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Andy note: "Blast from the past - Best of Eddie" - This one is originally from Sep. 2010. If there's an old post from Eddie you'd like to see up again shoot me a message.

Yesterday's conversation about who is rich was so interesting that I thought I'd take today to explore who is poor, and what it means to be poor in America these days. Just so we're all operating with the same figures, here is the latest U.S. poverty index. The data concludes that the poverty line for 2010 is an annual income of $22,000 for a family of four. A greater number of Americans live below the poverty line now than at any time in the 51-year history of U.S. poverty statistics (but not the greatest percentage).

We touched on this yesterday, and I commented (admittedly with little frame of reference) that $22,000 seemed pretty high, especially in relation to the $50,000 median U.S. family income rate. So I did some research and found some pretty fascinating facts about what it means to be "poor" in America.

Before you label me a fascist, I'm not making light of anyone's unfortunate circumstance. With the possible exception of my ex-wives, I hate to see anyone suffer - especially children. I realize that no one wants to be poor. I also realize that government has a vested interest in keeping people poor, and creates dis-incentives to people bettering their lot in life. Nowhere is this case better illustrated than in Uncle Sam's Plantation, for those who are interested.

So what does it mean to be poor in America? Are the majority of the poor homeless? Are they starving? The latest year I could find accurate figures for was 2007 and, while the housing picture may have changed in the interim for some, I'm guessing the rest of the stats are pretty accurate.

Thirteen percent of the poor (so 13% of 43.6 million people, or about five and a half million) experience food insecurity at some point over the course of the year. That means that just under six million Americans don't know where their next meal is coming from at least once per year. Make no mistake - that's a travesty. But it also means that food is not an issue for 98.5% of the population.

As a group, America's poor are far from being chronically undernourished. The average consumption of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middleclass children and, in most cases, is well above recommended norms. Poor children actually consume more meat than do higher income children and have average protein intakes 100 percent above recommended levels. Most poor children today are, in fact, supernourished and grow up to be, on average, one inch taller and 10 pounds heavier that the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.

Here are some startling facts about what it means to be "poor" in America:

  • 46% of poor households own their own home and it is a 3-bdrm, 1.5 bath with a garage and porch/patio
  • 80% have air conditioning
  • 66% have more than 2 rooms per occupant
  • 75% own a car; 31% own 2 or more
  • 97% have color TV; more than 50% have 2 or more color TVs
  • 78% have a VCR or DVD; 62% have cable or satellite
  • 89% have a microwave; more than 50% have a stereo; more than 33% have an automatic dishwasher

The real kicker for me is that the average American below the poverty line has more living space than the average citizen (not poor citizen, the average citizen) in Paris, London, or Vienna.

Again, I'm not pointing this stuff out to be a jerk and say, "Hey, look how great they've got it!" Nothing could be further from the truth. But if the upper middle class in the U.S. is going to be demonized for being unwilling to live without what lower-income individuals consider luxuries (private schooling, vacations, etc...), I think it should cut both ways.

The poor in America have a higher standard of living than the average citizen in the vast majority of the rest of the world, and that's as it should be. We are, after all, the land of the free and the home of the brave. But runaway welfare spending and soak-the-rich programs are dooming generations to a life of prolonged misery. When a young man makes more money to sit in a strip club (or worse, to sling crack on the corner) than to get a job and pull his family out of poverty, we all lose.

I know this is an emotional issue, so I would ask that you at least try to keep it civil in the comments section. There are desperately poor people in America, and we should all do more to help them. But they are far from the majority of American poor.

Can someone give me a rational reason why it doesn't make more sense to abandon the monstrous tax code that clearly favors one class above another and go to a national sales tax? Isn't killing off the IRS once and for all reason enough to try it? Seriously, guys. What are the real arguments against a consumption tax that taxes everyone equally?

Comments (54)

  • is-t's picture

    The real kicker for me is that the average American below the poverty line has more living space than the average citizen (not poor citizen, the average citizen) in Paris, London, or Vienna.

    you're comparing apples to oranges here.

    but other than that, definitely an illuminating post.

  • International Pymp's picture

    1. Sales tax discourages consumption with his 70% of our economy.

    2. I agree that the tax code is too complicated, favors one class over another and needs to be changed, but a radical overhaul would kill jobs for the millions of people who work as tax specialists at places like H&R block, etc. Now is not a good time for that.

