Saturday, December 17, 2011

Half of Americans poor & low income

Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income


WASHINGTON (AP) — Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

"Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too 'rich' to qualify," said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.

"The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal," he said. "If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years."

Full report found here.


Anonymous said...

The example of poverty used is unfortunate, an 18 year old with a baby and a boyfriend.

Anonymous said...

Never let the facts stand in the way of a good story, eh Larry?

Follow the link above or read a snip of the story below.

Poverty Figures May Be Wrong
News stories saying 50 percent of Americans are low-income or in poverty may be wrong, Census analysts in LA said.

By Sharon Bernstein
| Thursday, Dec 15, 2011 | Updated 3:43 PM PST

You may have heard worried news reports that 50 percent of Americans had either fallen into poverty or are considered low income.

But while poverty in the United States is certainly an important issue, those figures appear to be wrong, perhaps based on a misunderstanding of the data by journalists who did not go back to the source to doublecheck their figures, said analysts at the U.S. Census Bureau district office in Los Angeles.

Our sister station KNBC worked with three data analysts at the Census Bureau to check the data, and the real figures do indeed appear to be quite different.

According to the latest Census data, about 49.9 million Americans - about 13.8 percent - are living below the poverty line. Another 53.8 million - about 18 percent - are considered low income because they earn less than twice the poverty level.

That's a total of 31.8 percent, far lower than the dramatic figure of 50 percent that was included in more than 300 online news reports, and multiple TV news broadcasts, including Thursday's "Today in the Bay."

Anonymous said...

Your inclusion of this misleading article is simply more evidence of your lack of qualifications to address these issues. I found the link to the article disputing the one you posted in a search time of less than two minutes. You're not even censoring yourself - yet you'll argue your point endlessly.

Maybe you really want thinking people to walk away so you can convince your fellow fools to fork over more cash for your expanding poverty province, south of downtown.

Here is an attempt to refocus on the essential causes of poverty: lack of education and out of wedlock birth. Business (big, small, or any other form) is not to blame. It is neither the top 400 wage earners or the stingy upper middle class causing poverty. It is the over reach of govt. into the economy. The poor who do not qualify (or do not want to qualify) for stable employment are waiting for the next handout program, instead of attempting to become qualified. Everyone one else fits into what Richard Fisher (of the Dallas Fed) said in his presentation to the Austin Chamber of Commerce on December 16, 2011:

I maintain that no matter how much cash you have on your balance sheet, or how compliant your banker might be, or how cheap the cost of money, you will not commit substantial capital to expanding your payroll or investing significant amounts to expand plant and equipment until you know what it will cost you to run your business; until you know how much you will be taxed; until you know how federal spending will impact your customer base; until you know the cost of employee health insurance; until you are reassured that regulations that affect your business will be structured so as to incentivize rather than discourage expansion; until you have concrete assurance that the fiscal “fix” the nation so desperately needs will be crafted to stimulate the economy rather than depress it and incentivize job creation rather than discourage it; or until you are reassured that the sinkhole of unfunded liabilities like Medicare and Social Security that Republican- and Democrat-led congresses and presidents alike have dug will be repaired so that our successor generations of Americans will prosper rather than drown in dark, deep waters of debt.

Link full remarks here.

There are too many uncertainties for businesses to add to the payroll in a substantial manner. There will be small and short trends in either direction, up or down, but a strong, consistent increase in employment will not be sustained until a degree of certainty is returned to the economy.

Here is the obvious: poverty is caused by lack of jobs. Those without an education and those who remove themselves from both education and employment due to child-rearing responsibilities can not get a job - and that is in a good jobs market. If the economy improved dramatically, this group would still be out of work.

In a poor jobs market this group has no chance (they won't even give themselves a chance) and those on the next level up, even with a basic education and a willingness to work, will suffer the same fate.

I think I see the link now. Big Government = Big Larry.

Larry James said...

Until the conflicting info is reconciled, I'll be happy to go with the new/revised numbers that seem to contradict the first set of numbers reported by every news outfit/outlet in the US. So, thanks for the correction, if indeed it holds up. So where does that leave us? Rather than 1 of 2 in poverty or low-income status, it is about 1 of 3.

Comforting to you, is it?

Many of the social challenges/problems leading many here an across the nation to blame the victum arise directly from the poverty that we are talking about. Poor people are not less moral, less honest, less hard woring or less capable when given options like the majority of the rest of us have built our lives upon.

1 of 3. Sleep well, friends.

Anonymous said...

Not at all comforting to know that you and your fact-avoiding, reality-denying, wealth-envying, ... , comrades attempt every day to increase the number of dependent people in the only country in the history of the planet capable of economically securing all the people of the earth. We feed more, finance more, evangelize more, physically heal more, educate more & even entertain more people than any other nation ever has. Yet you and a few other can't grasp the simple principle of self discipline. You will no doubt retreat to the skirts of a few elderly or preschool or terminally ill people to attempt refutation. But a disciplined economy (citizenry) can easily take care of your sham representative group. Those are the truly poor. But the overestimated poor need to read, complete math problems, write grammatically correct sentences, respect order, follow instructions, keep their clothing on, ...

Why bother with you, Larry?

Anonymous said...

"Socialism is a philosophy of failure,
The creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy,
Its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.."
-- Winston Churchill

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealth out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them; and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

Anonymous said...

Three things.

