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Myths & Stereotypes about Poverty in the U.S.

Updated on August 20, 2008

Did you know that poverty is a serious, real issue in our society?

I’m not surprised if you didn’t know that because we have been silent about this problem for too long. However, there are a lot of myths and stereotypes about the poor people in this country that need to be debunked before any changes can be made.

It isn’t easy to let go of a lot of beliefs you already have about those living in poverty—mainly because these beliefs are constantly reinforced by the media. Another reason it is difficult is because those of us who aren’t in poverty, and didn’t grow up in poverty, see the world in a completely different way than those living in poverty do.

It is so easy for us to see how they can get out of poverty. It generally is easier to see the big picture when you are outside the box, looking in. But, try to imagine what it is like to be in the box, where the walls are not transparent—how easy would it be to see the larger view?

Imagine always worrying about your physiological survival.

Myth: Poverty is a minority issue.

This doesn’t mean that minorities are not living in poverty; it means that it is not solely a minority issue. Let’s look at the statistics. In 2004, the overall poverty rate was 12.7%. 25% of Blacks, 22% of Hispanics, 8% of Asians, and 8.6% of Whites were categorized as poor. When you look at the total numbers, however, the majority of people in poverty in the U.S. are White. 47% of the people in poverty in the United States are White. In 2004, that was almost 17 million people.

Myth: Government assistance is sufficient and encourages independence.

However, it is almost impossible to get out of poverty by relying on government assistance alone. Again, let’s look at the numbers. In 2005, the average welfare check for one parent with two children was $478 a month. Did you know that 20 years ago, it was $408? The assistance available for those in needs barely allows them to cope with their conditions, let alone help them get to a place where they no longer need assistance.

Myth: Poor people have babies to get more welfare (the Welfare Mamas).

Having more children does not mean receiving more aid. The average welfare increase is around $60 per month for a baby. There are some states where you don’t qualify for any additional aid after the second child is born. Other states only allow slight increases (like $25) for a new child.

Myth: Social mobility is possible.

There is a prevalent idea and belief that people can get out of poverty by working hard. The numbers:

  • 2/3 of people living in poverty work an average of 1.7 jobs
  • 1 in 4 earns poverty level wages (less than $8.84 an hour)
  • 27% of working families have incomes below 200% of the poverty level

Myth: Education is available and accessible to everyone. Everyone knows that education is the way out of poverty.

Statistics show that less than 60% of the children eligible for Head Start programs were actually able to receive this service. For those of us who don’t live in poverty, it is easy to fit into school. However, for those living in poverty, it is difficult to fit in. When every moment of every day is devoted to finding ways to survive, school can be seen as one more thing keeping you from doing what you need to do to survive. If a single parents is desperately trying to make sure there is food on the table for dinner, money to pay rent, and working to keep the electricity from being turned off, this doesn’t mean the parent doesn’t support their child’s education. It simply means that making ends meet (or close enough to meeting as possible) takes the priority over making sure the child completes homework.

One of my co-workers told me a story a teacher told her. The teacher thought she was helping a little boy who lived in poverty by making him complete his homework during recesses, lunch, and breaks. However, she only created more of a divide between the poor child and the other children. He was, in fact, being punished for living in poverty. The teacher said she had no idea what she was actually teaching this boy until she began to learn more about poverty.

These ideas are truly the tips of the iceberg. I suggest that you further research poverty, the cycle of generational poverty, and the effects these poverty rates have on our society. It isn’t a case of us against them, but a case of what we can do to help those who truly need help.

The statistics and ideas in this article were taken from See Poverty...Be the Difference, by Dr. Donna M. Beegle. For more information, check out

What are your thoughts on these issues?

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    • profile image

      Jeff Strickland 

      5 years ago

      Poverty is one of many reasons for violence and crime in any country that is suffering it. It is not that easy to prevent or fix poverty issues because not all of us will always agree in sharing and giving. Since poverty corresponds to trouble and danger we should know how to protect ourselves and even our love ones; be their “sheepdog” against society’s “sheep wolves”. Violent criminals and Big government will always be around, better if you guys check The Bulletproof Mind.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      @ GreedoverPeople I agree with you 100% it is not just the poor abusing the system but the Rich also abuses the system. White collar business men have ways to cheating their system just as those who live off the system have their ways. There are always a few bad apples in every bunch so finger pointing is unnecessary.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      For those who complain that poor people "abuse the system", I would say that virtually every rich person abuses the system MUCH MUCH MUCH more. Why?