    Agree with the general perspective of the post though... tax system is unfair

  • BigBucks's picture

    My dad pulls down a quarter of a million plus a year and with 4 kids, 2 in college, 2 heading to college, one already going to a private university, and no sort of financial aid in sight, it certainly feels like we are poor. ( he wont let us take any loans)

  • shorttheworld's picture

    also have to look at people who choose to have 500 kids, have the wife then stay at home vs work because of the economic advantages of being below a set income limit and not having to pay for babysitting/nannies overcoming the value of working and producing.

    education spending on the secondary levels should be increased if we are to give 'hand outs' to ultimately get the gears spinning in our future generations to have them be competitive with the rest of the world.

  • bbc's picture

    I'm going to paraphrase what Warren Buffet said: even the super-wealthy in America are an inherent by-product of our society. There shouldn't be any reason why you don't feel obligated to give back to the society that gave you a chance to make the type of money you did. If you don't believe it, then move to Somolia or Bangladesh and try finding a $80K banking job right out of college or starting up a Google.

    Also, you can't use those statistics to show that they are doing well. Yes, feeding a kid spam all his life will make him big, but it doesn't necessarily mean hes healthy.

    I need to think about this a little more ... I'll give you a better response later.

  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    I'm going to paraphrase what Warren Buffet said: even the super-wealthy in America are an inherent by-product of our society. There shouldn't be any reason why you don't feel obligated to give back to the society that gave you a chance to make the type of money you did. If you don't believe it, then move to Somolia or Bangladesh and try finding a $80K banking job right out of college or starting up a Google.

    I agree, but at some point, one does have to wonder what society's responsibility to the poor really is. If they have a warm place to sleep and food to eat, we are fulfilling our responsibility to them, IMHO. Maybe we ought to give the poor healthcare in a perfect world, but we can't afford it right now.

    What makes this country great- and what successful people need to maintain- is the fact that people who have the right attitude in life don't have to wind up where they started. And we need to make sure everyone gets these opportunities- not just a small token lottery for certain people but for the entire country.

  • shorttheworld's picture

    part of what drives my reasoning and logic regarding this whole situation is that i used to live in the projects and my parents had me while in high school and definitely didnt come from money yet my dad was able to pull himself up from his boot straps, drop out of HS go into truck driving school and work his ass off to afford his own big rig and start his own business (although he ended up fucking himself over with bad decisions) and i was able to be on my own due to aforementioned family fuckup from 17 and put myself school and end up being successful.

    so.. why are some people able to find the drive, initiative and ambition to regulate their circumstances? luck or is it effort? or 'matter of circumstances'? a girl i know said 'but not everyone is as intelligent or as driven as you', are we supposed to penalize or reward people for not having such traits?

  • BigBucks's picture

    we are supposed to help those who aren't as intelligent or as driven as you simply because if someone was undriven and unintelligent and his father happened to be the opposite and rich he would get every undeserved thing he wants in life. Consequently, those who are poor and intelligent have to work that much harder than even the average middle class or average rich guy, its that unfairness that is an issue. No ur not supposed to penalize intelligence or drive, guys like shorttheworld worked real hard, but bro, even some poor and intelligent who work hard dont get where they want to be simply because they started poor. Those statistics are trash, if you haven't actually gone and seen the conditions some of these ppl in small town america, and metropolitan ghettos live in then you cant say shit. Its a self-defeating cycle, health care is a basic necessity, not a priviledge for the rich (costs are going up).

  • In reply to bbc
    Virginia Tech 4ever's picture

    bbc:
    I'm going to paraphrase what Warren Buffet said: even the super-wealthy in America are an inherent by-product of our society. There shouldn't be any reason why you don't feel obligated to give back to the society that gave you a chance to make the type of money you did. If you don't believe it, then move to Somolia or Bangladesh and try finding a $80K banking job right out of college or starting up a Google.

    Also, you can't use those statistics to show that they are doing well. Yes, feeding a kid spam all his life will make him big, but it doesn't necessarily mean hes healthy.

    I need to think about this a little more ... I'll give you a better response later.

