Just a reminder of what poverty looks like in America

posted at 4:05 pm on September 13, 2011 by Tina Korbe

As Ed reported earlier, the Census Bureau today released its annual poverty report, which showed the number of poor Americans is up from 43.6 million last year to 46.2 million this year — roughly one in seven Americans and the highest poverty rate in 15 years. No matter which way you slice it, that’s not good news. When coupled with declining business and consumer confidence, it’s still worse news — a true sign of these troubled economic times. What policies we adopt to address our economic problems are of the utmost importance — and, unless we want to be classified as insane, we cannot do what we have always done and expect to get results other than those we have always gotten. So, what were the policies that led us to this situation?

“These are the wages of class warfare,” Ed writes. “Even more basically, these are the entirely predictable outcomes of central economic planning, selective regulation, regulatory ambiguity, and mixed messages on tax rates and fiscal burdens.”

He’s right. And, yet, it seems entirely probable that today’s new poverty numbers will only reinvigorate class warfare rhetoric and calls for redistribution of wealth. After all, something must be done to alleviate the burdens on low-income Americans — and rarely if ever is it the politically-endorsed position that the “something” should be shoring up marriage, promoting a strong work ethic, private generosity, a bit of neighborly assistance or simple words of encouragement. And never is it hinted that handouts might actually hurt rather than help those who lack ample material means.

It’s helpful, then, to remember just what poverty looks like in America today — not to dismiss it (for it is a problem to be solved!), but to ensure that the solutions we craft are as likely as possible to be effective. According to a Heritage Foundation backgrounder released today:

In 2005, the typical poor household, as defined by the federal government, had air conditioning and a car. For entertainment, the household had two color TVs, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player and a VCR. In the kitchen, it had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker. The family was able to obtain medical care when needed. Their home was not overcrowded and was in good repair. By its own report, the family was not hungry and had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs.

The overwhelming majority of Americans do not regard a family living in these conditions as poor. For example, a poll conducted in June 2009 asked a nationally representative sample of the public whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: “A family in the U.S. that has a decent, un-crowded house or apartment to live in, ample food to eat, access to medical care, a car, cable TV, air conditioning and a microwave at home should not be considered poor.” A full 80 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of Democrats agreed that a family living in those living conditions should not be considered poor.

The Census report, according to Heritage’s Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield, is misleading in two major ways:

First, it provides no information on the actual living conditions of the persons identified as poor. It simply states that a specified number of persons are poor without giving any information on what poverty means in the real world. A detailed description of the living conditions of the poor would greatly enhance public understanding. In fact, without a detailed description of living conditions, public discussions of poverty are meaningless.

Second, the report massively undercounts the economic resources provided to poor people. The Census Bureau asserts that a household is poor if its “money income” falls below a specified threshold. In 2010, the poverty income threshold for a family of four was $22,314. However, in counting the money income of households, the Census Bureau excludes virtually all welfare assistance. For example, more than 70 means-tested welfare programs provide cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to poor and low-income persons, including Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps, the Women, Infants and Children food program, public housing and Medicaid. (Social Security and Medicare are not means-tested programs.)

In 2008, federal and state governments spent $714 billion on means-tested welfare programs, but the Census Bureau counted only about 4 percent of this as money income in determining whether a household was poor. The bottom line is that the economic resources available to poor persons are vastly greater than the report claims.

When Rector released his first report about the amenities enjoyed by the poor in America, Stephen Colbert ripped into it, suggesting it’s somehow cold or compassionless to want to rethink anti-poverty programs. But is it? As Rector explains, the War on Poverty has both worked and not worked. Federal government assistance has addressed the consequences but not the causes of poverty, two of which are the collapse of marriage among the poor and lack of parental work. As Marco Rubio once put it, “Our poverty does not create our social problems; our social problems create our poverty.” And “fixing” only the consequences of poverty ignores the fundamental reality that earned success leads to a happier life (I cannot harp on that enough!). If President Obama (or, for that matter, Stephen Colbert) was really concerned with poverty in America, he would do whatever possible to encourage a welfare system that promotes self-sufficient prosperity rather than expanded dependence, as Rector suggests.

“As the recession ends,” Rector writes, “able-bodied recipients should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid. Even more important, the welfare system needs to abandon its 50-year-old tradition of ignoring, dismissing, and penalizing marriage. It should embark on a new course to strengthen and rebuild marriage in low-income communities.”

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There’s state-by-state data at census.gov as well, for folks who want to see how well the nanny state has done at fighting the War on Poverty.

