The poor in America - How do they live?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by 45nut, Sep 13, 2011.

  1. 45nut

    45nut Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Dallas, TX
    Article and full report here

    Executive Summary Today, the Census Bureau released its annual poverty report, which declared that a record 46.2 million persons, or roughly one in seven Americans, were poor in 2010. The numbers were up sharply from the previous year’s total of 43.6 million. Although the current recession has increased the numbers of the poor, high levels of poverty predate the recession. In most years for the past two decades, the Census Bureau has declared that at least 35 million Americans lived in poverty.

    However, understanding poverty in America requires looking behind these numbers at the actual living conditions of the individuals the government deems to be poor. For most Americans, the word “poverty” suggests near destitution: an inability to provide nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter for one’s family. However, only a small number of the 46 million persons classified as “poor” by the Census Bureau fit that description. While real material hardship certainly does occur, it is limited in scope and severity.

    The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau as taken from various government reports:

    * 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning. In 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
    * 92 percent of poor households have a microwave.
    * Nearly three-fourths have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks.
    * Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite TV.
    * Two-thirds have at least one DVD player, and 70 percent have a VCR.
    * Half have a personal computer, and one in seven have two or more computers.
    * More than half of poor families with children have a video game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation.
    * 43 percent have Internet access.
    * One-third have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV.
    * One-fourth have a digital video recorder system, such as a TiVo.

    For decades, the living conditions of the poor have steadily improved. Consumer items that were luxuries or significant purchases for the middle class a few decades ago have become commonplace in poor households, partially because of the normal downward price trend that follows introduction of a new product.

    Liberals use the declining relative prices of many amenities to argue that it is no big deal that poor households have air conditioning, computers, cable TV, and wide-screen TV. They contend, polemically, that even though most poor families may have a house full of modern conveniences, the average poor family still suffers from substantial deprivation in basic needs, such as food and housing. In reality, this is just not true.

    Although the mainstream media broadcast alarming stories about widespread and severe hunger in the nation, in reality, most of the poor do not experience hunger or food shortages. The U.S. Department of Agriculture collects data on these topics in its household food security survey. For 2009, the survey showed:

    * 96 percent of poor parents stated that their children were never hungry at any time during the year because they could not afford food.

    * 83 percent of poor families reported having enough food to eat.
    * 82 percent of poor adults reported never being hungry at any time in the prior year due to lack of money for food.

    Other government surveys show that the average consumption of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children and is well above recommended norms in most cases.

    Television newscasts about poverty in America generally portray the poor as homeless people or as a destitute family living in an overcrowded, dilapidated trailer. In fact, however:

    * Over the course of a year, 4 percent of poor persons become temporarily homeless.
    * Only 9.5 percent of the poor live in mobile homes or trailers, 49.5 percent live in separate single-family houses or townhouses, and 40 percent live in apartments.
    * 42 percent of poor households actually own their own homes.

    * Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.

    * The average poor American has more living space than the typical non-poor person in Sweden, France, or the United Kingdom.
    * The vast majority of the homes or apartments of the poor are in good repair.

    By their own reports, the average poor person had sufficient funds to meet all essential needs and to obtain medical care for family members throughout the year whenever needed.

    Of course, poor Americans do not live in the lap of luxury. The poor clearly struggle to make ends meet, but they are generally struggling to pay for cable TV, air conditioning, and a car, as well as for food on the table. The average poor person is far from affluent, but his lifestyle is far from the images of stark deprivation purveyed by advocacy groups and the media.

    Moreover, the fact that the average poor household has many modern conveniences and experiences no substantial hardships does not mean that no families face hardships. As noted, the overwhelming majority of the poor are well housed and not overcrowded, but one in 25 will become temporarily homeless during the year. While most of the poor have a sufficient and fairly steady supply of food, one in five poor adults will experience temporary food shortages and hunger at some point in a year.

    The poor man who has lost his home or suffers intermittent hunger will find no consolation in the fact that his condition occurs infrequently in American society. His hardships are real and must be an important concern for policymakers. Nonetheless, anti-poverty policy needs to be based on accurate information. Gross exaggeration of the extent and severity of hardships in America will not benefit society, the taxpayers, or the poor.