    By "giving back" to society I assume you mean paying higher taxes. Everyone agrees that private charity is important and the facts show that the wealthy give the most back to society in the form of private charity. But nobody owes a greater obligation to pay higher tax rates to society--presumably, everyone has had a relatively equal opportunity to succeed (financially) as mostly everyone has had access to public education and infrastructure provided by government. Why would the wealthy owe a greater debt to society when society has provided approximately equal opportunity to succeed? It's like saying the guy who got promoted instead of me owes me lunch once a week.

    Besides, one could argue that given the regulatory and tax environment of the United States, one succeeds in business in spite of "society" (and let's be honest, you mean "government" when you say "society"), not because of it.

  • TNA's picture

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicaid

    We already give the poor free healthcare.

    We are not supposed to help people who are stupid or poor. People are free to make choices and they are free to suffer the consequences. We offer free education, low cost universities, free insurance, food stamps, welfare, heating subsidies, Section 8, etc. How many more social programs can we roll out before we can say we have done enough? There will always be poor and unintelligent. You find them in Europe as well as everywhere. That is life.

  • TNA's picture

    I love how wealthy seems to indicated trust fund wealth. The majority of "rich" people in this country are small business owners who IMO have given back more than they have received. It is jealousy and free riding, plain and simple.

  • In reply to BigBucks
    Virginia Tech 4ever's picture

    BigBucks:
    we are supposed to help those who aren't as intelligent or as driven as you simply because if someone was undriven and unintelligent and his father happened to be the opposite and rich he would get every undeserved thing he wants in life. Consequently, those who are poor and intelligent have to work that much harder than even the average middle class or average rich guy, its that unfairness that is an issue. No ur not supposed to penalize intelligence or drive, guys like shorttheworld worked real hard, but bro, even some poor and intelligent who work hard dont get where they want to be simply because they started poor. Those statistics are trash, if you haven't actually gone and seen the conditions some of these ppl in small town america, and metropolitan ghettos live in then you cant say shit. Its a self-defeating cycle, health care is a basic necessity, not a priviledge for the rich (costs are going up).

    You know what, people like you don't know what you're talking about. I worked in affordable multifamily apartment finance for 2 years. While I would never choose to live in Section 8 housing, the housing projects are just fine and are a far, far cry from actual poverty. In fact, one of the reasons I quit the affordable housing industry is because I got sick as hell of seeing Escalades parked in a resident's carport while I pulled up in my used 1998 Volvo that I paid for with my own labor. The only real povery I've ever observed was in the white mountain communities of eastern Kentucky. That's legitimate poverty.

  • Edmundo Braverman's picture

    We keep coming back to healthcare. I'll admit that it's a tough problem. But the fact is that anyone in an emergent situation can walk into any emergency room in the country and get treated without insurance or any realistic expectation of payment. I know this because it's the reason my insurance rates are so high.

    Moreover, a family accident policy can be purchased for roughly $50 a month that covers every member of the family in case of an accident. There is no underwriting on these policies, so there is no chance of being denied coverage for a pre-existing condition because only accidents are covered. The fact is that the vast majority of hospital visits are caused by accidents and not illness.

    The average hospital bill in America is $1,300. Of course, the number can be drastically higher under many circumstances, but $1,300 is the average. If $1,300 drives you into bankruptcy, I hate to break it to you but you were already there.

  • northeast1's picture

    There should be no income tax especially for non-millionaires. I propose a cap on individual and family net worth at say $500M. Anything over that has to be taxed IF THERE ARE GOING TO BE TAXES AT ALL. Personally I say no taxes but if there has to be taxes let those commie douchebags soros or buffett (who advocate higher taxes for the "lower rich") pay 90% of their wealth. No one needs tens of billions in net worth. Under my plan anyone could have a net worth of 500M TAX FREE, but anything over that would be taxed.

    The problem here is that the poor are not allowed to compete with the rich since the rich are above the law and buy anyone off (or have others threatened) who regulates them. The poor are regulated but the rich billionaires are unofficially allowed to do anything they want to get richer and fuck society over. If the poor were allowed to compete, the profit margins would narrow and everyone would get a piece of the action.

  • TNA's picture

    What exactly are the poor going to compete with? A turnip picking contest? Being wealthy offers you more opportunities, that is about it. Rich still go to jail, get sick and die. Life is not fair, hate to break it to you.

