# Poverty in the United States

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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.

So make sure if you do a comparison it's apples-to-apples. Can your family of 4 live on $14k if you have transportation costs, rent to pay and live in a more expensive city? Not if these folks are just getting by. True, but you're missing the point with the details. The point being...use your imagination, get outside of the box, stop being so quick to mark yourself "destitute" just because you might have to do things differently than the "norm". You're rarely as destitute and impoverished as you think you are. I see this as a problem with paradigms as much as anything else. That family that gets by on 14K a year has a lot to teach Americans. So the "norm" is to buy sliced bride, prepared box meals, buy a nice house that is asthetically pleasing, a pretty car, 52" big screen...so what? Make your own bread, your own pasta, your own sauce, question why you think you *need* a pretty house and car and all the bells and whistles. Why do you need brand new cabinets and flooring in order to not be "destitute"? Most of all..question why you think you're impoverished because your stuff isn't "nice" but rather "functional". There are only about 3 houses in my neighborhood with gardens. Some of these poor are home all damn day long...why not cultivate? Grow something. Why are they crying about food and getting food stamps while they let a 1/4 acre lot of soil go completely to waste? We don't appear to expect anything out of them. If you can't get food the "normal" or "standard" way, then oh my, you must be just so impoverished, let us keep you from having to get off your ass and innovate, just go to the grocery store and never challenge your paradigms and never attempt to do anything differently to take care of your needs. Hell there's one guy in my neighborhood with his own chickens. I've heard my neighbors bitch about it, and I'm thinking...we're poor over here man, the guy is trying to feed his family, why aren't more of us doing this? We get so caught up with our processed, clean society, cookie cutter neighborhoods with regulations to keep every property essentially exactly the same. They ruin the ability for people to use their land to their benefit, even if they had the initiative to do so, all because we don't want to have to see the "chaos" of farming next door. Stuck up Americans.. They enjoy a 40 dollar electric bill. Not every poor person has 12K to build a house...but how many American poor people are living in a house less that 200 square feet? Let alone on purpose? Let alone, happily? Why should I shed tears for someone in a 900 square foot ugly house, fielding their claims of "suffering" while they enjoy 4 times the living space? It's not like I'm saying "hey, that guy goes without food for 3 days, why can't you?" Those people aren't suffering in that tiny house. But you know what they're doing that is different from any of the working or lazy poor that I've been around? Planning. They have a plan and they are executing it. They are not just taking each day, one at a time, scrounging and scheming to get by. They are taking control of their situation, making plans, adjusting their thinking, taking responsibility for themselves. I don't think we have a realistic measuring stick for poverty here in America. And the impoverished are largely not empowering themselves, rather are content to be validated by society that they are in need of assistance, and it isn't their fault. It's just easier. I believe this sabotages otherwise innovative people. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites I am not quite sure what the main argument is here. One point appears to be aimed at redefining poverty. For some reasons poverty in America is supposedly different than anywhere (i.e. not tied to income, which is the most common measure). And the reasoning is that there ways to cope better than poverty than most people do. While I do agree with the latter, it does not change the rise in poverty or the fact that in America it is harder to rise from poverty than in e.g. in European countries. This clearly indicates some specific economic reasons behind it, rather than lack of ingenuity (unless you want to argue that Europeans are more hard-working and clever). But a better ability to cope with poverty does not make one less poor. One does has less option and less resources. Again, I am not arguing that certain people may be cope better, though there are also physical and psychological limitations. If you work minimum wage to pay your bills you may not have the time to plant a viable garden (and in the worst case the investment may not pay off) plus there are factors like decision fatigue. Everything you do when you are poor is a trade-off and costs mental energy (even simple ones, can I afford bus or should I walk and risk being late or get less sleep?). This can result in decision fatigue that limits their ability to take good decisions and act on them. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html?pagewanted=all But again, I am not sure what the argument really is. You are not poor because with available resources you can survive? That is not the definition of poverty. Or that compared to people in third world countries you are still well off? That does not make much sense in terms of understanding poverty in industrialized nations. Edited by CharonY ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites Again - the example is atypical. The couple both work and are temporarily living in a smaller house so they can build a much bigger one: "The Tiny House is temporary. The end goal, they say, is to save enough to one day build a bigger home...In the end, it’s going to measure 1,000 square feet and we’re going to build it on the same land." http://finance.yahoo.com/news/living-large-in-a-tiny-house.html Which plenty of people do: e.g http://www.homeimprovementpages.com.au/article/can_i_live_in_a_shed 6.8 million Americans live in small dwellings permanently. They're called trailers. They're generally undesirable places to live. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trailer_park http://www.pbs.org/peoplelikeus/resources/stats.html Edited by Arete ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites To put a number on extreme poverty in the US (i.e. that is they fall below the UN global threshold for extreme poverty - that is even if they lived in Eritrea their income would deem them to be in poverty) there are approximately 1.5 million people in the US who earn less than$2 a day - and it's a number which is increasing.

