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  1. #1
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Default Poverty in America Is Mainstream

    I guess I should add some commentary, but I don't really see a reason to open with any, I just think the article makes some pertinent points.

    Poverty in America Is Mainstream

    Few topics in American society have more myths and stereotypes surrounding them than poverty, misconceptions that distort both our politics and our domestic policy making.

    They include the notion that poverty affects a relatively small number of Americans, that the poor are impoverished for years at a time, that most of those in poverty live in inner cities, that too much welfare assistance is provided and that poverty is ultimately a result of not working hard enough. Although pervasive, each assumption is flat-out wrong.

    Contrary to popular belief, the percentage of the population that directly encounters poverty is exceedingly high. My research indicates that nearly 40 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 60 will experience at least one year below the official poverty line during that period ($23,492 for a family of four), and 54 percent will spend a year in poverty or near poverty (below 150 percent of the poverty line).

    Even more astounding, if we add in related conditions like welfare use, near-poverty and unemployment, four out of five Americans will encounter one or more of these events.

    In addition, half of all American children will at some point during their childhood reside in a household that uses food stamps for a period of time.

    Put simply, poverty is a mainstream event experienced by a majority of Americans. For most of us, the question is not whether we will experience poverty, but when.

    But while poverty strikes a majority of the population, the average time most people spend in poverty is relatively short. The standard image of the poor has been that of an entrenched underclass, impoverished for years at a time. While this captures a small and important slice of poverty, it is also a highly misleading picture of its more widespread and dynamic nature.

    Most of us have been poor, at least for awhile.
    The typical pattern is for an individual to experience poverty for a year or two, get above the poverty line for an extended period of time, and then perhaps encounter another spell at some later point. Events like losing a job, having work hours cut back, experiencing a family split or developing a serious medical problem all have the potential to throw households into poverty.

    Just as poverty is widely dispersed with respect to time, it is also widely dispersed with respect to place. Only approximately 10 percent of those in poverty live in extremely poor urban neighborhoods. Households in poverty can be found throughout a variety of urban and suburban landscapes, as well as in small towns and communities across rural America. This dispersion of poverty has been increasing over the past 20 years, particularly within suburban areas.

    Along with the image of inner-city poverty, there is also a widespread perception that most individuals in poverty are nonwhite. This is another myth: According to the latest Census Bureau numbers, two-thirds of those below the poverty line identified themselves as white — a number that has held rather steady over the past several decades.

    What about the generous assistance we provide to the poor? Contrary to political rhetoric, the American social safety net is extremely weak and filled with gaping holes. Furthermore, it has become even weaker over the past 40 years because of various welfare reform and budget cutting measures.

    We currently expend among the fewest resources within the industrialized countries in terms of pulling families out of poverty and protecting them from falling into it. And the United States is one of the few developed nations that does not provide universal health care, affordable child care, or reasonably priced low-income housing. As a result, our poverty rate is approximately twice the European average.

    Whether we examine childhood poverty, poverty among working-age adults, poverty within single-parent families or overall rates of poverty, the story is much the same — the United States has exceedingly high levels of impoverishment. The many who find themselves in poverty are often shocked at how little assistance the government actually provides to help them through tough times.

    Finally, the common explanation for poverty has emphasized a lack of motivation, the failure to work hard enough and poor decision making in life.

    Yet my research and that of others has consistently found that the behaviors and attitudes of those in poverty basically mirror those of mainstream America. Likewise, a vast majority of the poor have worked extensively and will do so again. Poverty is ultimately a result of failings at economic and political levels rather than individual shortcomings.

    The solutions to poverty are to be found in what is important for the health of any family — having a job that pays a decent wage, having the support of good health and child care and having access to a first-rate education. Yet these policies will become a reality only when we begin to truly understand that poverty is an issue of us, rather than an issue of them.
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  2. #2
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    Sounds like we should only give welfare to those who have been in poverty for an extended amount of time- and then, give more than they currently get.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Sanjuro's Avatar
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    I dunno...I thought poverty was mainstream in my country, which is an unspecified nation in Asia.

    I'm struggling to hold the poverty line by US standards and I'm still better off than the majority here.

  4. #4
    Blood of the Exile Animal's Avatar
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    It is hard to keep your head above water in America now. Between taxman.. robbery by insurance companies, rules, regulations, red tape, fines, fees, gas prices, medical care prices etc; along with just regular cost of living. People have multiple roommates into their 50s in NYC and work three jobs. In my area, to buy groceries and pay mortgage, rent, or taxes means you have to earn a lot more than many people can. That being said most people have multiple cars, pets and televisions per family, and most people eat a few meals every day. There are lots of free meal programs for those who can't afford it and lots of housing, sheltering and government handouts; the unfortunate thing is that a lot of jobs end up paying you less than the government handouts. It's a mess compared to how it was when I was 15, but I would not dare compare it to conditions I've heard about in other countries.
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  5. #5
    Junior Member rebeccaB's Avatar
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    I have seen more people are suffering from poverty. The unemployment rate increases despite the said recovery of the economy.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanjuro View Post
    I dunno...I thought poverty was mainstream in my country, which is an unspecified nation in Asia.