  • physconomist's picture

    Id be interested in seeing a statistic that describes how many generation of poverty one has in their lineage. For myself, my grandfather (on one side of the family admittedly) grew up during the depression with little to nothing, digging clams for cents per bag. After Korea, and through the GI bill, he studied mathematics and eventually landed a job at IBM and stayed there until he retired. Now Im going to a competitive college, no loans to speak of and I am putting myself in a position to be in that rich group. It would be interesting to see if the poor only beget more poor on average or if you trace back some of the ancestors of these poor individuals do they come from money holding individuals that just couldn't compete. I mean how many people on this feed were 3 generations or less from poverty? If so the ability of these individuals to break through seems pretty plausible, and thus their incentive to compete should be large.

  • 16rl's picture

    Everything is relative guys... Compared to the world, nobody is poor in the USA ! Remember that more than 1Bn people live with less than 1.25 dollars a day. Crying because you have only 22K/year ? Give me a break.

    Yes, rent is more expensive in the states than in Somalia and yes food is more expensive in the states than in other under develloped countries. The point of my whining is the following: The problem is that people in G8 countries live all so well that they have the luxury of moaning because they only have 1 TV or only can affoard one dinner out per month. We need to realise that we are all VERY well off. Everything is relative, especially when we talk about poverty/wealth.

    (Source: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/MDG%20Report...)

    To me, it you have 5 of the following items or more, you are not really poor, you are just spending your cash on useless crap.

    * 46% of poor households own their own home and it is a 3-bdrm, 1.5 bath with a garage and porch/patio
    * 80% have air conditioning
    * 66% have more than 2 rooms per occupant
    * 75% own a car; 31% own 2 or more
    * 97% have color TV; more than 50% have 2 or more color TVs
    * 78% have a VCR or DVD; 62% have cable or satellite
    * 89% have a microwave; more than 50% have a stereo; more than 33% have an automatic dishwasher

  • In reply to Virginia Tech 4ever
    shorttheworld's picture

    Virginia Tech 4ever:
    BigBucks:
    we are supposed to help those who aren't as intelligent or as driven as you simply because if someone was undriven and unintelligent and his father happened to be the opposite and rich he would get every undeserved thing he wants in life. Consequently, those who are poor and intelligent have to work that much harder than even the average middle class or average rich guy, its that unfairness that is an issue. No ur not supposed to penalize intelligence or drive, guys like shorttheworld worked real hard, but bro, even some poor and intelligent who work hard dont get where they want to be simply because they started poor. Those statistics are trash, if you haven't actually gone and seen the conditions some of these ppl in small town america, and metropolitan ghettos live in then you cant say shit. Its a self-defeating cycle, health care is a basic necessity, not a priviledge for the rich (costs are going up).

    You know what, people like you don't know what you're talking about. I worked in affordable multifamily apartment finance for 2 years. While I would never choose to live in Section 8 housing, the housing projects are just fine and are a far, far cry from actual poverty. In fact, one of the reasons I quit the affordable housing industry is because I got sick as hell of seeing Escalades parked in a resident's carport while I pulled up in my used 1998 Volvo that I paid for with my own labor. The only real povery I've ever observed was in the white mountain communities of eastern Kentucky. That's legitimate poverty.

    truth. see this a lot in the projects in nyc

    another better scam is to have the baby daddy and mom never get married and the baby daddy has seperate income but they live together in the housing projects indefinitely.

  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    I think success in life really comes down to attitude and parenting. People who work for a living train their children to want to do the same- to be independent and not need the government. Fifty years ago, people who did not work for a living or could not support themselves independently would have put their newborn children up for adoption- and they would have been taken into a family where the parents worked for a living and learned the same attitudes. Today, the government encourages them to remain as parents.

    I'm not saying this is a good thing or a bad thing, but the impact from a macroeconomic perspective is that some of today's workers are learning different attitudes about entitlements and independence than they were 50-60 years ago.

