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
Can anyone please tell me where the building in the picture is located? I realize that it might be a stock image and just used because it's in poor condition.... But I'm really curious.
How can someone have 8 kids and be disabled? Did he not know he could pass this disease to any of these kids. I do understand how these people feel right now. People need to get the government back on the right track. In the 1930's they had programs like the CCC's. Why can't they do this now? I mean, our bridges and dams are in bad shape. People also need to do Victory Gardens again. The gardens were put on vacant lots and everyone shared in the work. We need to go back in time to see what worked and what did not. People who have money and some of the high strung banks can give people who want to restart factories a helping hand. Why do we need to give to other countries? We need to help our own first. That is the American way.
If the government keeps doling out funds in this unpostive way, who is going to be paying for it? We cannot keep doing this. There is so many people in this country, which makes that some of the population is children and teens. Oh and by the way, picking blueberries and other fruits and vegetables is hard work. You have to be fast. These migrant workers for the most part have been doing this type of work for years. However their kids aren't going to be able to do that kind of work with the speed their parents and grandparents go at it. The US Labor Department has a law that says their kids can't work in the fiels.
Did anyone notice that the last family has a pool? I am no expert, but even the above ground pools are expensive to fill and maintain.
I work, my husband works two jobs and is in school, and all we have to show for it is student loan debt and we are still renting. Maybe I should have stayed on Social Security/disability (I was on it for 12 years but went back to work as soon as I was able), my husband could quit work/school, we could have six more kids, and THEN we could get enough govt money to own a four bedroom house with a pool.
Silly us, working to improve our situation!
The thing that might surprise many people is how comfortable many in so called impoverished areas actually are. For a person who is raised in poverty it often becomes a way of life. Many of these people in this article could choose to make more money by moving to a more profitable area or making other lifestyle choice, but they don't. The reason is because they are happy where they are. This is often true of people from small, rural areas. Many of these type of people simply cannot fathom a 40 hour per week job where they have to follow a schedule. Their is no way they are gonna miss their football games or other family gatherings because they have to work. They simply are not gonna do it.
These people are terrible employees! They call in sick at the drop of a hat, and almost any excuse will do. If their sister has a birthday party they'll see it as a reason to skip work etc. The work ethic in these rural areas is so poor that it's almost impossible to hire a dependable worker. Many of them don't really want to work, and they sometimes just stop showing up at all after a few weeks. These people are happy if they have just enough money to get by for the week, and they will continue to live this life as long as someone else foots the bill ie working people who pay taxes. Stop the govt. handouts, and these people might be forced to go to work like the rest of us.
The thing is all of these people are making conscious choices that are keeping them in poverty. They choose to stay in an area where there are no jobs because that's where they feel comfortable or that's where their whole family lives. Well boo friggin hoo. Life is full of tough choices, and I've had to leave situations in life where I was comfortable in order to be able to support myself. Why should I cry a river for these people who don't seem to think they have to do anything that makes them uncomfortable? And why should my tax dollars go to support them in their choices?
Life does not bend to accomodate you. You have to adapt in order to flourish. I find it ridiculous that these people seem to believe the world owes them something. But you know what? The longer I live the more I see these type of people getting a lifetime of handouts while those of us who actually work and strive get nothing. Maybe we are the suckers.
The only people I believe in helping are those who simply CANNOT work due to a severe physical or mental handicap, and working people. We should do everything we can in society to make life profitable for average, hard-working people who keep our civilized society running. If we stopped the govt. handouts for those who won't work you'd be surprised at the changes they would make in order to survive.
If two thousand people ban together, and put a hundred dollars each month, or week to invest in property they could raise 200,000.00 dollars each month, or eight hundred thousand dollars they could build a gated community, and live debt free in a relatively short time, just saying that the poor have the way to do something like this, and break free of the system by helping one another!
It could be a way to climb out of poverty, really fast! with the right planning!
This might sound crazy, but 2000 people starting with a hundred each month could buy two or three hundred acres, and have it paid for and ready to build on in a short time once water, and electric was installed, they could start building apartment condos , a warehouse, for food supplies, etc., at some point they could move in and live while they would be able to buy things in bulk by the truck load, while working during the day, If they needed to put three hundred each week after it was going, to invest in their well being, it would be around 2,400,000 each month, at that point, it would not take long to be able to call their own shots at whatever they wanted to do, it would take determination but would be much better than becoming the working poor, it could turn out to be a great life style who knows? You can buy a lot with two point four million dollars each month, the poor have more power than they know they have, if they could just get it started, there could be groups like this all over the country someday!
and anyone...ANY one who argues or makes a statement of one child rule as they do in china and even think to have that enforced here is someone with whom I do NOT want to have in this country at all under any circumstance or situation. If the person who made that statement had any knowledge at all of the FORCED abortions that take place there in china....you might..MAYBE take a differen viewpoint. but with ignorgance such as that showing? I highly doubt anyone is going to support that idea or notion.
Yet we still have famous hollywood actors begging for our $$'s on tv commercial's to send overseas. Whatever happened to taking care of our own first?! Wow what a concept.
Which is exactly what the Republicans want, they want a third world nation in America, where the influential rule over the rest. They want to rebuild the autocratic society that was here prior to FDR coming to power. And low information voters are their best asset.
And unfortunately the Democrats seem to be afraid of their own shadows. They allow the Republicans to lie through their teeth, and they fail to put up a fight, and you the working class is who will suffer. This doesn't hurt me, I'm fine, but you better get off your a#*es and fight or you're going to see the crappy end of the stick. If you don't know what America was like, prior to the crash, you're liable to get a ringside seat to a replay of history. And trust me, Ebinezer Scrooge would have been benevolent compared to many in power back then.
And for you rightwing koolaid drinkers, if when all is said and done, you think you're going to be invited to the country club you've got another thing coming.
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