KOMMONSENTSJANE – UNDERSTANDING POVERTY IN THE U.S.

As we all know the Muslim Socialist Democratic party is going to use poverty in the 2016 election as evidenced by Hillary Clinton in her pandering speech during the Baltimore riots. Therefore, the American people need to understand poverty in the U.S.

As the Pope  said before he became Pope:  BERGOGLIO: I believe I’m too embroiled in the secular fiasco. It is a spiritual job, and I’m a soldier. Look at the nature of power. In Europe first and now in America, elected men have taken it upon themselves to indebt their people to create an atmosphere of dependency. And why? For their own selfish need to increase their own personal power. I’ve been a keen observer of the effect this has on the people, especially the poor. They are very good at creating poverty where there is no reason to explain it. My job is try to alleviate poverty and if that means to oppose the cause then I will not be the Pope.

Understanding Poverty in the United States: Surprising Facts About America’s Poor

By Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield

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

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

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

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

Liberals use the declining relative prices of many amenities to argue that it is no big deal that poor households have air conditioning, computers, cable TV, and wide-screen TV. They contend, polemically, that even though most poor families may have a house full of modern conveniences, the average poor family still suffers from substantial deprivation in basic needs, such as food and housing. In reality, this is just not true.  (We have to realize that no matter how much thee people progress they will continue to make noise so they will continue receiving more.  As Jesse Jackson continues telling these people “if you stop hollering, you stop gettin’.”  So enough will never be enough as we are witnessing.!)

Although the mainstream media broadcast alarming stories about widespread and severe hunger in the nation, in reality, most of the poor do not experience hunger or food shortages. The U.S. Department of Agriculture collects data on these topics in its household food security survey. For 2009, the survey showed:
◾96 percent of poor parents stated that their children were never hungry at any time during the year because they could not afford food.
◾83 percent of poor families reported having enough food to eat.
◾82 percent of poor adults reported never being hungry at any time in the prior year due to lack of money for food.

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

Television newscasts about poverty in America generally portray the poor as homeless people or as a destitute family living in an overcrowded, dilapidated trailer. In fact, however:
◾Over the course of a year, 4 percent of poor persons become temporarily homeless.
◾Only 9.5 percent of the poor live in mobile homes or trailers, 49.5 percent live in separate single-family houses or townhouses, and 40 percent live in apartments.
◾42 percent of poor households actually own their own homes.
◾Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
◾The average poor American has more living space than the typical non-poor person in Sweden, France, or the United Kingdom.
◾The vast majority of the homes or apartments of the poor are in good repair.

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

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

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

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

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

Understanding Poverty in the United States: Surprising Facts About America’s Poor
Abstract: The Census Bureau’s annual poverty report presents a misleading picture of poverty in the United States. Few of the 46.2 million people identified by the Census Bureau as being “in poverty” are what most Americans would consider poor—lacking nutritious food, adequate warm housing, or clothing. The typical “poor” American lives in an air-conditioned house or apartment and has cable TV, a car, multiple color TVs, a DVD player, and a VCR among other conveniences. While some of the poor face significant material hardship, formulating a sound, long-term anti-poverty policy that addresses the causes as well as the symptoms of poverty will require honest and accurate information. Exaggerating the extent and severity of hardships will not benefit society, the taxpayers, or the poor.

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

Yet what do these numbers actually mean? What does it mean to be poor in America? For most Americans, the word “poverty” suggests near destitution: an inability to provide nutritious food, clothing, or reasonable shelter for one’s family. For example, the Poverty Pulse poll by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development in 2005 asked the general public: “How would you describe being poor in the U.S.?” The overwhelming majority of responses focused on homelessness, hunger or not being able to eat properly, and not being able to meet basic needs.   Yet if poverty means lacking nutritious food, adequate warm housing, and clothing, relatively few of the 46 million people identified by the Census Bureau as being “in poverty” could be characterized as poor.

The Census Bureau’s poverty report is widely publicized by the press. Regrettably, the report provides only a bare count of the number of Americans defined as poor by the government. It provides no data on or description of their actual living conditions. However, several other federal surveys provide detailed information on the living conditions of the poor.   These surveys provide a very different sense of American poverty. They reveal that the actual standard of living of America’s poor—in terms of amenities in the home, housing, food consumption, and nutrition—is far higher than expected.

