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Poverty in the U.S. Today
Old 07-18-2011, 02:55 PM   #1
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Poverty in the U.S. Today

Two times in recent years I worked with local organizations attempting to help individuals and families that needed financial assistance. I came away from both of those scenarios with a reinforced understanding of the proverbial "you can bring a horse to water..."

In one case a woman and her children were living in a shelter where nearly everything was provided including food. Imagine my surprise when the mother ordered take-out rather than eating the free meal that was provided.

A second case was a man requesting assistance to pay his rent. However, he would not consider canceling his cable TV in order to reduce his expenses.

While I realize these two instances do not define all the people who find themselves in financial trouble it makes me wonder where we are headed as a country and around the world. So many people turn to government to solve their problems at some point we're going to run out of other people's money.

I found the Heritage Report on Poverty in the U.S. very interesting. Yes, Heritage is a decidedly conservative organization but their article brings up several interesting points. Whether you agree or disagree with the conclusion I think you'll find the topic interesting.
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Old 07-18-2011, 03:08 PM   #2
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I don't care how much money you throw at the problem, some people are going to choose to not work, not save and not better themselves. IMHO, the more money you throw at poverty the more people you impoverish. Some folks are happy to live on other people's money, no matter how degrading the lifestyle might be.

And honestly, when "poor" people have cable TV, a reliable car, a roof over their head and can get enough food to become obese, were doing pretty good as a society. Yeah, sure some people are truly poor, starving, living on the streets, but in this country that's usually due to addiction, mental health or choice.

In fact, I grew up without cable TV most of the time because my mom couldn't afford it. I apparently was one of the really unfortunate ones. I always thought we were middle class.
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Old 07-18-2011, 03:19 PM   #3
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I am saving for FIRE and I do NOT have cable TV. Have not had cable TV since my daughter went away to college. I watch hulu.com on my laptop. I agree with the comment that the more money we throw at poverty the more people we impoverish.
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Old 07-18-2011, 03:30 PM   #4
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I am saving for FIRE and I do NOT have cable TV. Have not had cable TV since my daughter went away to college. I watch hulu.com on my laptop. I agree with the comment that the more money we throw at poverty the more people we impoverish.
Maybe impoverish isn't the right word. Obviously "poor" people are pretty well off nowadays as a group. Maybe the right term is make dependent. The more programs there are to "assist" the "poor", the more people come to depend on them for their comfy lifestyle rather than going out and working for it and maybe earning a truly wealthy lifestyle.
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Old 07-18-2011, 03:31 PM   #5
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the proverbial "you can bring a horse to water...".
No argument with what you're saying, but I really believe that the folks you're referring to are not being bad, obstinate, or conniving. They just really and truly don't understand.

Sometimes it's hard to remember that for everyone like us, who are somewhat smarter than the average bear, there is someone on the other side of the curve who is not as smart as the average bear. They do the best they can, but even with plenty of help they will still often screw themselves up.
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Old 07-18-2011, 03:51 PM   #6
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I saw a CNN clip the other day where they interviewed a lady who was in line for free lunches for her kids. The news report was about the travesty of "poor" kids who can't get enough food during the summer because they usually eat free lunches at school. The lady being interviewed said something to the effect of "If they didn't hand out free lunches here, I would have to go without something I want in order to provide food for my kids". Pretty much summarizes my perception of the poor in this land of wealth we live in. Not saying everyone from the lower socioeconomic strata is like this, but it seems to be the rule rather than the exception.

It is kind of hard to acknowledge poverty in the US as real poverty when you see the conditions that the majority of the rest of the world lives in every day.
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We Can't All Be Above Average...
Old 07-18-2011, 03:56 PM   #7
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We Can't All Be Above Average...

...except in Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
Sometimes it's hard to remember that for everyone like us, who are somewhat smarter than the average bear, there is someone on the other side of the curve who is not as smart as the average bear. They do the best they can, but even with plenty of help they will still often screw themselves up.
As person with a significant empathetic component to my personality I have always tried to teach a man to fish. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to learn.