      Look at someone who earns $10 million a year, such as a news anchor or football coach. That is about 20 times the income of someone earning $50,000. Are you trying to argue that any person earning $10 million a year really works TWENTY TIMES HARDER than someone earning $50,000?

      And it only gets worse as you go up. Bill Gates is likely one of the hardest working billionaires, nobody can argue with that. But he makes over a MILLION times more than someone earning $50,000 makes. Is it even practically possible to work a million times harder than someone else??? If not, then don't complain about the have-nots "abusing the system" until you complain about EVERYONE else who abuses the system as well.

    • Natashalh profile image


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      I'm not saying that there aren't poor people or that poverty isn't a problem, but I disagree with many of your points. I know lots of people who take advantage of government assistance programs and there is a culture of abusing government assistance. Businesses help individuals cheat the welfare system. I know far more people to abuse the system than who really need it.

      I also know from personal experience how easy it is to get lazy when you essentially haven't job. There is no reason to go to the grocery store today because you could do it tomorrow or the next day or the next and it's all the same. I also know from personal experience that it is possible to dramatically increase your income, particularly on the Internet, with some dedication. People may think I'm making it up, but I used eBay, primarily, to make several thousand dollars at a time when I did not own a computer and did not have Internet at home. Since discovering it last fall, I have made about 50% of my income on mturk. I also know it's possible to live well enough 'below the poverty line.' I have not been above the poverty line, ever, since graduating from college, but I, like most 'poor' people own 1.5 flat screen TVs, an XBox360, etc.

      I don't think we need more government assistance, redistribution of wealth or any of those other schemes. We need a cultural readjustment and to focus current efforts on those who really need it, not just those who work the system as a living.

    • RebuildingJobs profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      Great report on Poverty! You tell it like it is and are very empathetic about the topic. Most of us don't realize just how lucky we are when it comes to financial security.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      We forget that many poor people are ashamed of their situation. We need to erase the stigma of being poor and stop judging those in poverty because, as I believe, luck is a big factor when it comes to socioeconomic status.

    • hemmingway459 profile image

      I.D. Evans 

      8 years ago from Rapid City, SD

      I agree with you, Suzanne. Maybe this is not what you had in mind, but socialism is basically the only way to eradicate poverty in the United States and the world. By the ways of socialism, we would have a reasonable work day with benefits, universal health care, universal suffrage, our needs (food, housing, clothing, etc.) will no longer be commodities, no need for marching out to war, we can save our resources and planet, and free education for all. That is the ONLY way to eliminate the social rich-and-poor gap.

      Before you immediately go ahead and contradict my statement and criticize me destructively, let me point out that the Soviet Union was not socialist (or communist); Stalin, and his ilk afterwards, basically restored the tsarist Russian regime that the people wanted to get rid of. Stalin, in recent evidence, was also a friend of Koch Industries, which supplied the Soviet Union with oil. So you see, Stalin was primarily what Lenin secretly called "The traitor to socialism." Tell this to your friends after you learn some new evidence. China, North Korea, and Cuba are also capitalist-friendly, despite using "socialism" or "communism" in their rhetoric (it doesn't really mean the system's being applied. And socialism is NOT utopian. Actually no person or animal for that matter is perfect. Our human nature can be wrestled with at times. However, socialism is both more economically and socially democratic than capitalism. There is more cooperation than competition.

      Thus, socialism is the ONLY way out. By continuing the current system as it is, starvation, disease, and crime will keep increasing, and our resources will keep depleting until it almost becomes a doomsday era. I hope you guys can keep this in mind.

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 

      8 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      It's pretty simple really - how is anyone meant to feel good if they can't afford the basics like food, water, shelter etc. Then, to see ENTIRE CITIES of rich people who can afford it and won't share - is it any wonder they get angry? They get angry about it for so long that it causes mental issues. It would be better if they let the anger out by taking it out on those greedy people who refuse to share. Basically poverty can be completely eradicated with the removal of greed and the sharing of all resources equally - this does not happen within capitalism. By the way, parenthood is NOT a privilege, it is a right. Why else were our bodies designed for? Next we'll be told it is a privilege to breathe.....

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      8 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Good article! However, I shall play the contrarian on this. Yes, there is poverty in the United States. However, many people are in poverty because of their conditioning. Many poor people have children and they cannot afford them. My motto is that if a person is impoverished, they should not have children. Children cost money to feed, clothe, and educate. Many poor people do not take this into consideration. Many just view children as their "right". No, it is not. Parenthood is a privilege, not a human right.