These surveys show that most people whom the government defines as “in poverty” are not actually poor in any ordinary sense of the term. While material hardship does exist in the United States, it is restricted in scope and severity. Regrettably, the mainstream press rarely reports on these detailed surveys of living conditions.

The mainstream press and activist groups frequently conflate poverty with homelessness. News stories about poverty often feature homeless families living “on the street.”   This depiction is seriously misleading because only a small portion of persons “living in poverty” will become homeless over the course of a year. The overwhelming majority of the poor reside throughout the year in non-crowded housing that is in good repair.

Two-thirds of the 643,000 homeless persons were residing in emergency shelters or transitional housing. Only 240,000 were without shelter; these “unsheltered” individuals were “on the street,” meaning that they were living in cars, abandoned buildings, alleyways, parks, or similar places.   At any point in 2009, roughly one person out of 1,250 in the general population or one out of 180 poor persons was homeless in the literal sense of being on the street and without shelter.  The people who live on the streets choose to live that lifestyle even when offered temporary housing.

Although news stories often suggest that poverty and homelessness are similar, this is inaccurate. In reality, the gap between the living conditions of a homeless person and the typical poor household are proportionately as great as the gap between the poor household and a middle-class family in the suburbs.

Housing Conditions and Poverty

When the mainstream media do not portray the poor as homeless, they will often present them as living in dismal conditions such as an overcrowded, dilapidated trailer. Again, government survey data provide a very different picture. Most poor Americans live in conventional houses or apartments that are in good repair. As Chart 6 shows, 49.5 percent of poor households live in single-family homes, either unattached single dwellings or attached units such as townhouses. Another 41 percent live in apartments, and 9.5 percent live in mobile homes.

Essential Needs. Although the public equates poverty with physical deprivation, the overwhelming majority of poor households do not experience any form of physical deprivation. Some 70 percent of poor households report that during the course of the past year, they were able to meet “all essential expenses,” including mortgage, rent, utility bills, and important medical care. Although it is widely supposed that the poor cannot obtain medical care, only 13 percent of poor households report that a family member needed to go to a doctor or hospital at some point in the prior year but was unable to do so because the family could not afford the cost.

Public Understanding of Poverty

In 2005, the typical poor household, as defined by the federal government, had air conditioning and a car. For entertainment, the household had two color TVs, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. In the kitchen, it had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker. The family was able to obtain medical care when needed. Their home was not overcrowded and was in good repair. By its own report, the family was not hungry and had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs.

The overwhelming majority of Americans do not regard a family living in these conditions as poor. For example, a poll conducted in June 2009 asked a nationally representative sample of the public whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: “A family in the U.S. that has a decent, un-crowded house or apartment to live in, ample food to eat, access to medical care, a car, cable TV, air conditioning and a microwave at home should not be considered poor.”   A full 80 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of Democrats agreed that a family living in those living conditions should not be considered poor.

Census Poverty Reports: Misleading and Inaccurate

Nonetheless, each year, the Census Bureau issues a report claiming that more than 35 million Americans live in poverty. The annual report is flawed in two respects.

First, it provides no information on the actual living conditions of the persons identified as poor. It simply states that a specified number of persons are poor without giving any information on what poverty means in the real world. A detailed description of the living conditions of the poor would greatly enhance public understanding. In fact, without a detailed description of living conditions, public discussions of poverty are meaningless.

Second, the report massively under counts the economic resources provided to poor people. The Census Bureau asserts that a household is poor if its “money income” falls below a specified threshold. In 2010, the poverty income threshold for a family of four was $22,314. However, in counting the money income of households, the Census Bureau excludes virtually all welfare assistance. For example, more than 70 means-tested welfare programs provide cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to poor and low-income persons,  including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), food stamps, the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food program, public housing, and Medicaid. (Social Security and Medicare are not means-tested programs.)

In 2008, federal and state governments spent $714 billion on means-tested welfare programs, but the Census Bureau counted only about 4 percent of this as money income in determining whether a household was poor. The bottom line is that the economic resources available to poor persons are vastly greater than the report claims.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor finds that the one-fifth of households with the lowest incomes appear to spend $1.87 for every $1.00 of income that the Census Bureau says they receive. If the free medical care and public housing subsidies given to these households were counted, the gap between expenditure and income would be even greater.

Was the War on Poverty a Success?

