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Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income

  1. paradigmsearch profile image86
    paradigmsearchposted 5 years ago

    "WASHINGTON (AP) -- Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

    The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families."

    More...

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/census-sh … 40568.html

    1. AshtonFirefly profile image81
      AshtonFireflyposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      I guess that depends on one's criteria for "low income." Some people who fall under the category of "low income" seem to do pretty well.
      But I'm no economist, so...

      1. Aficionada profile image94
        Aficionadaposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        Precisely.smile

      2. Ralph Deeds profile image70
        Ralph Deedsposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        No, your're not.

        1. Evan G Rogers profile image83
          Evan G Rogersposted 5 years ago in reply to this

          IT doesn't matter if she's an economist or not, her argument is correct.

          The people with the Macro Ph.D's can't tell the difference between "Supply" and "Demand"..

          "Twaaaa, I have a nobel prize, twa, and GDP measures Production, twa...  Production is supply, twaaa, and to calculate production we must add together how much people BUY, which is demand... twaaaa..."

          ("Twa" should be read like a rich arrogant jerk would say it)

          Poverty is COMPLETELY relative, and if we even CONTINUE to define it for legislative purposes, we'll just find ourselves in a mess as each new group of politicians strives for more votes by raising poverty by 1% each year.

          "Crap", says Mitt Romney, "I need just 3,000 more votes.... I know! I'll hand out more benefits to people. But who? The needy? ... no, I already have their votes... I KNOW! The 'just-above-the-current-definition-of-poverty-level'! I'll just change the poverty line by 2%, and put my picture on their new hand outs! BOOM! there we go!"

          Deeds! You HAVE to see how dangerous this is! Letting the government define poverty leads to political games with people's futures.

          1. Pcunix profile image89
            Pcunixposted 5 years ago in reply to this

            Once again, I need to remind you that in this country, WE are the government.  Our reps may be corrupted by the influence of money, but the system gives us the power to lobby them.

            When it comes to defining poverty, those reps usually rely on expert studies.  Should they call you instead?  Who is it YOU want to decide who gets help and when?

            Some local yokel who doesn't like blacks, gays, atheists or Libertarians?  Or should the decision be a matter of law and policy - which means, dear Evan, GOVERNMENT.

            1. Evan G Rogers profile image83
              Evan G Rogersposted 5 years ago in reply to this

              WE are the government?

              It didn't sound that way in the "I told you he would sign it" forum!!

              It sounds more to me like our politicians are scumbags who don't care about what we want, and they just want bribes from lobbyists.

              ... that sounds very similar to what you've been saying, actually...

              So which is it? Are our politicians Corrupt? or are they actually working for us?

              1. Pcunix profile image89
                Pcunixposted 5 years ago in reply to this

                Both.

                The world is never simple, Evan.

                1. Evan G Rogers profile image83
                  Evan G Rogersposted 5 years ago in reply to this

                  Nonsense.

    2. Josak profile image59
      Josakposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Hrdly surprising the US economic model is flawed, and the pure free market capitalism it pushes has got it in quite a jam and left it with no solid escape route, most countries have a solid manufacturing, industrial, and resource base, The US lacks thisdue to an unmoderated short term capitalist growth plan and now its stuck in a rut.

      1. Ralph Deeds profile image70
        Ralph Deedsposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        Yep.

        1. Evan G Rogers profile image83
          Evan G Rogersposted 5 years ago in reply to this

          Oh, c'mon, Ralph. Even though you're a Keynesian, you HAVE to admit that the US does NOT have a free market.

          In fact, to BE a Keynesian, you have to completely abandon the free-market. Keynse's central point was that the free-market fails (it doesn't) and that the government needs to increase spending (which it doesn't).

      2. Evan G Rogers profile image83
        Evan G Rogersposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        PURE FREE MARKET CAPITALISM!?!?!

        I'm going to CHOKE!! How can the words "US" and "Free market" be in the same sentence without the words "does not have a" in between them!?

  2. Cagsil profile image60
    Cagsilposted 5 years ago

    I'm not shocked.

    1. paradigmsearch profile image86
      paradigmsearchposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      I'm going to have to find a cute hubber who would like a room mate.

      1. Cagsil profile image60
        Cagsilposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        Or find a more affordable place to reside. hmm

      2. AshtonFirefly profile image81
        AshtonFireflyposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        yikes

        1. paradigmsearch profile image86
          paradigmsearchposted 5 years ago in reply to this

          Hmmm... Missouri isn't that far...

          1. AshtonFirefly profile image81
            AshtonFireflyposted 5 years ago in reply to this

            yikes

            1. Ralph Deeds profile image70
              Ralph Deedsposted 5 years ago in reply to this

              Try Mississipi or Texas. You might fit in quite well there.