      Poor people view betterment as an anathema. They are totally passive regarding their life situation. They believe that the "powers to be" and/or "the man" is at fault for their impoverishment. Wrong, again. There are many self-improvement and educational programs for the poor. Again, the poor do not wish to participate in these progams.

      Tn my opinion, the poor expect the government to rescue them instead of using their initiative to improve themselves educationally and economically. There is also the "culture of poverty" i.e. that the poor have a present-thinking consciousness and refuse to think about future consequences and plan for their future.

      Also there is marked anti-intellectualism amongst the poor. The poor often decry education and intellectual activities as wasteful and superfluous. The poor indoctrinate their children regarding this. However, what the poor do not realize that without education and marketable skills they will always remain in poverty.

      What the poor do not need is more government programs to get them out of poverty! They need to take responsibility for themselves and become more proactive in their lives! Amen!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      you remind me of myself when i write.

      nice work. I hope too see more

    • nglasgow3 profile image


      9 years ago from Chicago, IL

      maslows triangle?

    • LondonGirl profile image


      10 years ago from London

      Social mobility in the UK has been very good for a long time now.

      The class system here has been flexible for a long time. And after the Second World War, with the massive expansion in higher education, and free tuition and grants for living costs, it increased.

      So you get people like my Dad - born in a working class family in Liverpool, went to a Grammar school, and university, and is now Queen's Counsel. And he wasn't a rare exception, either.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      oh i´m sorry for the mistakes. My english must be refreshed

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      i read in the last days many about poverty in the usa (i´m from germany whre the gap also is rising, but her the welfare system still rescues the social situation), and i think that many americans now realize in their first time, in which poverty some of neighbours and many people in hidden neighbourhoods in trailerparks or rund down innercities live. Therefore i think, that the media and the public in general doens´t care enough about the high poverty in many rural areas in the usa. In the USA there is a lack of public bus and trainservice, so people are dependent to their car. Now with the energy crises even in the usa you realize how hard also is the live in some abandoed roads in this big country. There are filled homes for homeless people and unbeleavabal now tent cities are spreading in the suburbs of some towns. Most of the poor even will have a home with three or four rooms, but without two or three jobs it´s very hardfor them to make it. Its not only the problem of inner cities and gangs. I hope that the american people is waking up now. But this is´nt new at all in america. Look at the ashaming live condition of the rural black population until the 70ies or at the third world status of the natives in any times until now.

      Maybe in Europa there also will come those days because the cancer capitalism can´t be stop, here they also reduce the welfare system step by step ...

    • Ray Saunders profile image

      Ray Saunders 

      10 years ago from Raleigh

      THis is great hub! It's about time some of the myths of poverty were disproven.

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 

      11 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      So many uses for Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs pyramid! Poverty is certainly one of the main reasons people never escape from the physiological layer, where there is no joy of life possible. Good hub :)

    • minx75 profile image


      11 years ago from North Carolina

      Girl you got it. My thing is what we don't look at is the man next door who has that nice suv sitting in his driveway, has an 80,000 dollar a year job, but has a gambling problem is that not poverty? After all, once he has depleted all his resources for his gambling what will his family do for food? Also, how are his children going to hide daddy's little secret from their friends at school whose parents are big street talkers? Its everywhere not just in some poor rundown part of town. Nice piece, keep it up.

    • ArtCantHurtU profile image


      11 years ago

      Poverty is not a social disease, it is a situation.

      Having witness many forms of severe poverty, the most fundemental belief I have come away with is that NO ONE is dimminished when all people have adaquate food, clean water and medical care.

      Itis amazingly cheap and easy to give the gift of clean water to anyone - anywhere in the world.

      the myths behind povery are what keeps many political and church groups in business. It has always been used to exploit large gorups for the enrichment of the few.

      My biggest question is - if we cannot imagine a world without poverty - how can we eliminate it?

    • solarshingles profile image


      11 years ago from london

      Very, very interesting, yet very real and sad topic. I've grown up in the strongest , yet hidden belief of the American Dream, thousands miles away in the (3/4) communist country, where private business had also been allowed to perform.

      I believe, the solution of poverty in USA lies in pragmatic synthesis/integration of Stacie's and Misha's views. Yes, it could be done through educational process, media, but mostly by the overall influence of the Internet.

      The topic is quite provocative and every person could have different opinion.

      I've found far the best practical results and theoretical explanations, as well in wonderful and extensive work of many decades by Dr. Richard Bandler and Dr. John Grinder, who were the fathers of NLP.

