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Subject: US poverty rate now 1 in 6 rss

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http://apnews.myway.com/article/20110913/D9PNNA781.html

Pretty shameful.


Plenty of blame to go around, as far as cause.

But I'd like to start by jailing some Wall Street fat cats. Check out this excellent documentary on the cause of the Great Recession:

Inside Job
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1645089/
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Xander Fulton
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Clearly, one in six people just need to work harder. yuk

EDIT: Wait, I just remember, that's not the talking point anymore! Here, let me try again:

Maybe that's true, but remember that 'poor' in the US is basically the same thing as kings living in luxury in all other countries, so really this isn't something we need to pay attention to.
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Boaty McBoatface
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I would agree that the real issue is not how many people live below some relative poverty line, but how many actually live below a real poverty line. £30 odd thousand pounds is not poverty. This is about £1.00 a day (according to the world bank), say £520 a year.
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Alaren wrote:
I anticipate someone will shortly be by to chastise me for being grossly insensitive to the natural and inalienable right of all first-world peoples to whatever entertainments and luxuries they feel entitled to, but the simple fact is that life is work and "poverty" in the United States is, for most households, not such a bad life.


Nope. I will agree. Most Americans are made uncomfortable by a long line at the supermarket, a rainy day or forgetting to DVR their favorite television show.

Those at the poverty line are doing better than near 90% of the people in the world. Ideally, we should all be living near the poverty level, at least as in how we consume. Poverty in the US is living like a king to many... though, it is amazing that with all of our wealth we do not find a way to provide healthcare and education to all that cannot afford. It does seem that in the USA entitlements like welfare and social security only exist for image only. We cannot have shanty towns in the USA... we have a few, and prisons keep us from having many more.

Even though the USA has extreme disparity that compares to some African nations the disparity gets really interesting on the global level... less than 500 people in the world control 50% of the worlds wealth.
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Alaren wrote:
But if you live under the poverty line in the United States, you almost always qualify for free (as in beer!) health coverage. So I'd be very interested to know (for example) how much of an overlap there is between those groups. People tend to talk about health coverage and poverty in the same breath, but based on the numbers it's not obvious to me that those "problems" are actually the same problem.


Have you experienced this yourself? I have, as a nurse working in an ER and in a NICU. Sure, the poor have free care. Much of it is free from the hospital... or, paid to the hospital at a fraction of what it actually costs. This raises the cost for everyone. Also, the poor don't own cars. Should public transportation be used to get a sick person to an office visit? It happens. I have seen a bunch of people tested for TB because we had a positive patient come in on a bus. Not only that, ambulances are diverted all the time because the ER is full of not-so-emergent care and there's no time to clean / set up a space for the critical patient. More and more small hospitals are closing... many are converting to in-patient drug abuse and psych. One laboratory I worked at was forced to hire a full-time staff simply to chase money that the insurance companies owed us. Health insurance needs to go the way of the dodo. It only makes things more expensive and less accessible.

One of the biggest problems with poverty in the US is that it is expensive to be poor!
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Xander Fulton
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Alaren wrote:
But if you live under the poverty line in the United States, you almost always qualify for free (as in beer!) health coverage. So I'd be very interested to know (for example) how much of an overlap there is between those groups. People tend to talk about health coverage and poverty in the same breath, but based on the numbers it's not obvious to me that those "problems" are actually the same problem.


I'm not sure the "free health care" you cite as a positive point is anything someone would willingly choose. For basic care, it's alright. If you need major surgery, though...not so much.

tscook wrote:
I can't seem to find this specific article that states even when lower income students achieve significantly higher than average results on entrance exams/have higher GPAs, they're less likely to attend universities at all then middle/upper-middle class peers with decidedly worse marks.


Not sure I've seen that, exactly, but there are definitely plenty of articles that show poverty having a serious retarding effect on the potential for success of young people. This article and this paper, for example.
 
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Alaren wrote:
pronoblem wrote:
Alaren wrote:
But if you live under the poverty line in the United States, you almost always qualify for free (as in beer!) health coverage. So I'd be very interested to know (for example) how much of an overlap there is between those groups. People tend to talk about health coverage and poverty in the same breath, but based on the numbers it's not obvious to me that those "problems" are actually the same problem.


