BEING POOR - DONT READ UNLESS YOU WANT TO CRY If you have never been poor , You MUST read this. If you are poor , you already know.
- For up-to-date information about poverty and opportunity , here is a resource that was found recently:
- Of those people seeking emergency food relief, more than one-third (36%) had to choose between buying food or paying for housing. -FROM CHARITY NAVIGATOR
- Poverty and Family Homelessness Over 12 percent of the U. S. population lives in poverty—one in six children.
- Families with children are the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population in the US—40%.
- Thirty-six million people, including 14 million children, experience hunger.
- About 41 million people do not have health insurance.
A minimum-wage worker would have to work more than 67 hours a week just to keep a family of four above the poverty line of $18,104 per year for the average family of four.
The State of Poverty
- Number of children: 12.9 million
...four times the number of all the children in Illinois
- Number of seniors 65 and over: 3.6 million
...the same as the entire population of Oklahoma
- Number of women: 14.6 million
...the entire population of Wisconsin, Indiana, and Iowa combined
- Number reporting a disability: 8.0 million
...a population larger than the State of Massachusetts
Number of homeless: 3.5 million
...twice the population of Nebraska
from the Sergant Shriver National Center on Poverty Law :
This is the link where i got the listing below :
Posted by john at September
ber 3, 2005 12:14 AM
September 03, 2005
Being Poor by John Scalzi
Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.
Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV.
Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they're what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there's not an $800 car in America that's worth a damn.
Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.
Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends' houses but never has friends over to yours.
Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won't hear you say "I get free lunch" when you get to the cashier.
Being poor is living next to the freeway.
Being poor is coming back to the car with your children in the back seat, clutching that box of Raisin Bran you just bought and trying to think of a way to make the kids understand that the box has to last.
Being poor is wondering if your well-off sibling is lying when he says he doesn't mind when you ask for help.
Being poor is off-brand toys.
Being poor is a heater in only one room of the house.
Being poor is knowing you can't leave $5 on the coffee table when your friends are around.
Being poor is hoping your kids don't have a growth spurt.
Being poor is stealing meat from the store, frying it up before your mom gets home and then telling her she doesn't have make dinner tonight because you're not hungry anyway.
Being poor is Goodwill underwear.
Being poor is not enough space for everyone who lives with you.
Being poor is feeling the glued soles tear off your supermarket shoes when you run around the playground.
Being poor is your kid's school being the one with the 15-year-old textbooks and no air conditioning.
Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal.
Being poor is relying on people who don't give a damn about you.
Being poor is an overnight shift under florescent lights.
Being poor is finding the letter your mom wrote to your dad, begging him for the child support.
Being poor is a bathtub you have to empty into the toilet.
Being poor is stopping the car to take a lamp from a stranger's trash.
Being poor is making lunch for your kid when a cockroach skitters over the bread, and you looking over to see if your kid saw.
Being poor is believing a GED actually makes a goddamned difference.
Being poor is people angry at you just for walking around in the mall.
Being poor is not taking the job because you can't find someone you trust to watch your kids.
Being poor is the police busting into the apartment right next to yours.
Being poor is not talking to that girl because she'll probably just laugh at your clothes.
Being poor is hoping you'll be invited for dinner.
Being poor is a sidewalk with lots of brown glass on it.
Being poor is people thinking they know something about you by the way you talk.
Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise.
Being poor is your kid's teacher assuming you don't have any books in your home.
Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap.
Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor.
Being poor is knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere.
Being poor is people surprised to discover you're not actually stupid.
Being poor is people surprised to discover you're not actually lazy.
Being poor is a six-hour wait in an emergency room with a sick child asleep on your lap.
Being poor is never buying anything someone else hasn't bought first.
Being poor is picking the 10 cent ramen instead of the 12 cent ramen because that's two extra packages for every dollar.
Being poor is having to live with choices you didn't know you made when you were 14 years old.
Being poor is getting tired of people wanting you to be grateful.
Being poor is knowing you're being judged.