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032011/pov/new46_001_100125.htm
which leads you to several tables like this:
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032011/pov/new46_100125_01.htm
The data may be too raw to use without someone qualified to interpret it, though.

hawksruleva on September 13, 2011 at 4:10 PM

I pointed THIS out on Ed’s thread earlier….
it bares repeating….

http://www.myvidster.com/video/2341222/Afterburner_with_Bill_Whittle_Rich_Man_Poor_Man

tencole on September 13, 2011 at 4:12 PM

Socialism: equality of misery

gwelf on September 13, 2011 at 4:12 PM

I said this earlier today….

The poorest American is richer than 80% of the world.

There is no such thing as poverty in this country. You want poverty, go to Calcutta or Rio or rural China. But don’t call someone with cable TV, a cell phone, internet access and a heated and air conditioned home, poor. They’re not.

angryed on September 13, 2011 at 4:13 PM

Maj. T.J. “King” Kong:

Survival kit contents check. In them you’ll find: one .45 caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days concentrated emergency raisins; one drug issue containing: antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; one hundred dollars in gold; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks; three pair a nylon stockings. Shoot, a fellah could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.

Guvmit report:

In 2005, the typical poor household, as defined by the federal government, had air conditioning and a car. For entertainment, the household had two color TVs, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player and a VCR. In the kitchen, it had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker. The family was able to obtain medical care when needed. Their home was not overcrowded and was in good repair. By its own report, the family was not hungry and had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs.

There ya are…

Bruno Strozek on September 13, 2011 at 4:15 PM

I always roll my eyes when I see people with iPhones using food stamp cards. Maybe there’s a app for food stamps?

SouthernGent on September 13, 2011 at 4:16 PM

Well, they have access to medical care and food, so long as conservatives are prevented from attaining their pipe dream: No medicaid, and no food stamps.

ernesto on September 13, 2011 at 4:22 PM

I always roll my eyes when I see people with iPhones using food stamp cards. Maybe there’s a app for food stamps?

SouthernGent on September 13, 2011 at 4:16 PM

Remember when Moochelle showed up to serve a meal at a soup kitchen and all those in line for free soup pulled out their $300 phones to snap a picture of her?

Kafir on September 13, 2011 at 4:22 PM

“These are the wages of class warfare,” Ed writes. “Even more basically, these are the entirely predictable outcomes of central economic planning, selective regulation, regulatory ambiguity, and mixed messages on tax rates and fiscal burdens.”

Not to mention selective enforcement of laws and regulations.

Such as shutting down successful automotive dealerships because they contributed to your political opponents (also known as “the enemy”).

UltimateBob on September 13, 2011 at 4:25 PM

The amount of money one has at their disposal is the product of their work, their brains, and their life decisions. This is not 19th century central America where the poor work the bean fields and the rich sip tea in white clothes on the veranda in the shade. “Poverty” is not decreed. Ergo, poverty is the fault of those who partake of it. As such, it needs to be punished, for those who are “poor” consume far more than what they contribute to society, if they contribute anything at all.

Poor people don’t have to pay taxes, some don’t even pay for rent or food. They don’t have to pay for their medical care, nor do they have to pay for the sewers they use, they water they drink, the social workers who come to their door, their public defenders or their jail accommodations. Basically, they live for free. They are getting a free ride simply because they are unwilling, or incapable, of earning more money. Rather than helping them with even more handouts, they need to be made to more productive, even by force of law if necessary.

keep the change on September 13, 2011 at 4:25 PM

In 2005, the typical poor household, as defined by the federal government, had air conditioning and a car. For entertainment, the household had two color TVs, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player and a VCR. In the kitchen, it had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker. The family was able to obtain medical care when needed. Their home was not overcrowded and was in good repair. By its own report, the family was not hungry and had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs.

Wow, this sounds like my home except I only have one color TV. Although I must confess that my one car is a Mercedes (11 years old and fully paid for)

Ann on September 13, 2011 at 4:26 PM

Way too easy to rebut: World Class Warfare.

HEY TEA PARTY: Hit the ground in the upcoming campaign with the message that “the poor have it too easy.” I DARE YOU.

Constantine on September 13, 2011 at 4:27 PM

An Indian writer was asked why she wanted to visit America…”Because I have always wanted to visit a country where the poor people were overweight”…

right2bright on September 13, 2011 at 4:27 PM

The amount of money one has at their disposal is the product of their work, their brains, and their life decisions.
keep the change on September 13, 2011 at 4:25 PM

Insofar as they have equal access to quality education, and only then after they reach an independent age. Being born poor is no one’s fault, and to assume that getting out of such a position is easy or involves to more effort than someone born in the middle class is ridiculous.

As late as the 1960′s, certain families (those of color), were not afforded an equal opportunity. As much as you’d like to forget that, it’s the truth.

ernesto on September 13, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Remember when Moochelle showed up to serve a meal at a soup kitchen and all those in line for free soup pulled out their $300 phones to snap a picture of her?

