Crossing the line: New models differ on what it means to be poor

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  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    Dec. 30, 2012 11:22 p.m.

    "there are no poor in America". Oh what a sheltered life and concept that is.

    I have a really good job and I still have to budget carefully even though my newest vehicle is 12 years old and I'm frugal.

    I can't even imagine a young guy 18 years old trying to work 2 or three jobs to support his wife and one child. Imagine constantly worrying about a trip to the emergency room being more than 3 months wages or 5 years disposable income.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Dec. 30, 2012 7:55 p.m.

    I certainly agree that poverty standards in America are relative. I think they are relative wherever you go. And, given our economic standing in the world, this means being poor here is "better" than being poor in many other countries. No argument.

    Are there folks who live in entrenched poverty - generation to generation? Yes. But I am not sure that having zero public assistance programs would change that. Are there others who are helped by programs without creating a climate of dependency? Sure.

    There are good folks who utilize TANF, WIC, and Section 8 at tough times in their lives, sometimes in advanced age (yeah, I know, not WIC if they are elderly).

    Some think that these programs have done nothing. Having spent some time in Eastern Kentucky, I can promise you that is not true. If you look at 1920s and 1930s pictures of Appalachia, the situation has definitely improved. Perfect? No. But certainly better.

    Does this mean the programs are all great just as they are? No. Lots of improvement is possible. But never believe they do nothing. If you need a refresher, please see Dickens or Steinbeck. There is a reason for public programs.

  • Andy Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 29, 2012 9:42 p.m.

    There are few poor in America today. While wages have held stagnant or fallen the cost of goods has also fallen thus increasing purchasing power. This is mostly do to golbalization and improvements in technological efficiencies.

    Being poor in America today means making less than someone else, not necessarily lacking enough for your or your families' needs.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Dec. 29, 2012 9:15 p.m.

    that was suppose to read why more of the middle class and wealthy voted for Obama. sorry

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Dec. 29, 2012 4:36 p.m.

    @DN sub
    So explain to us why the middle class and the wealthy vote for Obama then Romney? why do 67% of the the wealthy support higher taxes for their income level? the same tired rhetoric has failed you over and over again come election time its time for new material.

  • Emajor Ogden, UT
    Dec. 29, 2012 11:38 a.m.

    An interesting article. Regardless of how you feel about government assistance to the poor, the metrics we use to define poverty has a very substantial impact on the issue. I'm not one to believe that a family cannot be considered poor if they have a refrigerator or internet access, but I also don't agree with David Betson's idea of scaling poverty according to overall societal affluence.

    USAlover & DN Subscriber,
    You are parroting a lot of talking points about the poor being lazy, unmotivated, and slaves to government assistance, but you don't provide any perspective on what proportion of the poor this is actually true for. Do you have any idea of how many of the nation's poor are there for the reasons you claim?

  • DN Subscriber 2 SLC, UT
    Dec. 29, 2012 10:17 a.m.

    Our so-called "war on poverty" has wasted trillions of dollars, and done little to fix the actual problems.

    Instead, we have created successive generations who have become (somewhat contentedly) enslaved on the liberal welfare plantation. Recognizing that their income is the result if big government, not their own hard work, they have become a reliable voting block for the Democrats, who entire more "poor" by raising the poverty line and promising more "free stuff."

    We really need to look at our country as a whole. We are $16 trillion in debt, with no way to ever repay that. Surely that means our lack of income, and crushing burden of debt is the national equivalent of being hopelessly mired in poverty.

    But, there is no one to turn to for handouts for the government. Ergo, handouts to the poor WILL be reduced, one way or another. Or, we just collapse into class warfare as the poor pick the wealth of the hard workers.

  • USAlover Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 29, 2012 10:02 a.m.

    There will always be poverty because there will always be impregnated teenagers, drug use, mental illness, laziness, unskilled, uneducated people and, of course, genuine bad fortune that's beyond our control. To actually declare a solution to poverty is both nonsense and ignorance. A good portion of the poor don't want help to themselves. Giving money is not always helping, nor is it a solution. Helping them to help themselves in the solution, but the solution is not always possible.

    Regardless, I reaffirm our responsibility to help the poor as much as possible to begin to help themselves. God has helped me a million times do things that I couldn't do on my own. But He has never, EVER, done for me what I was able to do myself.

    Dec. 29, 2012 6:20 a.m.

    Federal anti-poverty programs of necessity reduce people to statistics. Local attention from family members, neighbors, churches, and other community groups are better equipped to assess individual circumstances and truly alleviate suffering rather than throwing money around in the hope that it might do some good. Local attention is also more immune to fraud and abuse.