Poverty in the US: The Rich get Richer

The gulf between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ in the US is apparently growing… According to recent Census Bureau figures, the number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.1 million to 37 million last year. In other words, just under 13% of Americans now reside below the poverty line. This marks the fourth straight year in which the number of people living in poverty in the US has increased. For reference, a family of four is considered to be living in poverty if they make $19, 157/year or less. For a family of two (no children) the threshold is $12, 649. On top of this, median household income in the US was flat over the past year, and there are reports that as many as 70% of American workers feel that their standard of living is on the decline. In contrast, the average CEO payout increased 13% in 2004.

[Source: The Guardian]

8 Responses to “Poverty in the US: The Rich get Richer”

  1. Anonymous

    5 1/2 years later and you are still reading the same story…rich are getting richer and the bastards of Wall Street continue to steal…sickening…

  2. Anonymous

    Nickel —

    I checked out the book — I think you mentioned it before (one blog I read did, I know) — but could only get through the first 30 pages or so. Here’s what I got out of that part:

    If you make all the wrong choices in life regarding education, saving, responsibility, and several other qualities we would recognize as being part of a financially prudent lifestyle, then you’re going to be poor and have a hard time making it. Is this news to anyone? What ever happened to personal responsibility? I saw the book as having a clear agenda and I couldn’t take any more of it.

    That said, I think the solution to poverty is charity — and I don’t mean a handout from the government. I mean personal charity — people giving to help others less fortunate. If you look at the stats, people give 2-3% of their incomes annually on average and as incomes increase, the percentages stay flat. Overall, I think this is a measly amount and consider it part of the materialism in the U.S.

    I advocate budgeting for giving just as you would any other “expense”. For me, 10% is a minimum. If everyone did even half of this level, a lot of our problems regarding poverty, health issues, etc. would be solved (or at least a lot closer to being solved.) However, it’s hard for many to give when tax rates are so high. I guess it’s a vicious circle.

    OK, enough ranting for now. What I would like to do, though, is ask you and your readers to be part of the Hurricane Katrina Blog Relief Day tomorrow. Here’s details on what I’m doing.



  3. Anonymous

    It’s always important to look at what type of jobs are created when numbers are looked at. The majority of jobs being created are service jobs: jobs with no benefits, or benefits paid out of pocket, low hourly watges, and large turn overs. These are the jobs that don’t keep pace with rising inflation not to mention rising health care, college costs, etc.

  4. Anonymous

    Thanks for the book reference! I didn’t even think about the outsourcing issue in my simplistic view and that does definitely play a role in this whole equation.

  5. A couple of things… First off, I understand the purpose of the taxcuts with regard to stimulating the economy. However, they were also sold as being good for the little guy, and that clearly hasn’t happened (though it’s admittedly hard to tie these issues together over such a short time period). Regarding the economy and jobs, there has actually been positive job growth recently, but the poverty rate has still increased. This may well be a byproduct of increased globalization, in which the better paying jobs are being outsourced, leaving the ‘masses’ with a bunch of low-paying jobs to choose from. And the book that you are referring to is Nickel and Dimed. While the author clearly has an agenda, it’s an interesting story and an easy read.

  6. Anonymous

    I think we all would agree that this is a problem. However, one of the simplest ways to view tax cuts are that they are supposed to stimulate the economy (people have more to spend), which in turn increases consumer spending, thus developing jobs for people (including those below the poverty line). All economists and political theorists please hammer me now!

    If we look at gas prices sky rocketing, and consumer spending going down (because we have to pay more for the basics we need), then jobs aren’t going to be created (including for those below the poverty line). So I would think these nubmers next year will even be more spread apart.

    With this simplistic economic blurb said, I really don’t know what the solution is either. But it does remind me that I wanted to read the book of a women who chose to work at the poverty level (I think hourly at wal-mart) and how she struggled with it. It would be very interesting to hear this story, even though she “chose” to live at the level of poverty.

  7. Well, I definitely see this as a problem, and it’s pretty clear to me that things like the recent tax cuts that were supposedly going to primarily help the middle and lower class the most (yeah, right) haven’t had the promised effects. Without getting too political, the poverty rate has stayed even or increased every year since our current President has been in office. While I’m sure that we’ll pretty much always have poverty, I think the growing disparity between the rich and the poor is going to be a real problem area for this country going forward. And no, I’m really not sure what the solution to this would be.

  8. Anonymous

    Nickel —

    Do you have a position on this? Is poverty something we’ll always have? Do you have any solutions/thoughts or are you simply reporting the facts?


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