Poverty rate soars to one in six

According to the latest census data, nearly one in six Americans are poor:

Amid a still struggling economy, more people in America fell below the poverty line last year, according to new census data released Tuesday.

The nation’s poverty rate rose to 15.1% in 2010, its highest level since 1993. In 2009, 14.3% of people in America were living in poverty.

“The results are not surprising given the economy,” said Paul Osterman, author of “Good Jobs America,” and a labor economist at MIT. “You would expect with so many people unemployed, the poverty rate would go up. It’s just another sign of what a difficult time this is for so many people.”

About 46.2 million people are now considered in poverty, 2.6 million more than last year.

The government defines the poverty line as income of $22,314 a year for a family of four and $11,139 for an individual. The Office of Management and Budget updates the poverty line each year to account for inflation.

via Poverty rate rises as incomes decline – Census – Sep. 13, 2011.

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    We constantly import poor people and they have more kids than we do. Why are we surprised that the number of poor people continues to rise? If we were like Singapore and only accepted middle class and higher people, and then the ranks of the poor grew, then yeah, we could be left scratching our heads. We export jobs, so that means folks can’t earn that money.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    We constantly import poor people and they have more kids than we do. Why are we surprised that the number of poor people continues to rise? If we were like Singapore and only accepted middle class and higher people, and then the ranks of the poor grew, then yeah, we could be left scratching our heads. We export jobs, so that means folks can’t earn that money.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    About 46.2 million people are now considered in poverty, 2.6 million more than last year.

    It would help our understanding if we knew what percent of them are children.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    About 46.2 million people are now considered in poverty, 2.6 million more than last year.

    It would help our understanding if we knew what percent of them are children.

  • Richard

    And it’s Bush’s fault!

  • Richard

    And it’s Bush’s fault!

  • Lisa

    @Richard #3…It surely is partly his fault.

  • Lisa

    @Richard #3…It surely is partly his fault.

  • Cincinnatus

    Lisa: Really? Just as I’m doubtful that the President can “create” jobs, I also suspect that it is rather difficult for him to create poor people.

  • Cincinnatus

    Lisa: Really? Just as I’m doubtful that the President can “create” jobs, I also suspect that it is rather difficult for him to create poor people.

  • SKPeterson

    Singapore is a bit of an exception to the rule here – a small, relatively homogeneous city-state is probably not the best indicator of how to handle immigration of lower income persons into the United States. A more important statistic (which is rarely, if ever, reported or even collected) is the permanence rate of poverty – it’s not so much a question of how many are poor at any given time, but how many stay that way for long periods of time.

    But it is Bush’s fault. And Obama’s, and Clinton’s, and Bush I’s and Reagan’s, and Carter’s, and …, and so on back to Adam.

  • SKPeterson

    Singapore is a bit of an exception to the rule here – a small, relatively homogeneous city-state is probably not the best indicator of how to handle immigration of lower income persons into the United States. A more important statistic (which is rarely, if ever, reported or even collected) is the permanence rate of poverty – it’s not so much a question of how many are poor at any given time, but how many stay that way for long periods of time.

    But it is Bush’s fault. And Obama’s, and Clinton’s, and Bush I’s and Reagan’s, and Carter’s, and …, and so on back to Adam.

  • DonS

    I read somewhere that 85% of America’s poor have air conditioning, over 90% have TV’s and cell phones, and nearly half of poor adults are obese.

    It’s all relative, and a lot of it is definitional.

  • DonS

    I read somewhere that 85% of America’s poor have air conditioning, over 90% have TV’s and cell phones, and nearly half of poor adults are obese.

    It’s all relative, and a lot of it is definitional.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@7), what is the point of such statistics? What value do you find in them?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@7), what is the point of such statistics? What value do you find in them?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SK said (@6):

    But it is Bush’s fault. And Obama’s, and Clinton’s, and Bush I’s and Reagan’s, and Carter’s, and …, and so on back to Adam.

    Okay, but why does Washington get off the hook? What, just because he was the first President, he somehow was immune to all the problems the rest were, by nature, subject to? It’s the fault of Adams through to the present day, but somehow Honest George…

    Hmm? What’s that? … Oh. Never mind.
    ;)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SK said (@6):

    But it is Bush’s fault. And Obama’s, and Clinton’s, and Bush I’s and Reagan’s, and Carter’s, and …, and so on back to Adam.

