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Home Main Forums General Discussion Federal Poverty Guidelines

  • davidthegnome (2510 posts)
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    Federal Poverty Guidelines

    I was curious if they had changed to reflect reality.  Sadly they have not.  You can find the numbers here: https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines

    What this says is that, for the 48 “contiguous” US States, 1 individual earning less than 12,140 is considered impoverished.  So, let’s break it down a bit… I live in a conservative community, where they say cost of living is low.  That is not quite true.  Cost of housing, particularly in terms of, say, property tax, is considerably lower than the National average.

    Say you’re fresh out of college, you were smart, used lots of grant funds, got some small loans  – and managed to save about two grand to get setup after (yes, I know this is absurdly rare, but for the sake of argument…), first thing to do is find housing.

    Most are likely to begin by renting, so, say a small, 1 bed, 1 bath apartment in a college town in Northern Maine.  You are looking at at least 500 a month for rent and utilities – being lucky and very frugal.  Landlord will demand (typically) first and last months rent plus security deposit.  That’ll be 1500 bucks, up front.

    Next thing you’ll need is transportation for the job hunt.  There is no public transportation up here, so you need a car, particularly as most of our work force commutes into other towns and cities.

    You could maybe… maybe blow your last 500 on a used piece of junk, that, if you are lucky, will hold up long enough for you to save some cash.  But most go through a car dealership, where prices have also gone up.

    To do so, you will likely have to borrow, either from family or a financial institution.  At least for the down payment, but you’ve got (again, absurdly rare) great credit, so you do it… no big deal.

    Then you have to register that car, 150 bucks, for an older model.  You paid 250 for the first car payment…. so you have 100 left.

    Looking at that wallet/bank account and how thin it is, you borrow more, based on your great credit.  Funds to survive, for a while….

    Then you discover that, up here, almost any degree program does not guarantee a job.  You have a B.S. in, let’s say, computer science.  You’re great with repair, writing software, programming and such… getting a job should be a breeze.

    Nope.  There are a hundred like you doing the same damn thing.  Applications pile up, interviews are disappointing, no one seems to offer benefits, or fair wages… and damn, you’re in debt.

    Finally, you start getting desperate, you first payment on that loan… rent and car payment will be coming due…

    Okay, change expectations.  A job at wal-Mart will suck, but it’s just temporary right?  Right.  Say you’re lucky and are hired full time at the minimum wage of 10 an hour.

    That’s 1600 a month (before taxes, probably around… 1300 after).  Woohoo!  It’s like you won the lottery (up here, it really is).  But, uh, hmm.  Well, 500 for rent, 250 for that car, 300 on loan payments.  Well, you still have something for food and gas… maybe you’ll get an old flip phone for work.

    Then your manager cuts your hours to thirty… no benefits, and now you’re earning 1200 a month before taxes…

    You pick up a part time job to stay afloat, working another 20 hours a week for an extra 800 monthly… before taxes.

    You start to wonder why you went to college.  You get depressed, start drinking and one night a friend offers you some pills…..

    Welcome to life in rural America.  This is being generous and conservative, assuming a much better situation than usual.  I have seen and heard of this story playing itself out many, many times.

    That someone making 13k a year (before taxes) is not considered officially impoverished is fucking nuts.  That number needs to go way up.  30,000 would be closer to the truth.  The “median” in America is supposedly 50k a year.  I know too many college grads who don’t even make 20.

     

    Mabus, eridani, Marym625 and 24 othersctsnowman, Doremus Jessup, twenty, Gryneos, nevereVereven, glinda, , canoeist52, disillusioned73, snot, Flying Squirrel, Haikugal, Utopian Leftist, Paper Roses, Enthusiast, VagrantPeters, Babel 17, area woman, closeupready, NV Wino, jwirr, xynthee, ThomPaine, 99Forever like this
    “There is no distinctly native American criminal class save Congress.” - Mark Twain

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    • 99Forever (4532 posts)
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      1. The hard truth.

      Thanks, David.