  • In reply to Virginia Tech 4ever
    BigBucks's picture

    Virginia Tech 4ever:
    BigBucks:
    we are supposed to help those who aren't as intelligent or as driven as you simply because if someone was undriven and unintelligent and his father happened to be the opposite and rich he would get every undeserved thing he wants in life. Consequently, those who are poor and intelligent have to work that much harder than even the average middle class or average rich guy, its that unfairness that is an issue. No ur not supposed to penalize intelligence or drive, guys like shorttheworld worked real hard, but bro, even some poor and intelligent who work hard dont get where they want to be simply because they started poor. Those statistics are trash, if you haven't actually gone and seen the conditions some of these ppl in small town america, and metropolitan ghettos live in then you cant say shit. Its a self-defeating cycle, health care is a basic necessity, not a priviledge for the rich (costs are going up).

    You know what, people like you don't know what you're talking about. I worked in affordable multifamily apartment finance for 2 years. While I would never choose to live in Section 8 housing, the housing projects are just fine and are a far, far cry from actual poverty. In fact, one of the reasons I quit the affordable housing industry is because I got sick as hell of seeing Escalades parked in a resident's carport while I pulled up in my used 1998 Volvo that I paid for with my own labor. The only real povery I've ever observed was in the white mountain communities of eastern Kentucky. That's legitimate poverty.

    first you say I dont know what im talking about, then you go on to attack a single component of my overall statement, thats smart. Then you go on to describe your experiences in who knows where, im from the south and I can tell you from first-hand that the 3rd Ward in Houston and the town I go to school in now, a small one, is very very shitty. You move on to act like poor ppl buying Escalades is a common occurence, and it applies to a majority (or even a large minority) which is obviously false. Then you end with bringing race into the argument (white mountain communities) like that fuckin matters whether they are white/black/brown/ or blue, you could have easily made the same statement without including any race. Housing projects are not only subpar due to the actual physical housing, its subpar due to the community surrounding you. If you have any objection to anything else I said, please voice them and differ with some logic next time, not crap about escalades.

    Illini, are you suggesting forced adoption?

    p.s. coming from Nigeria I probably know poverty better than anyone here, and I agree everything is relative, but we are comparing U.S. to U.S. here so dont bring third world countries into the argument. Also to behave like the "scammers" and "escalade buyers" are the norm is a flawed premise at best, because a certain % are taking advantage of the system does that mean we should abandon the % that actually needs help?

  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    Ok, we can go on and on and on about this. Bottom line is that being poor in this country is tough. But the question is whether it's good for our government to make poverty easier in this country- and if it is good, what are the best ways to make it easier if we're keeping the long-term national interests in mind.

    Illini, are you suggesting forced adoption?

    No. Not at all. I am just noting that government policies over the past fifty years have caused fewer adoptions to happen, and adoptions are a very beautiful thing- as beautiful as a parent being able to raise their biological children. If anything, I am suggesting that we may want to consider the benefits of the system we had 50 years ago where parents who could not afford to raise their children generally chose to put them up for adoption rather than having the federal government step in and hand non-working parents more money when they decide to raise another child and make everything ok. There are benefits and costs of each system, and I think it's important to keep both in mind.

    I think we need to be just as interested in giving people a good attitude about work and independence as we are in providing a social safety net. In any case, this letter from Abe Lincoln sums up some of my perspective on how the government- and good parents- can help people in a bind:
    http://www.familytales.org/dbDisplay.php?id=ltr_ab...

  • In reply to BigBucks
    Virginia Tech 4ever's picture

    BigBucks:
    Virginia Tech 4ever:
    BigBucks:
    we are supposed to help those who aren't as intelligent or as driven as you simply because if someone was undriven and unintelligent and his father happened to be the opposite and rich he would get every undeserved thing he wants in life. Consequently, those who are poor and intelligent have to work that much harder than even the average middle class or average rich guy, its that unfairness that is an issue. No ur not supposed to penalize intelligence or drive, guys like shorttheworld worked real hard, but bro, even some poor and intelligent who work hard dont get where they want to be simply because they started poor. Those statistics are trash, if you haven't actually gone and seen the conditions some of these ppl in small town america, and metropolitan ghettos live in then you cant say shit. Its a self-defeating cycle, health care is a basic necessity, not a priviledge for the rich (costs are going up).