Have you experienced this yourself?


Sure. I have two children whose births were paid for by the state. I've never been homeless (though I have lived with relatives, both as a child and as an adult) but otherwise I have experienced a pretty rich range of "poverty" throughout my life. I certainly don't prefer it, but working my way out of it has been rewarding in richer ways than merely economic.


One interesting aspect of this question to look at - suggested by this comment - is the concept of income mobility. The paper linked here is about five years old, and I don't know if there has been a comprehensive update or anything similar since.

The findings are interesting, but the upshot appears to be that it is harder to get out of poverty now than it was in the past, and that our societal sense that the poor can remedy their situation just by hard work may be heavily overstated.
 
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Golux13 wrote:
One interesting aspect of this question to look at - suggested by this comment - is the concept of income mobility. The paper linked here is about five years old, and I don't know if there has been a comprehensive update or anything similar since.

The findings are interesting, but the upshot appears to be that it is harder to get out of poverty now than it was in the past, and that our societal sense that the poor can remedy their situation just by hard work may be heavily overstated.


It's an interesting article, and puts clearer a bit something that is often glossed over in discussions of poverty (RE: the 'just work harder' angle). Poverty does a very good job punishing the children of the poor - children of the rich are 22 times more likely to reach the top 5% bracket than children of the poor are. Which is pretty remarkable, considering being born into a poor family (personal experience) has to be one of the most shockingly overwhelming motivations to 'work harder to get out of this situation' you could find...and the children of the rich are pretty much just working their way to the top 5% on a whim, it's family expectation, etc. They are born into a 'rich' family, there is no need to work their way up, it just sometimes happens, and then there they are, in the top 5%, almost accidentally. And are still twenty-two times more likely to get there than children born into poor families who are strongly motivated to get out of their current situation - having firsthand experience with poverty - and not end up like their parents are.

That says a lot about the income - and, more annoyingly, opportunity - disparity in this country.
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It's very true that poor people in the US are better off than poor people in the third world.

But I think it's also very easy for us well-off folks (I assume most BGGers are above the poverty line) to under-appreciate the boost we got from our parents also being well off. That's quite a head start we got - going to decent schools, even just learning a "success" mentality.

Rags to riches is a popular myth among the prosperous, but I imagine it's the exception rather than the rule. Would I have lifted myself out of poverty against all odds, just by sheer will and determination? Probably not. The Land of Opportunity presents a lot more opportunity to you if you're not poor.
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tesuji wrote:
It's very true that poor people in the US are better off than poor people in the third world.

But I think it's also very easy for us well-off folks (I assume most BGGers are above the poverty line) to under-appreciate the boost we got from our parents also being well off. That's quite a head start we got - going to decent schools, even just learning a "success" mentality.

Rags to riches is a popular myth among the prosperous, but I imagine it's the exception rather than the rule. Would I have lifted myself out of poverty against all odds, just by sheer will and determination? Probably not. The Land of Opportunity presents a lot more opportunity to you if you're not poor.


Not all, its that some of us thrift.
 
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XanderF wrote:
Golux13 wrote:
One interesting aspect of this question to look at - suggested by this comment - is the concept of income mobility. The paper linked here is about five years old, and I don't know if there has been a comprehensive update or anything similar since.

The findings are interesting, but the upshot appears to be that it is harder to get out of poverty now than it was in the past, and that our societal sense that the poor can remedy their situation just by hard work may be heavily overstated.


It's an interesting article, and puts clearer a bit something that is often glossed over in discussions of poverty (RE: the 'just work harder' angle). Poverty does a very good job punishing the children of the poor - children of the rich are 22 times more likely to reach the top 5% bracket than children of the poor are. Which is pretty remarkable, considering being born into a poor family (personal experience) has to be one of the most shockingly overwhelming motivations to 'work harder to get out of this situation' you could find...and the children of the rich are pretty much just working their way to the top 5% on a whim, it's family expectation, etc. They are born into a 'rich' family, there is no need to work their way up, it just sometimes happens, and then there they are, in the top 5%, almost accidentally. And are still twenty-two times more likely to get there than children born into poor families who are strongly motivated to get out of their current situation - having firsthand experience with poverty - and not end up like their parents are.

