I know you think you know this stuff because you've read stuff, but I am on the ground, so to speak. What you're reading is at odds with reality. Do you volunteer with real poor people where you might find out what's actually going on in their lives? If you truly want to know what things are like for folks, it might give you more data to work with than reading articles.
The information you're getting is skewed somehow or something. Really, I think if you actually sat down and called assistance offices and looked in the newspaper at rents and looked at food stamp allowances and took a walk through a grocery store in a poor neighborhood with a calculator, you'd get a better picture than your current sources are providing you with.