Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Living in poverty one cell phone and air conditioner at a time

One of my clients likes to say you can divide up all the world's wealth equally among all seven billions human inhabitants and by the end of the next three day weekend it will be right back where it started.

So when I hear poverty statistics in this country I just roll my eyes. Afterall, didn't we solve our poverty problem several trillion dollars ago............

The U.S. Census Bureau’s annual poverty report states that 46.2 million people, or roughly one of seven Americans, were poor in 2010. That’s a shocking statistic.

Currently, poverty earnings levels in the contiguous 48 states are $10,890 for individuals, $14,710 for couples and $22,350 for a family of four. The thresholds are higher for residents of Hawaii and Alaska.

Obviously, those annual earnings figures are pretty low, and people living at those income levels certainly face challenges. But understand that meeting a poverty threshold makes you eligible for federal and state assistance, like welfare, Medicaid, Aid to Dependent Children, food stamps, housing subsidies, student loans, etc., that help those who are classified as poor. In all, there are 71 federal means-tested welfare programs.

Unfortunately, poverty has political implications. For example, if you raise or lower those thresholds, you immediately change the number of poor in America. That is not to suggest that those thresholds are too low, only that you can create or eliminate a lot of poverty simply by changing the poverty thresholds. And there are political advantages to increased numbers of people in poverty.

When you look beneath the surface of the poverty issue it becomes quickly evident that some of those classified as poor — emphasis on “some” — aren’t as bad off as we might think.

Read all the amenities "the poor" have in this country.

Anyone want to make a wager as to the percentage of people in poverty with a tattoo against those who don't live in poverty?

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