    You know what, people like you don't know what you're talking about. I worked in affordable multifamily apartment finance for 2 years. While I would never choose to live in Section 8 housing, the housing projects are just fine and are a far, far cry from actual poverty. In fact, one of the reasons I quit the affordable housing industry is because I got sick as hell of seeing Escalades parked in a resident's carport while I pulled up in my used 1998 Volvo that I paid for with my own labor. The only real povery I've ever observed was in the white mountain communities of eastern Kentucky. That's legitimate poverty.

    first you say I dont know what im talking about, then you go on to attack a single component of my overall statement, thats smart. Then you go on to describe your experiences in who knows where, im from the south and I can tell you from first-hand that the 3rd Ward in Houston and the town I go to school in now, a small one, is very very shitty. You move on to act like poor ppl buying Escalades is a common occurence, and it applies to a majority (or even a large minority) which is obviously false. Then you end with bringing race into the argument (white mountain communities) like that fuckin matters whether they are white/black/brown/ or blue, you could have easily made the same statement without including any race. Housing projects are not only subpar due to the actual physical housing, its subpar due to the community surrounding you. If you have any objection to anything else I said, please voice them and differ with some logic next time, not crap about escalades.

    Illini, are you suggesting forced adoption?

    p.s. coming from Nigeria I probably know poverty better than anyone here, and I agree everything is relative, but we are comparing U.S. to U.S. here so dont bring third world countries into the argument. Also to behave like the "scammers" and "escalade buyers" are the norm is a flawed premise at best, because a certain % are taking advantage of the system does that mean we should abandon the % that actually needs help?

    Ok, let me preface this response by saying I shouldn't even respond to you because you clearly have the intelligene of an ape, but nevertheless, here we go:

    I didn't respond to a portion of your post because it's rambling and incoherent. You said those statistics are "trash" regarding the material possessions the poor have. Are you serious? How is it trash that nearly half of America's so-called poor own their own homes? How is it trash that the vast majority of the "poor" have goods like microwaves, color TVs, radios, cable, etc., goods that basically comprise the fundamental standard of American life? Like a typical liberal, if you say it's so then it must be, the facts be damned.

    And, genius, I've traveled to most states and to most large cities in the United States for business in affordable and other real estate finance, and yes, it is a near-universal observation, from Detriot to Atlanta, to see Section 8 and other LIHTC tenants with luxury cars. Abuse of the system happens from sea to shining sea.

  • Therightcoast's picture

    What do people mean by give back to society?

    When a person gets "rich" he provided society a product or service that was in need. It's not a zero-sum game, both parties benefited from the transaction.

  • BrownyAce89's picture

    The welfare system was designed for people to get support, give them some money, and lift themselves out of poverty. Now we have people who are indefinitely on welfare and a system that gives incentive to pop out more babies. The other day I heard a pregnant lady getting all giddy about all the money she will get from welfare for bringing another wonderful child (definitely not her first or second) into this world.

    Bottom line is government is providing incentive for the poor to be poor and these people are too ignorant or lazy to do anything about it. Instead of welfare, we ought to adopt a system of giving direct cash to EVERYONE, such as the one proposed by Mike Huckabee. Essentially this means the government ends ALL entitlement programs and deposits $10,000 in EVERYONE's bank account each year. The money can be used to pay for rent, buy groceries, or whatever other necessities one might need. And best of all, it doesn't disincentivize (?) working for your keep. My 2 cents...

  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    Hi everyone. Maybe it's time for us to let the more heated aspects of this argument go before we post something we wind up later regretting.

    Everyone take a deep breath, relax. It's just a silly post on the internet. If someone insults you, that just shows their general level of intelligence/maturity to other smart folks. It's ok to walk away without returning the insult. I've gotten into too many arguments I've later regretted this way- just let it go.

  • TNA's picture

    Plain fact is that poverty in America is living in luxury everywhere else.

    Plain fact is that at one point just about all of us had poor descendants.

    Plain fact is that we offer countless programs to help the poor, both government sponsored and through private charity.

    There is always the 1st generation to go to college, the first generation to break out of poverty, the first XYZ.

    Long story short, I am don't give a shit. How about everyone stop talking about increasing hand outs and get off your lazy ass and volunteer as a mentor for these kids. How about you help clean up a community, be a big brother or sister, donate money to a college fund that gives under privileged kids a scholarship, etc. The government is not the answer to everything.

