6/14/2012 7:35 PM ET|
America's own Third World
Gary Thompson on the Atlantic City boardwalk
Atlantic City, N.J.
● Population: 39,558 (2010)
● Poverty rate, households with related children: 32.3% (2006-10 census estimate)
● Unemployment rate: 12.4% (April 2012)
Like a lot of visitors, Gary Thompson came to Atlantic City in May to spend the summer at the Jersey shore. At 68, homeless and with HIV, Thompson is no tourist, however. He's an urban migratory worker, down on his luck and searching for a seasonal job. "I don't care if it's security work, cleaning up. Right now they (the casinos) are kind of busy, so they are gonna snatch people kind of quick."
With its beaches, boardwalk and glitzy casino hotels, this New Jersey gambling destination is in its high season in summer. Hiring picks up in the warmer months, and that attracts boardwalk vendors, college students and people looking for low-skill casino jobs.
Thompson isn't being picky. He left his sister's place at the landlord's behest in the nearby town of Chatsworth, N.J., and now he's starting over. His first stop -- as for so many other job seekers who flock to this city -- was the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, a refuge here since 1964. Last year, nearly 3,000 people stayed at the mission, which served more than 200,000 meals and provided counseling, clothing and classes to help people find and secure jobs.
Every morning, Thompson packs up his satchel and carries his 30 pounds or so of possessions around town, looking for work.
The job search in Atlantic City and the surrounding area has not been easy these past few years. In April, New Jersey's unemployment rate was 9.1%, a full percentage point higher than the national average. In Atlantic City, the jobless picture was even grimmer. The city's unemployment rate in April was 12.4%, owing in part to the bruising that the gaming industry has endured since the 2007-2009 recession. (Revenues at Atlantic City casinos last year were $3.3 billion, 37% below their peak in 2006.)
The decline in casino-related tourism to the city does not bode well for Thompson and his fellow job seekers. Resting on a bench on the famed Atlantic City boardwalk, Thompson dons an official city vendor's license, identifying him as a resident of the rescue mission. If and when he gets a job, the license will allow him to work in the city.
For now, however, Thompson relies on the mission, as well as Social Security, disability checks and his own sense of optimism to keep him afloat. "However you got homeless," he says, "you gotta leave it behind. You got to start over."
-- Lang Kirchheimer
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Daniel Robertson, 33, and 29-year-old Marlana Robertson were born and raised in Hattiesburg, Miss., and have known poverty all of their lives.
WHY DID THEY HAVE 8 KIDS?
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!
Knew about his MS at age 15, can't work, but went ahead and had 8 children. When you can't afford to keep yourself, you need to keep it in your pants! And, how many of those kids did he pass that MS on to?
It's funny how Americans will give aid in the BILLIONS to other countries and we won't even give a single poor woman in the ghetto a toaster.
We'll step over the homeless right here at home, but give MILLIONS to the poor abroad.
The hollywood movie stars will step over a child that need adopting at home, but go to Africa and adopt a baby there.
Aren't we great people.
I don't know any of these peoples' situations personally, except what little details they have given us, but most of them seem to have brought poverty upon themselves. Having 8 kids when you know you are going to be disabled your entire life is ridiculous! As is staying where your "friends and family" are, in a town of only a couple hundred or thousand, when you know damn well that there are no jobs there! With the exception of the sick, homeless man, who actually travels to find work, the rest of these people are just making excuses. And I say this as a liberal. I am sick of the excuses made in this country for not having to support yourself.
I know times are tough, but eventually we are going to have to cut people off. We can't support everyone all the time, especially people who refuse to make sacrifices (like relocating or having less children) to better their life.
Hmmm... people single parenting... a married couple where neither works and they have EIGHT kids... people who refuse to leave their hometowns to seek work... golly, wonder why they're having trouble getting by, poor abused folks...
Rudolf, at least the illegal aliens you speak of are willing to pursue a better life... rather than sit back and expect it to come to them.
I understand there are people who cannot work for medical reasons, and they should not be left to starve, but neither should they be eating much steak... and there are those who would work, but their industry is suffering right now, same deal as above... but recognize that "from each according to ability, to each according to need" is the DEFINITION of socialism. "From each according they have more, to each because they feel entitled," that's just STUPIDism.
The homeless man in Atlantic City is at least making an effort... but there was probably a reason his sister's landlord said he couldn't stay at the house anymore...
What a sad comment on the state of affairs in what used to be the greatest country in the world.
Just look at us now...despised by the rest of the world for our foreign policies.
Basically broke! Actually even worse than that. Our entire government operates on borrowed money that we have no way of knowing how we will ever pay it back.
Millions without health insurance and many that have it, going broke trying to pay for it.
Unemployment that is at an all time high and the number in this article doesn't count all the people that have given up finding a job or used up their unemployment benefits.
The Middle Class is now the working poor.
Greed so rampant in our businesses it's just sickening!
A political system that's corrupt, ineffective and so wasteful it makes you want to puke.
And don't tell me to leave if I don't like it, because I spent my entire life working to make this country a better place and a better life for my family and I'm staying right here to voice my disgust for the way it's been destroyed. After all, isn't that what the thousands of soldiers that have died all over the planet were fighting for...our freedoms?
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.
Want to get "the poor" working. Insist that to get their unemployment they have to show up each day witout fail at the unemployment office where they are formed into work gamgs and sent throughthe city with brooms, mobs, bags, pick up th gargage, scrape off the graffitti, an dsweep and mop the streets. Six hours a day 6 days a week. In the winter they get snow-shovels and brooms to clean up the snow. Work prgrams planting flowers in parks and beautifying the country.
In four weeks you'll cut the unemployed poor in half. Make sure the orders are only given in Englsih and you'll find out amazing that most illegals have learned English in record time.
Disciplinary problems simply lose their check. Extreme disciplinary problems lose their check forever and are sent to a re-education camp. Someplace like Magadan or Chelyabinsk.
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