    I'm struggling to hold the poverty line by US standards and I'm still better off than the majority here.
    Is it Japan?

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    deplorable basketcase Tellenbach's Avatar
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    The solutions to poverty are to be found in what is important for the health of any family — having a job that pays a decent wage
    I wonder if the author of the article supports raising the minimum wage or worse, wage controls. There are two ways to achieve a decent wage. Herbert Hoover implemented wage controls and this resulted in businesses not hiring and cutting the hours of their workers. The other way is through creating prosperity.

    A JP Morgan CEO put it thusly in denunciation of Hoover's policy:

    "High wages don't create prosperity. Prosperity creates high wages."

    This guy is right of course. We're seeing prosperity and high wages in North Dakota and Midland Texas because of an oil boom and fracking. The unemployment rate in those regions is around 2.6%; fast food workers make $15/hour there because of a labor shortage. That should be the path we follow instead of what this current administration is doing (whining about the minimum wage and raising wages through executive order).
    Senator Rand Paul is alive because of modern medicine and because his attacker punches like a girl.

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    Senior Member Sanjuro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nihilogen View Post
    Is it Japan?
    Nope.

  9. #9
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tellenbach View Post
    I wonder if the author of the article supports raising the minimum wage or worse, wage controls. There are two ways to achieve a decent wage. Herbert Hoover implemented wage controls and this resulted in businesses not hiring and cutting the hours of their workers. The other way is through creating prosperity.

    A JP Morgan CEO put it thusly in denunciation of Hoover's policy:

    "High wages don't create prosperity. Prosperity creates high wages."
    I agree that using the wrong mechanism to ensure workers are paid a living wage can cause as many problems as it solves. Hoover is a poor example, though, since although he seems to have favored keeping wages high, there is no evidence he was able to follow through. See this paper for details. Rather than have the government impose a wage standard, Hoover relied on trying to persuade industry to maintain high wages through a series of conferences with industry leaders, persuasion that bore little fruit. To quote the link:

    Hoover consistently noted three activities that he believed businesses should voluntarily partake in during a depression: maintain wages, maintain employment, and maintain investment
    Hoover made vague appeals to charity and calls for employers to be cognizant of the struggles of the laboring classes without having any real impact on the course of events
    Rose’s (2010) work is important because it is the first to investigate the impact of Hoover’s November and December conferences using disaggregated, firm-level data. The results suggest that Hoover’s wage conferences had no discernable impact on the wage policies of attendees, a finding that is consistent with the literature on real wage cyclicality reviewed below.
    What did pull the U.S. out of the depression was the increased employment opportunities brought about through the WPA, and eventually WWII. Most of this was government-funded through debt, though. This kind of government intervention is frowned upon in many circles today.

    So, just how would you create the kind of demand for labor you reference in N Dakota and Texas?
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  10. #10
    deplorable basketcase Tellenbach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis
    Hoover is a poor example, though, since although he seems to have favored keeping wages high, there is no evidence he was able to follow through.
    I wasn't referring to the conferences but to actual bills that Hoover signed into law.

    "Later in his presidency, Hoover did more than just jawbone to keep wages up. He signed two pieces of labor legislation that dramatically increased the role of government in propping up wages and giving monopoly protection to unions. In 1931, he signed the Davis-Bacon Act, which mandated that all federally funded or assisted construction projects pay the “prevailing wage” (i.e., the above market-clearing union wage). The result of this move was to close out non-union labor, especially immigrants and non-whites, and drive up costs to taxpayers."

    Hoover's Economic Policies

    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis
    What did pull the U.S. out of the depression was the increased employment opportunities brought about through the WPA, and eventually WWII.
    FDR presided over the Great Depression from 1932 to 1939. The WPA was created in April 1935 and according to wikipedia, it only provided work to 3.55 million Americans. The problem with government works programs is it takes money from the private sector to create these jobs and since government is always less efficient, that money is wasted. For instance, Obama's stimulus bill cost $827 billion and created each job at the astounding price of around $425,000 (going by memory) and that level of waste is considered a success.

    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis
    So, just how would you create the kind of demand for labor you reference in N Dakota and Texas?
    We can start by allowing oil drilling in ANWR and off the California coast. We should approve the construction of the Keystone Pipeline asap. I'd put a moratorium on all new fracking regulations from the EPA.

    Other sectors of the economy can be stimulated by removing most licensing laws. We require cabbies in New York to purchase $1 million licenses to drive a taxi. We require florists to spend thousands of dollars taking classes and acquiring a license; the same applies to hair stylists. These are all job killing regulations. The government should have no role in regulating hair cuts.

    Remove all these stupid regulations and we'd see 10 million new jobs in 4 years or less. For proof of this, look what's happened in California and Colorado once medical marijuana laws were passed. Thousands of marijuana businesses opened up, employing thousands of people.
    Senator Rand Paul is alive because of modern medicine and because his attacker punches like a girl.

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