  3. prettydarkhorse profile image64
    prettydarkhorseposted 5 years ago

    I think they set the poverty threshold for a family of four in the amount of $22,314.

    Para, I will also add this info. Thanks...


    http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases … 1-157.html

    1. brittanytodd profile image90
      brittanytoddposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      I wrote a hub about class inequalities in the US and the problem with "low income" calculations is that it hasn't changed in years!  Even with inflation and the instable value on the US dollar, many are considered to be below the poverty line.

      1. prettydarkhorse profile image64
        prettydarkhorseposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        thank you Brittany....

        1. brittanytodd profile image90
          brittanytoddposted 5 years ago in reply to this

          You're welcome.... smile

    2. Evan G Rogers profile image83
      Evan G Rogersposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      When I run for Congress, I'm going to set the poverty level at $50k. That way I get more votes.

  4. Pcunix profile image89
    Pcunixposted 5 years ago

    The lower the income, the worse job loss is too.  With limited or no assets to draw from, loss of employment becomes a catastrophe rather than a matter of belt tightening. 

    But if you believe the ugly lies of the Right, these people can just run down to the local welfare office and have wealth showered upon them.  That's entirely a figment of RightWinger imagination, but you'll see it stated as fact all over the internet.

    For those who want the truth, your State probably has on-line pages where you can check eligibility and see actual benefits.  The reality you'll find there is not what the Right wants you to believe.

  5. Evan G Rogers profile image83
    Evan G Rogersposted 5 years ago

    Define poor using absolute terms.

    What's that? It's impossible.

    OK.

    1. Pcunix profile image89
      Pcunixposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Poor is always relative.  That doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

      1. Evan G Rogers profile image83
        Evan G Rogersposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        You're right, it exists, but it's impossible to define. Thus making laws or judgements based off of it is nothing short of foolishness.

        There is one person to who 100% of world's population else is poor.

        There is one person to who 100% of the world's population is rich.

        1. Pcunix profile image89
          Pcunixposted 5 years ago in reply to this

          Yeah, that's great.  So we should just ignore it because it's hard to define?

          Another wonderful Libertarian philosophy, I assume.

          Let's trash all the welfare programs because "poor" is relative! 

          Words fail me.. Or more accurately, would get me banned.

          1. Josak profile image59
            Josakposted 5 years ago in reply to this

            Pcunix is right just because its hard to define doesent mean it should be ignored and we definitely do need laws and measures to help combat it, everything is relative the issue is finding a middle ground.

          2. Evan G Rogers profile image83
            Evan G Rogersposted 5 years ago in reply to this

            stealing money is wrong, pcunix.

            1. John Holden profile image61
              John Holdenposted 5 years ago in reply to this

              Yes, I agree! Let the thieving one percenters keep their hands off our money.

              1. Evan G Rogers profile image83
                Evan G Rogersposted 5 years ago in reply to this

                They stole the money from the populace through government bailouts.

                Look at that! The government was wrong!

                1. John Holden profile image61
                  John Holdenposted 5 years ago in reply to this

                  Naive Evan, they stole it through predatory pricing and other such shenanigans without any help from governments.

                  1. John Holden profile image61
                    John Holdenposted 5 years ago in reply to this

                    Well that's not entirely true.They did infiltrate government and twist it to suit their ends but hat's hardly the fault of government, more the fault of the electorate who allowed it to happen.

                  2. Evan G Rogers profile image83
                    Evan G Rogersposted 5 years ago in reply to this

                    What does predatory pricing mean, again?

                    Pricing things low so that people will buy them?

                    ... ... ok....

    2. prettydarkhorse profile image64
      prettydarkhorseposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      it can't be define using absolute term, as it is a relative concept -- statistics and economics are not absolute. It can be used however as an indicator, better than nothing to gauge economic class.

  6. athena2011 profile image58
    athena2011posted 5 years ago

    Heard about this on the news this week and it sent shivers down my spine. That's really scary in the richest country in the world don't you think?

    1. Josak profile image59
      Josakposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      I am sorry and i dont want to sound rude but the US isnt the richest country in the world its not even in the top 10.

      1. Castlepaloma profile image25
        Castlepalomaposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        Country   GDP

        USA         14,666,000,000,000
        China       10,090,000,000,000
        Japan
        India
        Germany
        Russia
        UK
        Brazil
        France
        Italy

    2. rebekahELLE profile image91
      rebekahELLEposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      It is disturbing and most likely will not go away any time soon, if ever. At the same time, I am not sure how I feel about the increasing level of begging, and I'm not a right wing or a left wing or any wing. I'm a compassionate, giving, hard working human being. Government does play a part in how a country takes care of its poor, businesses need to keep jobs here and pay fair wages. People need to be willing to accept jobs with lower pay and become creative in ways to bring in income. There are beggars who make very decent money, from doing nothing more than begging or having others beg for them. Now there are online begging sites. I was raised to work and not ask for money. I don't know the answers; there are no easy ones. But to blame and see oneself as a victim is hardly the way to rise out of the heap.