    • sandalss profile image


      11 years ago from can i live at your house?

      poverty is caused by capitalism. we will all soon be poor. look into the federal reserve bank...

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      11 years ago from Seattle

      Ever heard: "the majority of his customers are..." or anything like that? There are different definitions of "majority", not only over 50%.

    • profile image

      Almost Midnight 

      11 years ago

      How did 47% become a majority?

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      11 years ago from Seattle

      I love that you are all adding to this dialogue. I do believe change can happen, as long as there are people willing to try. Poverty in the U.S. is a very complex issue, and many people don't really understand what it is or what causes it.

      Thanks for the link and book tips.

    • C.S.Alexis profile image


      11 years ago from NW Indiana

      I was living in Texas in the early 80's and was astounded at the level of poverty stricken families I encountered there. What I saw was not only unbelievable but also something I feel we all should be ashamed of as we are living the good life.

      Trying to give food and money I do not feel is the answer to this problem. Many of the people I met live in a world apart from our own. There is a need for education and teaching how to prioritise fundamental living skills. Some people do not understand that they are contributing to their own problem by making poor life choices. 

      Change will never come about on a grand scale unless we who know, take hold of the situations within our own back yards and try to set examples for those who do not have it so good. It has become routine for our poor youth to follow in the footsteps of those in charge of their households. The Gov't. is not the answer it has to come from a grassroots level. Even with that it will never completely end. That is A law of nature. That is not to say, Do Not Try to help. But in helping there must be a "help those who are trying to help themselves attitude". All said we still have to always consider the 'Laws of Nature", "The survival of the fittest".

    • profile image


      11 years ago


      Poverty may never end, but to fight it the best possible way it's important to change people's minds and especially convincing governments that the conception of the world as a matrix of countries needs to end.

      We need to start seeing this world as a whole and that while there will be people dying for starving (even if they leave 20000 miles away), there will never be a healthy balance on Earth and thus on each country.

      More important than sending money and goods to those countries - of course that's also important - one needs to create infra-structures and other conditions for their sustained development.

      Now referring more to the USA situation that I don't know well. The USA developed as a country thorugh agriculture and industry. Nowadays services are taking in my opinion a too much of an important role. Real production is being left behind corporate profits are in the hands of few.

      Jobs must be created namely by revitalizing the industry and agriculture, always thinking on environment friendly development.

      Have a happy Easter,


    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Ruby Payne published a VERY informative study (and book) on poverty and education. I've read her work and attended a workshop for educators. Those interested in further study on poverty will be interested.

    • College politico profile image

      College politico 

      11 years ago from Alexandria Virginia

      Poverty in America is a complicated issue. In my opinion it is portrayed by many in a false and manipulative way. While I agree with some of your analysis on this... mainly that all poor people aren't minorities and they aren't always or ussually just lazy... I would also question most of your other assertions. However, I'm afraid if I try to explain why I disagree I would not do justice to the proper counter-points. So I unfortunately will have to leave you with this link to a study done by the heritage foundation:

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      11 years ago from Seattle

      A quick note to the recent commenters: I have enjoyed reading what you have to say, and hope to respond properly soon (I've been quite busly laterly).

      The Indexer: I don't believe the beggars are an indication of poverty levels. Many people in poverty do work, and I don't mean the streets. I think it has simply become more "acceptable" for people to beg on the streets. And, there are many out there who do beg as a scam.

    • The Indexer profile image

      John Welford 

      11 years ago from UK

      I have only visited America once, for less than a week in 2006, and I only went to Baltimore. One of my abiding memories is being accosted by beggars every 100 yards or so, which simply doesn't happen in the UK. Does that mean that poverty is worse in the US, or merely that professional beaggars are making a fortune out of gullible visitors?

    • vreccc profile image


      11 years ago from Concord, NH


      The comments here are very interesting. They are representative of the varying beliefs on the issue of poverty. I, as you do, believe that this situation can be helped. But, I also agree with Misha if his meaning is you can't throw money at poverty and expect it to go away. I lived in China for 8 years and saw some very fascinating stories of people improving their lifestyle.

      Money is often thrown at poor people in China and they generally spend it on alcohol and other meaningless things. The money is indeed wasted. But I don't think it is the poor's problem. It's a problem of methodology.