That says a lot about the income - and, more annoyingly, opportunity - disparity in this country.


Hard work is ot a rout out of poverty, its just a rout to being a bit better of them some one who does not work as hard.
 
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Alaren wrote:
It's easy to find simple anecdotal examples of people who are suffering (or "suffering"), but the "poster children" (of poverty and lack of health coverage) are rarely typical of the problem they are being used to illustrate.


Crazy... it is completely different experience when you are servicing these people on a daily basis and for many years. The city is Holyoke. 1 in 3 live below poverty level. 1 in 10 are living below 50% of poverty level. Both statistics are about 3X as bad as the state average and 2X what the OP claims. I see the "poster children". They arrived at the ER via taxi after the free clinic closed downtown... ~6pm M-F. When we were full we sent all ambulances to another ER more than 10 minutes away if we could not vacate a suite in time. Then we get the drunks and ODs later at night. These people were also uninsured. Usually homeless. I am sure that some got their due to their addiction but drugs are often a refuge for the depressed. Either way, pretty much everyone I worked with in the field advocate socialized medicine. One hospital that I worked at was a teaching / residency hospital. Most of the residents were from out of the country... many from China, India, UAE, Saudi and Indonesia. They all thought we did everything wrong in terms of delivery of care. Certainly, great education and technology, but a disregard for people in need... of course, when I was in college pre-med (never pursued medical school, went into nursing when I had kids) I was the only one who thought we needed socialized medicine... when I brought it up they all said "we will lose our jobs". I talked to many of them years later and they said that I was correct. Insurance companies should not practice medicine.
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pronoblem wrote:
Alaren wrote:
It's easy to find simple anecdotal examples of people who are suffering (or "suffering"), but the "poster children" (of poverty and lack of health coverage) are rarely typical of the problem they are being used to illustrate.


Crazy... it is completely different experience when you are servicing these people on a daily basis and for many years. The city is Holyoke. 1 in 3 live below poverty level. 1 in 10 are living below 50% of poverty level. Both statistics are about 3X as bad as the state average and 2X what the OP claims. I see the "poster children". They arrived at the ER via taxi after the free clinic closed downtown... ~6pm M-F. When we were full we sent all ambulances to another ER more than 10 minutes away if we could not vacate a suite in time. Then we get the drunks and ODs later at night. These people were also uninsured. Usually homeless. I am sure that some got their due to their addiction but drugs are often a refuge for the depressed. Either way, pretty much everyone I worked with in the field advocate socialized medicine. One hospital that I worked at was a teaching / residency hospital. Most of the residents were from out of the country... many from China, India, UAE, Saudi and Indonesia. They all thought we did everything wrong in terms of delivery of care. Certainly, great education and technology, but a disregard for people in need... of course, when I was in college pre-med (never pursued medical school, went into nursing when I had kids) I was the only one who thought we needed socialized medicine... when I brought it up they all said "we will lose our jobs". I talked to many of them years later and they said that I was correct. Insurance companies should not practice medicine.

I think the worst scandal is that those who cannot pay their medical bills are then considered debt defaulters. Thus they are (in effect) penalised for being ill. The hospital (or who ever picks up the tab is still paid (by the government, at I believe massive expense), but the poor are then made treated like its their fault they are ill.
 
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slatersteven wrote:
I think the worst scandal is that those who cannot pay their medical bills are then considered debt defaulters. Thus they are (in effect) penalised for being ill. The hospital (or who ever picks up the tab is still paid (by the government, at I believe massive expense), but the poor are then made treated like its their fault they are ill.


Nope. We gave away $3 million in free care a year, then closed up and became a rehab / psyche hospital. No more ER, surgery, diagnostics or OBGYN. The government only pays if you are on Medicare, Medicade, Masshealth, VA, etc... if you are indeed uninsured then you get billed. If you are unable to pay the hospital writes it off as a loss. Or, even worse... you are insured and the insurance company refuses to pay. Which happens ALL THE TIME. This is where the health insurance company practices medicine. Example: Chest pain... ok, order an EKG, cardiac enzyme labs, blood chemistry profile, etc. Patient checks out fine. So they order an amylase and lipase on the blood that is in the. OOPS... it must be gallstones! The insurance fights to only pay for the tests that lead to diagnosis if in the worst case scenario must be followed first because it is critical life saving.
 