Kafir on September 13, 2011 at 4:22 PM

Yes…disgusting.

SouthernGent on September 13, 2011 at 4:29 PM

As late as the 1960′s,

This is not 50 years ago. This is now. Any adult who lives in poverty has only himself to blame. Either way, they can make no moral claim to the assets of others – which is what social assistance is. Everyone is entitled to a lifestyle which is in accordance to their income. Not above.

keep the change on September 13, 2011 at 4:33 PM

Constantine on September 13, 2011 at 4:27 PM

The troll is back using Jon Stweart as an economist now.

angryed on September 13, 2011 at 4:35 PM

How many are living on welfare to pay for those t.v.’s and foodstamps for their lobsters? You would have real poverty if it weren’t for the socialist moochers, but then again, we wouldn’t have this problem if it weren’t for the socialist programs.

So much fun those Catch-22′s.

RDE2010 on September 13, 2011 at 4:35 PM

ernesto on September 13, 2011 at 4:29 PM

It’s this very attitude that keeps people poor.

Hey I can’t help it, I was born poor. And because the world is racist I will always be poor. So why even try? Now where’s that welfare check??!??

angryed on September 13, 2011 at 4:37 PM

keep the change on September 13, 2011 at 4:33 PM

It only officially ended 50 years ago. Remember, in Yonkers NY and many other places, schools needed to be forcibly desegregated in the 1980′s. That means that young adults now, in that town, are starting with a demonstrable burden placed on their ability to achieve a middle class life – a burden placed upon them by the state itself. You cannot erase that legacy entirely, simply because its implications bother you.

ernesto on September 13, 2011 at 4:38 PM

Here’s a fun story on “poor” college kids getting food stamps.

angryed on September 13, 2011 at 4:38 PM

As long as the statists are allowed to peddle their false dreams of utopia, our problems with “poverty” will continue to grow worse. The statists won’t be happy until the U.S.A. a 3rd-world country. Only then will they have finally achieved the level of “fairness” that they so fervently desire.

The rest of us need to be reminded from time-to-time that the solution to these ills (as much as AllahPundit doesn’t like to hear it) is much closer than we think. Tell’em collie.

My collie says:

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

– 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

If the liberals ever stopped their perpetual incessant whining long enough to think about it, they might discover that God has already offered all of us a deal that is WAY BETTER THAN FAIR.

CyberCipher on September 13, 2011 at 4:40 PM

angryed on September 13, 2011 at 4:37 PM

Again, you cannot ignore that legacy simply because its implications (that an imbalance ought to be corrected) bother you. Yes, it would be wrong to simply throw ones hands up and not attempt to get out of poverty, but the notion that if anyone is poor it is their own fault ignores just too much American history.

ernesto on September 13, 2011 at 4:40 PM

Ernie,

Are these the people you’re referring to:

It’s a trend that seems on the rise — Salon recently reported on young, broke hipsters using federal assistance to buy high-end organic food:

“I’m sort of a foodie, and I’m not going to do the ‘living off ramen’ thing,” one young man said, fondly remembering a recent meal he’d prepared of roasted rabbit with butter, tarragon and sweet potatoes. “I used to think that you could only get processed food and government cheese on food stamps, but it’s great that you can get anything.”

angryed on September 13, 2011 at 4:41 PM

Ernie,

I think you’re full of shit on the race thing, but OK, say you’re right. How do you explain the tens of millions of white people on welfare? Are they affected by racism as well?

angryed on September 13, 2011 at 4:42 PM

“… these are the entirely predictable outcomes of central economic planning, selective regulation, regulatory ambiguity, and mixed messages on tax rates and fiscal burdens.”

“Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?” - Barack Hussein Obowma

Seven Percent Solution on September 13, 2011 at 4:43 PM

While it is said a rising tide lifts all boats….a falling tide (socialism) puts all boats in the mud.

David in ATL on September 13, 2011 at 4:44 PM

That means that young adults now, in that town, are starting with a demonstrable burden placed on their ability to achieve a middle class life – a burden placed upon them by the state itself. You cannot erase that legacy entirely, simply because its implications bother you.

Huh? Young adults now were born in 1990. If you are talking about black people, and I don’t know why you would since most of the “poor” in America are white, you would know as well as I do that black crime and family dysfunction was almost non-existent prior to the civil rights movement. It was only immediately following that, that the black community, as it is called, went down the toilet. In 1950, what was the unemployment rate among black men and the unwed pregnancy rate among black women? Was it less or more than now? Take a wild guess.

keep the change on September 13, 2011 at 4:48 PM

In fact, without a detailed description of living conditions, public discussions of poverty are meaningless.