      • davidthegnome (2510 posts)
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        2. What really boils my blood…

        Is that these are the guidelines often used to determine eligibility for federal and state aid programs.  Food stamps, rental assistance, low section 8, low income housing, even Medicaid.

        So your average individual is going to work, because they have to, to make money to live… then, maybe they get hurt, or sick.  Or the car breaks down and they can’t get to work.

        Then maybe that income drops lower, low enough to get some help – except DHHS seems to have a hundred people in front of you every day, even in a tiny city.  If you need disability, you’ll be waiting months.  If not, food stamps require you to regularly prove you are working or looking for work.  Miss an appointment for any reason and they vanish.

        I could go on and on, but…. damn it’s sick how sick we have become.  How desperate the working class is, how much more desperate those living in poverty are, worse still in deep poverty… we both saw that tent city…

        I fear that is the future for tens of millions more, if this form of government continues.

        “There is no distinctly native American criminal class save Congress.” - Mark Twain
    • ThomPaine (5679 posts)
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      3. Thanks for posting. If you should happen to go to jail, you'll find that

      they charge you for being in jail and you leave jail in debt that you have to pay in installments starting right away.  If you don’t keep up with the payments, you go back to jail.  So where do you live and work?  There are social services but not much of a help.  Fuck MAGA, we need to work on MAG.

      • davidthegnome (2510 posts)
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        4. Yep…

        I am damn lucky I have (average working) middle class parents and have never been to prison.  Did a lot of dumb shit when I was younger, in part because my own story was much, much worse than the hypothetical I posted.

        I wonder how many people out there are in situations like mine.  What will they, or we do when the baby boomers finally retire?

        We don’t make near as much money as our parents did (not my “millenial” generation, anyway, not here) and lots of people are living with their parents even into their thirties and forties.

        Standards of living… are going to sink.  Along with the stock market, social security and who knows what else.

        I don’t know, Thom, the more I read the more tempted I am to build a bunker under my cellar… things are getting ugly.

        “There is no distinctly native American criminal class save Congress.” - Mark Twain
        • ThomPaine (5679 posts)
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          7. The Baby Boomers still have a lot of money relatively but are helping their

          children.  When that runs out……….there might be civil unrest.  A bunker won’t help for long.  You will need a food supply and water.

          • davidthegnome (2510 posts)
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            9. I was mostly kidding

            About the bunker.  Mostly…

            ARGH DIE AUTOCORRECT DIE

            Or, maybe I am losing it, hmm

            “There is no distinctly native American criminal class save Congress.” - Mark Twain
          • Major Hogwash (3862 posts)
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            32. Some baby boomers. Not all of them got rich during the Clinton years.

            A lot of the ones I know worked their asses off, just one paycheck from being homeless, for most of their lives. Staring retirement in the face, aging all the while, hoping to be able to quit working a 40 hour week, many of them are now thinking of taking jobs that don’t require as much physical strength their current job does. Some are looking in to becoming short trip, across-town delivery drivers, or janitors, or maybe taking a job as a night clerks at the local Gas and Gulp convenience store on the corner. Many of the baby boomers I know aren’t able to help their kids very much. And there are a lot of families living here with 2 generations under the same roof nowadays.

            Trump moya marionetka ~ Putin  
            • Pakhet (241 posts)
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              33. we have 3 gens under our roof and we're making it, mostly.

              but it takes all 3 of us.

              Never be cruel, and never be cowardly, and if you are, always make amends. The Doctor
              • Major Hogwash (3862 posts)
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                36. Like in the 1930s, when families combined wages and goods to survive.

                My Mother’s family took in her grandparents after her grandfather lost his farm to foreclosure in 1933 when she was just a little girl.

                 

                Trump moya marionetka ~ Putin  
                • Pakhet (241 posts)
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                  41. My mom said her family lost the farm

                  around the same time and had to move to “town”. “Aunt”(my great grandmothers sister) and Uncle Ransom moved in with Grammy too and I guess they all made it work since were still here :-)

                  Never be cruel, and never be cowardly, and if you are, always make amends. The Doctor
        • Babel 17 (4711 posts)
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          14. Theoretically their retirement pumps a lot of money into the economy

          While freeing up jobs for younger workers.