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pronoblem wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
I think the worst scandal is that those who cannot pay their medical bills are then considered debt defaulters. Thus they are (in effect) penalised for being ill. The hospital (or who ever picks up the tab is still paid (by the government, at I believe massive expense), but the poor are then made treated like its their fault they are ill.


Nope. We gave away $3 million in free care a year, then closed up and became a rehab / psyche hospital. No more ER, surgery, diagnostics or OBGYN. The government only pays if you are on Medicare, Medicade, Masshealth, VA, etc... if you are indeed uninsured then you get billed. If you are unable to pay the hospital writes it off as a loss. Or, even worse... you are insured and the insurance company refuses to pay. Which happens ALL THE TIME. This is where the health insurance company practices medicine. Example: Chest pain... ok, order an EKG, cardiac enzyme labs, blood chemistry profile, etc. Patient checks out fine. So they order an amylase and lipase on the blood that is in the. OOPS... it must be gallstones! The insurance fights to only pay for the tests that lead to diagnosis if in the worst case scenario must be followed first because it is critical life saving.


Or they can sue you to recover the debt. Hospitals are required by federal regulations to make a good-faith effort to collect bills sent to all patients. At least until recently, sued patients for uncollected bills, put liens on their houses or, in a few instances, had them thrown in jail. Collection agency actions can result in a ruined credit rating. For-profit hospitals get a tax write-off on uncollected debts. So in effect the governentn does pay for medical treament through tax write offs.
 
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Alaren wrote:
Just to get the facts out of the way (since there aren't many mentioned in the article), the "poverty line" for a family of four is currently $22,350 (annual income). I'd encourage everyone to read the Wikipedia article on American poverty. You'll find interesting gems like this one:

Quote:
...those assessed to be below the poverty line in 2011 have a much higher quality of living than those who were identified by the census 40 years ago as being in poverty.


I anticipate someone will shortly be by to chastise me for being grossly insensitive to the natural and inalienable right of all first-world peoples to whatever entertainments and luxuries they feel entitled to, but the simple fact is that life is work and "poverty" in the United States is, for most households, not such a bad life.

Here's an opposing perspective:

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by
Barbara Ehrenreich
http://www.amazon.com/Nickel-Dimed-Not-Getting-America/dp/08...
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Good questions to ask:

1) How is 'poverty' calculated?

2) If we are seeing a rise in poverty, has the method of calculation changed at all during the time frame in question?

3) If so, what would the numbers look like if the original calculation were retained OR if the old numbers were recalculated with the new method?

I'm always suspicious of 'growing poverty' since in the early 90's I was making $30+k in Oklahoma and my kids qualified for free food at school. There was no way that we needed that help and we didn't take it. At times I wonder if the effort to expand certain benefits to a larger number of people isn't actually a way to garner votes.

And lastly, that $22k goes a lot farther in a state like Oklahoma than it does in someplace like New York. so even though folks in OK may be classified as 'in poverty' they are not as bad off as the same person in New York City making that amount.
 
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okiedokie wrote:
Good questions to ask:

1) How is 'poverty' calculated?

2) If we are seeing a rise in poverty, has the method of calculation changed at all during the time frame in question?

3) If so, what would the numbers look like if the original calculation were retained OR if the old numbers were recalculated with the new method?

I'm always suspicious of 'growing poverty' since in the early 90's I was making $30+k in Oklahoma and my kids qualified for free food at school. There was no way that we needed that help and we didn't take it. At times I wonder if the effort to expand certain benefits to a larger number of people isn't actually a way to garner votes.


In the UK (at least) there is huge opposition to the idea that only the very poor should get child support (put simply the "if he has it I want it" mentality).
 
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okiedokie wrote:
Good questions to ask:

1) How is 'poverty' calculated?

2) If we are seeing a rise in poverty, has the method of calculation changed at all during the time frame in question?