Meaningless to whom? Poverty hustlers find the ambiguity necessary to their existence. Big government types wouldn’t long survive the debate if people found out the problem we were trying to solve didn’t exist in anywhere near the numbers purported.

They are meaningless to decent, honest Americans – which pretty much excludes government.

Pablo Snooze on September 13, 2011 at 4:49 PM

but the notion that if anyone is poor it is their own fault ignores just too much American history.

Please. In Canada, which has no such history, we have the same “poor” people sucking the money out of the tax coffers.

keep the change on September 13, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Your silence is quite telling Ernie.

angryed on September 13, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Insofar as they have equal access to quality education, and only then after they reach an independent age. Being born poor is no one’s fault, and to assume that getting out of such a position is easy or involves to more effort than someone born in the middle class is ridiculous.

As late as the 1960′s, certain families (those of color), were not afforded an equal opportunity. As much as you’d like to forget that, it’s the truth.

ernesto on September 13, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Technical foul.

This argument is rendered useless by the election of a half-black, half-white man of mystery who used to live in a grass hut in Indonesia to the position of President of the United States.

Race is no longer a barrier to success in the US. However, it will still be applicable to any country outside the continent of Africa, so all is not lost for you.

Make a note of it.

BobMbx on September 13, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Insofar as they have equal access to quality education

But your ideology rejects school choice. If you vote for Democrats or Liberal Republicans it’s your fault that the education system in America is so bad and poor folks are stuck in failing schools. Conservatives support school choice.

As late as the 1960′s, certain families (those of color), were not afforded an equal opportunity. As much as you’d like to forget that, it’s the truth.

ernesto on September 13, 2011 at 4:29 PM

You need to read some Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams ASAP. Do you really want to help people or not?

While liberals may think of the 1960s as the beginning of many “progressive” trends in American society, cold hard facts tell a very different story. The 1960s marked the end of many beneficial trends that had been going on for years — and a complete reversal of those trends as programs, policies, and ideologies of the liberals took hold.

Teenage pregnancy had been going down for years. So had venereal disease. Rates of infection for syphilis in 1960 was half of what it had been in 1950. There were similar trends in crime. The total number of murders in the United States in 1960 was lower than in 1950, 1940, or 1930 — even though the population was growing and two new states had been added. The murder rate, in proportion to population, in 1960 was half of what it had been in 1934.

Every one of these beneficial trends sharply reversed after liberal notions gained ascendancy during in the 1960s. By 1974, the murder rate had doubled. Even liberal icon Sargent Shriver, head of the agency directing the “war on poverty,” admitted that “venereal disease has skyrocketed” even though “we have had more clinics, more pills, and more sex education than ever in history.”

Liberals looking back on the 1960s take special pride in their role on racial issues, for civil rights laws and the advancement of blacks out of poverty. Those riots that threatened to tear the country apart were race riots — and supposedly the liberals saved us all.

But what do the facts show?

Both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of
1965 had a higher percentage of Congressional Republicans voting for their enactment than the percentage of Congressional Democrats.

You can check it out in The Congressional Record.

As for black economic advances, the most dramatic reduction in poverty among blacks occurred between 1940 and 1960, when the black poverty rate was cut almost in half, without any major government programs of the Great Society kind that began in the 1960s.

Liberals love to point to the rise of blacks out of poverty since 1960 as proof of the benefits of liberal programs, as if the continuation of a trend that began decades earlier was proof of how liberals saved blacks.

visions on September 13, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Gee, now that we have a democrat in the White House leading the nation into a period of unprecedented poverty, I suppose we’ll be treated to many articles telling us that Obama’s poor aren’t really (to use Whoopi Goldberg’s phrasing) poor-poor. It’s so lovely to see that one of my favorite right-leaning blogs is leading the way. I’m sure her democrat counterparts in the new media will be most grateful for the narrative support. Of course, when the Republican wins in 2012, we’ll suddenly be plunged into a grinding, relentless poverty filled with starvation in the streets, the sale of vital organs to make ends meet, and a return of rickets unseen since the…wait for it…Great Depression! Somehow, though, I don’t think anyone will be arguing that that president’s poor aren’t poor-poor. Call me crazy, but I don’t think the left will be offering up the same narrative support down the road.

Rational Thought on September 13, 2011 at 4:58 PM

I don’t wear it on my sleeve, but my siblings and I grew up poor, a bunch of trailer court kids jammed into a very dysfunctional aluminum and plywood box on wheels. School lunch was the best meal of the day, that kind of thing. So I happen to think these stories popping up on the right-wing blogosphere promoting the meme that the poor aren’t really poor is a really bad idea because it comes across as dismissive of people–children especially–who have it tougher than some of you can imagine. I also happen to think those pundits and politicians who so vehemently oppose raising the minimum wage are, by and large, people who have never had to work for it.

