American Poverty

Poverty is a child with lying in bed, tear ducts dried up and unable to cry anymore, stomach bloated from starvation, past the point of pleading with its mother; now understanding, sympathetic, and willing to share her misery. Poverty is a family collecting aluminum cans off the street in order to purchase scraps of food to quell the hungry mouths of little children, while mom, dad and the oldest siblings go hungry so that hope, justice and innocence are not extinguished before the little ones can even speak fully.  Poverty is a mother who forces herself to sell her body in order to rent a dilapidated shack within walking distance from her children’s school, because she wishes a better life for her children than the one she has tasted, and they cannot afford a car to drive there. Furthermore, according to the United States census, poverty is driving home to your comfortable abode complete with necessary furnishings, clothing, and commodities such as TV, air conditioning, a microwave, a washer and drier, satellite/cable, a computer with internet access (usually high speed), and a gaming system. This scenario is a dream come true not just to those impoverished in other nations, but to elites in many other nations as well. Considering this standard of living to be poverty is boarder line insulting to those in other areas of the world who experience true need.

The United States government has released statistics classifying one in every six Americans as living in poverty; however, they fail to adequately specify what “poverty” is. When most Americans think of poverty, they think of the tragic desperate need of millions of human beings around the globe whom have never known what a hot meal, warm bed, and new shoe feel like. When the Census Bureau pictures poverty it includes anyone of us millions of Americans who cannot afford to buy a boat or brand new truck. There are most certainly those in our nation in legitimate need, let me not be mistaken for an uncharitable snob; however, this article is about those people—some 40-46 million of them—who are considered poor, and doing just fine. There are certainly some who are not doing fine at all. Many struggle to feed their families adequately, and many are homeless, but research by the Heritage Foundation shows those are the extreme exception. Only about four percent of those living at or below the poverty level really experience hunger or homelessness. This number equates out to about 1.8 million people; still far too many, yet only a mere one half of one percent of American people. Furthermore, the Heritage Foundation research shows that of those 1.8 million who experience need, the vast majority of them only know their need temporarily; having to cut back some at the end of the month, or until food stamps come in.

This is a direct excerpt from the research published on the matter by the Heritage Foundation:

In 2005, the typical household defined as poor by the government had a car and air conditioning. For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. If there were children, especially boys, in the home, the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or a PlayStation. In the kitchen, the household 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 home of the typical poor family was not overcrowded and was in good repair. In fact, the typical poor American had more living space than the average European. The typical poor American family was also able to obtain medical care when needed. By its own report, the typical family was not hungry and had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs.

Granted, many families living in poverty certainly do struggle to make ends meet; however, the end they are struggling to meet includes on with many comforts and conveniences. They are not struggling to pay rent or buy a car or provide ample nutrition: they are struggling to make the money to cover the bills for internet, cell phone, and satellite TV. If these few hundred extra dollars are not being spent, a new car or the highest quality foods are reasonable for the average impoverished American. When one looks more closely at the numbers, they can see just how well impoverished Americans fare. An average poverty level income of $24,500 per year, whether with or without children is the bottom 15% of yearly earnings in the nation. However, if we take a look at the bigger picture, we see that $24,500, while a poverty level income in the United States, is above the total average income of every other nation on Earth except 7. The average household income worldwide—United States included—is around $7,000 per year. This means the average impoveished American earns between four and five times the average person on Earth. If we do not include America in our average worldwide income, than the impoverished American earns between six and eight times the amount of the average person. When really put in perspective, Americans below the poverty level are relatively well off.

I am not saying that impoverished Americans should not have the commodities which they have; they have the right to purchase any good they wish if they have the extra money. I am also not saying that we need to give less to the impoverished to punish them for being less priviaged. Congress is lookimg into the best way to distribute entitlement; however, this article is not an attempt to get them to lower it. Their judgement will be based on far more research than mine, and much more deliberation of the consiquenses. They can make the best decision on entitlement. The purpose of this article is to drive the point home that impoverished Americans live better than many of the world’s kings. When arguments arise about equality or class warfare arise, remember this: if the rich were at war with the poor, the poor would surely not have the same household appliances and comforts as our middle class. Here in America we certainly take care of our own, and that is the message we need to be sending. We do not turn away the needy and let those go hungry; we care about basic human necessities; moreover, we will also provide for certain luxuries. The average impoverished American holds a very similar standard of living to the American middle class. It is time that people stop making the argument that there is not equality in America because we do not all share the same “starting line.” The reality of the truth is that those poor who claim not to have the same starting line are false starting. We are not promised life liberty and happiness, but rather, life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Every American has that chance, especially a citizen below poverty level. There most certainly is equality in America; being poor in no way means you cannot pursue your dreams. Making sure the lower class lives in near middle class comfort is above and beyond the call of equality in our country. Equality means everyone must have an equal opportunity, not stand in the same footing. Overall, poverty in America is not as bad as one may think. I know many will focus on everything those below the poverty do not have; however, when one takes a step back and absorbs in the whole picture, it is a different scene. Sure, the poor do not match up to the elite in status or material, but look at all the do have. America makes sure that our people are taken care of, and that is something we can be proud of: all 309,000,000+ of us.

15 September, 2011

–Matt Young


About patriotslog

I am studying to achieve a double major in political science and journalism from the University of Kentucky. I am married to a wonderful woman named Sierra. I am starting this blog because I feel the political climate in Washington is carving deep canyons for our children to climb out of. Our representatives, on both sides of the isle, do not represent us, they represent the lobbyists.This blog is not to give answers, but to make people think. I believe the more we think about our ideas the better they will become; as opposed to becoming more and more intrenched in far left or right wing brainwash, where it seems nobody thinks anymore. I hope y'all enjoy.

Posted on September 17, 2011, in Patriotslog Articles, Poverty and Welfare and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.


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