    Finally, welfare policy needs to address the causes of poverty, not merely the symptoms. Among families with children, the collapse of marriage and erosion of the work ethic are the principal long-term causes of poverty. When the recession ends, welfare policy must require able-bodied recipients to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid. It should also strengthen marriage in low-income communities rather than ignore and penalize it.

    — Robert Rector is Senior Research Fellow in the Domestic Policy Studies Department, and Rachel Sheffield is a Research Assistant in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, at The Heritage Foundation.

    Is this how you thought the poor among us lived? I don't have a wide screen tv or a plasma either. I also don't have an X-Box or PS2.
  2. howlnmad

    howlnmad Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2008
    Harriman, Tn
    I have most of the things listed (no A/C, no TiVo and no big screen TV). Do I consider myself poor... no. Back before '08 we were living well with two incomes. The recession hit and my wife lost her job and my pay was cut to damn near half. We struggle at times to make ends meet, winter is the worse. Would I be sad if we lost her car or the 4 wheeler or the boat (boats paid for) or the cable... probably. Would it send me over the edge... no. I've always been a worker and provider and don't plan to stop now. If the census bureau calls me poor then maybe the wrong folks are making that decission.

  3. HunterAlpha1

    HunterAlpha1 Former Guest

    Aug 8, 2011
    Yorktown, VA
    rich and poor are states of mind. howlnmad is richer than most billionaires :)
  4. H-D

    H-D Active Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    I work my butt off to provide for my kids and wife it makes me madder n a hornet to see people who do nothing livin' high on the hog.. I saw a woman today in a suv that was at least 10 model years newer than mine (that I paid for with the sweat of my brow) with an Obama08 sticker on one side and a sticker on the other that said " PROSPERITY IS MY BIRTHRIGHT ! " and I thought to myself what kind of philosophy is that? that you have the right to prosperity by being born ....

    noun, plural -ties.
    1. a successful, flourishing, or thriving condition, especially in financial respects; good fortune.
  5. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    I do alright.

    I grew up in a very poor family and vowed to myself under silent oath id never see my own children forced to eat ketchup and mayonaise sandwiches because there was nothing else in the house. That id work, to my death if necessary, to provide for them everything theyd ever need and as much as I could afford of that they wanted..

    As it turns out, they actually like katchup and mayo sandwiches and eat them on toast pretty regularly, and when i buy them stuff they usually have more fun witht he box it came in..

    Go figure. My kids are pros at being poor and theyve never experienced it.
  6. howlnmad

    howlnmad Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2008
    Harriman, Tn
    HunterAlpha1, thank you, I take that as a compliment as I'm sure it was meant. It makes me happy to see so many others here that share the same morals and values as I do. As long as I have my family, (wife, 4 great kids and 4 beautiful grandkids) and health, I do feel like the richest man alive. Like Josh, my childhood was poor at times, I remember having toast and gravy for supper often. Would I let my family... not a chance. We eat what I hunt, I garden and can vegies. I can raise hogs and poultry too. I guess what I'm saying is, if I had hardly any material things, I'd still be happy.
  7. Az_gun_gal123*

    Az_gun_gal123* New Member

    Sep 13, 2011
    mountains of Arizona
    I've worked all my life - the last 20 years, tho' I stayed home with our daughter. hubby made more than me so he kept working. We are the working class in America- not rich by dollars but wealthy. We managed to hang onto our home where we raised her. funny - kids these days. She does not want to inherit a pay off home! what I would not have given if I would have had a home handed to me. county lowered taxes across the board. every bit helps but I'm a woman who cooks from scratch. I can make a supper out of air. grin
  8. Az_gun_gal123*

    Az_gun_gal123* New Member

    Sep 13, 2011
    mountains of Arizona
    i grew up poor a cops kid does. we had a roof over our heads & food on the table but he worked very hard for that. his dream? wasn't big. 1. to leave this earth owing no man 2. to pay for his own funeral. He got both. (without taking charity). I'm writing a book about his life & work, nearly done.
  9. Fast Forward

    Fast Forward Member

    Jul 16, 2011
    Chaska Minn
    We have some (income Affordable) Apartments in the Area,,90% drive a newer car than i do,,,
  10. Bobitis

    Bobitis Guest

    The quintessential answer for anyone worth their salt.

    Spot on howlnmad! Poor according to whom? When ya get beat down, the good man stands up and provides. It's called PRIDE. It's called HUMILITY. It's called PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY. It's also known as INTEGRITY.

