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Half of Americans are now Poor

What's your story? Discussions your reasons for going abroad.

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Half of Americans are now Poor

Postby ladislav » Thu Dec 15, 2011 2:09 pm

http://news.yahoo.com/census-shows-1-2- ... 25860.html


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."

Congressional Republicans and Democrats are sparring over legislation that would renew a Social Security payroll tax cut, part of a year-end political showdown over economic priorities that could also trim unemployment benefits, freeze federal pay and reduce entitlement spending.

Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, questioned whether some people classified as poor or low-income actually suffer material hardship. He said that while safety-net programs have helped many Americans, they have gone too far, citing poor people who live in decent-size homes, drive cars and own wide-screen TVs.

"There's no doubt the recession has thrown a lot of people out of work and incomes have fallen," Rector said. "As we come out of recession, it will be important that these programs promote self-sufficiency rather than dependence and encourage people to look for work."

Mayors in 29 cities say more than 1 in 4 people needing emergency food assistance did not receive it. Many middle-class Americans are dropping below the low-income threshold — roughly $45,000 for a family of four — because of pay cuts, a forced reduction of work hours or a spouse losing a job. Housing and child-care costs are consuming up to half of a family's income.

States in the South and West had the highest shares of low-income families, including Arizona, New Mexico and South Carolina, which have scaled back or eliminated aid programs for the needy. By raw numbers, such families were most numerous in California and Texas, each with more than 1 million.

The struggling Americans include Zenobia Bechtol, 18, in Austin, Texas, who earns minimum wage as a part-time pizza delivery driver. Bechtol and her 7-month-old baby were recently evicted from their bedbug-infested apartment after her boyfriend, an electrician, lost his job in the sluggish economy.

After an 18-month job search, Bechtol's boyfriend now works as a waiter and the family of three is temporarily living with her mother.

"We're paying my mom $200 a month for rent, and after diapers and formula and gas for work, we barely have enough money to spend," said Bechtol, a high school graduate who wants to go to college. "If it weren't for food stamps and other government money for families who need help, we wouldn't have been able to survive."

About 97.3 million Americans fall into a low-income category, commonly defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau that is designed to provide a fuller picture of poverty. Together with the 49.1 million who fall below the poverty line and are counted as poor, they number 146.4 million, or 48 percent of the U.S. population. That's up by 4 million from 2009, the earliest numbers for the newly developed poverty measure.

The new measure of poverty takes into account medical, commuting and other living costs. Doing that helped push the number of people below 200 percent of the poverty level up from 104 million, or 1 in 3 Americans, that was officially reported in September.

Broken down by age, children were most likely to be poor or low-income — about 57 percent — followed by seniors over 65. By race and ethnicity, Hispanics topped the list at 73 percent, followed by blacks, Asians and non-Hispanic whites.

Even by traditional measures, many working families are hurting.

Following the recession that began in late 2007, the share of working families who are low income has risen for three straight years to 31.2 percent, or 10.2 million. That proportion is the highest in at least a decade, up from 27 percent in 2002, according to a new analysis by the Working Poor Families Project and the Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit research group based in Washington.

Among low-income families, about one-third were considered poor while the remainder — 6.9 million — earned income just above the poverty line. Many states phase out eligibility for food stamps, Medicaid, tax credit and other government aid programs for low-income Americans as they approach 200 percent of the poverty level.

The majority of low-income families — 62 percent — spent more than one-third of their earnings on housing, surpassing a common guideline for what is considered affordable. By some census surveys, child-care costs consume close to another one-fifth.

Paychecks for low-income families are shrinking. The inflation-adjusted average earnings for the bottom 20 percent of families have fallen from $16,788 in 1979 to just under $15,000, and earnings for the next 20 percent have remained flat at $37,000. In contrast, higher-income brackets had significant wage growth since 1979, with earnings for the top 5 percent of families climbing 64 percent to more than $313,000.

A survey of 29 cities conducted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors being released Thursday points to a gloomy outlook for those on the lower end of the income scale.