Bottom line: when some on the right claim poor isn’t really poor or poverty is relative (espcially when compared to, say, sub-Saharan Africa) or some other ‘it ain’t so bad’ argument, you’re playing into the arguments of those on the Left who want to reframe all liberal-conservative political differences into a class war paradigm because they know they can win with it.

troyriser_gopftw on September 13, 2011 at 4:59 PM

..can someone please explain why we are busting our butts debunking this? The issue is not how poor the poor are but rather that an index, a reference, a benchmark has been exceeded by more people in this country than it was previously. In fact, this was done under an administration who stressed that the solution to all of the problems in this country was more government and government programs.

The War Planner on September 13, 2011 at 4:59 PM

..unless, of course, this was a delayed reaction from 2008 . The, of course, it owuld be Bush’s fault and yet another speed-bump or head wind blowing in Asss-wipe’s face.

The War Planner on September 13, 2011 at 5:02 PM

ernesto on September 13, 2011 at 4:29 PM

As recently as the ’60s. Well, well let’s cry about how bad life was 50 years ago. Today children who are poo-ah (so to speak) have access to education, including college grants. All that is lacking is the will. So it isn’t easy for some. It’s our job to make it easy, right? It’s our job to instill a sense of personal responsibility in those who lack it, right?

Bugger off. This is the land of opportunity, not the land of promised rewards. People don’t go needy here and that’s good. But we should not reward indolence unless we want more of it.

MJBrutus on September 13, 2011 at 5:03 PM

Bottom line: when some on the right claim poor isn’t really poor or poverty is relative (espcially when compared to, say, sub-Saharan Africa) or some other ‘it ain’t so bad’ argument, you’re playing into the arguments of those on the Left who want to reframe all liberal-conservative political differences into a class war paradigm because they know they can win with it.

troyriser_gopftw on September 13, 2011 at 4:59 PM

I get what you’re saying but the argument Heritage is making is simply a defense of free-market capitalism vs. the desired command/control “planned” economies desired by the Left which, of course, increase misery, poverty and grievances (see: world history).

Capitalism has done more to benefit the poor then any other system devised by man. It’s an imperfect system, yes, but that’s because man is imperfect. There will never be a “perfect” system. Etc.

The desire to help the poor and the best ways to accomplish that outside of the market is a different story and a different argument. The Leftist comedians conflate the two arguments because they can’t help themselves.

visions on September 13, 2011 at 5:14 PM

troyriser_gopftw on September 13, 2011 at 4:59 PM

You took free school lunch? What a leech.

ernesto on September 13, 2011 at 5:16 PM

ernesto on September 13, 2011 at 4:22 PM

Fashizzle my Nizzle…!

Seven Percent Solution on September 13, 2011 at 5:17 PM

troyriser_gopftw on September 13, 2011 at 4:59 PM

How old are you?

Today what you describe for the most part does not exist in this country.

angryed on September 13, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Ernie….still waiting.

Are whites on welfare the victims of racism?

Are people buying organic food at Whole Foods poor?

angryed on September 13, 2011 at 5:22 PM

..can someone please explain why we are busting our butts debunking this? The issue is not how poor the poor are but rather that an index, a reference, a benchmark has been exceeded by more people in this country than it was previously. In fact, this was done under an administration who stressed that the solution to all of the problems in this country was more government and government programs.

The War Planner on September 13, 2011 at 4:59 PM

Because this is how it will go:

1. MSM screams about poverty rising
2. Politicians get ready to solve the problem by spending more money

And the index is not rising. The index is manipulated to look like it’s rising. Poverty is defined as anyone making less than $22K. Come on. $22K isn’t rich. But you can live an OK life making $22K a year. The notion that someone making $22K is living in abject poverty is pure BS.

angryed on September 13, 2011 at 5:25 PM

Maybe there’s an app for food stamps?

SouthernGent on September 13, 2011 at 4:16 PM

ROFL! :-D

Mary in LA on September 13, 2011 at 5:27 PM

The main hardship “poor” Americans face is not material; it’s living in a bad neighborhood.

When you live in the ghetto, your world is much smaller, since you’re not safe outside.

sandberg on September 13, 2011 at 5:28 PM

Well, they have access to medical care and food, so long as conservatives are prevented from attaining their pipe dream: No medicaid, and no food stamps.

ernesto on September 13, 2011 at 4:22 PM

Ernesto, you’re either unconsciously or quite consciously perpetuating a fallacy here.

Contrary to your assertion, conservative advocacy of cutting Medicaid or food stamps does not mean that conservatives wish to see people sick and starving.

It means that conservatives believe that Medicaid and the food stamp program cause more problems than they solve, and that there are better ways to solve the problems that Medicaid and food stamps have attempted to solve.