Being poor is a box of crayons and a $1 coloring book from a community center Santa.
Being poor is checking the coin return slot of every soda machine you go by.
Being poor is deciding that it's all right to base a relationship on shelter.
Being poor is knowing you really shouldn't spend that buck on a Lotto ticket.
Being poor is hoping the register lady will spot you the dime.
Being poor is feeling helpless when your child makes the same mistakes you did, and won't listen to you beg them against doing so.
Being poor is a cough that doesn't go away.
Being poor is making sure you don't spill on the couch, just in case you have to give it back before the lease is up.
Being poor is a $200 paycheck advance from a company that takes $250 when the paycheck comes in.
Being poor is four years of night classes for an Associates of Art degree.
Being poor is a lumpy futon bed.
Being poor is knowing where the shelter is.
Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so.
Being poor is knowing how hard it is to stop being poor.
Being poor is seeing how few options you have.
Being poor is running in place.
Being poor is people wondering why you didn't leave.
This is the link where i got the listing above :
Posted by john at September 3, 2005 12:14 AM
"This is not about pity. It's more about passion.
Pity sees suffering and wants to ease the pain; passion sees injustice and wants to settle the score.
Pity implores the powerful to pay attention; passion warns them about what will happen if they don't.
The risk of pity is that it kills with kindness; the promise of passion is that it builds on the hope that the poor are fully capable of helping themselves if given the chance
. In 2005 the world's poor needed no more condolences; they needed people to get interested, get mad and then get to work. "
Note : The totally bizarre background is that this article( and perhaps the award given to the people the article was about ) was sponsered by "The Hilton Family "
-From an article about the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation :
The Good Samaritan Melinda Gates, Bono and Bill Gates: three people on a global mission to end poverty , disease and indifference By NANCY GIBBS
The rest of the article can be found here :
Add your own comments about being poor. Maybe we can get some of the world to understand what it is like.The world would be better if we could walk a mile or more in someone else's shoes.
I never thought i would be in the situation i am in now. It is so true that ANY of us can be in this situation. It only takes one big accident , or a lay-off , or , a hurricane , or a major health problem.
Being poor for me is looking at my ex's life with his new wife and son and how they are living compared to how my daughter and i are living.
It's eating generic spaghettios out of a can because your electric got shut off
Thinking about the dreams you had for your daughter , and then had to give them up in order to leave an abusive relationship so your daughter wouldn't be abused by your ex.
Getting a job , finally ,then having an accident at work .
It's desperately needing sleep , but the walls in your cheap rental are so thin and the neighbors kid is screaming again and throwing stuff against the walls , and the landlord doesn't give a crap.
Going for a quick get-rich scheme even though you know it's probably another fake , because you are desperate for something like this to be real.(it never is)
I am poor.
I am not stupid.
I am not less of a person than you.
I deserve the same rights as anyone.
I deserve to eat at a table with kings, because they are human beings just like me.
I don't enjoy going without.
I don't like it when people that I don't even know talk down to me.
I am probably more educated than some of those who are "helping the poor lady".
I don't want to be a statistic.
I want to be a person.
I want the same for my child as the person who has a child in Harvard.
I am a good mother.
My daughter knows she is loved.
Poor people are just like you.
I want to get the word out.
The tragedy of Katrina exposed a huge gap in our society . Being poor means sometimes you can't afford a car.
Being black or Latino without a car in the Katrina disaster was a death warrent.
Fifty years ago, the late Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, catalyzing history-making events.
Imagine, however, if Rosa Parks had lived in New Orleans in September 2005 and was trying to escape from the gathering clouds of Hurricane Katrina. Would she have jumped in her car? Would she have bought a train ticket? It is likely she wouldn't have found any bus seat. Would she have survived?
In light of Hurricane Katrina, millions of Americans were forced to make such nerve-racking calculations. And their transportation options, unfortunately, depended on race. Those with cars largely escaped. But African-American and Latino households are much less likely than white families to own a car, leaving us with those indelible images of people of color crying out from the rooftops.