So yes... on the left side of that curve there are people for various reasons that cannot be helped.
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Old 07-18-2011, 04:02 PM   #8
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We can't really control what people do with the help we provide.
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Old 07-18-2011, 04:03 PM   #9
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Cut off their food, foodstamps etc. Hunger is a great motivator. Far too many are mollycoddled by the nanny state. Frankly if anyone is on government handout and is overweight, cut their ration card in 1/2 or 3/4.

Want to eat? Work!

If on welfare, hey there are a lot of streets need sweeping.

No I'm not sympathetic and never will be. Coming here as an immigrant, I know the value of earning a living and learning the language.
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Old 07-18-2011, 04:58 PM   #10
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We make a very good income yet eat simply at home, don't have cable, don't have a expensive cell phone (a pre-paid phone for emergencies), don't go on vacations, and save around 55% of our gross income.

So yes I get ticked off when help is given to those in need and they abuse it.
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Old 07-18-2011, 05:14 PM   #11
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Talk about abuse. I had a friend in the 70's who once a year would ride his bicycle from Littleton to Glenwood Springs, CO. There was a Depression Era law still on the books so he would stop at a small town jail on the way and request a cell - if there was one empty they were required to put him up for the night.

heh heh heh - I forgot whether he got to eat though.
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Old 07-18-2011, 05:28 PM   #12
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Like most, I have little respect for people who seek hand-outs when they don't really need it. But everything is relative:

I have nothing but contempt for the doctors who take advantage of our medicare/medicaid system by coaxing their elderly, fearful and less-educated patients to come to them for unnecessary visits, tests, and sometimes even operations.

So between the poor, lazy and irresponsible people who take advantage of the welfare system and the educated and sleazy doctors who do the same to the health care system, the first group wins hands down. But really, I can do without either group.
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Old 07-18-2011, 05:32 PM   #13
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It's amazing what people will do when they have to. If it's just handed to them what's the motivation?
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Old 07-18-2011, 05:33 PM   #14
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"The road to Hell is paved with good intentions"

"Other people spending other peoples money on other people is inefficient"

"The politician who takes money from Peter to pay Paul will always have the support of Paul"
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Old 07-18-2011, 05:49 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Cut off their food, foodstamps etc. Hunger is a great motivator. Far too many are mollycoddled by the nanny state. Frankly if anyone is on government handout and is overweight, cut their ration card in 1/2 or 3/4.

Want to eat? Work!

If on welfare, hey there are a lot of streets need sweeping.

No I'm not sympathetic and never will be. Coming here as an immigrant, I know the value of earning a living and learning the language.
This works for all those lazy old people too. They get into their 60s, and all of a sudden it's all "I'm ooollllld! Take care of me!" They want their nanny state to come mollycoddle them! And we don't even get any real tax revenue from them to offset the expense!

Perhaps we could establish a system of labor camps to which the so-called impoverished, elderly, and other needy individuals could be transferred to? This could provide a final solution to this excessive burden on our society.

(Note: I lost relatives to people that thought this way.)
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Old 07-18-2011, 05:53 PM   #16
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This works for all those lazy old people too. They get into their 60s, and all of a sudden it's all "I'm ooollllld! Take care of me!" They want their nanny state to come mollycoddle them! And we don't even get any real tax revenue from them to offset the expense!

Perhaps we could establish a system of labor camps to which the so-called impoverished, elderly, and other needy individuals could be transferred to? This could provide a final solution to this excessive burden on our society.
+1

This is a pretty good idea! I would want to establish some sort of free time where they could watch reruns of Matlock or Murder She Wrote, and there should definately be a few slot machines in the break room, but overall I think this would be a great way to solve our elder problem.
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Old 07-18-2011, 06:01 PM   #17
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Thanks everyone.

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