Please don’t insult our intelligence or your own with that sleazy, easy fallacy.

Mary in LA on September 13, 2011 at 5:31 PM

What is the point of this post? The post said 63% have cable?? What has that got to do with anything? 15% live in poverty..what have the two got to do with each other.

And there was the bit about most people having a car and air conditioning..well, someone could live in a hovel and a have a window air conditioner and a cheap car.

Other than being insensitive and silly I just don’t see the point to this.

The economy is bad and poverty is up. There is nothing funny about that.

Terrye on September 13, 2011 at 5:32 PM

The main hardship “poor” Americans face is not material; it’s living in a bad neighborhood.

When you live in the ghetto, your world is much smaller, since you’re not safe outside.

sandberg on September 13, 2011 at 5:28 PM

A very fair point.

Mary in LA on September 13, 2011 at 5:32 PM

The economy is bad and poverty is up. There is nothing funny about that.

Terrye on September 13, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Was anyone laughing at poor people? I wasn’t — I was laughing at Southerngent’s “there’s an app for that” joke.

Mary in LA on September 13, 2011 at 5:33 PM

ernesto, quit living in the past. You’ll be happier. And, we won’t have to listen to you whine about how hard life is. Life is hard for just about everybody. Then, you die. Probably not easily.

This is how it is for whitey, too.

trigon on September 13, 2011 at 5:36 PM

The main hardship “poor” Americans face is not material; it’s living in a bad neighborhood.

And who is it that makes the neighborhood bad? The very people who live there. Or are those evil rich people driving by at night and roughing up the locals?

Nobody is assigned to live anywhere. Make more money and move to a better neighborhood. That’s the beauty of America. You live where you deserve to live. I may have sympathy for the kids, but not for the adults.

keep the change on September 13, 2011 at 5:40 PM

And who is it that makes the neighborhood bad? The very people who live there. Or are those evil rich people driving by at night and roughing up the locals?

Um, you seem to be confusing me with somebody else, or imagining I said something which I didn’t.

I’m well aware of the fact that poverty in America is mostly the result of social dysfunction.

sandberg on September 13, 2011 at 5:45 PM

And the index is not rising. The index is manipulated to look like it’s rising. Poverty is defined as anyone making less than $22K. Come on. $22K isn’t rich. But you can live an OK life making $22K a year. The notion that someone making $22K is living in abject poverty is pure BS.

angryed on September 13, 2011 at 5:25 PM

..thanks, ed, the scales have fallen away from my eyes. (No, I really mean it!)

The War Planner on September 13, 2011 at 5:47 PM

And who is it that makes the neighborhood bad? The very people who live there. Or are those evil rich people driving by at night and roughing up the locals?

Nobody is assigned to live anywhere. Make more money and move to a better neighborhood. That’s the beauty of America. You live where you deserve to live. I may have sympathy for the kids, but not for the adults.

keep the change on September 13, 2011 at 5:40 PM

That might be just a wee bit too harsh, and here’s why: The problems are coming from the government taking on responsibilities it should not have (e.g. food programs) and — the flip side — neglecting the responsibilities it has under the Constitution and by law (e.g. running a police force).

We can’t guarantee a “right to a safe neighborhood” — but we can point the finger at Great Society programs that have rewarded behaviors that allow a ghetto counterculture to flourish to the point that in some places (e.g. parts of Detroit) it’s the de facto local government.

Mary in LA on September 13, 2011 at 5:47 PM

Poverty is white, black and brown. The problem is to strike the right balance with welfare so as not to disincentivize the recipients from trying to better themselves.

dpierson on September 13, 2011 at 5:53 PM

The problems are coming from the government taking on responsibilities it should not have (e.g. food programs) and — the flip side — neglecting the responsibilities it has under the Constitution and by law (e.g. running a police force).

Right, and how does that undermine my point? The people of these “bad neighborhoods” have no one to blame but themselves for letting free government handouts turn them into bums. It still comes down to personal responsibility. The poor, like everyone else, live the lifestyle they have earned.

keep the change on September 13, 2011 at 5:54 PM

Ask a homeless man where he pans for money.

I’ll give you and him $100 if he answers “another homeless guy”

American’s choose Republican’s when they want to make money, Democrats when they want to spend money.

“High urban turnout” doesnt benefit Dems if people arent working; ironically people are working after low urban turnout.

Odie1941 on September 13, 2011 at 6:07 PM

Right, and how does that undermine my point? The people of these “bad neighborhoods” have no one to blame but themselves for letting free government handouts turn them into bums. It still comes down to personal responsibility. The poor, like everyone else, live the lifestyle they have earned.

keep the change on September 13, 2011 at 5:54 PM

It doesn’t undermine it, but it parallels it. I say that the Great Society government is equally to blame for sticking its fingers in matters belonging to private society while not living up to the responsibilities we have given it.