http://www.statisticbrain.com/welfare-statistics/

That's less than 3K a year, and I would absolutely label them as impoverished. But there 4.3 million on welfare and 46 million on food stamps.

Total Number of U.S. States where Welfare pays more than an $8 per hour job = 40 Number of U.S. States where Welfare pays more than a$12 per hour job = 7

Number of U.S. States where Welfare pays more than the average salary of a U.S. Teacher = 9

And when you consider that people living off of $8 per hour, or$12 per hour, or the average teacher are losing some of that income to provide the same level for someone else doing *nothing*.

Contrary to your generalization that welfare most recipients don't generally need welfare, it seems that most (73%) people who receive federal welfare are either elderly or disabled. Are there people on welfare who probably shouldn't be? Of course - and measures to prevent people who don't need welfare getting it should be enforced. Is it a majority? No. The notion that wastage in the welfare system stems largely from people who don't need welfare being given extravagant benefits doesn't seem to ring true, when you look at the data.

Glaring problem with that data...entitlement is not welfare. Social Security is often considered an entitlement, even though the recipients are typically those who paid into the system, which is not welfare. Did you verify whether or not your entitlement data is including or excluding such non-welfare related costs? That's a biggie.

And despite an overall trend of increasing welfare spending since the 1950's, after 2010, it's actually trending down, post GFC, despite a growing population. The notion that welfare spending is "out of control" also doesn't seem to ring true either, when you look at the data. http://www.usfederal...elfare Spending

Not that you said so, but just so we're clear, I never said welfare spending is "out of control". I actually don't think it is. There is a long list of places to cut spending that would save far more dollars than more welfare reform could potentially save. It should be dealt with, eventually, but it's a bit far down the list of priorities in my humbled opinion. My position is more about the perception of poverty and societal paradigms about survival and what thriving looks like.

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True, but you're missing the point with the details. The point being...use your imagination, get outside of the box, stop being so quick to mark yourself "destitute" just because you might have to do things differently than the "norm". You're rarely as destitute and impoverished as you think you are. I see this as a problem with paradigms as much as anything else.

I don't think I'm missing the point. You offer an atypical example of someone getting by. What's the use in offering an atypical example? It's not representative of the bulk of the people out there.

Someone making minimum wage ($7.25/hr, 2000 hrs a year) makes$14,500 a year. The ex-GI is getting $14k in benefits paid to him, so these are roughly equivalent — or so it seems. But, as I've pointed out, the GI had a$40k pile of cash as an advantage, which was put to very good use in buying a house in an atypical situation and paying off a car loan. Even an exceedingly modest home or small apartment is going to be a several hundred dollar drain on a budget, and you may not live close to your job in getting cheap housing. $500/mo for rent and$10 for daily public transportation adds up to $8500 a year. But that's not the end of the list of anomalous circumstances. GI bill benefits are tax-free. No payroll taxes (7.65%), which amounts to$1100 for our minimum-wage worker. No income tax, either. Being in school also affords the ex-GI a tax credit for educational expenses, and part of that is refundable — meaning he gets money back if he has more expenses than taxes. (None of this is meant as a knock on the GI bill benefits)

So, all things being equal, that is, doing all the things this family was doing, our worker needs an additional $9100 per year (whaddaya know,$14.5 + $9.1k is$23.6k. Right around the poverty level), plus whatever income tax is owed, to be able to pull off this feat. How do you do that? Work 60-70 hours a week? Or have the spouse also work a minimum wage job? But then the spouse couldn't do all the tricks that make living cheaply possible. And who watches the kids if the spouse also has to work? Another added expense, and a not-insignificant one. What if this is a single-parent household?

