class down to increase the poverty class level ... all the while complaining the his job killing policies are somehow the fault of the republicans ... it's become very transparent that he is doing this on purpose ...after all, "we can't keep our home comfortable, and drive our cars, and eat what we want, and expect the rest of the world to say ok" ... nwho is this man to say we don't deserve what we have worked for ..?
As he gains wealth, power, and builds on his narcissistic tendencies to think he knows what is best for everyone ... except him and his family of course ...
To Tammie Shifflett,
While I feel your pain and sympathize with you, I just wanted to let you know from personal experience that success does not come easy and often has a high price. I was born in a third world country, came to US 13 years ago, at age 21 with less than 20 $ in my pocket, left all my friends and family behind, worked odd jobs for few years while attended school full time, learned english and american culture, adjusted to this new environment, learned how to drive a car here and so forth. Even now, I travel every week for work all over the country as an IT consultant for my job , staying in hotels 4 days a week away from family. You yourself said that if you want a job, you gotta get outta here, but you are not willing to do it. No pain no gain.
I think we should help people get back on their feet--but government handouts should not be a lifestyle, only a stop gap measure.
I know that I would never have been able to go to college and better myself if the government hadn't subsizdized higher education. It transformed my life.
What bugs me though is that we have many forms of welfare--the welfare that goes to the upper classes and corporation isn't reported however.
I'd like to see an accounting of all forms of welfare--then we as a country can decide how to spend the money. Instead it is politicians with backdoor deals for those who need it the least.
disposible money in the hands of labor creates demand which in turn creates jobs and a higher standard of living.this push to become a global economy has lowered our standard of living and transfered wealth from the middle class to the rich
I am sorry, if you have been poor all your life, and you have 8 kids, I no longer feel bad for you. You are not very bright! I am almost wondering the statistics on this, because I think the lower class is growing simply because they are out reproducing any other class. This is by no way science, but you see it in all communities, it doesn't matter race, black, hispanic, white, if they have more than 5 kids, 9 times out of 10 they are dirt poor.
I think greatter access to birthcontrol and sexual education might help put a dent in this madness!
if you try to post the truth more then once the trolls working for the rich report your posts as spam so that you cant post your views more then once.very effective tactic.support higher wages for the middle class with tariffs and organized labor
99% American People, vote 100% STRAIGHT DEMOCRATIC, the lives you save WILL be YOURS & your CHILDREN! Let's rid our selves of this corruption once and for all!!
Latin Americans are driving this country into the third world as they do not produce a quality replacement for American citizens. They learned very early on that if they attack the United States as a minority army, they will be given all the aid they want at the expense of poor loyal Americans who have lived here for generations. These new Latin American invaders will get the resources handed to them that loyalist Americans had to fight to get. Latin Americans will be safe from the wars of the past that the loyalist American families had to fight to secure peace.
These cowards, backed by their countries, seek to destroy the America that Americans built and built largely by Europeans that settled across North America and brought civilization to the western hemisphere. These overpopulating hoards bring crime, disease, ignorance, drugs, and hatred for the American. They see Americans as their enemy and appeasing US politicians as spineless cowards that will help bring the United States down for their "thirty pieces of silver" and a spotlight.
The govenment gives LAZY people money who could work but just dont want to. I know this is a fact because i know people who just spit out more kids because the govenment will increase how much they give them a month. This country was built on hard work not the government giving away money. As a legal taxpayer my kids gets penalized because i make more than 40k a year (my wife and i). My son who has a speech impediment was denied preschool because they had to give the spots to kids whose parents didnt make as much money as i did. What B.S. I almost welcome a financial collapse, to get rid of the scum that feed off the hard working people. This includes alot of the government who spend our tax dollars on rediculous studies. How about shutting down the USPS (post office) this is costing taxpayers millions of dollars a year to keep running, it doesnt eve break even.
Little things do make a big difference sometimes!
Example: say this country decided to work together, or the congress passed a bill!
to help everyone who could not afford a brand new fuel saving car, or truck, SUV, etc. or even motor cycles to have it for free, that would be paid for by the tax payers, what benefit would there be in doing that?
to name a few safer roads, less fuel consumption, it would stimulate businesses, tire companies would sell more tires, car companies would sell more cars more taxes would be paid, tags would be purchased, insurance, cleaner air and more all this for just a few dollars from each tax payer!
I'm guessing that it would put a couple of million people to work, and would give the unemployed an incentive to find work! the people during the service on those cars would double, or triple their business!
I'm not the expert but I do think it would be a good thing to look into to see if it would work to get the country back to work!
If this country had more organizations like Habitat for Humanities, and rid itself of the racial attitude, this country would be a whole lot better. 'We' knowingly perpetuate this. People who qualify put in sweat equity for decent housing, and pay a minimal mortgage. I've seen a number of people who have been able to lift themselves out of poverty, and actually develop a good personal sense of being.
Charitable organizations are hurting right now, their donations are way down, and there are a lot of good organizations out there who really do try to help people. Organizzations who provide decent clothing for a man or a woman to go to employment interviews. Organizations who assist people in becoming employable through education.
GM used to have a jobs bank, assisting displaced workers gain employment capabilities in a new field. But that was taken from GM, and those people, during their forced bankruptsy; adding even more people.
Just a few examples of how this country perpetuates this class of people who continue to be on assistance. In the 30's blacks moved north hoping for a better life. Because of this a movement began in Detroit, and signs showed up in many places saying things like "We need every white person to come out and support our efforts to keep ****** (I used asterisks because I know the word will be censored) out of our city". And decent employment? Forget it.
I lived in one city, and a neighbor put a sign on his front lawn saying, in bold letter, "MOVE OUT ******" because a black couple had moved in. They were both professionals, educated, degrees, and very good people, but their color was what caused them to have to see this. This was in the 1970's, so we didn't move very far from the '30s.
Not long ago, thanks to all the 'illegal immigrants' crap, a highly decorated Korean veteran was constantly being verbally harrassed. Why? Because he was of Mexican descent. Do we verbally assault someone who is of German, British, Irish, or any other white descent? No we don't, but then according to Trent Lott a few years ago America was 'losing it's European complexion'. Well I'm sorry Mr Lott but 'America' did not originally have a 'European complexion'. As a friend of mine once said; 'Illegal immigration began in 1492.' At some point you were all immigrants, even my mother.
I could give a lot more examples, but that should be sufficent. How do you expect people to have a different attitude with this sort of assault taking place all the time? You want to change people? Change the environment they must live under. As for the lazy whites who live on the government handouts..... what is their excuse?
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