Many mayors cited the challenges of meeting increased demands for food assistance, expressing particular concern about possible cuts to federal programs such as food stamps and WIC, which assists low-income pregnant women and mothers. Unemployment led the list of causes of hunger in cities, followed by poverty, low wages and high housing costs.

Across the 29 cities, about 27 percent of people needing emergency food aid did not receive it. Kansas City, Mo., Nashville, Tenn., Sacramento, Calif., and Trenton, N.J., were among the cities that pointed to increases in the cost of food and declining food donations, while Mayor Michael McGinn in Seattle cited an unexpected spike in food requests from immigrants and refugees, particularly from Somalia, Burma and Bhutan.

Among those requesting emergency food assistance, 51 percent were in families, 26 percent were employed, 19 percent were elderly and 11 percent were homeless.

"People who never thought they would need food are in need of help," said Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, Mo., who co-chairs a mayors' task force on hunger and homelessness.

___

Online:

Census Bureau: www.census.gov
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Postby xiongmao » Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:26 pm

Yeah, the West is going down the tube. Worse thing is most folk want the government to bail them out.

I visited Wuhan in China to meet a woman. God, it was piss poor around the hotel. But instead of relying on the government, the women were out running tiny little shoe shine businesses. Capitalism starts here, and it is why most Americans have a bleak future.
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Postby tom » Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:58 am

Government has intruded big time into peoples personal lives. Feminism has caused a drastic changes in family structure. The divorce rate is around 50% maybe 60% or more in states like California and still growing. The whole thing has made marriage a bad bet for men and slowly they are adapting to this by not marrying. The ranks of single mothers has swelled and is continuing to grow. Poverty is growing and no end seems to be in sight.
Really if you think about it you make drastic social changes and not expect some major consequences is head in the sand thinking.
Its like dropping an atomic bomb on LA California and expecting nothing to change, I mean come on that's crazy right?
We are seeing the economic consequences play out and I would think eventually more poverty driven violence is sure to follow further down the road.
I my opinion it will take generations to all play out.
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Postby NorthAmericanguy » Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:16 am

No surprise to me, I read something that said only 38% of Americans make over 50k a year.
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Postby Taco » Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:19 am

Thanks for posting this. I'm glad I'm not the only one on this forum that realizes the future is looking really dire.
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Postby Repatriate » Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:49 am

Taco wrote:Thanks for posting this. I'm glad I'm not the only one on this forum that realizes the future is looking really dire.

It's dire only if you're one of the sad sacks still posting from the U.S. and are unable to leave. For everyone else that's abroad there are ways out of the quagmire. I plan on getting dual Taiwanese citizenship soon. I do think that the U.S. reached its peak in 2007 and it's all downhill from here on out.

I recommend thinking of an exit strategy. I can't imagine how shitty it will get when unemployed Americans become angry unemployed Americans.
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Postby FreeYourMind » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:58 am

Over half of Americans are on one kind of government assistance or another. They're mostly poor or disabled, and the government "supports" them by taking ever greater amounts of money from an ever shrinking proportion of producers (small businessmen, upper middle class professionals, etc.)

But "poor" is a relative term. Poor Americans are still quite wealthy compared to the poor of many countries. Most poor Americans have cars, televisions, cell phones, decent clothes, air conditioning and other common amenities. And, as has been noted by comedians, the U.S. has the fattest poor people in the world.

But there's no question the U.S. is becoming a banana republic, and with a police state and omnipresent government trying to keep everyone in line. At this point I don't see Americans anywhere near the point of rebelling. They're too conformist, too apathetic, too frightened of the government, and too doped up from drugs and weakened by poisoned air, water and food. There may be occasional spontaneous riots but an organized rebellion -- the U.S. is one of the last places where that will ever happen. More likely is a growing exodus of the super-wealthy (like James Cameron, who is moving to New Zealand), and aware men ranging from poor to rich who are fed up with feminism and other ills who get out before things get really bad economically and socially.
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Don't kid yourself, the dismantling of America is--

Postby odbo » Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:33 am

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Postby lookin4happiness » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:46 am

Yeah but sstill someone who is "dirt poor" by American standards can still be living a pretty good life compared to Indian standards, or I assume Thai or Phillipino standards.
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Postby Think Different » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:46 pm

lookin4happiness wrote:Yeah but sstill someone who is "dirt poor" by American standards can still be living a pretty good life compared to Indian standards, or I assume Thai or Phillipino standards.



