What is Poverty in America?

21 Jul

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When I was laid off last year, I had no problem cutting spending, taking on odd jobs, working at a gas station for income, cutting cable, etc. I did not, however, give up my cell phone (not that I could have afforded the cancellation fee, but I needed to be able to get calls for job interviews) or get kicked out on the street.

I remember it being extremely difficult. I remember being worried that I would have to move in with my parents (shoot me if that ever happens). I remember getting a lot of help from my family.

It was hard, but I wasn’t starving. I wasn’t even living in a trailer park (though I have rented one of those before when I got divorced and couldn’t afford rent any higher than that).

Did you know that only 1 in 10 poor people live in a trailer park? I heard that today on America Radio News Network. They were discussing a new report by The Heritage Foundation that showed how poor the poor in America really are.

When I think of poor, I think of children starving and families being kicked out of their homes. I know people who were foreclosed on and had to move in with family. It’s heart breaking, and sometimes people need a little help for a little while. I think of my own children and how close we have been to that situation ourselves. I know how scary it is, how desperate people feel.

That’s where welfare comes in. To help families who are close to starvation or homeless until they get back on their feet.

Sadly, that is not how it is being used. Instead, a great deal of people on welfare continues to have more children, thereby increasing their benefits. A good amount stay on welfare for years because they have become dependent and don’t work hard enough to get a job. They are “too good” for some jobs but not “too good” to take a handout. They are embarrassed to be seen at Walmart with their food stamps though.

The report shows that poor people live better today than the richest people 100 years ago. They have two TVs, cable/satellite, Xbox/PlayStation, DVD player and VCR. Most have a cordless phone, washer and dryer, fridge, stove, oven, ceiling fans, coffee maker. The typical poor person lives in a bigger living space than most Europeans, and obtain medical care and food when they need it.

“Poor families certainly struggle to make ends meet, but in most cases, they are struggling to pay for air conditioning and the cable TV bill as well as to put food on the table. Their living standards are far different from the images of dire deprivation promoted by activists and the mainstream media.

Regrettably, annual Census reports not only exaggerate current poverty, but also suggest that the number of poor persons[5] and their living conditions have remained virtually unchanged for four decades or more. In reality, the living conditions of poor Americans have shown significant improvement over time.”

That’s shocking when you realize the amount we are paying for welfare entitlement programs. I looked at the poverty level in Utah, and technically my children and I are just on the edge of living in poverty.

Money is tight, really tight, but we’re making it. It means we have a small two-bedroom rental and my kids share a room. It means we don’t eat out as often and we don’t buy a lot of toys (though my kids are not suffering). Sometimes when it’s close to payday, my kids complain because there aren’t more “snacks” in the house, but there is ALWAYS food. I struggle to pay back the last year of medical bills that crippled me financially, but I’m still working a great deal of hours each week so I can get out of debt and be financially free and secure. And we cut out unnecessary things like cable TV, and the television itself is an old 19-inch I’ve had for years.

If I can sit down at my kitchen table and find a way to make it work, why can’t the government do that? And why do they continue to raise taxes and take money from those of us who are working to give to those who aren’t? We all need to feed our children and if they quit taking so much from all of us, we’d be glad to contribute to those in need. But instead the government is raising a society dependent on everyone else, with their hand out for more.


Posted by on July 21, 2011 in In Jen's Opinion


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2 responses to “What is Poverty in America?

  1. Anonymous

    July 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    you nailed it on this one. I think of poor as hungry, scared not knowing whats next on the horizion. Not cable, smart phones and dinner out.

  2. Cale Batt

    July 21, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    There was a time when poor people got help from the local community. Now they get it from … Chinese investors? We need to make sure our military remains the largest in the world so we can default on our loans and not become a communist nation.


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