Maybe we have someone working a better job. For a 40-hour week, they need a job that pays at least $12 an hour (again ignoring the income tax burden). I'm not missing the point. Doing all the "right" things, but with a more realistic income situation instead of an outlier, shows that the poverty level is about right. Your argument that poor people are screwing up somehow doesn't hold up to scrutiny. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites Again - the example is atypical. The couple both work and are temporarily living in a smaller house so they can build a much bigger one: "The Tiny House is temporary. The end goal, they say, is to save enough to one day build a bigger home...In the end, it’s going to measure 1,000 square feet and we’re going to build it on the same land." http://finance.yahoo.com/news/living-large-in-a-tiny-house.html Which plenty of people do: e.g http://www.homeimprovementpages.com.au/article/can_i_live_in_a_shed 6.8 million Americans live in small dwellings permanently. They're called trailers. They're generally undesirable places to live. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trailer_park http://www.pbs.org/peoplelikeus/resources/stats.html Right, undesirable is not suffering. Undesirable is not a good enough reason to take from someone else to improve your position. Undesirable is exactly what I'd expect. If you desire better, then take responsibility for yourself and come up with a plan. Suffering is quite different. Trailers are not a good alternative to the "tiny house". The tiny house was designed for much greater efficiency, if you heard them talking about how they insulated the place. Trailers are good though to protect you from the elements, heat and cool, place to sleep, cook food, watch TV and all that. And I pointed out how the family of the tiny house has a plan for bigger things in my post to swansont. Planning. Taking control of their situation instead of letting things happen to them. That was another point on how they differ from the typical poor person. I know they're atypical - that's precisely why I'm pointing all this out. Get out of your box, your ideas of "normal", think for yourself, take responsibility for your life and plan and execute unique ideas that may work for you. Being atypical is precisely what we should advocate. I mean really...I should provide welfare because someone insists on being typical? Because gardening, making your own bread, sewing your own clothes is just beyond the pale and cruel? No, I think our consumerism and high standard of living has gone to our freakin' heads. As if we're just above all that and can't have that kind of survival methodology going on here. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites Glaring problem with that data...entitlement is not welfare. Social Security is often considered an entitlement, even though the recipients are typically those who paid into the system, which is not welfare. Did you verify whether or not your entitlement data is including or excluding such non-welfare related costs? That's a biggie. There are plenty of people who paid into the system and yet are getting more benefits out than they ever paid in. I get my worksheet from the SSA every year, and it's pretty clear that I will get more out than I paid in after 4-5 years after I start drawing benefits. So this straddles the dividing line. It is partly, even mostly, welfare. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites But again, I am not sure what the argument really is. You are not poor because with available resources you can survive? That is not the definition of poverty. Or that compared to people in third world countries you are still well off? That does not make much sense in terms of understanding poverty in industrialized nations. I'm glad you brought this up. What is the point of providing welfare then? If your measuring stick is simply disparity between the well off and the less well off then millionaires could advocate welfare due to existing billionaires. I thought the point of welfare was to provide for people who could not provide the basic necessities to survive for themselves and their family. A trailer with food and clothes in it provides that. I'll even entertain medical for the sake of argument here. Why do you think welfare in industrialized nations should provide someone with a better life than basic necessity? What is it about "industrialization" that suddenly makes that intolerable? Appearances? I don't get this part... ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites I mean really...I should provide welfare because someone insists on being typical? Because gardening, making your own bread, sewing your own clothes is just beyond the pale and cruel? No, I think our consumerism and high standard of living has gone to our freakin' heads. As if we're just above all that and can't have that kind of survival methodology going on here. Atypical is not simply a choice. It's a matter of simply not being possible for the majority of people in question. Most people can't buy a parcel of land in the Blue Ridge mountains (cost not included in the$12k price tag, BTW) and build a small house. It's not a matter of not wanting to, or poor planning.