We now know that Lyndon Johnson and his cronies carefully engineered the welfare state so as to farm the votes of poor people, particularly urban black people, for the Democrats forever. That wasn’t something poor people did to themselves — it was done to them. Democrat-controlled government has lied to them and exploited them since 1964 and continues to do so in most American cities.

Can poor people get unstuck from the welfare morass? Some can, and some have. But it won’t happen on a large scale until the top-down control mechanism (which is what welfare is) is removed.

Mary in LA on September 13, 2011 at 6:09 PM

Taking on the teachers’ union and reforming education might make a dent in urban decay, too.

(I say “might” because there’s currently no way to know; we’ve never tried it.)

sandberg on September 13, 2011 at 6:18 PM

ernesto on September 13, 2011 at 4:22 PM
ernesto on September 13, 2011 at 4:29 PM
ernesto on September 13, 2011 at 4:38 PM
ernesto on September 13, 2011 at 4:40 PM
ernesto on September 13, 2011 at 5:16 PM

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Silencio !!!!
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Race-based victimologist at work! Argumentation and denial not allowed !!! Read and adhere !!!!

ExpressoBold on September 13, 2011 at 6:20 PM

The economy is bad and poverty is up. There is nothing funny about that.

Terrye on September 13, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Was anyone laughing at poor people? I wasn’t — I was laughing at Southerngent’s “there’s an app for that” joke.

Mary in LA on September 13, 2011 at 5:33 PM

I did not say anything to or about you.

Terrye on September 13, 2011 at 6:20 PM

I did not say anything to or about you.

Terrye on September 13, 2011 at 6:20 PM

Okay — sorry if I misunderstood — I thought you were referring obliquely to my “ROFL!” above. I haven’t seen anyone here claiming anything was funny about the economy being bad and poverty being up.

Mary in LA on September 13, 2011 at 6:29 PM

Not that there would be anything wrong with a bit of gallows humor! That’s a fine American tradition in all times of trouble. :-)

Mary in LA on September 13, 2011 at 6:33 PM

I’m 50, ernesto, and they didn’t have free school lunches back then, at least not at my school. And you say poverty like my siblings and I experienced no longer exists in this country? Really? I’ve been around as an adult. In the last several years, I’ve seen neighborhoods in Chicago and St. Louis and even Indianapolis and other places in my home state where kids seem to have it as bad or worse than what I experienced. Been to Gary, Indiana lately? Think about what you’re saying here.

Look, my point isn’t about how bad I had it as a kid. Lots of people had lousy childhoods and they either get over it or they don’t. What I’m saying is that we–and by ‘we’ I mean conservatives and Republicans in general–will lose this argument if this particular ‘poor aint so poor’ meme gets loose in the primaries and general election. There are other, better ways to counter liberal/socialist arguments for the expansion of government.

troyriser_gopftw on September 13, 2011 at 6:43 PM

The main hardship “poor” Americans face is not material; it’s living in a bad neighborhood.

sandberg on September 13, 2011 at 5:28 PM

I grew up in a large family on two teachers’ salaries back when it didn’t pay well. We lived in a nice blue collar neighborhood in a tiny house with one bathroom and three small bedrooms, no air conditioning.

Both my parents taught in the inner city. My mom always allowed us to take one day off of school each year and join her in the classroom. Even though we didn’t have cable tv or nice clothes like the inner city kids had, I wouldn’t have wanted to trade places, that’s for sure. I get what you’re saying…

Before that, when only my dad taught, we lived in the country, We had one car that went with my dad to work. We bathed in a galvanized tub on Friday nights (one right after the other – my mother heated pots of water on the stove to keep warming up the water) and we took turns bringing the bucket of milk home from the farm across the road.

When the mailman came around we would run to his car and beg for gum. He probably told his family about the poor little urchin kids on his route. My kids say I was raised in the 1800s, lol. It was a magical but sparse childhood. We were probably worse off than the inner city kids were but didn’t know it.

I’d much rather be poor in the country than in the city. It’s much safer.

Fallon on September 13, 2011 at 6:50 PM

Insofar as they have equal access to quality education, and only then after they reach an independent age. Being born poor is no one’s fault, and to assume that getting out of such a position is easy or involves to more effort than someone born in the middle class is ridiculous.

As late as the 1960′s, certain families (those of color), were not afforded an equal opportunity. As much as you’d like to forget that, it’s the truth.

ernesto on September 13, 2011 at 4:29 PM

It’s now 2011. What’s today’s excuse?

Yes, it’s an effort. No one says it isn’t. But to not even try or to give up because “it’s too hard”.