    Okay, but why does Washington get off the hook? What, just because he was the first President, he somehow was immune to all the problems the rest were, by nature, subject to? It’s the fault of Adams through to the present day, but somehow Honest George…

    Hmm? What’s that? … Oh. Never mind.
    ;)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG asked (@1)

    We constantly import poor people and they have more kids than we do. Why are we surprised that the number of poor people continues to rise?

    I don’t know, history? Like all the poor Italians and Irish we once imported who also had larger families? And how their descendents are not so much among the poor anymore?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG asked (@1)

    We constantly import poor people and they have more kids than we do. Why are we surprised that the number of poor people continues to rise?

    I don’t know, history? Like all the poor Italians and Irish we once imported who also had larger families? And how their descendents are not so much among the poor anymore?

  • Lisa

    Cincinnatus@5…When your the President and the economy collapses, you get credit for it. That is just how history works. Fewer people have AIDS in Africa, and that is partly to the credit of Bush.

  • Lisa

    Cincinnatus@5…When your the President and the economy collapses, you get credit for it. That is just how history works. Fewer people have AIDS in Africa, and that is partly to the credit of Bush.

  • Lisa

    Lisa@ #11…you’re not your.

  • Lisa

    Lisa@ #11…you’re not your.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 7: Just pointing out that “poverty” is definitional, and relative, not absolute. The poverty measure is a political number, not necessarily a factual one. For example, only cash income is considered — any governmental assistance in the form of in-kind benefits (food stamps, housing, medical care, educational benefits, etc.) are not accounted for in the poverty measure.

    Not to say that poverty is not a problem in America, or that the problem has not worsened in the current recession — clearly it has — but just trying to put some perspective on what is really a bit of an arbitrary number.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 7: Just pointing out that “poverty” is definitional, and relative, not absolute. The poverty measure is a political number, not necessarily a factual one. For example, only cash income is considered — any governmental assistance in the form of in-kind benefits (food stamps, housing, medical care, educational benefits, etc.) are not accounted for in the poverty measure.

    Not to say that poverty is not a problem in America, or that the problem has not worsened in the current recession — clearly it has — but just trying to put some perspective on what is really a bit of an arbitrary number.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    tODD, regarding Don’s stats, the historic reality of poverty is that it meant subsistence with few or no luxuries, including meat or dairy. Today’s definition is obesity with a wide screen TV.

    Maybe we ought, out of love for the poor, to remember the old definition of poverty.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    tODD, regarding Don’s stats, the historic reality of poverty is that it meant subsistence with few or no luxuries, including meat or dairy. Today’s definition is obesity with a wide screen TV.

    Maybe we ought, out of love for the poor, to remember the old definition of poverty.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    One other thought; back in the 1980s, the poverty rate was 15%. You’ve got to be careful about comparing now vs. then, as it’s not that different.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    One other thought; back in the 1980s, the poverty rate was 15%. You’ve got to be careful about comparing now vs. then, as it’s not that different.

  • http://jesus-is-not-irrelevant.blogspot.com/ Mary Johnson

    Why the debate over definition. Take a look at the homeless, the familes who have lost everything they held dear. The only reason you can comfortably quibble over the statistics is because you have enough income to support your IPhone and internet inside your well furnished home. There are those, who have lost jobs, cannot find employment in any venue who are now included in that demographic. Those, who for the entirety of their employed lives were productive, middle class citizens. Do you disparage them as well?

    How long until the grasp of economic reality hits your sector of employment or you are deemed too old to be viable for future work in your chosen field? My husband was laid off over a year ago with over 50 employees. He and one other manager were the only ones to find employment to this date. The families have since lost everything. Do you catagorize them with the influx of immigrants?

    Get off your high horses and take a look around you. The true victims of this recession are and will remain hidden from view to the average citizen. The poor who chose that lifestyle will always be with us. Those who are forced into that designation are broken beyond measure having known what it is to be a productive member of society. Spend a day or two at the food bank or homeless shelters. Re-think your pre-conceived ideas of what poverty means these days. These are famlies, not statistics.