    Ya got it or ya don't. I don't need anyone elses poll to determine my self worth.:mad:
  11. hogger129

    hogger129 Well-Known Member

    Nov 29, 2009
    stop handing them things and they'll be forced to provide for themselves
  12. geds

    geds New Member

    Mar 27, 2011
    This report is suspect. The quote:

    "The vast majority of the homes or apartments of the poor are in good repair."

    can easily be disputed by driving through the poor part of town. I noticed yesterday as I was going to one of my favorite restaurants for lunch how almost every house was in disrepair.

    If the author can make sure blatant errors in one statement, I certainly wonder about the accuracy of the rest!
  13. Millwright

    Millwright Well-Known Member

    Jun 30, 2005
    Guess I rank below the "One's" "poor" demarcation then ! >MW
  14. By all of today's standards, my family was poor. Both Mom and Dad worked. At times the textile mill was on 'short time'. That meant from 15 to maybe 30 hours per week. The wages paid were considered a lot lower than the pay in larger cities. The mill was the only industry for many years in the town of Hillsboro, TX. I was born in '42 and Mom and Dad owned a 99 acre farm with a pear, peach, persimon, and pecan orchards about 9 miles from Hillsboro. We had a flock of chickens, several hogs, and around 15 to 20 head of cattle. Dad drove 9 miles each way to the mill weekdays and in season, peddled fruit to the country market in Waco, TX, on weekends. Dad sold the farm and bought a house in Hillsboro in 1944. He continued to work at the mill. After my sis was born in 1946, my mom stayed home to raise us until we were about 2 and 5 years old. We had bought another house just down the street from Dad's sister and her family. We stayed with my aunt while Mom went back to work in the mill. The mill was only about 5 blocks from home. We no longer owned (or needed) a car. They walked us to Aunt Ethel's house, then they walked on to the mill. In the evening, they came by and got us and we went home. Although we lived inside the city-limits, we had a large garden, a cow and calf, 2 to 4 hogs, and about 15 to 20 chickens. We never went hungery. A lot of the garden crop was canned and stored in the pantry each year. It took about a year to get the old house fixed up inside and painted outside. AND, a small bedroom turned into a bathroom. We had an 'outhouse' about 50 yards from the house that was used until the bathroom was finished. Although we lived on the 'west side of town', and were considered poor; I never thought that I was deprived of anything that I needed and got a LOT of things that I just 'wanted'. I remember several times that the mill was only operating 2 1/2 days a week and things got a little rough. Even then we always had plenty to eat and decent clothes to wear. I married when I was 20 years old; my wife was 16. We saw some really hard times as far as keeping the bills paid; but we never were hungery. We always managed to keep the bills paid enough to keep the creditors away. We married in '63 and managed to get by. In 1978 I changed jobs (again) and we were able to make the payments on all the debts for about 8 years. When my employer filed for bankruptcy, and my last 3 pay checks 'bounced'; it got pretty tight for a few weeks. I borrowed some money from a friend and used it to start working for myself. I worked 10 years before getting disgusted with the long hours, on call 24/7, and doing most of my own bookkeepping. I sold my stock to a competitor and about a month later went to work for him in '95. In '97 our oldest daughter died of cancer. She was still living at home. I continued to work until I retired in 2004. We had a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, mobile home and an acre of land paid in full and all of the other debts were paid. Also we had replaced the major appliances during the last 8 or 9 months. Everything seemed to be working ok. The youngest daughter had married and had a son, and our son was still at home after graduating from highschool. Yes, I've seen some hard times a few times during my life; but never considered myself as being 'poor'. After my wife died on '06, I moved here to Idaho to be near my son, daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. I'm 69, some health issues, on social security, AND NOT GOING HUNGERY!!!!!
  15. Oh! And I NEVER drew 'unemployment', though I have been without a job several times. The longest I spent looking for a job without finding one was almost 2 weeks. If a man really wanted a job he could find something to work at, even if the pay was poor and the job 'sucked'. I have worked several jobs that were pathetic for a while until I found something better. With our current administration, it would be different. I really find it hard to believe that the USA can be in such trouble. I know a lot of men, and women, that have been looking for work for over a year. This is something we have got to change with the election in 2012!!!!!!
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