          Their departure facilitates unemployed younger workers getting jobs, and thus having more money to spend. The newly retired dip into retirement funds and spend it, so though the math isn’t totally obvious, we end up with more cash flowing around.

          The downside is that retirees cashing out represents a loss to their retirement funds, some of which is invested in the stock market. But under-funding hasn’t been a big factor for healthy companies of late. And an economy stimulated by more cash flowing around will help the markets.

          Afaik a lot of economists see it as a net positive. If we add in that younger workers have been on the short end of the stick for far too long, it’s an even more welcome development.

          Bumping SS benefits would help encourage this, and stimulate the economy while encouraging the transfer of jobs, however indirectly, from the old to the young.

          https://www.votetulsi.com/bumper-stickers/free  
    • D504 (228 posts)
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      5. Social Security is much less than that..

      for most people, subtract the Medicare payments(which it seems we already paid for) and you’ve got less than $11K to live on.

      The only thing that has kept pace with inflation is the income of those that caused it.

      • davidthegnome (2510 posts)
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        8. Good point

        That’s 13200 yearly.  Notice that the federal poverty guidelines are just a bit over a thousand less…

        I suspect this is deliberate.  No one (and certainly most politicians) wants to admit that many millions of the elderly live in poverty.  So the number is kept, I think, deliberately, a bit lower.

        Then they can say you’re not in poverty.  It’s bull shit, but they’ve got these numbers and charts, you see, so neener neener, or something.

        It is… sick.  Official statistics say that over 45 million Americans live in poverty, almost half that number in deep poverty.  If those bull shit statistics matched reality… I suspect that number would be over 100 million – if not higher.  Perhaps as much as a third of our population.

        “There is no distinctly native American criminal class save Congress.” - Mark Twain
        • glinda (2589 posts)
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          29. My parents income was below poverty level even with my

          father having worked at the Post Office and my mother getting small retirement checks from the few jobs she did while raising a family. Yet there were things

          in place to help them keep their heads barely above water. Yes they owned a home even! But realistically it took them until 5 years before my mother passed to finish paying off the measly $18000 they owed on it from the 60’s.

          I do not see anyone making it very well as costs go up and safety nets have holes cut into them. Personally I am totally scared.

          About your story of the Walmart employee. I met her yesterday.

           

          Animals know more than we do. - Native American proverb
          • davidthegnome (2510 posts)
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            30. There are many like her.

            Too many, in a country that should not have any.  This has become our story, our present, but it does not (I hope) have to be our future.  There is a lot of progressive movement and growth right now… people are waking up to the fact that our government is a big scam.

            I think there will be much more pain to come… but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.  If not… we will create it, together.

            In the meantime… I hope we all do what we can for our friends, families, neighbors – and even strangers.  Never know what someone’s story is, or the many roads they have walked… until you ask them.

            Just my thoughts…

            “There is no distinctly native American criminal class save Congress.” - Mark Twain
            • glinda (2589 posts)
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              31. And they are good thoughts.

              Animals know more than we do. - Native American proverb
    • Silver Witch (6458 posts)
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      6. Daily Radical!!

      @deadpool

      Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost~John Quincy Adams  
    • davidthegnome (2510 posts)
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      10. This is interesting.

      http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/10/goodbye-middle-class-51-percent-of-all-american-workers-make-less-than-30000-dollars-a-year.html

      Indicates that half the population is living in what should be considered poverty.  30 a year?  I know families that struggle at 80, or 100.

      “There is no distinctly native American criminal class save Congress.” - Mark Twain
    • closeupready (2439 posts)
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      11. Thing is, the oligarchs pay both parties to represent them – good cop, bad cop.

      The GOP are the bad cops, the Dems are the good cops.  It’s a fraudulent misrepresentation of legitimacy in a nation which holds itself out as an exemplary democracy.

      Point being, there is NO WAY IN HELL they are going to let Democrats resist the rightward drift of government.  The only purpose Democrats are allowed to serve is as a spectacle of inconvenience, Exhibit A in the argument that “see?  we have a real democracy here!”.