  • http://jesus-is-not-irrelevant.blogspot.com/ Mary Johnson

    Why the debate over definition. Take a look at the homeless, the familes who have lost everything they held dear. The only reason you can comfortably quibble over the statistics is because you have enough income to support your IPhone and internet inside your well furnished home. There are those, who have lost jobs, cannot find employment in any venue who are now included in that demographic. Those, who for the entirety of their employed lives were productive, middle class citizens. Do you disparage them as well?

    How long until the grasp of economic reality hits your sector of employment or you are deemed too old to be viable for future work in your chosen field? My husband was laid off over a year ago with over 50 employees. He and one other manager were the only ones to find employment to this date. The families have since lost everything. Do you catagorize them with the influx of immigrants?

    Get off your high horses and take a look around you. The true victims of this recession are and will remain hidden from view to the average citizen. The poor who chose that lifestyle will always be with us. Those who are forced into that designation are broken beyond measure having known what it is to be a productive member of society. Spend a day or two at the food bank or homeless shelters. Re-think your pre-conceived ideas of what poverty means these days. These are famlies, not statistics.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @10 “Like all the poor Italians and Irish we once imported who also had larger families? And how their descendents are not so much among the poor anymore?”

    Those folks were poor for a long time before they became prosperous.

    Some of my family came to the US as early as the 16oo’s. They weren’t prosperous until the 1950′s.

    Middle class folks who come here do fine. The poor who come here do much better than they do at home as DonS pointed out @7.

    By any honest definition, they aren’t even poor. They certainly aren’t poor compared to the poor in their home countries.

    My ancestors with no plumbing living in a sod hut in S. Dakota were poor. Folks living in air conditioning with access social services etc. are not poor. The bottom quintile will always be the bottom quintile no matter how high the living standards are. We can’t all be above average, but that is simply not having high social status, not actual suffering.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @10 “Like all the poor Italians and Irish we once imported who also had larger families? And how their descendents are not so much among the poor anymore?”

    Those folks were poor for a long time before they became prosperous.

    Some of my family came to the US as early as the 16oo’s. They weren’t prosperous until the 1950′s.

    Middle class folks who come here do fine. The poor who come here do much better than they do at home as DonS pointed out @7.

    By any honest definition, they aren’t even poor. They certainly aren’t poor compared to the poor in their home countries.

    My ancestors with no plumbing living in a sod hut in S. Dakota were poor. Folks living in air conditioning with access social services etc. are not poor. The bottom quintile will always be the bottom quintile no matter how high the living standards are. We can’t all be above average, but that is simply not having high social status, not actual suffering.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg
  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg
  • DonS

    Mary @ 16: I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s job loss, and am very glad to hear that he has found another one.

    I was not raising the issue of definition in order to be snarky, or mean-spirited, or for the purpose of minimizing the extreme anguish and deprivation which the current economy has imposed on many hard-working and ambitious Americans. By no means. I HAVE spent time in food banks and homeless shelters — I have many friends who are in similar circumstances. It is heartbreaking.

    The problem with the poverty measure, and with the “poverty lobby” in this country, is that it becomes yet another political tool to wield, for the purpose of advancing certain politicians and special interests, rather than truly being used to address the root cause of the poor economy. Government unions wield the number because they argue for more aid programs, to ensure their job security. About 60% of the funding passed through poverty aid programs is absorbed by administration, including these government workers and their lavish pensions and benefits. It doesn’t get to the truly needy. And then, since most of the aid is of a non-cash nature, it doesn’t even move the needle on the poverty measure, since it excludes non-cash aid. 46 million Americans are on food stamps. Not counted, at all, in the poverty measure. That’s misleading.

    What the poverty measure should be used for is an incentive for politicians to remember that they need to do things to stimulate business, instead of retarding it. They need to take LESS money out of the productive economy by lowering business and investment taxes. They need to review the myriad of regulations that are arbitrarily imposed because of special interest lobbying, and realize that each of these regulations, to the extent that they discourage or make more expensive, or delay business growth, are costing jobs! Why, for example, is our government focused on adding onerous environmental regulatory burdens to our economy during this difficult time? Do they not care about jobs?

