A group for our forgotten class. Personal stories, information and ideas for survival as well as fighting back.
Poverty in the United States
Poverty in the United States
The official poverty measure is published by the United States Census Bureau and shows that:
- In 2014, there were 46.7 million people in poverty. This is up from 37.3 million in 2007. The number of poor people is near the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty statistics have been published (DeNavas-Walt 2015, p. 12—also see table there).
- The 2014 poverty rate was 14.8 percent, down only slightly from the 2010 poverty rate of 15.1 percent and still up from 12.5 percent in 1997, although the recession has ended officially (DeNavas-Walt 2015, p. 12). (The poverty rate was at 22.4 percent in 1959, the first year for poverty estimates.)
- The 2014 poverty rate for Blacks was 26.2 percent, for Hispanics 23.6 percent, for Asians 12 percent and for non-Hispanic whites 10.1 percent (DeNavas-Walt 2015, p. 12-4).
- The poverty rate for children under 18 was 21.1 percent in 2014 and the number of children in poverty was 15.5 million. Children represented 23.3 percent of the total population and 33.3 percent of people in poverty (DeNavas-Walt 2015, p. 15).
- 19.9 million Americans live in extreme poverty. This means their family’s cash income is less than half of the poverty line, or about $10,000 a year for a family of four. They represented 6.6 percent of all people and 44.6 percent of those in poverty(DeNavas-Walt 2015, p. 17).
An inadequate method of measure of poverty IMO – (see calculator pinned above which represents a living wage – poverty lies between the official measure and the living wage) also, this is compiled from information gathered in 2014, things have grown worse since then.
Causes of hunger and poverty
There are, three main causes of poverty in the United States: poverty in the world; the operation of the political and economic system in the United States which has tended to keep people from poor families poor, and to a lesser extent, actual physical and behavioral issues among some people who are poor.
- Trade. It is important to understand some basic economics. We in the United States live in a rich country, that has a large amount of capital–machinery, etc.–to produce things relative to the amount of labor–people that want to work. Poor countries have a lot of labor, but relatively little capital. There is a basic idea of economics–the factor price equalization theorem–that states that wages in rich countries will tend to go down and increase in poor countries through trade (Wikipedia 2010b). Thus China, with low wages, puts pressure on wages in the United States, as production is shifted to China from the United States. This movement of production from richer to poorer countries is initiated by corporations, not individuals, but it does shift jobs and income to poorer countries and people, and has been doing so for the last 30 years or so. Lower income people in the United States are particularly vulnerable to such shifts.
- Immigration. A clear strategy for poor people is to go where there are higher paying jobs (often opposed to the alternative of no jobs at all). Thus immigration has been a major response to poverty by people in poor countries. As should be expected, after all, given the same choices consider what you yourself would do.
- The implication of trade and immigration for people in the United States who are subject to this competition is that jobs are scarce and there is great downward pressure on wages. Large numbers of jobs have been moved ‘off-shore.’
The operation of the US economic system The operation of the US economic and political system has led to certain people/groups being relatively disenfranchised.
The normal operation of the economic system will create a significant amount of poverty.
- First, in a free enterprise economy, there is competition for jobs, with jobs going to the most qualified. On the other hand, there is almost always a significant amount of unemployment, so that not everyone will get a job, with the major unemployment falling on the least qualified. It might be tempting to identify them as ‘unemployable’ but what is in fact happening is that the private enterprise system is not generating enough jobs to employ everyone.
- Secondly, the top echelon of business has some power to allocate the profits of the enterprise, and certainly they have allocated these profits to themselves in recent years.
The operation of the US political system, The US political system, which should address the major problems of its citizens, is to a great extent not focused on fundamental concerns of poor people, but on other concerns.
- Military and security expenditure represent half of US federal government discretionary expenditures, much larger than expenditures to assist poor people, and this budgeting is assisted by a strong web of political and financial connections which has been termed the “military-industrial complex.”
- Corporations and the rich, through their ability to lobby Congress and the Administration effectively by such means as spending large amounts of money on lobbying efforts and on political campaigns of elected officials have succeeded in establishing their priorities, including tax breaks and subsidies.
- The Democratic party, which used to be a party of the ‘working class’ has now set its sights on the ‘middle class’ as the target base of voters it must appeal to.
The culture of inequality
mntleo2, grouchomarxist, Enthusiast and 6 othersmelurkyoulongtime, Shlabotnik, Doremus Jessup, Utopian Leftist, Zopilote, davidthegnome like this
- People are typically segregated by income and often race.
- Jobs are low paid and scarce. This can lead to crime as a way of obtaining income, and also to unemployed men not willing to marry, which can play a significant role in developing a cultural model of single parent families.
- The lack of income, as described in the poverty section above, creates problems, including poor housing, lack of food, health problems, and inability to address needs of one’s children.
- As a result of their situation, some people living in poverty can themselves have patterns of behavior, such as alcoholism or a ‘life of crime,’ that are destructive to them
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