This argument is a typical red herring. The US is not and has never been on par with India socially or economically. It would be more fair to compare the poor in the US with the poor in other 1st-world nations (Japan, Western Europe, Australia, Canada, etc.). I can tell you that the poor Italians live better than poor Americans. NO ONE here is wanting for food, even if they have little to no money. Everyone here is protected at a minimum by the government (medical, school, food banks, housing, etc.). You don't even get that in the US. Those things are left to charities in the US, which are also running low on supplies.

Everyone here has a TV if they want one (why would we anyway...?). The only homeless I see here (which is extremely rare) are gypsies, who both self-segregate from society and are also pushed to the fringes (a bad thing). But they are still well fed. The reason the poor in the US tend to be fat, is because the cheapest "food" is junk food, pasta, and beans. All of those things will plump you up faster than you can say "Thanksgiving turkey".

I'm not for big government or handouts, but after having lost everything, myself, in the current ongoing great recession, I can certainly appreciate the government using our taxes to provide a basic security net in life. I'm convinced that this lack of a security net (which all other developed nations provide their citizens -- but not in the US) is part of the reason that US society is so angry, aggressive, cut-throat, and desperate. Those sort of conditions are also fertile ground for nationalism, fascism, extremism, and government-fed propaganda. Better to take care of your citizens and provide a basic and dignified life for them, than using that money to just fight Israel's wars for them, don't we agree?
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Postby have2fly » Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:54 am

I'm not for big government or handouts, but after having lost everything, myself, in the current ongoing great recession, I can certainly appreciate the government using our taxes to provide a basic security net in life. I'm convinced that this lack of a security net (which all other developed nations provide their citizens -- but not in the US) is part of the reason that US society is so angry, aggressive, cut-throat, and desperate. Those sort of conditions are also fertile ground for nationalism, fascism, extremism, and government-fed propaganda. Better to take care of your citizens and provide a basic and dignified life for them, than using that money to just fight Israel's wars for them, don't we agree?


EXACTLY!!! That's why I am a big fan of European lifestyle! In Europe people don't even realize how protected and well they are living their life! That's why I have been advocating socialized healthcare! Americans are so brainwashed, they are afraid of anything "social", but 99% of the world runs of socialized medicine and achieve much better results, just look at Austria, Germany, Switzerland etc. Long lines? I've been to a doctor today, I waited for 1,5 hours until he actually walked into the room! Americans are scared that government will build huge hospitals and make sure doctors are working more efficiently, that will eliminate the need for thousands of doctors. But I see it as a good thing! How much money could be saved in the long run? Doctors in America are like basically private business owners who are taking in customers, not patients!

Great post, Think Different. I am glad you are now seeing what I've been trying to say here so many times. Europeans have totally different way of thinking and living their life, which is a much healthier, relaxing and socially connected compared to the U.S.
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Postby aozora13 » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:33 am

Have2Fly, you are correct. The Germanic countries do have decent healthcare. I believe for serious problems you do have to pay more; however, I know that if a person had healthcare when unemployed and also not have to pay a private company for health insurance. I normally paid about $70 dollars for (health care + dental). However, you cannot have a illness that is genetic or else you will be dropped from the plan.

Nothing is perfect but although Europeans pay high taxes as with Austria for example, there is 50 percent tax for income for over $70,000 and VAT (Value Added Tax). I do think that if the taxes can give you decent health care and decent unemployment insurance.

Yes, culture is different in Europe than the US and people in Europe do not know they are really lucky.
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