In 2010, government spent $871 billion on means-tested assistance. This amounts to nearly $9,000 for every poor and low-income American. Many “poor” families have higher-than-expected living standards because they receive considerable government aid that is “off the books” for purposes of measuring poverty. Do the higher living standards of the poor mean that the welfare state has been successful?

The answer is: yes and no. Not even the government can spend $9,000 per person without significantly affecting living conditions. However, the original goal of the War on Poverty was not to prop up living standards artificially through an ever-expanding welfare state. When Lyndon Johnson launched the War on Poverty, he intended it to strike “at the causes, not just the consequences of poverty.”   He added, “Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it.”

President Johnson was not proposing a massive system of ever-increasing welfare benefits doled out to an ever-growing population of beneficiaries. His proclaimed goal was not to create a massive new system of government handouts, but to increase self-sufficiency in a new generation, enabling them to lift themselves out of poverty without government handouts. LBJ planned to reduce, not increase, welfare dependence. The goal of the War on Poverty was “making taxpayers out of taxeaters.”   He declared, “We want to give the forgotten fifth of our people opportunity not doles.”

The U.S has spent over $17 trillion on means-tested welfare since LBJ launched the War on Poverty. Over time, the material living conditions of the poor have improved. It would be impossible to spend $17 trillion without any positive impact on living conditions, but in terms of reducing the “causes” rather than the “consequences” of poverty, the War on Poverty has failed utterly. The situation has gotten worse, not better. A significant portion of the population is now less capable of prosperous self-sufficiency than they were when the War on Poverty began.

Addressing the Causes, Not Merely the Symptoms, of Poverty

A major element in the declining capacity for self-support is the collapse of marriage in low-income communities. As the War on Poverty expanded benefits, welfare began to serve as a substitute for a husband in the home, and low-income marriage began to disappear. When Johnson launched the War on Poverty, 7 percent of American children were born out-of-wedlock. Today, the number is over 40 percent. As married fathers disappeared from the home, the need for more welfare to support single mothers increased. The War on Poverty created a destructive feedback loop: Welfare undermined marriage, and this generated a need for more welfare.

Today, out-of-wedlock childbearing—with the resulting growth of single-parent homes—is the most important cause of child poverty. (Out-of-wedlock childbearing is not the same thing as teen pregnancy; the overwhelming majority of non-marital births occur to young adult women in their early twenties, not to teenagers in high school.) If poor women who give birth outside of marriage were married to the fathers of their children, two-thirds would immediately be lifted out of poverty.  Roughly 80 percent of all long-term poverty occurs in single-parent homes.

Despite the dominant role of the decline of marriage in child poverty, this issue is taboo in most anti-poverty discussions. The press rarely mentions out-of-wedlock childbearing. Far from reducing the main cause of child poverty, the welfare state cannot even acknowledge its existence.

The second major cause of child poverty is lack of parental work. Even in good economic times, the average poor family with children has only 800 hours of total parental work per year—the equivalent of one adult working 16 hours per week. The math is fairly simple: Little work equals little income, which equals poverty. If the amount of work performed by poor families with children was increased to the equivalent of one adult working full-time throughout the year, the poverty rate among these families would drop by two-thirds.

The welfare system needs to be transformed to further reduce child poverty and to promote prosperous self-sufficiency. When the current recession ends, able-bodied parents should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid. In addition, the welfare system should support and encourage, rather than penalize, marriage.

Conclusion

The living conditions of the poor as defined by the government bear little resemblance to notions of “poverty” promoted by politicians and political activists. If poverty is defined as lacking adequate nutritious food for one’s family, a reasonably warm and dry apartment, or a car to go to work when one is needed, then the United States has relatively few poor persons. Real material hardship does occur, but it is limited in scope and severity.

Congress should reorient the massive welfare state to promote self-sufficient prosperity rather than expanded dependence. As the recession ends, able-bodied recipients should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid. Even more important, the welfare system needs to abandon its 50-year-old tradition of ignoring, dismissing, and penalizing marriage. It should embark on a new course to strengthen and rebuild marriage in low-income communities.

The Democratic Party will never reorient anyone because as long as they have their foot on the throat of the taxpayer they feel they have the people under control.

kommonsentsjane

About kommonsentsjane

Enjoys sports and all kinds of music, especially dance music. Playing the keyboard and piano are favorites. Family and friends are very important.
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