3) If so, what would the numbers look like if the original calculation were retained OR if the old numbers were recalculated with the new method?

I'm always suspicious of 'growing poverty' since in the early 90's I was making $30+k in Oklahoma and my kids qualified for free food at school. There was no way that we needed that help and we didn't take it. At times I wonder if the effort to expand certain benefits to a larger number of people isn't actually a way to garner votes.

And lastly, that $22k goes a lot farther in a state like Oklahoma than it does in someplace like New York. so even though folks in OK may be classified as 'in poverty' they are not as bad off as the same person in New York City making that amount.


The answers to these questions - or at least some partial answers and pointers to more complete information - are available (for the U.S.) here.

The history of poverty measurement/classification is here.
 
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In 2004 I was in Muskogee, OK and I went to one of the small local diners for breakfast. The bill for two of us to have coffee, bacon, eggs, and toast was under $5. I tipped $2 (40+%) and still felt like a cheapskate.
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jarredscott78 wrote:
In 2004 I was in Muskogee, OK and I went to one of the small local diners for breakfast. The bill for two of us to have coffee, bacon, eggs, and toast was under $5. I tipped $2 (40+%) and still felt like a cheapskate.


Which of course raises a good point, £1 in London is not worth £1 in Manchester when cost of living is taken into account.
 
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slatersteven wrote:
jarredscott78 wrote:
In 2004 I was in Muskogee, OK and I went to one of the small local diners for breakfast. The bill for two of us to have coffee, bacon, eggs, and toast was under $5. I tipped $2 (40+%) and still felt like a cheapskate.


Which of course raises a good point, £1 in London is not worth £1 in Manchester when cost of living is taken into account.


...and $5 will get you a blowjob from a prostitute in my city. Probably because the cheap heroin that the CIA has been importing here now that the Taliban is defeated has the street price just around $5-$10 a bag and the cocaine importing has been ramped up so that now $5 will get a couple decent sized crack rocks.

Times are tough all over the world. One thing that is always true... when people are down drug sales are up... and when DOD covert OPs needs money the CIA will trade in illegal drugs that end up in the poor communities here in the US.

Our government could give a shit about the poor... that really is the end of the story. We exploit the third world and step on the backs of our own. It really is sad.
 
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Does this mean the poverty rate now exceeds the puberty rate?
 
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Alaren wrote:
I anticipate someone will shortly be by to chastise me for being grossly insensitive to the natural and inalienable right of all first-world peoples to whatever entertainments and luxuries they feel entitled to, but the simple fact is that life is work and "poverty" in the United States is, for most households, not such a bad life.


From the same Wikipedia article:

Quote:
The "absolute poverty line" is the threshold below which families or individuals are considered to be lacking the resources to meet the basic needs for healthy living; having insufficient income to provide the food, shelter and clothing needed to preserve health.


So if bordering on being unable to supply the basics for life qualifies as "entertainments & luxuries," then perhaps your definition of "not such a bad life" needs adjustment and not the implied incorrectness of those who would "chastise" you.
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pronoblem wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
jarredscott78 wrote:
In 2004 I was in Muskogee, OK and I went to one of the small local diners for breakfast. The bill for two of us to have coffee, bacon, eggs, and toast was under $5. I tipped $2 (40+%) and still felt like a cheapskate.


Which of course raises a good point, £1 in London is not worth £1 in Manchester when cost of living is taken into account.


...and $5 will get you a blowjob from a prostitute in my city. Probably because the cheap heroin that the CIA has been importing here now that the Taliban is defeated has the street price just around $5-$10 a bag and the cocaine importing has been ramped up so that now $5 will get a couple decent sized crack rocks.

Times are tough all over the world. One thing that is always true... when people are down drug sales are up... and when DOD covert OPs needs money the CIA will trade in illegal drugs that end up in the poor communities here in the US.

Our government could give a shit about the poor... that really is the end of the story. We exploit the third world and step on the backs of our own. It really is sad.

Yuo present this as if the CIA were regularly trafficking in drugs. Yet the only credible link to illegal activity involves the Iran-Contra deals for which notably people went to jail.

While I doubt the CIA consists of the nicest people in the world, your ravings seem a bit far-fetched.
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