  7. secularist10 profile image90
    secularist10posted 5 years ago

    This was a long time coming. Inequality has been rising for decades in the US. The definitions of "poverty" and "low income" used by the government are not perfect, but they are reasonable. And they do give a valuable picture of the socioeconomic situation in this country.

    Decades of flawed and inconsistent tax policy ranging from excessive taxation on some to too little on others; atrocious public education; narrow-minded small government-ism; incompetent economic management and others have brought us to this point.

    The question is whether the US can turn things around before a large majority of people are impoverished and opportunity-less. In other words, before the US officially becomes the largest developing country.

  8. Ralph Deeds profile image70
    Ralph Deedsposted 5 years ago

    Living by Default--American Airlines vs. the underwater mortgage homeowner--James Surowiecki in the New Yorker.

    We normally say that a company “went bankrupt,” implying that it had no choice. But when, recently, American Airlines filed for bankruptcy, it did so deliberately. The airline had four billion dollars in the bank and could have kept paying its bills. But it has been losing money for a while, and its board decided that it was foolish to keep throwing good money after bad. Declaring bankruptcy will trim American’s debt load and allow it to break its union contracts, so that it can slim down and cut costs.

    American wasn’t stigmatized for the move. Instead, analysts hailed it as “very smart.” It is now generally accepted that when it’s economically irrational for a company to keep paying its debts it will try to renegotiate them or, failing that, default. For creditors, that’s just the price of business. But when it comes to another set of borrowers the norms are very different. The bursting of the housing bubble has left millions of homeowners across the country owing more than their homes are worth. In some areas, well over half of mortgages are underwater, many so deeply that people owe forty or fifty per cent more than the value of their homes. In other words, a good percentage of Americans are in much the same position as American Airlines: they can still pay their debts, but doing so is like setting a pile of money on fire every month.

    These people have no hope of ever making a return on their investment in their homes. So for many of them the rational solution would be a “strategic default”—walking away from the mortgage and letting the bank take the house. Yet the vast majority of underwater borrowers keep faithfully paying their mortgages; studies suggest that perhaps only a quarter of all foreclosures are strategic. Given how much housing prices have fallen, the question is why more people aren’t just walking away.

    Part of the answer is practical. Defaulting (even in so-called non-recourse states) is still a lot of trouble, and to most people it’s scary. In addition, homeowners are slow to recognize how much the value of their homes has dropped, and have inflated expectations of how much it will rise in the future. The biggest hurdle, though, is social: while companies get called “very smart” for restructuring their contracts, there’s a real stigma attached to defaulting on your mortgage. According to one study, eighty-one per cent of Americans think it’s immoral not to pay your mortgage when you can, and the idea of default is shaped by what Brent White, a law professor at the University of Arizona, calls a discourse of “shame, guilt, and fear.” When the housing bubble burst, the banking industry was terrified by the possibility that homeowners might walk away en masse, since that would have stuck lenders with large losses and a huge number of marked-down homes. So strategic default was portrayed as the act of dishonorable deadbeats. David Walker, of the Peterson Foundation, waxed nostalgic about debtors’ prisons, and John Courson, the head of the Mortgage Bankers Association, argued that defaulters were sending the wrong message “to their family and their kids and their friends.”

    Paying your debts is, as a rule, a good thing. But the double standard here is obvious and offensive. Homeowners are getting lambasted for doing what companies do on a regular basis. Walking away from real-estate obligations in particular is common in the corporate world, and real-estate developers are notorious for abandoning properties that no longer make economic sense. Sometimes the hypocrisy is staggering: last winter, the Mortgage Bankers Association—the very body whose president attacked defaulters for betraying their families and their communities—got its creditors to let it do a short sale of its headquarters, dumping it for thirty-four million dollars less than the value of the building’s mortgage.

    When it comes to debt, then, the corporate attitude is do as I say, not as I do. And, while homeowners are cautioned to think of more than the bottom line, banks, naturally, have done business in coldly rational terms. They could have helped keep people in their homes by writing down mortgages (the equivalent of the restructuring that American Airlines’ debt holders will now be confronting). And there are plenty of useful ideas out there for how banks could do this without taxpayer subsidies and without rewarding the irresponsible. For instance, Eric Posner and Luigi Zingales, of the University of Chicago, suggest that, in exchange for writing down mortgages in hard-hit areas, lenders would take an ownership stake in a house, getting a percentage of the capital gain when it was eventually sold. Lenders, though, have avoided such schemes and haven’t done mortgage modifications on any meaningful scale. It’s their right to act in their own interest, but it makes it awfully hard to take seriously complaints about homeowners’ lack of social responsibility.