I thought the point of welfare was to provide for people who could not provide the basic necessities to survive for themselves and their family. A trailer with food and clothes in it provides that. I'll even entertain medical for the sake of argument here.

How many trailer parks are there in NY City, or Boston, or Philadelphia, etc. ?

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I don't think I'm missing the point. You offer an atypical example of someone getting by. What's the use in offering an atypical example? It's not representative of the bulk of the people out there.

I'm not missing the point. Doing all the "right" things, but with a more realistic income situation instead of an outlier, shows that the poverty level is about right. Your argument that poor people are screwing up somehow doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

Correct, it *needs* to be the bulk of the people out there. Stop letting them believe that they must shop, work and live just like everybody else, to the same standard. Stop letting them believe that sewing their own clothes is cruel and unusual punishment. Stop letting them believe that gardening is too much to ask. Extreme couponing is another example of how people plan and use their limited resources to maximum effect.

The point in offering an atypical example is to demonstrate what is possible when you you drop the necessity to be the same, to be typical. If you require other humans to compare yourself with to determine if you're suffering, then you're not suffering. If I don't have any food, no heat or air, then I don't need to compare myself with anyone, I am suffering. I lack the necessities for survival.

If I have to compare myself with others in order to figure that out, then I'm merely competing and using social leverage to my advantage. It's not that I'm a bad person, but it's how I've been taught to think. That needs to change, in my opinion.

Now..property taxes average at $900 a year in Vegas, insurance can jump around but if I use mine as an example it's 1800 a year, so that's still$225 a month they must come up with - unless they just decided not to have home insurance, which is always possible.

I'll get back to this in a bit and complete my response to your post...I've spent too much time on here today. This government job takes up all my surfing time...

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The point in offering an atypical example is to demonstrate what is possible when you you drop the necessity to be the same, to be typical. If you require other humans to compare yourself with to determine if you're suffering, then you're not suffering. If I don't have any food, no heat or air, then I don't need to compare myself with anyone, I am suffering. I lack the necessities for survival.

The reason we're pointing out the examples as atypical, is because in both cases the families have financial assets which place them in a position which is not comparable to the majority of people who are below the poverty line.

One thing you seem to be overlooking is what happens to a community as a whole when a proportion of the population is destitute - i.e. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slum and the broader societal impacts of inequality - such as crime rate, safety in public spaces, community attitude, etc. To take an extreme example, the impacts of, among other things, extreme inequality in a city like Johannesburg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_South_Africa are going to negatively impact your lifestyle no matter how much money you earn.

I think it's perfectly valid to argue over whether or not simply handing out cash vs food stamps vs incentives vs education vs health vs job creation vs raising minimum wage vs etc (e.g. increase welfare spending vs give companies tax breaks to create more jobs) is the best way to invest in the lower end of the socioeconomic scale in order to lift the quality of life for an entire community. A proportion of society will always need some form of support, and with the relationship between interest rates and unemployment (e.g. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-12-27/interest-rates-and-jobs-the-fed-watches-unemployment) means that a proportion of people will generally always be unemployed. So it's not a problem that is going to vanish any time soon.

On the other hand, arguing that it's unfair for you to have to contribute more than the absolute minimum to that end is somewhat myopic as to the indirect benefits that flow back to the entire community.

Edited by Arete
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Correct, it *needs* to be the bulk of the people out there. Stop letting them believe that they must shop, work and live just like everybody else, to the same standard. Stop letting them believe that sewing their own clothes is cruel and unusual punishment. Stop letting them believe that gardening is too much to ask. Extreme couponing is another example of how people plan and use their limited resources to maximum effect.

The point in offering an atypical example is to demonstrate what is possible when you you drop the necessity to be the same, to be typical. If you require other humans to compare yourself with to determine if you're suffering, then you're not suffering. If I don't have any food, no heat or air, then I don't need to compare myself with anyone, I am suffering. I lack the necessities for survival.