A great deal of attention in the last two decades has been focused on the "digital divide," the concern that unequal access to new forms of technology such as the Internet are leaving people behind based on their class and race. But Hurricane Katrina exposed the "internal combustion engine" divide, the alarming disparity in car ownership that literally was the difference between life and death for many Gulf Coast residents.
Read the rest of this article :
Do you want to do something to help take action against the racial and economic divide in this country ? Read what these sites have to say:
United for a Fair Economy is a national, independent, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. UFE raises awareness that concentrated wealth and power undermine the economy, corrupt democracy, deepen the racial divide, and tear communities apart. We support and help build social movements for greater equality.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT - WE NEED TO GET SOME FLU SHOTS IN THIS COUNTRY !
If you think you might already have this bug , or if you want to be innoculated for the epidemic , click here :
This is a "cute" way to approach the problem , but it is real and scary. Please check these sites.
I just found a really good book review about our being so individual in this country and how it relates to the economy. I thought the first paragraph especially is pretty true about how we need to help each other help ourselves.Highlighting is mine.
May 2006 | A Berrett-Koehler Publishers Book
"All Together Now"
Common Sense for a Fair Economy
By Jared Bernstein
ISBN: 978-1-57675-387-3 or (1-57675-387-5)
$12.00, 120 pages, 5 1/2” x 8 1/2”
Available in May 2006 from Berrett-Koehler Publishers
“Jared Bernstein provides a smart look at the American economy, one deeply rooted in American values. All Together Now explains the importance of having an economy that puts people first and ensures a fair shake for all.”
—Senator John Edwards
“Jared Bernstein is to most economic writers what Red Bull is to a decaf latte. In All Together Now he makes such a rousing case for mutual responsibility and shared risk that you’ll leap out of your chair and into action. Everyone in the sub-billionaire class needs to read this book and send a gift copy to his or her elected officials.”
—Barbara Ehrenreich, bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch
“What does our national debate about economics most need? It needs ideas. It needs strong voices for justice who understand economics. And it needs economists with a passion for social decency. Jared Bernstein is a passionate economist who provides hard data to describe the world as it is, and ideas to make the world more just. All Together Now should be read and debated by all who know that the status quo is failing us and seek a daring and bracing examination of the reasons for our discontent.”
—E. J. Dionne, syndicated columnist, author of Why Americans Hate Politics and Stand Up Fight Back, and Professor, Georgetown University
“This vitally important and readable book couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Jared Bernstein examines the ever-increasing gap between our socalled ‘booming’ economy and the waning economic security of the very people creating that growth. With common sense and common decency, Bernstein shows where we’ve gone off course and how to find our way back.”
—Robert B. Reich, Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley, and former U.S. Secretary of Labor
Ready or Not, You’re on Your Own
I once heard an allegory about mealtime in heaven and hell. It turns out that in both places, meals are served at a huge round table with lots of delicious food in the center. The food is out of reach, but everyone’s got really long forks.
In hell, everyone starves because, while people can reach the food with their forks, the forks are much longer than their arms, so nobody can turn a fork around and eat what’s on the end of it.
In heaven, faced with the same problem, people eat well. How?
By feeding each other.
Protecting the rights of individuals has always been a core American value. Yet in recent years the emphasis on individualism has been pushed to the point where, like the diners in hell, we’re starving. This political and social philosophy is hurting our nation, endangering our future and that of our children, and, paradoxically, making it harder for individuals to get a fair shot at the American dream.
This extreme individualism dominates the way we talk about the most important aspects of our economic lives, those that reside in the intersection of our living standards, our government, and the future opportunities for ourselves and our children. The message, sometimes implicit but often explicit, is, You’re on your own. Its acronym, YOYO, provides a useful shorthand to summarize this destructive approach to governing.