    Oh, one more thing, the "projects" were low income housing built by the govt to help these people. Unfortunately instead of taking this hand out and bettering themselves the projects are now trashed and crime ridden.

    Why is it that this nation was built on the backs of poor, illiterate and un educated immigrants whose offspring has managed to become college educated and hard working yet we have generations of people who simply give up. Maybe it is because of all the hand outs.

    You want to change the world, donate here:
    http://www.projectprevention.org/

  • BigBucks's picture

    Yes saying I have the intelligence of an Ape really supports your argument, no one said abuse of the system doesn't happen but how PREVALENT is it?... Thanks for finally clarifying you've been around the union, was I supposed to assume that?.. please dont attack me without clarifying your stance, and until you can say abuse of the system is even moderately prevalent then you really have no leg to stand on, and I dont need to call you an ape to understand that. As for me "rambling" I was referring to difference in opportunity and if you can't understand that from what I posted then I think you need to reassess your own intelligence. Thanks.

    "Plain fact is that poverty in America is living in luxury everywhere else. "

    If you're going to compare poverty in America to elsewhere, then also compare affluence.

    Also Anthony, I never said to increase these entitlement programs, but we definitely shouldn't REDUCE them unless its imperative to the survival of the overall U.S. economy.

  • In reply to BrownyAce89
    Edmundo Braverman's picture

    BrownyAce89:
    Instead of welfare, we ought to adopt a system of giving direct cash to EVERYONE, such as the one proposed by Mike Huckabee. Essentially this means the government ends ALL entitlement programs and deposits $10,000 in EVERYONE's bank account each year. The money can be used to pay for rent, buy groceries, or whatever other necessities one might need. And best of all, it doesn't disincentivize (?) working for your keep. My 2 cents...

    LMAO!

    That has to be the dumbest, and at the same time most intriguing, idea I've ever heard. Is Huckabee really pushing that idea? That's awesome. I'd be 100% behind its implementation for its entertainment value alone. Can you imagine the chaos that would cause in the projects? lol

    What's the over/under on how fast that $10,000 each would change hands from the poor to the rich? I'm thinking 18 hours.

    Actually, I think Dave Chapelle did a bit about that very thing.

  • In reply to Edmundo Braverman
    BigBucks's picture

    Edmundo Braverman:

    Actually, I think Dave Chapelle did a bit about that very thing.

    He did, and it was hilarious.

  • shorttheworld's picture

    i concur with anthony regarding the need for people to volunteer time and effort: its not about just pure money, donating your time is what makes a huge difference. sadly a lot of people dont see that and instead just want to 'tax the others' and make others efforts translate into benefits for another group instead of their own efforts

    and if we are going to support the not well-to-do in america, why do we just stop there and not just eliminate the famine that plagues africa? where does one exactly draw the line and why--arent these people human beings as well?

  • TNA's picture

    @ Bucks - None of my comments were directed specifically at you, just speaking overall on this topic.

    I was the Junior Achievement chair for HSBC and I spent a lot of time in inner city schools speaking to, mentoring and helping under privileged youth. The issue is very near and dear to my heart, but I do not think throwing more money at it is the issue. We simply cannot force parents to do their jobs, kids to go to school, people to study. No amount of spending can make me study at night or idolize doctors instead of rappers.

  • In reply to shorttheworld
    BigBucks's picture

    shorttheworld:

    and if we are going to support the not well-to-do in america, why do we just stop there and not just eliminate the famine that plagues africa? where does one exactly draw the line and why--arent these people human beings as well?

    they are, thats why if I ever get really rich, one of my main goals is to open hospitals and help patch up the archaic healthcare system available to those not rich in Nigeria.

  • TheBigCheese's picture

    I think the advocacy for helping those less fortunate is the correct ideal, however, I think there is a disconnect in the way that it is implement through government programs and taxes. Those who are fortunate should be willing to help others because, like the Warren qoute, they are nothing more than a product of their environment. I know that when I see a bum sitting on the street corner I always think, "What decision was it that made them be a failure in society (or life depending on who is judging)?" Was it a psycological disorder ... drugs ... poor financial decisions ... or something else? I guess all I'm saying is that as long as you are not one of those who is homeless, or living in horrible conditions, or has a major mental disease, you have to thank your lucky stars that for whatever reason your genetics were far superior and you were blessed with a high level of intelligence, thus giving you the capacity to succeed in life. So why not give a little back if you have been so fortunate?