First, Larry quotes a story from the Associated Press. Not exactly an ideologically driven organization. About as "straight" as news gets these days. But instead of simply citing other sources and questioning whether the conclusion of the story is correct, several immediately resort to accusing Larry of trying to mislead. Please think about what you're saying - quoting a reputable news agency, which appears to be citing US government numbers, is a deliberate attempt to mislead. Why assume the worst and jump immediately to personal attacks instead of simply making your point?

Second, all the talk about poor people who are "supported by goverment" and the implication that they sit back and enjoy their cushy lives while others work miss an important point. US government benefits are very modest. Basic SSI benefits for someone who is disabled and has never worked are about $670/month. This person might also get food stamps - maybe $150/month for a single person. After waiting for several years, they might qualify for a rent voucher, which is effectively worth maybe about $450 to them. IF they qualified for all 3, and many won't, they're living on $1,270/month? It's not a cushy life. It's survival. I'm not saying that's necessarily wrong - people probably should expect only basic, minimal support from others if they don't work. But most people I know wouldn't choose to live like that if they had other choices. It's not fun.

Finally, the causes of poverty are both personal choices and some bad systems. For a wide variety of reasons, most inner city public schools do a bad job of teaching their students. I have met a student in the top 10% of her class who cannot write a paragraph without spelling and gramatical errors. This is not her fault. She was obviously trying to use what she was offered in the way of education, but not enough was offered. Now, if she were to compound these "system failures" with a pregnancy, clearly she would be worse off as a result of a bad choice. But generational poverty is usually not either/or when it comes to personal or societal failures, it's both/and.

Anonymous said...

Larry has time to find an image of a "Wall Street" sign to post alongside this misleading article. But does not have time to assess the content of the article. A quick search would have provided correction.

I appreciate the above anon's attempt at calming the current debate. But many of us know Larry. As predicted, he refused to accept the counter-argument. He pretends to suspend judgment while thrusting forward with his main argument - poor people need precisely the kind of services he provides and precisely the kind of resources the rich won't part with.

There are systemic failures that contribute to poverty. But the foundation that led to creation of these systems is suspect. The govt., by definition, can not make moral judgments about the condition of it's clients. It can not condemn corporate welfare recipients for their manipulation of the tax code, nor can it condemn individual persons who receive welfare for their manipulation of social service opportunities.

Larry and his team attempt to persuade the populace that greed at the corporate level is different from greed at the individual level. But he can not admit publicly that much motivation behind poverty is personal greed. That would lead to a no sale.

Instead he must persuade the middle class that they are sinking fast, that they are on the verge of street-life.

"Oh, but for the grace of a democrat house/senate majority and Lord Barack), we would all be street people." (A paraphrase, but close, I'm sure.)

Anonymous said...

I'm really lost. "Much motivation behind poverty is personal greed." I do not see how skimping by on meager government benefits could possible reflect greed. You could perhaps argue lazy, but greed?

Anonymous said...


Related forms
greed·less, adjective
greed·some, adjective

avarice, avidity, cupidity, covetousness; voracity, ravenousness, rapacity. Greed, greediness denote an excessive, extreme desire for something, often more than one's proper share. Greed means avid desire for gain or wealth (unless some other application is indicated) and is definitely uncomplimentary in implication: His greed drove him to exploit his workers. Greediness, when unqualified, suggests a craving for food; it may, however, be applied to all avid desires, and need not be always uncomplimentary: greediness for knowledge, fame, praise.


If you didn't work for it, yet you expect it - demand it - you're greedy!

Larry James said...

For the record, the Wall Street sign appeared with the original article.

Anonymous said...

Some comments seem to assume that Larry is "anti-rich" because he expresses support for government programs that help the poor even if they might require higher tax rates. But I cannot recall Larry actually saying anything directly negative about "the rich," or attributing negative attributes to them simply because they are rich.

However, a number of people commenting here have no such scruples when it comes to expressing direct, clear animosity toward the poor: lazy, unmotivated, undisciplined, and now (of all things) greedy.

Larry defends the poor and is accused of antipathy toward the rich. Many here defend the rich and express clear, unbridled antipathy toward the poor.

It may not matter to some, which is their right, but it appears to me that God is clearly more interested in defending the poor. "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:31-46 ; "He casts the mighty from their thrones and raises the lowly. He fills the starving with good things, sends the rich away empty." Luke 1 (the Magnificat); "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Matthew 19. I can't think of a single verse in which God seems to favor the rich and powerful over the poor, crtainly not in the NT.

I do not think you have to harbor animosity toward rich or poor. But if I had to choose, and it mattered to me what God thinks, I'd pick the poor.

Anonymous said...

We need serious welfare reform. Check out "The College Conservative, my time at Wal-Mart."

Anonymous said...

Larry, and those who defend him, often utilize the either-or method of argument (a logical fallacy). Either you agree with Larry or you hate the poor.

Truth is, some of us who disagree with Larry actually provide direct support and work in ministries/non-profits that pay much less for the same work in public service and commercial enterprise. We also routinely write checks (from our own accounts, not that of the general public) and provide significant personal time to serve those who can not help themselves.

The expanding definition of the poor is a prerequisite to following Europe off the cliff. If we're all poor we'll vote to take $$ from those deemed wealthy.

Matthew S. Kennedy said...

Very cool Blog... I have a website called, “California Homeless Resources”. and a blog dedicated to the homeless as well:

Anonymous said...

Government spending on welfare is about $625B. Charitable giving to human services orgs is about $25B. Charity simply cannot take the place or fill the role government plays in poverty relief.

belinda said...

yep, easy to see Jesus in so many of these comments . . . i believe G-d will judge them as harshly as they are judging.