If I have to compare myself with others in order to figure that out, then I'm merely competing and using social leverage to my advantage. It's not that I'm a bad person, but it's how I've been taught to think. That needs to change, in my opinion.

Now..property taxes average at $900 a year in Vegas, insurance can jump around but if I use mine as an example it's 1800 a year, so that's still$225 a month they must come up with - unless they just decided not to have home insurance, which is always possible.

I'll get back to this in a bit and complete my response to your post...I've spent too much time on here today. This government job takes up all my surfing time...

What bothers me no end is seeing someone decked out in designer jeans and exponents of the same genre, buy a half dozen cases of Evian bottled water and pay for it using food stamps.

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Correct, it *needs* to be the bulk of the people out there. Stop letting them believe that they must shop, work and live just like everybody else, to the same standard. Stop letting them believe that sewing their own clothes is cruel and unusual punishment. Stop letting them believe that gardening is too much to ask. Extreme couponing is another example of how people plan and use their limited resources to maximum effect.

You haven't presented any evidence that this is not happening with others. It's just an assumption. Or, as rigney presents, an anecdote.

The point in offering an atypical example is to demonstrate what is possible when you you drop the necessity to be the same, to be typical. If you require other humans to compare yourself with to determine if you're suffering, then you're not suffering. If I don't have any food, no heat or air, then I don't need to compare myself with anyone, I am suffering. I lack the necessities for survival.

No, that's not what you are doing. It's like pointing to Usain Bolt and saying because he can run 100m in less than 10 seconds that anybody can. All it takes is some effort, man! So if you say you can't, you must be lazy.

Atypical examples do not and can not represent the average.

If I have to compare myself with others in order to figure that out, then I'm merely competing and using social leverage to my advantage. It's not that I'm a bad person, but it's how I've been taught to think. That needs to change, in my opinion.

Your argument is poor people haven't been taught to think? How does a single parent with a low-paying job "think" their way out of that situation?

Now..property taxes average at $900 a year in Vegas, insurance can jump around but if I use mine as an example it's 1800 a year, so that's still$225 a month they must come up with - unless they just decided not to have home insurance, which is always possible.