    We should be outraged at how our government, which is supposed to be by and for the people, has turned against them and become their lord and master.

  • DonS

    Mary @ 16: I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s job loss, and am very glad to hear that he has found another one.

    I was not raising the issue of definition in order to be snarky, or mean-spirited, or for the purpose of minimizing the extreme anguish and deprivation which the current economy has imposed on many hard-working and ambitious Americans. By no means. I HAVE spent time in food banks and homeless shelters — I have many friends who are in similar circumstances. It is heartbreaking.

    The problem with the poverty measure, and with the “poverty lobby” in this country, is that it becomes yet another political tool to wield, for the purpose of advancing certain politicians and special interests, rather than truly being used to address the root cause of the poor economy. Government unions wield the number because they argue for more aid programs, to ensure their job security. About 60% of the funding passed through poverty aid programs is absorbed by administration, including these government workers and their lavish pensions and benefits. It doesn’t get to the truly needy. And then, since most of the aid is of a non-cash nature, it doesn’t even move the needle on the poverty measure, since it excludes non-cash aid. 46 million Americans are on food stamps. Not counted, at all, in the poverty measure. That’s misleading.

    What the poverty measure should be used for is an incentive for politicians to remember that they need to do things to stimulate business, instead of retarding it. They need to take LESS money out of the productive economy by lowering business and investment taxes. They need to review the myriad of regulations that are arbitrarily imposed because of special interest lobbying, and realize that each of these regulations, to the extent that they discourage or make more expensive, or delay business growth, are costing jobs! Why, for example, is our government focused on adding onerous environmental regulatory burdens to our economy during this difficult time? Do they not care about jobs?

    We should be outraged at how our government, which is supposed to be by and for the people, has turned against them and become their lord and master.

  • Jon

    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/anger-at-the-poor#comments

    Good conversation about same topic going on at the link.

  • Jon

    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/anger-at-the-poor#comments

    Good conversation about same topic going on at the link.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Take a look at the homeless, the familes who have lost everything they held dear. The only reason you can comfortably quibble over the statistics is because you have enough income to support your IPhone and internet inside your well furnished home. There are those, who have lost jobs, cannot find employment in any venue who are now included in that demographic. Those, who for the entirety of their employed lives were productive, middle class citizens. Do you disparage them as well?

    I just wonder why they aren’t grateful for all the years they lived above their means and didn’t save money. I mean, let’s face it. Folks don’t lose a mortgaged house. If they had to work for the money to pay 100% of the purchase price before they got the keys, they wouldn’t be losing the house. So, they got a great deal being able to live for years in a nice house for which they only paid a fraction. Did they get what they paid for? Yes. Are they grateful? Were they cheated somehow? Or was the mortgage a fair deal for everyone entered into voluntarily?

    Using your own money to pay for your own stuff is not a punishment. It is just being responsible. The whole “lost everything” argument is bunk. Either they didn’t own it in the first place (like a mortgaged house) or they sold it to buy other stuff they needed more like food, etc.

    I agree it is disappointing, but that is suffering the loss of social status and material possessions. It is our own materialism that causes us to grieve for them, not their actual estate.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Take a look at the homeless, the familes who have lost everything they held dear. The only reason you can comfortably quibble over the statistics is because you have enough income to support your IPhone and internet inside your well furnished home. There are those, who have lost jobs, cannot find employment in any venue who are now included in that demographic. Those, who for the entirety of their employed lives were productive, middle class citizens. Do you disparage them as well?

    I just wonder why they aren’t grateful for all the years they lived above their means and didn’t save money. I mean, let’s face it. Folks don’t lose a mortgaged house. If they had to work for the money to pay 100% of the purchase price before they got the keys, they wouldn’t be losing the house. So, they got a great deal being able to live for years in a nice house for which they only paid a fraction. Did they get what they paid for? Yes. Are they grateful? Were they cheated somehow? Or was the mortgage a fair deal for everyone entered into voluntarily?

    Using your own money to pay for your own stuff is not a punishment. It is just being responsible. The whole “lost everything” argument is bunk. Either they didn’t own it in the first place (like a mortgaged house) or they sold it to buy other stuff they needed more like food, etc.