      An example of success came from a friend of mine from Britain. She befriended the people of a village in southern China. They had to walk a couple miles just to get fresh water. She had managed to raise $50,000 to build a pipeline to bring water to their village. They were about to hire a construction firm to build the pipeline, however at the last minute she felt this was just the same old way we like to do things. So instead, she asked the people of villiage if they would build the pipeline. The $50,000 wouldn't only pay for the materials, it would also pay the labor expenses for the villiagers. They would actually get paid for installing their own pipeline.

      Long story short, the experience of working together helped the community to grow and become closer. The pipeline brought water to a trough in the villiage center. After a few months, they decided, on their own and with their own resources, to extend piping into their homes so they could have water right to their kitchens.

      Oh yeah! My British friend was presented with that award (can't remember its name) by the Queen herself.



    • profile image

      wiser now 

      11 years ago from Vista CA

      Reading the hub left me knowing the author's definition of Poverty; reading the comments gave rise to an entirely different concept. If the reference to money earned or gotten has any connotation, it is that the level of poverty varies from one area to another. A family of four (income $25,000) cannot do more than roam the streets of cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, etc. They are priced out of even the lowliest of apartments on that yearly income. Our so-called "middle class" is dropping beneath the poverty level at a rate of 3% per year while the "wealthy class" increases by 1% for that year. There is a large group of soon-to-be-disenfranchised people disappearing down the hole of unemployment and vague promises of government help. And our government is trillions of dollars in debt now! Yes, that's twelve (12) zeros! We already have a generation of folks eating cat and dog food, choosing between medicine and heat and praying they'll die quickly so as not to be a burden to anyone. Our medical community is moving heaven and earth to keep us alive longer. Does anyone else see the irony? the futility of it all?

    • Whitney05 profile image


      11 years ago from Georgia

      Do you think that the increasing poverty level has anything to do with the increasing world debt?

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      11 years ago from Seattle

      Good, Misha, because I never said it was depressing that we have different views--I think it is great people have diverse views throughout the world. Like I already said, I find it depressing that you don't believe poverty can be helped.

      Teeray, you make a nice point there. Money is a part of the problem, but it really doees come down to social construct and what people believe (or choose not to believe or believe without any real knowledge of the realities of the problem).

    • teeray profile image


      11 years ago from Canada

      Poverty is not a money or economic problem. Poverty is a PEOPLE problem. A social construction that PEOPLE create through believing in dominant ideologies that pass down from various governments, traditions, and's a PEOPLE problem and a problem in the way people interact...the money has ALWAYS been available to reverse the problem.

    • Misha profile image


      11 years ago from DC Area

      I still think it has nothing to do with help. And it has everything to do with the fact that she WANTED to get out of poverty. Help is secondary, will is primary... Help ALWAYS comes to those ready to accept it, no matter rich or poor. And always was, long before Western civilization was born. And always will...

      And I don't think there is anything depressing in the fact that we have different views on some subject, really :D

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      11 years ago from Seattle

      Actually, Dr. Donna M. Beegle was raised in generational poverty, but is no longer in poverty...because she had help.

      This isn't a black and white issue of rich and poor. There is a huge gap between those two. I think it is rather depressing that you don't believe poverty can be helped because I believe it can. I've seen it happen. I still hold that I completely disagree with your opinions. Of course, differing opinions is what makes the world so diverse and interesting.

      And, my apology stands, not because I thought I had offended you, but because it is not my intent to make assumptions.

    • Misha profile image


      11 years ago from DC Area

      No need to apologize, you did not say anything offensive :)

      Yes, you are absolutely right, poor and rich people don't understand one another - they think differently.

      And this is exactly why poverty as a whole cannot be helped. Person who thinks like poor can't become rich - no matter what you do... And all this enormous amount of effort modern society is spending on the issue goes to waste...

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      11 years ago from Seattle

      Okay, Misha, I made an assumption about you. I apologize about that. However, I believe you are making assumptions as well.

      But, my point remains: people who are not raised in generational poverty do not understand what it is like for those who are or have been.

      If you were in poverty, but are no longer, than you are an example that poverty can be helped. This is not a contest as to who qualifies more.

    • Misha profile image


      11 years ago from DC Area

      Stacie, how do you know how I was raised?

      Does typical monthly family income sufficient to buy two pairs of good shoes qualify for poverty?

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      11 years ago from Seattle

      Misha, I completely disagree with you. Poverty is a cycle that people can get out of--it isn't always about money. It is a difficult cycle to break, but your kind of thinking is one of the things that makes it difficult. It is easy for you, not someone raised in generations of poverty, to see those opportunities. That does not mean it is easy for everyone.