And the average home is 300k, so it's possible their property taxes are going to be lower than average, seeing as their house cost 10% of the average. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites I've always found the concept of American poverty as rather humorous. I used to find the concept of smug Americans who thought they had themselves earned their comforts and freedom from oppression by the rich and powerful rather humorous, until they got together behind the corporate elite, installed the Reagan administration, and trashed my beloved country with their unbelievably idiotic meanness. Poor Americans can only be considered poor comparing them to other well off Americans. That's not true. They can also be considered poor comparing them to the well off in many other countries and the poor in several. Stop letting them believe that they must shop, work and live just like everybody else, to the same standard. Stop letting them believe that sewing their own clothes is cruel and unusual punishment. Stop letting them believe that gardening is too much to ask. The ignorance of this is kind of baffling - obviously this person has not tried sewing their own clothes, for example, which is not cheap, or squatter gardening (since the poor cannot afford city land) in the lead poisoned dirt of the typical urban slum. No one is "letting them believe" any such crap - the world's most sophisticated marketing operations are putting full time effort into persuading them of it, the laws and regulations of their communities are enforcing it upon them, and it requires considerable effort and ability on their part to escape or avoid it. Why do you think welfare in industrialized nations should provide someone with a better life than basic necessity? Two reasons: Because the entire society, including the middle classes and more fortunate people, greatly benefits from the general improvement in the community - no armies of street urchins spreading diseases and harassing everyone who walks down the street, no gutters running with human waste and toxic garbage, a high level of safety of persons and possessions, a low level of hassle in securing one's person and possessions, a clean and safe and comfortable and enjoyable place in which to live. Because there but for the grace of some curbs on the powerful go you: welfare puts a floor under which the rich and powerful cannot drive you by threatening your livelihood, creating a reserve army of the unemployed, gaining control over the supply of necessities you must obtain, etc. Think of it as insurance. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites There are plenty of people who paid into the system and yet are getting more benefits out than they ever paid in. I get my worksheet from the SSA every year, and it's pretty clear that I will get more out than I paid in after 4-5 years after I start drawing benefits. So this straddles the dividing line. It is partly, even mostly, welfare. Thank you for pointing out that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. By the way who would invest in a retirement plan that only promised to pay out as much as they paid in? I have a mattress at home for that. Any person that invested 15% their money (personal plus employer contribution to Social Security) in a ladder of bonds over their lifetime would retire very comfortably. Guess what? Such a person would also receive way more from such a retirement fund then they put in. So what is your point? The government forces you to pay into a system with a promised benefit. I paid, so I’m entitled. The least they could do is keep their promise. In my lifetime they have changed the retirement age, and they have made Social Security income taxable. Now they talk about means testing it. What's next? How many trailer parks are there in NY City, or Boston, or Philadelphia, etc. ? No but they do have trailer parks in North Dakota. Lots of jobs too. Somehow the people south of the US border have figured this out. People who live in real poverty. So why don’t the poor in NY City, Boston, or Philadelphia move like those people from Mexico and nations further south? I have moved several times in my career. Why shouldn’t the poor in NY City, Boston, or Philadelphia? ParanoiA, you are wasting your time with this topic. Never forget that that the welfare state is the foundation of liberal political thought in America. The worst part is that they know the damage they are doing to those that they have addicted to dependency. The payment they receive from the addicted is votes. The sad thing is that they are winning. Edited by waitforufo ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites Never forget that that the welfare state is the foundation of liberal political thought in America. The data would suggest that both major US political parties have increased welfare spending. Trying to make it a "liberal" (or otherwise partisan) agenda would seem at best, misinformed, at least according to the data: ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites question why you think you're impoverished because your stuff isn't "nice" but rather "functional". There are only about 3 houses in my neighborhood with gardens. Some of these poor are home all damn day long...why not cultivate? Grow something. Why are they crying about food and getting food stamps while they let a 1/4 acre lot of soil go completely to waste? What I suspect is happening here is that you are letting a few personal anecdotes cloud your thinking and you are ignoring the larger trends and issues in the data. As others have noted already, you are focusing solely on outliers but treating them as if they are representative of the larger population. That's just not how it is. Of course people such as those you describe exist, but that's hardly representative of most people in poverty today. Hell there's one guy in my neighborhood with his own chickens. I've heard my neighbors bitch about it, and I'm thinking...we're poor over here man, the guy is trying to feed his family, why aren't more of us doing this? We get so caught up with our processed, clean society, cookie cutter neighborhoods with regulations to keep every property essentially exactly the same. They ruin the ability for people to use their land to their benefit, even if they had the initiative to do so, all because we don't want to have to see the "chaos" of farming next door. Stuck up Americans. I have a different take due to personal experience (if you're going to use anecdotes and personal experience to inform your position, then I will, too). A neighbor of mine a few years ago had chickens in his back yard and frankly it's not appropriate in a suburban/urban setting. That's my take. It wouldn't be appropriate for him to have goats, or cows, or even horses in his backyard either, and chickens are no different. It wouldn't be appropriate for him to do target practice like he might at a farm, nor to use explosives to move a tree trunk like you might on a ranch. Look at it from my perspective as a neighbor... paying my taxes and my mortgage and having to make my own life striving so I too am not in poverty... Having to wake up and get to work at 8AM and not being appreciative of the fact that crowing roosters were waking me up at 4:30 every single day... ESPECIALLY when I'd been on calls with Asia until midnight the night before. I didn't report him, because I knew he was struggling and needed those chickens, but others did, and I was fine with that, too. Let me be clear, though... I tend to agree with a central point you've been trying to make that for many who self-describe as being in poverty there is a lot of room for more self-sufficiency... more bootstrapping through things like growing a garden, having chickens, making your bread, etc. We're aligned there. I struggle a bit, however, when you assume this applies to all people in all locations (perhaps you don't mean to assume this, but it comes through via the language of your comments). Seriously, though... If you live in apartment 12D of a 15 story high-rise in the city, gardens and chickens aren't even an option, so what then? Why should we inform the structure of our safety net programs based primarily on the outliers and in ways that over-represent the margins? Again, though. I find myself accepting your larger point. The term poverty often seems over used in the US, but that doesn't mean it's not a major issue that needs to be addressed and improved. IMO, though, we also fail to recognize sometimes how much better we have it than our fellow humans in other lands like India or Haiti, for example. Go there and you see what "poverty" truly is. There is often more we can do to be self-sufficient and make the most of the hand we're dealt. I see that as your central point, and I agree with it. It's just that in my perspective, most people are already doing those things you mention and it's frankly still not enough... Or conversely, it's enough, but is not enough to help them take the next step of climbing out of poverty. We don't want to sustain poverty, we want to move past it. That requires help and programs such as those we have, and potentially even more (or at least better designed). they do have trailer parks in North Dakota. Lots of jobs too. Somehow the people south of the US border have figured this out. People who live in real poverty. So why don’t the poor in NY City, Boston, or Philadelphia move like those people from Mexico and nations further south? Don't you agree that moving comes with some fairly significant costs? If you're struggling to keep the water turned on and find something to eat, heading to UHaul for a truck, paying for the gas to drive it, and putting a deposit down on a new place to live might be somewhat of a challenge, wouldn't you agree? On another note, can you even rent a truck if you don't have current auto-insurance? Never forget that that the welfare state is the foundation of liberal political thought in America. As Arete has already demonstrated, your comment here is not connected in any meaningful way to reality. Statements like this are roughly equivalent to saying, "Never forget that laziness is the foundation of black culture." It is quite simply ignorant and wrong and indicates to me that you have zero intention of approaching this discussion in good faith. That's unfortunate. I suspect you have an interesting perspective to share that could add a lot to this discussion, but instead you've chosen to just shit anyone who happens to think slightly different than you do and lob rhetorical grenades. Oh well. ##### Link to comment ##### Share on other sites Thank you for pointing out that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. By the way who would invest in a retirement plan that only promised to pay out as much as they paid in? I have a mattress at home for that. Any person that invested 15% their money (personal plus employer contribution to Social Security) in a ladder of bonds over their lifetime would retire very comfortably. Guess what? Such a person would also receive way more from such a retirement fund then they put in. So what is your point? My point was that Social Security is partly, even mostly, welfare. But I already said that. What is it you aren't understanding about what I said? Are you suggesting that a family of 4 making20k has $3k that is not needed for basic living expenses? The government forces you to pay into a system with a promised benefit. I paid, so I’m entitled. The least they could do is keep their promise. In my lifetime they have changed the retirement age, and they have made Social Security income taxable. Now they talk about means testing it. What's next? That's what I'm talking about: you paid in$1, and you feel entitled to \$10. But it's still welfare, because 9 other people paid in for your benefits.