    As for the drug dealers and the people who milk the system, for those people I have no respect. There should be no reason why your wearing a Gucci outfit, driving a luxury car, and using food stamps at the grocery store. But that is the society we live in today and some people will rather spend their time trying to figure out ways not to work even if it they have to work harder to get around the system to do it.

  • TNA's picture

    I think a large amount of homeless are suffering from mental illness or substance abuse.

  • In reply to TNA
    Midas Mulligan Magoo's picture

    Anthony .:
    I think a large amount of homeless are suffering from mental illness or substance abuse.

    True in size, but not necessarily in scope. As a teen I volunteered quite a bit and the things I saw and heard were ridiculous. I can recount no less than 5 guys who probably had as much natural intellect (if not more) than the typical WSO user, who loved their lifestyle. To illustrate the point, on a freezing NYC January night I offered this guy soup and a brand new unused pair of boots. His response..."is it New England Clam Choweder?" and " I'll only take them if they're Timberlands". Not that the guy was wearing Armani, but he could've passed for any of hundreds of thousands of people in the city at that time. "Why work when I have kids like you?".

    That's what this guy told me. That experience and a multitude of others which I won't go into, have shaved my sympathies for the "poor and down on their luck" to barely more than a sliver.

  • In reply to BigBucks
    Virginia Tech 4ever's picture

    BigBucks:
    Yes saying I have the intelligence of an Ape really supports your argument, no one said abuse of the system doesn't happen but how PREVALENT is it?... Thanks for finally clarifying you've been around the union, was I supposed to assume that?.. .

    You're supposed to shut the f*ck up and listen to people who know what they're talking about regarding AMERICAN poverty.

  • EngPhD's picture

    I think most of the major points on the topic have already been made and I hesitate to step foot in such an emotionally-charged issue. Let me just point out that welfare benefits are at their lowest level in history (report from 2008).
    http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/indicators08/tanf2.gif

    And payouts are at a relatively low level (predates recession, however)
    http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/indicators08/tanf1.gif

    Looking at the data in the report, the profile of the average welfare recipient is:

    1) A single mother with one child
    2) Not in public housing, but receives food stamps
    3) Unemployed (not "not in labor force")

    I don't have a broader point on this. I just enjoy looking through data. I think it is far more useful to use resources like this rather than rely on anecdotal evidence.
    http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/indicators08/apa.shtml

  • In reply to TNA
    happypantsmcgee's picture

    Anthony .:
    I think a large amount of homeless are suffering from mental illness or substance abuse.

    I did some work in the advocacy arena throughout college and you are correct, the majority due suffer from one, if not both of the things you mentioned.

    There are two ways to look at it though. The gut reaction is to say, yea they're homeless because they continue to do crack heroin etc. Which is largely the case. But in some cases, they have substance abuse issues due to their mental illness, in other words, they self medicate.

    That being said, there are definitely issues like what Midas mentioned. There was a guy that "had suicidal thoughts" and was sent to a state funded psyche ward. Once he was rehabilitated he was placed in a free group home. When he got there, he decided he didn't like it so he called 911 saying he wanted to hurt himself and was standing in the door with bags packed when the ambulance got there, knowing full well he would return to the same free, to him, state run facility, which he preferred to the group home due to the quality of the food. I am not making this up. This process repeated itself 4 TIMES. These are the issues that need to be addressed. What happened to beggars can't be choosers?

    If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

  • BigBucks's picture
  • Virginia Tech 4ever's picture

    EDIT: fine, F it.

  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    Ok, are we done with the trash talking?

    IT'S JUST A STUPID POST ON A STUPID FORUM.

    Go grab a beer (or go to a Midweek church service, as the case may be) and get on with your life.

  • In reply to Therightcoast
    Mr. Hansen's picture

    Therightcoast:
    What do people mean by give back to society?

    When a person gets "rich" he provided society a product or service that was in need. It's not a zero-sum game, both parties benefited from the transaction.

    You pretty much answered your own question.

  • BigBucks's picture

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  • shorttheworld's picture
  • In reply to Virginia Tech 4ever
    Argonaut's picture

    More is good, all is better

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