Poverty in The USA
What images does that headline bring?
I don’t know about you, but having traveled the world a little-I see the skinny kids, searching the trash piles, in Nicaragua for something to eat, or the tin shacks lined up like so many dominoes in shanty-town-San Jose-where a family lives in an 8 foot square, with no running water, and a puddle for a toilet.
I know those that have traveled to India, China, and Africa, have seen much worse.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that we have the homeless and hungry children in our midst. But what is poverty as measured by US Census standards?
Do the poor in the rest of the world have:
- running clean fresh water?
- indoor toilet?
- television- probably more than one, with functional satellite or cable?
- air-conditioning, washer dryer, microwave?
The census survey also admitted that they did not take into account the cash tax credits, food stamp money and other subsidies such as WIC programs. Now I know that not every family in poverty has the above amenities, but many do.
Our country is so spoiled, that even our poverty stats are padded.
Before you start writing angry comments about how heartless I am, please know that I do care. I think we need to do all we can to shelter the homeless, and feed hungry children.
But developing a lifelong dependent class of people is not the way to go. So what are my humble suggestions for anyone in the 14% rated as below the poverty line?
10 Steps to Rise Above Poverty
- First focus on food and shelter-move in with a relative, friend or obtain assistance from church, Salvation Army, and food banks.
- Develop a plan for increasing income-with multiple part-time jobs, if you can’t land a full-time position.
- If you need to develop skills to be hire-able, begin job training. Not with a private online course you won’t finish, that will cost an arm and a leg. But with a local community or technical college-in a field you can get excited about. Many federal grants make this possible.
- Don’t add to your family-go to the local health department for family planning advice if you can’t afford a doc visit.
- Dump all expenses that aren’t food and shelter. No more cell phone, TV or internet till you can afford it.
- Ask for utility subsidies-though these programs are stretched, doesn’t hurt to ask.
- Stay fit-walk, bike,-saves money on auto expenses, and the fitter you are, the clearer your mind will be.
- Turn off the TV. Studies show the poor watch more than any other group. Check out books from the library. Read, study, learn!
- Watch what you eat-peanut butter, and chicken/vegetable soup, not salty snack foods, or fast food, that is high in calories, and low in nutrition.
- Help others-there is nothing like seeing people worse off than yourself, to put life in perspective. Volunteer jobs frequently lead to paid jobs, if you excel.
Poverty, except for the exceptions of severe mental or physical illness/limitations should be a “temporary” problem. A life circumstance to be dealt with.
Spending More on Anti-Poverty Programs?
If you think we need to just throw more of your hard earned tax money at the problem, what about these figures?
Beginning in the early 60′s, when the Johnson era’s “war on poverty” began, we have increased the percent of Gross Domestic Product spent of “welfare” programs from 1.5% of GDP to over 5% now. The percentage of US citizens in poverty hasn’t dropped substantially during that time.
It is estimated that we spend about $550 per tax-paying citizen/month on various anti-poverty programs. About 16 trillion dollars has been spent in the last 40 years. Adjusted for inflation this is 3 times the amount of estimated expenditures spent on all of our Wars, since George Washington’s Revolutionary War.
I am not against helping those in need with temporary assistance. But it should be limited to short term assistance till you can get back on your feet.
Poverty and Nursing
Luckily, the percentage of nurses out of work, is among the lowest of any profession-estimates put it at less than 2%. Forbes lists nursing as one of the most “recession proof” of any job.
But many nurses have had family members lose their jobs, or have lost a former job themselves-that’s why they went into nursing! That’s the spirit. Nurses help people, make a decent living, while providing for your family. The American way!
And if any of you nurses have had a substantial drop in income in your family- do the things we teach here have value?
- putting away money in savings, for an emergency fund.
- spending less than you make.
- not getting burdened with “payments” (cars, boats, 4 wheelers, big screens)- which lead to difficulties paying bills when family income drops.
- overspending on home/rent-staying in a place you can barely afford, even in good times.
What say you? If you were President for the day, what would you do to help raise the standard of living for those 14% living in poverty in 2010?