      The 1% will not allow their taxes to go up.  The government will continue to chip away at the Welfare State/New Deal.  We are fast becoming a Third World country, and THAT is why – as time marches on – even the very definition of ‘poverty level wages’ becomes a state of being for which it is harder and harder to find Americans who fit within it.  Real inflation is 3%?  Adjust poverty level 2.5%.  YEAR AFTER YEAR.  Eventually, even homeless people will find themselves shut out of social services because they are young, or speak English.

      K&R

      The opinions and views expressed herein are solely those of the author.
      • Salemcourt (1011 posts)
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        12. In many parts of rural America

        it is already a third world country.

        • duckpin (7345 posts)
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          19. I agree with you and the recent UN poverty study bears your observation out.

          Lack of clean water; lack of functional septic systems; teachers abandoning their profession because Wal-Mart pays more, etc.

          Then there’s the fact that diseases that were eradicated are coming back. Hookworm is an absolute indicator for poverty. This parasite does not breed in the human body and can only be acquired from breaks in the skin coming into contact with raw sewage. This has been documented by the UN as occurring in a part of the south. People are infected again and again because they live in unsanitary conditions that did not exist until the turn of the century.

          "The justness of individual land right is  not justifiable to those to whom the land by right of first claim collectively belonged "
    • Babel 17 (4711 posts)
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      13. Antiquated determinations are used a lot by government

      https://www.cbo.gov/publication/49948

      How Have Taxes on Social Security Benefits Changed Over Time?
      The shares of Social Security benefits subject to the individual income tax have grown rapidly since 1984, when benefits first became taxable. Initially, no more than 50 percent of benefits were subject to tax for higher-income taxpayers, and all of those taxes were credited to the Social Security trust funds. That limit was raised in 1994 to the current limit of 85 percent, with the additional taxes resulting from higher amounts credited to the Medicare trust fund.

      In addition, the shares of benefits subject to tax have grown because the income thresholds above which benefits are taxable are not indexed for inflation or real income growth. As a result, under current law, those shares will continue to grow in future years. CBO projects that income taxes paid on Social Security benefits will rise from 6½ percent of those benefits in 2014 to more than 8 percent by 2024 and more than 9 percent by 2039.

      President Obama wanted to trade down how inflation was measured for SS benefits if Republicans would relent on Bush era tax cuts. We were told “no worries” and that we should know the Democrats would make sure to get it back some day soon.

      Secretary Clinton got applauded by her establishment friends for what they like to call an “adult” approach to Social Security. It sounded a lot like those starving would get a tiny bump, and everybody else would be left to revel in doing their part to help Clinton balance her budget.

      Paul Ryan looks at SS like it’s a deer that’s in season, and he’s a hunter with a quota he’s determined to fill.

      A majority of Americans call BS on all of this, but funny enough they’re split across two parties, both of which have more important pots on the burner. Democrats won big concessions, we’re told, in the upcoming budget deal. Multi-billion dollar increases for defense, but no mention of setting up better revenue streams for SS.

      Way to dicker, Democrats! One of the few issues that can peel off millions from Trump’s base, and not anger your own! Let us know when your powder is dry enough, and you’re not chewing gum, so you can take it up.

      Though you ran on the issue of bolstering SS in 2008, and cleared the board, that huge victory still left you too timid to take it up.

      It’s a Berniecrat or bust on these economic issues.

      https://www.votetulsi.com/bumper-stickers/free  
    • SurrealAmerican (1226 posts)
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      15. It is always in the interest of the party in power …

      … to cook the statistics in such a manner as to hide the problem.

      • Major Hogwash (3862 posts)
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        34. Unfortunately, the misery index has risen each year for the last decade or so.

        The “financial banking crisis of 2008” wiped out a lot of interest that we just spent the last decade regaining. It seems we are always moving one step ahead, and then taking a step and a half backwards. Our money has less buying power now that it did in the 90’s, and yet the people in Congress don’t want to seem to do anything about the constant daily eroding of America’s standard of living.