The concept of YOYO, as used in this book, isn’t all that complicated. It’s the prevailing vision of how our country should be governed. As such, it embodies a set of values, and at the core of the YOYO value system is hyper-individualism: the notion that whatever the challenges we face as a nation, the best way to solve them is for people to fend for themselves. Over the past few decades, this harmful vision has generated a set of policies with that hyperindividualistic gene throughout their DNA.
The YOYO crowd—the politicians, lobbyists, and economists actively promoting this vision—has stepped up its efforts to advance its policies in recent years, but hyper-individualism is not a new phenomenon. Chapter 1 documents archaeological evidence of YOYO thinking and policies from the early 1900s, along with their fingerprint: a sharp increase in the inequality of income, wealth, and opportunity. The most recent incarnation can be found in the ideas generated by the administration of George W. Bush, but the YOYO infrastructure—the personnel with a vested interest in the continued dominance of these policies—will not leave the building with Bush. Unless, that is, we recognize the damage being done and make some major changes.
One central goal of the YOYO movement is to continue and even accelerate the trend toward shifting economic risks from the government and the nation’s corporations onto individuals and their families. You can see this intention beneath the surface of almost every recent conservative initiative: Social Security privatization, personal accounts for health care (the so-called Health Savings Accounts), attacks on labor market regulations, and the perpetual crusade to slash the government’s revenue through regressive tax cuts—a strategy explicitly tagged as “starving the beast”—and block the government from playing a useful role in our economic lives. You can even see this go-it-alone principle in our stance toward our supposed international allies.
While this fast-moving reassignment of economic risk would be bad news in any period, it’s particularly harmful today. As the new century unfolds, we face prodigious economic challenges, many of which have helped to generate both greater inequalities and a higher degree of economic insecurity in our lives. But the dominant vision has failed to develop a hopeful, positive narrative about how these challenges can be met in such a way as to uplift the majority.
Instead, messages such as “It’s your money” (the mantra of the first George W. Bush campaign in 2000), and frames such as “the ownership society,” stress an ever shrinking role for government and much more individual risk taking. Yet global competition, rising health costs, longer life spans with weaker pensions, less secure employment, and unprecedented inequalities of opportunity and wealth are calling for a much broader, more inclusive approach to helping all of us meet these challenges, one that taps government as well as market solutions.
To cite one potent example, 46 million people lack health coverage, and the share of our economy devoted to health care is headed for unsustainable levels. We urgently need to begin planning a viable alternative, such as a system of universal coverage as exists in every other advanced economy. In every case, these countries insure their citizens, control health costs better than we do, and have better overall health outcomes. Yet our leaders want to solve the problem with an individualistic, market-based system of private accounts designed to cut costs by shifting risk from the insurer to the patient, unleashing more of the very market forces that got us into this mess in the first place.
As I stress throughout, those crafting such policies are trapped in the YOYO paradigm, one where common-sense solutions, even those embraced by the rest of the advanced world, are out of bounds. This book has but a few central messages, but this is one of them: we simply can no longer afford to be led by people wearing ideological blinders. We must seriously investigate a new way of thinking if we are to successfully craft an equitable approach to growth, risk, and the distribution of opportunity and income.
For decades in the post-WWII era, the income of the typical family rose in lockstep with the economy’s performance. As the bakers of the economic pie—the workforce—grew more productive, they benefited commensurately from their work: between the mid-1940s and the mid-1970s, both productivity and real median family income doubled.
Since the mid-1970s, however, family income has grown at onethird the rate of productivity, even though families are working harder and longer than ever. Recently, the problem has grown more severe. In late 2003, we finally pulled out of the longest “jobless recovery” on record, going back to the 1930s. Our economy expanded, but we were losing jobs. Moreover, despite solid overall growth since the recession of 2001, the typical family’s income has consistently fallen and poverty has gone up. The gap between the growth in productivity, which has been quite stellar, and the very flat pace at which the living standards of most families are improving has never been wider. This is a characteristic of YOYO economics: the economy does fine; the people in the economy do not.
