I've always found the concept of American poverty as rather humorous. Poor Americans can only be considered poor comparing them to other well off Americans. It requires a comparison because people with a house, air conditioning, car, food, clothing, TV, cell phones, game systems and etc can only be considered "poor" when compared to someone else with a nice house, nice air conditiong, nice car, nice food, great clothing, incredible TV, the latest cell phones and game systems.
From my experience - a class of which I've spent most of life - they typically have the same stuff as well off Americans...except that it's asthetically displeasing and certainly not optimal. The house paint is chipping, stains on the floors, ugly windows and ineffecient air conditiong. The car is a junker, requires holding your mouth just right and punching the dash for the radio to work. The food is Always Save, the clothing is Wal-Mart specials and garage sales. The TV is a hand me down and the game system was purchased with an income tax windfall achieved with Earned Income Credit. That sort of thing..
I don't understand the American mindset of poor. We're ok, folks. Really. Stop listening to the whiners, they're just trying to weasel into your wallet. They have no imagination and no inclination.
Take this family of four in Las Vegas, Nevada. They live on 14K per year....well. Guess what the poverty threshold for a family of four in the US in 2012 was.....23K. They make almost *half* of the poverty threshold, and they don't take government assistance and don't need it. They have imagination and innitiative. They don't feel sorry for themselves and collect checks, while bitching in their government paid house about how the deck is stacked against them.
It's America. It's easy to make it here. You have a lot of flexibility still, even with our restrictive legal structure, to execute life and survive in a variety of ways.
Americans seem to have lost a lot of ingenuity and creativity. They can't get outside of themselves to realize how ridiculous they are.
I make about 7K over the threshold, so we're not impoverished, but we are considered poor (median is 50K) though it doesn't feel like it at all. Like that family of four in Vegas, we are cash only, no payments of any kind - but that also means we have no shiny awesome car, no 52" big screen TV. We don't have the max cable package and our house is three different colors with a mixture of vinyl siding and rotting old wood siding. So what. We haven't been happier in our lives, and I used to bring home 66K a year living on the "nice" side of town with twice the living space.
It's all in how you approach your situation. Why should we continue to allow Americans to pretend as if they are impoverished so much that they need to take other people's income just to make it? It's bullshit. We have a handful of *actual* poor people here - a small group of genuine impovershed that really do need help from others. But when I live around and read about people living off less than 23K a year, in some cases almost half as much - happily - then I have to question the threshold and the inclination of those using it to get a government check.