        I agree about the statistics being used by either side to hide the problem of poverty. But the truth is, most of the people that vote seem willing to let it continue in most of the red states, not realizing that they have been voting against their own best financial self interests all of this time.

        Trump moya marionetka ~ Putin  
    • VagrantPeters (793 posts)
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      16. I mentioned that we treat prisoners better than our poor in another thread.

      It is mostly true.  Three hots and a cot are pretty much guaranteed for the most violent and depraved among us.  The poor?  Oh to hell with them.

      Freedom doesn’t ring so loudly when the pangs of hunger drown her out.

       

      "It's alright Ma, it's life and life only."
      • davidthegnome (2510 posts)
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        17. Well said.

        I can only sadly agree…. and hope that one day we can change that.

        “There is no distinctly native American criminal class save Congress.” - Mark Twain
      • fluff (626 posts)
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        25. One hot. One cold sandwich. American prisons reduce life expectancy. n/t

        Remember, remember the 6th of November 2018.
    • Deadpool (14601 posts)
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      18. On the Daily Radical!

      • 99Forever (4532 posts)
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        21. Thanks DP.

        Deservedly so.

    • Enthusiast (13117 posts)
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      20. Kicked and Recommended!

      "I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." Thomas Jefferson
    • Utopian Leftist (636 posts)
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      22. Bernie would have raised social security benefits.

      We on Social Security desperately need more.

      And you’re right, if there were anything fair or Just about it, a much higher income than $12,140 would be considered poverty. Try living in any major city in America on 1K per month. Ludicrous, when the rent ALONE in any of them is over 1K for a 1-bedroom apartment! So double that, $24K (or 2K per month). Yeah, then you MIGHT have a chance to survive. But survival is still living on SLAVE WAGES, which is one more way of saying POVERTY!

      The beatdown Hillary was handed had nothing to do with Bernie Bros, Russia, a VRWC, Comey, the FBI, the media, sexism, racism or any other ism you can think of. It was a referendum on neoliberalism. It is your legacy, Obama. It’s Clinton fatigue born of endless scandals. It’s war and prison for profit. It’s criminality that dresses itself up like saintliness and looks down its nose at its victims. ~ farleftlib
      • davidthegnome (2510 posts)
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        23. There is that.

        Yeah, best friend rented a studio apartment  in Boston some years back… 1100, I think.

        Of course, he got his master’s and joined the military as quick as he could.  Made him a very different man… and not in a good way.

        Slave wages is right.  At 24 or so, you might be okay up here if you had no really big expenses.  Most make do with far less.  I used to make… uh, 1000 a month after taxes, full time.  Was before the minimum wage went up from 7.50 to 9… and 10 as of January first.  Although I hear Governor LePage is trying to kill the new minimum wage, bring it back down to 8, or less.

        Maybe Bernie would have done what you say.  I think he at least would have tried.  Instead… well, we all know what we got instead.

        “There is no distinctly native American criminal class save Congress.” - Mark Twain
    • hopemountain (2525 posts)
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      24. the state of oregon has adjusted the federal "guideline"

      poverty level to 135% above the fed line to qualify for any and all medical, housing, and food assistance. it is a sliding adjustment. but every bit helps. i don’t know about other states. my income is not fed poverty level but i do fall with in the oregon adjusted % and qualify for food, housing and sliding fee health care. i don’t use the food and housing because i am frugal and budget every penny. my rent is a little more than i can afford because my sanity requires a rural setting. i cook from the garden/scratch, do not have cable and split the wifi with a neighbor. heating is high but it is a small place and i budget for winter heat during the year. i no longer travel and my car is 14 years old runs well and is a trusty white pony.

      i realize my personal situation is an exception. poverty in this state is increasing – as across the country. in our county alone, the number of HOMELESS children nearly tripled since last year. however, for the most part, oregonians do care about one another and our governor makes sure social justice and economic programs continue to be funded.