How has this occurred, and what role do the people and politics of YOYO play? While the whole story might be made more interesting by a right-wing conspiracy, the rise of YOYO isn’t one. Though conservatives have introduced recent YOYO initiatives like Social Security privatization and private accounts for health care and unemployment, this is not a story of good Democrats and bad Republicans. It is the story of the ascendancy of a largely bipartisan vision that promotes individualist market-based solutions over solutions that recognize there are big problems that markets cannot effectively solve.
We cannot, for example, constantly cut the federal government’s revenue stream without undermining its ability to meet pressing social needs. We know that more resources will be needed to meet the challenges of prospering in a global economy, keeping up with technological changes, funding health care and pension systems, helping individuals balance work and family life, improving the skills of our workforce, and reducing social and economic inequality. Yet discussion of this reality is off the table.
We're In This Together
We need an alternative vision, one that applauds individual freedom but emphasizes that such freedom is best realized with a more collaborative approach to meeting the challenges we face. The message is simple: We’re in this together. Here, the acronym is WITT.
Though this alternative agenda uses the scope and breadth of the federal government to achieve its ends, this book is not a call for more government in the sense of devoting a larger share of our economy to government spending. In fact, there is surprisingly little relationship between the ideological agenda of those in charge and the share of the economy devoted to the federal government. To the contrary, some of the biggest spenders of federal funds have been purveyors of hyper-individualism (with G. W. Bush at the top of the list). But, regardless of what you feel the government’s role should be in the economy and society, an objective look at the magnitude of the challenges we face shows we must restore the balance between individual and collective action. We simply cannot effectively address globalization, health care, pensions, economic insecurity, and fiscal train wrecks by cutting taxes, turning things over to the market, and telling our citizens they’re on their own, like the gold prospectors of the 1800s, to strike it rich or bust.
All Together Now aims to set us on a new path. At the heart of the WITT agenda is the belief that we can wield the tools of government to build a more just society, one that preserves individualist values while ensuring that the prosperity we generate is equitably shared. Importantly, under the WITT agenda, this outcome occurs not through redistributionist Robin Hood schemes, but through creating an economic architecture that reconnects our strong, flexible economy to the living standards of all, not just to the residents of the penthouse. As the pie grows, all the bakers get bigger slices.
Where YOYO economics explains why we cannot shape our participation in the global economy to meet our own needs, or provide health coverage for the millions who lack that basic right, or raise the living standards of working families when the economy is growing, WITT policies target these challenges head on.
As YOYOism rolls on, the amplitude of our national discomfort, the vague sense that something is fundamentally wrong in how we conduct our national and international affairs, is climbing. In poll after poll, solid majorities view our country as headed in the wrong direction, and there are signs that the YOYO infrastructure is not impenetrable. Though the administration may ultimately get its way, some members of Congress have unexpectedly been resisting White House demands for billions more in tax cuts for the wealthy. In a totally uncharacteristic reversal, the Bush administration was forced to reinstate the prevailing wage rule it suspended in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In the off-year 2005 elections, a few closely watched races revealed that simply pledging to cut taxes wasn’t enough. In a couple of important cases, candidates and initiatives that delivered more WITTisms than YOYOisms prevailed.1 The climate of a few years ago has changed, and resistance is no longer futile.
A growing chorus is calling for a more balanced role of government in our lives. In the words of Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, “Government is nothing more nor less than the instrument whereby our people come together to undertake collectively the responsibilities we cannot discharge alone.” If enough of us add our voices, we can reject messages like “It’s your money” and “You’re on your own” as divisive and counterproductive.
We can move the pendulum away from a politics that excessively focuses on individuals—the YOYO agenda toward an approach wherein we work together to craft solutions to the challenges we face. Embedded in these solutions is a healthy respect for markets and individuals. But that respect is not excessive. It does not lead us to stand idly by while the economy expands year after year as poverty rises and the real incomes of working families stagnate. Neither does it impel us to shy away from our goal: building a society where the fruits of economic growth are broadly shared with those who create that growth each day of their working lives.
A Return to Common Sense
The subtitle of this book invokes Common Sense, the most famous work of the American revolutionary Thomas Paine. What’s the connection?
