Understanding Poverty in America

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by rtwngAvngr, Jan 15, 2004.

  1. rtwngAvngr
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    rtwngAvngr Guest

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    http://www.heritage.org/Research/Welfare/BG1713es.cfm

    Executive Summary: Understanding Poverty in America
    by Robert E. Rector and Kirk A. Johnson, Ph.D.
    Executive Summary #1713

    January 5, 2004 |_Full Text_|__|




    If poverty means lacking nutritious food, adequate warm housing, and clothing for a family, relatively few of the 35 million people identified as being "in poverty" by the Census Bureau could be characterized as poor. While material hardship does exist in the United States, it is quite restricted in scope and severity.

    The average "poor" person, as defined by the government, has a living standard far higher than the public imagines. The following are facts about persons defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:

    * Forty-six percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
    * Seventy-six percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
    * Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
    * The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
    * Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 30 percent own two or more cars.
    * Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
    * Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
    * Seventy-three percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher.


    Overall, the typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry, and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family's essential needs. While this individual's life is not opulent, it is equally far from the popular images of dire poverty conveyed by the press, liberal activists, and politicians.

    Of course, the living conditions of the average poor American should not be taken as representing all of the nation's poor: There is a wide range of living conditions among the poor. In contrast to the 25 percent of "poor" households that have cell phones and telephone answering machines, ap-proximately one-tenth of families in poverty have no phone at all. While the majority of poor households do not experience significant material problems, roughly a third do experience at least one problem such as overcrowding, temporary hunger, or difficulty getting medical care.

    The good news is that the poverty that does exist in the United States can readily be reduced, particularly among children. There are two main reasons that American children are poor: Their parents don't work much, and their fathers are absent from the home.

    In both good and bad economic environments, the typical American poor family with children is supported by only 800 hours of work during a year--the equivalent of 16 hours of work per week. If work in each family were raised to 2,000 hours per year--the equivalent of one adult working 40 hours per week throughout the year--nearly 75 percent of poor children would be lifted out of official poverty.

    As noted above, father absence is another major cause of child poverty. Nearly two-thirds of poor children reside in single-parent homes; each year, an additional 1.3 million children are born out of wedlock. If poor mothers married the fathers of their children, nearly three-quarters of the nation's impoverished youth would immediately be lifted out of poverty.

    Yet, although work and marriage are reliable ladders out of poverty, the welfare system perversely remains hostile to both. Major programs such as food stamps, public housing, and Medicaid continue to reward idleness and penalize marriage. If welfare could be turned around to encourage work and marriage, the nation's remaining poverty would quickly be reduced. This is, perhaps, the best news about poverty in the United States.
     
  2. 5stringJeff
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    5stringJeff Senior Member

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    This is the most important paragraph of the entire article. If welfare is seen as a comfortable alternative to work, we will never succeed in getting people off the public dole. And if we make our children understand that single motherhood increases your likelihood of being in poverty, maybe we will be able to decrease the number of teen pregnancies as well.
     
  3. wonderwench
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    Single mother on welfare must stop being a valid career choice for teenage girls who want to have their own place.

    Sadly, with the current design of the system - it encourages young girls to get pregnant in order to be independent from their families.
     
  4. DKSuddeth
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    DKSuddeth Senior Member

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    I wonder what they would classify someone who has no medical care for him or spouse, one car, no home(living with valued friend at this point), only amenities are those that belong to home owner, and who had to move his stepkids to go live with their father, against their wishes, because he can't feed them


    pardon my bitterness, but that pisses me off.
     
  5. MtnBiker
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    MtnBiker Senior Member

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    Walter E. Williams

    February 19, 2003

    Poverty in America

    If you're a poor adult in America, for the most part, it's all your fault. That's true, at least today, whether you're black, white, brown or polka dot.

    According to the definition the U.S. Bureau of Census uses, a family of four with an income over $18,244 is not poor. The poverty cutoff for a single-person household is $9,359, and that for a two-person household is $12,000. With those definitions, the poverty rate was 11.7 percent, or about 33 million Americans living in poverty in 2001.

    The greatest percentage of poverty is found in female-headed households. Over 70 percent of female-headed households are poor. A large percentage of poor people are children (17 percent); fully 85 percent of black children living in poverty reside in a female-headed household.

    Is poverty pre-ordained? I think not. A married couple, both working full time at a minimum-wage job that pays $5.15 per hour, would earn an annual income of $20,600. Keep in mind that few adults earn wages as low as the minimum wage and those who do earn a higher wage after a few months on the job. If a married couple both working at the minimum wage had no children, they would not be poor; if they had two children, they wouldn't be living in the lap of luxury, but neither would they be below the poverty threshold.

    link to remainder of the article

    It may not be the most luxurious life but full time work at or just above minimum wage would get people out of poverty.
     
  6. DKSuddeth
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    DKSuddeth Senior Member

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    :rotflmao:

    wow, I'm wealthy and never knew it at all.

    kathianne, are you feeling wealthy today?
     
  7. MtnBiker
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    MtnBiker Senior Member

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    I saw the definition of poverty a few times in this thread, where is the definition of wealthy? :confused:
     
  8. bamthin
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    bamthin Guest

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    The definition for poverty that I have seen is income level. The income levels I have seen that define poverty are ridiculously low. I think, for a family of four it's like $18,400. That is just unbelievable to imagine a family living off that. I make over $100K and have four kids and I still have to clip coupons and stuff and pack my lunch. I mean $18,400 is $353 a week!!

    I don't understand the point of the article you posted.


    -Bam
     
  9. Moi
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    Moi Active Member

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    I suppose it makes you wonder how anyone with that income can afford a house, car, AC, TVs, microwaves, stereos, etc. At least it makes me wonder.
     
  10. LoudBeagle
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    I have to agree with you that the breakup of the traditional two parent family has helped to create many more impoverished homes. A friend of mine, who is a single parent and a working professional with a Master's degree, still finds it difficult to make ends meet. I disagree that being poor equals being lazy. My friend is certainly not lazy. I've seen too many hard-working poor to agree with you that people are poor because they are lazy. However, as much as I care for my friend, and sympathize with her plight, she did make a conscious decision not to marry the father of her child. She now has to carry on as the sole support of her and her son as a consequence of that choice. Still, we need to be compassionate towards people, particularly towards the children, who had no choice in their situation. We need to help these children however we can, and part of that help includes educating them to avoid mistakes that can lead to a life of poverty.
     

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