      "economic and environmental justice is spiritual work." ~ tom b. k. goldtooth .... "Be a nuisance where it counts, do your part to inform and stimulate the public to join your action. Be depressed, discouraged, and disappointed at failure and the disheartening effects of ignorance, greed, corruption and bad politics—but never give up.” - Marjory Stoneman Douglas  (1890-1998), journalist, environmentalist, activist.  
      • amylsacks (332 posts)
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        26. Nice Dust-Up On Twitter After I Quit

        A local Socialist dude explained that he and his partner were faced with homelessness because they were about to lose their 1200/mo studio apt. to a rent jack-up.  Dem a-holes showed up and mocked him for being “spoiled.” Apparently they hadn’t heard how mind-blowingly over-inflated rents are in Portland. And of course looking on a site like Houzz was too much work for them. Why let the facts get in the way of a little Left-punching and poor-shaming? (Stuff like that is *why* I quit Twitter.)

        • closeupready (2439 posts)
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          27. Social media is toxic, IMO. I stay VERY FAR AWAY.

          I recently shut down my FB account, and do not miss it one bit.

          The opinions and views expressed herein are solely those of the author.
        • Major Hogwash (3862 posts)
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          35. Seattle still leads the nation in the highest increases in rental rates.

          For the last several years, in fact. Portland’s rental rates are high, too, though.

          Trump moya marionetka ~ Putin  
          • amylsacks (332 posts)
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            37. I Thought SEA's Wages…

            …had done better re: keeping pace with rent than the wages down here have.

            We have Commissioner Eudaly here going to bat for renters, as she is one herself. The press picks her to death, but I’m proud to have voted for her.

            • Major Hogwash (3862 posts)
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              38. Oh, I'm sure you're correct about wages in Seattle.

              I don’t know if they’ve kept pace with the rental rates or not, though. The cost of living is high there, yet I don’t know how it ranks with other cities in America. Probably pretty damn high.

              The only reason I spoke up is because I had read an article the other day about rental rates in America. And that article stated that Seattle’s was the fastest growing rate in the entire country. It said that the problem has been getting worse as more investors from outside of Washington are buying more property as investment property in Seattle. And then taking advantage of the situation and raising the rental rates even higher. The article said that the problem of rental rates constantly going up in Seattle has been going on for several years now. It also said that the area is nearly out of any more new properties to purchase because of the rush to buy up properties in recent past years.

              Trump moya marionetka ~ Putin  
    • Wink21 (47 posts)
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      39. I get paid $2,100 /mo.

      or about $25K /yr., before taxes, and I eat Ramen noodles 7 or 8 meals /mo. Not many Ramen meals, but enough to know I ain’t livin’ large by any account. I would consider myself in the poverty group at $25K /yr. On the top edge of the group, better off than many, but still in the group. The line needs to be at $25K. Any less than that and you’re poor. $12.5K is not poor. $12.5K is dead broke with no hope. Nobody should make that in this country. Anyone working 20 hours or more each week should earn a minimum of $16K /yr. = $15 /hr. Minimum. Anything less is b.s.

      lives in NY-21. Find on twitter @wink1radio Avatar is a pic of my S.L. avie.
      • davidthegnome (2510 posts)
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        40. If you don't mind sharing..

        What is your profession?  Age?  Socioeconomic status in general?  Do you have a college degree?  I ask because it would be, I think, interesting to break it down as I did the hypothetical in the OP.

        I suspect we would find that you are screwed in many of the same wats that hypothetical person is.

        I would suggest 30k a year as not technically living in poverty.  Though, depending on circumstance, even people earning that can be damn close.

        This is why IMO we need a universal basic income – and further, to subsidize employees earning less than a certain average… maybe 30k?  Maybe 40?

        I’m no economist, but I am curious about how a genuine expert would consider the problem and break it down.  What solutions they might suggest…

        “There is no distinctly native American criminal class save Congress.” - Mark Twain
        • Wink21 (47 posts)
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          42. I'm old, recently retired.

          I live on S.S. and a small pension. Remember those? I was fortunate enough to have once worked for a company that honored its pension plan, otherwise I’d be in the dead broke category. Still, it’s tough “living” on $25K /yr.! I can’t imagine attempting to get by on less.

          lives in NY-21. Find on twitter @wink1radio Avatar is a pic of my S.L. avie.