    • Misha profile image


      11 years ago from DC Area

      My strong belief is that poverty cannot be helped. The roots are in the person's way of thinking, and money can't change that. Any amount of money supplied will be wasted - look at the lottery winners...

      Consiously or subconsiously, poor people want to be poor. Those that don't want to be poor find a way to become rich. Life is full of opportunities, if you are ready to act on them.

      You can't help a person who does not want to be helped...

    • Tim Hollis profile image

      Tim Hollis 

      11 years ago

      A needed hub. Thanks.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Excellent hub. This sort of thing needs more attention. As cgull8m says, the gap between rich and poor continues to widen, while the numbers of poor keep swelling. It's disgraceful because it's unnecessary if people and government set their priorities right.

    • profile image

      Ronald Daniar 

      11 years ago

      Even in big country like US there is still poverty! In developing country, poverty is even worse! Is there a country where all the citizen are rich?

    • thecounterpunch profile image


      11 years ago

      There will be no cure as long as people ignore the root cause of the plutocracy system (degree of high economics inequality and low social mobility) which exists by design not by fatality:

      It's because people don't want to open their eyes except when they become themselves trapped in poverty and you see this may happen to many people in the country in the future (US and Europe) because read people's behavior before 1929 and compare to their behavior today:

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      11 years ago from Seattle

      Excellent points Jacqueline. Food stamps are for buying nourishing foods, not junk.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Marye Audet said: "they are seeing the people in the grocery stores with carts loaded up with steak and fresh fruit...and paying with food stamps."

      It is classism like this that is part of the problem of what is so wrong with America today. If someone on food stamps tries to buy the foods that are healthy, they are vilified for living large. Heaven forbid they buy good healthy foods instead of stuff that's not healthy. If someone on food stamps buys the cheap processed starch laden foods that contribute to diabetes and a host of other health problems, then the lowly food stamp recipient is criticized for not using their food stamps responsibly or taking care of their health as best they can. Then when as a result, they end up with diabetes and high cholesterol, people like Marye can whine about that - it's those irresponsible food stamp recipients' fault for not eating right that increases the burden on our health care system, that middle class people's health insurance costs are skyrocketing. Poor people can't win. Even when they're right, they're somehow wrong.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      This is one thing I could rant on for sure! I can't believe what we pay people to PLAY (sports, racing. entertainers), and what we pay CEO's of corporations whose lowerst rung employess make below the poverty level in income. Thanks for the link that led me here.

    • cgull8m profile image


      12 years ago from North Carolina

      Great Hub, it is getting worse no doubt, the divide between the rich and the poor is growing fast. The income levels have not risen in pace with inflation. Buying a house is totally out of reach. Yet we keep spending trillions of dollars for military, doesn't make any sense.

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      12 years ago from Seattle

      No, income is not the definition of poverty in a social sense. However, it is shocking to find out how the poverty level was calculated, I'm quoting Dr. Beegle: "It is based on a 1960s cost of living formula. In a 1955 government study, it was reported that Americans spent approcimately one-third of their after-tax income on food. A bureaucrat in the Social Securtiy Administration took the Dept. of Agriculture's lowest food plan for an American family--one designed for temporary or emergency use when funds are low--and multiplied by a factor of three to create the Federal Poverty Guideline. It does not account for the changes in family dynamics and basic survival needs that have occurred since the 1960s."

    • profile image

      Marye Audet 

      12 years ago

      I think that part of the *myth* problem is in the definition of poverty. It definined in such broad terms that abuses of the system are rampant and that is what most people see...They are not seeing the viet nam vet that is eating dog food because he is struggling to live on his disability check...they are seeing the people in the grocery stores with carts loaded up with steak and fresh fruit...and paying with food stamps.

      According to the government my family is below the poverty level. We are one income, have 6 kids living at home (2 are grown, all from the same marriage) and the income is less that 25,000 a year. However, we own our home, have little credit debt, and have 2 investment homes. Money then, or the lack of it, is not the primary definition of poverty.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      12 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      At least 34% of my large city's children & families are receiving welfare benefits and more are eligible, but the parents won't apply for them. We have a large population of homeless individuals and families and disabled persons. There are not enough homeless shelters. People over 50 years old cannot get a job.

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      12 years ago from Seattle

      Yes, the UK has increased spending on poor families, so Britain's high child poverty rate is lowering while the U.S.'s rate continues to climb.

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 

      12 years ago from San Francisco

      I read this study that said that social mobility is worse now in the US than even in the UK, long known for rigid social castes.


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