    Of course, many borrowers made bad decisions and acted irresponsibly. But so did lenders—by handing out too much money and not requiring sensible down payments. So far, banks have been partially insulated from the consequences of those bad decisions, because Americans have been so obliging about paying off overinflated mortgages. Strategic defaults would help distribute the pain more evenly and, if they became more common, would force lenders to be more responsible in the future. It’s also possible that a wave of strategic defaults—a De-Occupy Your House movement—would get banks to take mortgage modification more seriously, which would be all for the better. The truth is that banks have been relying on homeowners to do the right thing. It might be time for homeowners to do the smart thing instead. ♦

    ILLUSTRATION: Christoph Niemann

    Read more http://www.newyorker.com/talk/financial … z1gudqNn25


    http://www.newyorker.com/talk/financial … surowiecki

  9. rebekahELLE profile image91
    rebekahELLEposted 5 years ago

    Ralph, thanks for the excellent link. I especially like the last line.
    Strategic default may be the smartest option in some situations.
    The HARP/HAMP refinancing/loan modification processes are exceedingly difficult to navigate through. Many homeowners simply give up. I read recently that Fannie Mae has initiated some changes to their HARP program, enabling more borrowers to qualify. Homeowners need to educate themselves with all of the options and be assertive in their endeavors.

    1. Castlepaloma profile image25
      Castlepalomaposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      USA has no money for new program ,  Like Rome the USA imperialist empire it is falling, we find lots of Americans running across the border to look for jobs in Canada

      Why

      For the 1% who has most of the control,  much of the 99% wish they were the 1%. Please, don't spent money you don't have because the American dream is now a myth or your not in the special 1% club.

  10. profile image0
    madmilkerposted 5 years ago

    America was $75 million in debt in 1791...five years before George Washington wrote his Farewell Address.

    It ain't like the government has been taking dollars from We the People just in the past fifty years....

  11. jcales profile image72
    jcalesposted 5 years ago

    New poverty guidelines can make it whatever the govt wants.

    why don't they use the proper figures for unemployment.

    Most likely just GOP propaganda.

  12. Greekgeek profile image96
    Greekgeekposted 5 years ago

    Other painful fact right now:

    In America, there is 1 job opening for every 4 people actually looking for a job.

    There's always job competition, but the ratio usually isn't that bad. By simple arithmetic, that means that there's no way all the people who have been laid off during the recession can get jobs, no matter how qualified and how diligent they are in trying to get a job.

    There's another more insidious problem. When well-qualified, well-trained people with expert skills and acquired knowledge get laid off, they represent a loss of human capital, resources and investment. It may be a college degrees. It may be on-the-job training. If they are forced to take another, lesser job, that human capital is lost and can't be regained.

    For example, I've got a few degrees in the humanities. When I was a graduate student instructor, I had a packed classroom because students of other instructors would cut their sessions to attend mine (according to the other TAs, anyway). After I left grad school, I saw how bad the teaching job market was, and decided I just couldn't face it. We get more waves of teaching layoffs several times a year. Even if I get a job, it'll only be for a semester or year at most, then it's back to another job search. Therefore, I've been trying to earn a living online instead. I'm making less than minimum wage, so I spend less, and my job doesn't use my skillset. Students don't get the benefit of my years of training and preparation to teach.

    For another less egotistical example, my next door neighbor was a programmer who worked his way up to middle management in a high-tech firm, and lost his job to downsizing. After many months, he's taken a secretarial job in a real estate agency with a fraction of his former salary.  Even if he works his way back up the ladder, his significant skills will not be utilized.

    Multiply that by the millions of people out of work, and you will see a sort of "brain drain" and loss of human capital in this country which new jobs can't entirely offset. Additionally, since laid-off workers take new jobs with significantly lower salaries, the economy recovers slowly because people still don't have money to spend (and are probably paying off all the debts they accrued while laid off.)

    1. Evan G Rogers profile image83
      Evan G Rogersposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      The other fact that everyone is ignoring is that, during economic busts, prices go down.

      But they haven't been because we've quintupled our money supply in under 5 years.

      When prices go down, the money that people stored up can last longer, and can sustain people through hardships until new jobs open up.

      Also, when I go shopping, I see "help wanted" signs everywhere. This "there are no jobs" nonsense is just that: nonsense. It's just that people are holding out for jobs that pay more.

      If prices were going down, then lower paying jobs wouldn't be as unattractive.

      Anyway - random bit of economic knowledge that shows that rampant inflation is coming.

 
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