Moral Outrage
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Doing the math – 100 million Americans living in poverty

The shocking new poverty statistics from the Census Bureau indicate that a record 43.6 million Americans lived in poverty in 2009. However, there is reason to believe this Census figure drastically undercounts this demographic.

The 2008 Census total stated that 39.8 million Americans lived in poverty. But the National Academy of Science did its own study and found that 47.4 million Americans actually lived in poverty in 2008, well over 7 million more citizens.

Why the difference in figures? The Census Bureau uses a long outdated method to calculate the poverty rate, based on costs of living metrics established back in 1955 — 55 years ago! They ignore many key factors, such as the increased costs of medical care, child care, education, transportation, and many other basic costs of living.

So the  National Academy of Science calculation for 2009 would number at least 52 million Americans living in poverty.

But what about those temporarily kept out of poverty because of unemployment insurance (3.3 million) or food stamp assistance ( 2.3 million)? Seems these folks would qualify as “poor” as well? If so, this would  increase this number to almost 60 million Americans living in poverty.

A staggering amount of Americans are currently enrolled in “anti-poverty” programs. Over 50 million are on Medicaid, 41 million on food stamps, 10 million on unemployment benefits, 4.4 million receive welfare. Also not counted in this “anti-poverty” total are 30 million children enrolled in the National School Lunch Program. And if it wasn’t for Social Security, another 20 million more would be added to the poverty total.

Finally, consider for a moment the poverty line: $22,050 for a family of four. (That breaks down to $5,513 per person, per year.) For those of you living in North America on about this amount, you are aware of the quality of life this buys. For those of you in a higher tax bracket, imagine.

Well, for the sake of this argument, if we were to increase this figure of $22,050 for a family of four by just a small increment– to say $25,000 for a family of four — the estimate is that the National Academy of Science would come up with a number of nearly 100 million Americans living in poverty, especially since 2010 has been a rougher year economically than 2009.

AlterNet

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4 Responses to “Doing the math – 100 million Americans living in poverty”

  1. To add another element to the discussion, 77 percent of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck.

    This means of 310 million citizens, 239 million Americans could be just one setback away from economic ruin.

  2. Despite this economic crisis, it’s not like the U.S. doesn’t have the money. I am not speaking here of the veneer where it appears most everyone is driving around in new cars, and returning home each day to nice houses, even if they may be just a step away from repossessed.

    For the last missing piece to this equation, corporate profits are soaring while all this is devastation is occurring.

    A recent study done by Capgemini and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management found that a mere 1 percent of Americans are hoarding $13 trillion in “investible wealth.” Yep, and that doesn’t even factor in all the money they have hidden in offshore accounts.

    Tens of millions of Americans are wondering how they are going to pay their bills, while many of the people who caused this crisis are sloshing around in $13 trillion.

    Bottom line: The United States now has the highest inequality of wealth in its history.

  3. […] has become increasingly harsh, where the richest Americans buy their way to political power and the poor are abandoned to their fate. In their private lives, Americans have become addicted to consumerism, which drains their time, […]

  4. […] Civil unrest has not yet occurred within the United States. However, over the past few years the percentage of Americans living paycheck to paycheck has dramatically increased. The most recent number for 2010 has exploded to a shocking 77 percent. This means in our nation of 310 million citizens, 239 million Americans are one setback away from economic ruin and millions more are in danger of having to rely on government assistance for survival. […]


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