What turned me from a rabid socialist was when I was working two jobs to pay for the condo I was in and was on my way to one of those jobs when I saw some whiny broad on TV stating that working at McDonalds was demeaning and that she was entitled to better and what was the government going to do about it.

That’s when I realized that socialism was a dead end and that it was nothing else than infantilizing a population by taking away their self-worth and ability to make/be responsible for their own decisions. I can see the allure for some and that’s fine, but don’t expect everyone else to agree with or fund it.

It seems that you are okay with this infantilization and don’t think people can withstand some hardships in order to improve themselves.

kim roy on September 13, 2011 at 7:22 PM

I got an idea. How about we ask people who have been on public assistance for more than two years to give up their right to vote in any election until they are able to get off public assistance?
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If Republicans take the WH, Senate, and House next year, then in 2013 the government can start making changes like this that will break the cycle of the pay-for-votes taxpayer-funded handouts of the Democrat Party.

ExpressoBold on September 13, 2011 at 8:03 PM

Remember when Moochelle showed up to serve a meal at a soup kitchen and all those in line for free soup pulled out their $300 phones to snap a picture of her?

Kafir on September 13, 2011 at 4:22 PM

THIS.

KMC1 on September 13, 2011 at 8:21 PM

I’d much rather be poor in the country than in the city. It’s much safer.

Fallon on September 13, 2011 at 6:50 PM

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“Two words: Meth labs and Moonshine stills” – Joe Biden

ExpressoBold on September 13, 2011 at 8:43 PM

Here’s a thought:
If you have no cash on hand, but have a $300/month cable/cellphone/internet (a combo of all three or just one alone), how about you cut off those for a while, put the $300/month in a bank account and SAVE some money….
Learn how to budget, save up for an emergency fund of $1000, pay off all debts (credit cards/loans/etc), save some more money, pay off your mortgage…
I’m doing running this system right now. Am I poor? Nope. Do I make a jillion dollars a year? Nope.

But I work with what I got and my money works for me, I don’t work for my money. And I can guaran-darn-tee you that I’m in better shape financially now than I was before the recession. Because before the recession, I didn’t do any of this. Now, it’s basically second nature.

mjk on September 13, 2011 at 8:43 PM

Schadenfreude on September 13, 2011 at 7:22 PM

Schadenfreude on September 13, 2011 at 7:23 PM

Thanks for the answers. Maybe things will change or improve after the primaries are over. Should ask you this again once the candidates are set.

kim roy on September 13, 2011 at 9:34 PM

We have the richest “poor” people in the world…

These are skewed numbers… Poor poeple in the rest of the world do not have cars, cable tv, mobile phones, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…

Khun Joe on September 13, 2011 at 10:16 PM

An MD tells it how it is

Dear Mr. President:

During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ring tone. While glancing over her patient chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as “Medicaid”! During my examination of her, the patient informed me that she smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer.

And, you and our Congress expect me to pay for this woman’s health care? I contend that our nation’s “health care crisis” is not the result of a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. Rather, it is the result of a “crisis of culture”, a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one’s self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. It is a culture based on the irresponsible credo that “I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me.” Once you fix this “culture crisis” that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you’ll be amazed at how quickly our nation’s health care difficulties will disappear.

Schadenfreude on September 13, 2011 at 10:18 PM

conservatives and Republicans in general–will lose this argument if this particular ‘poor aint so poor’ meme gets loose in the primaries and general election. There are other, better ways to counter liberal/socialist arguments for the expansion of government.

troyriser_gopftw on September 13, 2011 at 6:43 PM

This.

Showing how big a callous you have toward “the poor” when the country is going through economic hard times and millions are suffering is political folly.

profitsbeard on September 13, 2011 at 10:27 PM

As late as the 1960′s, certain families (those of color), were not afforded an equal opportunity. As much as you’d like to forget that, it’s the truth.

ernesto on September 13, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Wrong again Ernesto

Most HBCUs were established after the American Civil War. However, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, established in 1837, Lincoln University (Pennsylvania), established in 1854, and Wilberforce University, established in 1856, were established for blacks prior to the American Civil War – (the Civil War was in the 1860′s for the revisionist history dems out there)

dthorny on September 14, 2011 at 10:31 AM

And another point to prove Ernesto wrong:

In 1863, the Morrill Act provided for land grant colleges in each state. Some educational institutions in the North or West were open to blacks since the Civil War. However, 17 states, mostly in the South (democratic states, by the way), generally excluded blacks from their land grant colleges. In response, the second Morrill Act of 1890 was passed to require states to establish a separate land grant college for blacks if blacks were being excluded from the then existing land grant college.

dthorny on September 14, 2011 at 10:33 AM