No but they do have trailer parks in North Dakota. Lots of jobs too. Somehow the people south of the US border have figured this out. People who live in real poverty. So why don’t the poor in NY City, Boston, or Philadelphia move like those people from Mexico and nations further south? I have moved several times in my career. Why shouldn’t the poor in NY City, Boston, or Philadelphia?

ParanoiA, you are wasting your time with this topic. Never forget that that the welfare state is the foundation of liberal political thought in America. The worst part is that they know the damage they are doing to those that they have addicted to dependency. The payment they receive from the addicted is votes. The sad thing is that they are winning.

Odds are pretty good you're a recipient of some of the benefits of this welfare state. But you say "they" as if you aren't.

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Don't you agree that moving comes with some fairly significant costs? If you're struggling to keep the water turned on and find something to eat, heading to UHaul for a truck, paying for the gas to drive it, and putting a deposit down on a new place to live might be somewhat of a challenge, wouldn't you agree? On another note, can you even rent a truck if you don't have current auto-insurance?

Are the people south of the US border somehow more ingenious than the people living in NY City, Boston, or Philadelphia? Somehow 11 million current illegal immigrants to the US have figured out how to move. The Irish in the middle of a famine figured it out. Millions of Italians in poverty figured it out even though the immigrated without papers (WOP). But people in our own country can’t figure out how to move from one state to another?

Perhaps they don’t move because they don’t trust that there assistance checks will be forwarded.

Edited by waitforufo

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