It’s partly, of course, the issue of whom our government represents. Paine was ready to throw off the yoke of British tyranny well before most of the nation’s founders were. In this spirit, part of what follows is a common-sense critique of the United States’ current situation. As discussed in chapter 1, hyper-individualism has held sway numerous times in our history, and a characteristic of these periods is the extent to which they favor the chosen few over the majority.
But what makes Paine so relevant today was his ability to see outside the box. While the majority of the colonists were unhappy with the Crown, most were unable to envision ending their relationship with England and seriously consider independence. Common Sense, which starts right off with a vitriolic personal attack on King George III, offered the colonists a radically different view of their options. Paine told the colonists that their humanity was a gift from God, not from the king. Thus, they had a responsibility to themselves and their children to construct a system of government that would free them from the constraints of the Crown to pursue their “natural rights.” We can see this philosophy clearly embedded in the Declaration of Independence, where the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness was enshrined as a God-given, self-evident right of humanity.
We have drifted too far from Paine’s vision. Many of us share a sense of deep discomfort and insecurity about the direction our country is taking. But there do not seem to be any signposts pointing to a better way. Why not?
It’s easy to blame the lack of leadership, and there’s something to that. The quality of many of our leaders does seem particularly suspect these days. Opportunists can always be found in politics, but their influence is often countered by those truly motivated to promote the public good (which is not to say that such people agree on how to do so, of course). Right now, the ratio of opportunists to idealists may be unusually high.
But the problem cuts deeper. The emphasis on individualism will always be a core American value, but it has been stressed to the breaking point. As the YOYO influence has spread, assisted by the muscular application of contemporary economics (as discussed in chapter 2), the YOYOs have implemented a philosophy of hyperindividualism that disdains using the tools of government to seek solutions. More than anything else, this policy has led to our current predicament. Under the banner of “You’re on your own,” we have lost a sense of common ownership of our government, an institution that many of us now distrust as feckless at best and corrupt at worst.
This abandonment of our faith in government to help meet the challenges we face—social, economic, and international—has been costly. We have shut off our critical faculties that under normal circumstances would lead us to be deeply angered by much of what’s going on. Despite the events of September 11, 2001, we are less prepared for a national disaster now than we were a few years ago. Our citizens are dying in an underfunded war launched on false pretenses, and our actions have helped to unleash powerful forces that are both lethal and destabilizing. A majority of our representatives are addicted to tax cuts with no regard for their future impact. Short-sighted vested interests are at the table, constructing self-enriching energy policies instead of incentives to conserve; polluters are editing the science out of environmental protection acts.
These are front-page stories. Yet in the absence of a broadly shared vision in which we see that each one of these calamities poses a deep threat to our common fate, it’s not clear how we should react. We have a vague sense that something important is off-kilter, but since the YOYOs have taken government solutions off the table, we have no means of crafting a suitable response. When the answer for every problem is a market-based solution—a private account, leavened with a tax cut for the wealthiest—we are trapped.
Clearly, we need to escape from that restrictive, cynical vision. Pursuing our collective, rather than strictly personal, interests will help. The plan I offer is straightforward: diagnose the point at which we got off course and chart the way forward.
The diagnosis begins in chapter 1, with a more detailed explanation of YOYO ideas and policies and a brief history of their evolution. Chapter 2 looks at the supporting role played by economists whose ideas in recent years have lent sustenance and support to the YOYO agenda. In chapter 3, I get proactive and lay out the WITT agenda. Chapter 4 addresses a set of challenges to the agenda, and the final chapter concludes with thoughts about how a movement to implement these ideas might be nurtured into being.
My hope is that the ideas that follow, along with some of the great work of others I cite along the way, will morph into a blueprint for such a movement to carry out. By working, thinking, and planning “all together now,” we can find our way toward a more hopeful future for ourselves, our families, and our society.
Purchase this book
Copyright © 2006 by The Economic Policy Institute. All rights reserved.