Can you get by in America being poor?
If you are in a household of four people, by various federal government definitions, you are poor if the household’s income is below about $23,000. In a 2,000-hour work year, that represents roughly one person in the home making about $11.50 per hour and supporting three others.
It’s tough to comprehend how a household of four people does not feel poor if they pull in $24,000. How on Earth do they make ends meet? That may be a threshold to entering middle-class status in many developing nations, but in America? With our costs of housing, transportation, and other essentials?
You, informed readers, tell me how you would budget on $2,000 a month to feed and clothe you and three other people.
The U.S. Government and taxpayers provide many “transfer payments” to people at or below the poverty level. Food stamps. Earned income tax credits. Medicaid. Assistance payments. Et cetera. Et cetera. Likewise, the poor are just as eligible to a free, public education as the rich. Just as entitled to public transit (when they can find it) and safe drinking water. Charitable organizations help so many so often.
Still, 15 percent of Americans, in households of four people, somehow get by on less than $23,000. In September the U.S. Census Bureau put out its annual report on poverty and income growth/decline. In a nutshell, it’s not a pretty picture. It bears particularly grim news to people with young children. About 22 percent of all kids under the age of 18 live in these “below-poverty-level” homes. (That “poverty” level is about half of what a married couple who have worked for many years in good-paying jobs receive in Social Security.)
This isn’t a clarion call to redistribute wealth or fundamentally change America’s quest for life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
Facts simply pose the question: Can you get by in America if you’re poor?
By Craig Ruff