    I agree it is disappointing, but that is suffering the loss of social status and material possessions. It is our own materialism that causes us to grieve for them, not their actual estate.

  • Cincinnatus

    If I may, I agree with both bike bubba and Mary Johnson. On the one hand, the United States government employs a ludicrous definition of “poverty,” in which it is apparently typical for the destitute to own (and spend a majority of their waking hours watching) a large television in an air-conditioned, government-subsidized apartment while chatting on a free cellular phone dusting Doritos crumbs off their oversized bellies. This stereotype, unfortunately, is a reflection of reality in too many cases.

    On the other hand, as Mary notes, there are actual poor people among us. Just ask my wife, who works in the social services field with adults who suffer from developmental disabilities (but are ineligible for institutionalization, etc.). The trick here is that, in the United States, there aren’t actually very many people who suffer involuntary destitution and/or homelessness. The vast majority who do are mentally handicapped or otherwise incapacitated (hardcore drug addicts, chronically injured and without families, etc.), and mere handouts aren’t going to save them or render them un-poor (they are constitutionally incapable of participating in our economy and society in a robust, successful way). So they deserve our compassion, and even the attention of our public policy. But to continue batting around meaningless statistics like “15.1% poverty rate” is counterproductive, and perpetuates a mass deceit about what constitute appropriate living conditions, etc.

  • Cincinnatus

    If I may, I agree with both bike bubba and Mary Johnson. On the one hand, the United States government employs a ludicrous definition of “poverty,” in which it is apparently typical for the destitute to own (and spend a majority of their waking hours watching) a large television in an air-conditioned, government-subsidized apartment while chatting on a free cellular phone dusting Doritos crumbs off their oversized bellies. This stereotype, unfortunately, is a reflection of reality in too many cases.

    On the other hand, as Mary notes, there are actual poor people among us. Just ask my wife, who works in the social services field with adults who suffer from developmental disabilities (but are ineligible for institutionalization, etc.). The trick here is that, in the United States, there aren’t actually very many people who suffer involuntary destitution and/or homelessness. The vast majority who do are mentally handicapped or otherwise incapacitated (hardcore drug addicts, chronically injured and without families, etc.), and mere handouts aren’t going to save them or render them un-poor (they are constitutionally incapable of participating in our economy and society in a robust, successful way). So they deserve our compassion, and even the attention of our public policy. But to continue batting around meaningless statistics like “15.1% poverty rate” is counterproductive, and perpetuates a mass deceit about what constitute appropriate living conditions, etc.

  • http://jesus-is-not-irrelevant.blogspot.com/ Mary Johnson

    sg,
    So you propose that the average family shell out the 100 grand for a house before they buy? Save until they are old before they can own a home? What planet are you living on? Even if you do own outright, try not paying your property taxes for a year or two and see what happens.

    Cincinnatus,
    I agree with what you are saying. Those who are incapable of taking care of themselves will always be with us. As a society in a county with means, we do need to take care of our own in that respect. I’ve seen the mental health de-funding through the years and it’s criminal what has happened.

    Just ask yourselves what happens after you’ve lost your income, your severence (if you’re lucky) has run out, you’ve plowed through your 401K and taken the tax hit on that, and you are competing against 100′s of well and over qualified for a entry level position at job x. How long are you going to last? Your savings, gone at 6 months. Hopefully no medical emergency happens.

    There are things you plan for with insurance, savings, planning. Then, there are things you cannot ever plan adequately for. This recession has brought many to that point. You cannot exist unfunded for a year or more without falling out and through.

    As I said, there is a new class of poor in this country that will have to be reckoned with. It is just amazing the views of some who think that it’s all the fault of some ignorant decision made by a homeowner. I just pray you never have to experience the reality of so many millions of Americans today.

  • http://jesus-is-not-irrelevant.blogspot.com/ Mary Johnson

    sg,
    So you propose that the average family shell out the 100 grand for a house before they buy? Save until they are old before they can own a home? What planet are you living on? Even if you do own outright, try not paying your property taxes for a year or two and see what happens.

    Cincinnatus,
    I agree with what you are saying. Those who are incapable of taking care of themselves will always be with us. As a society in a county with means, we do need to take care of our own in that respect. I’ve seen the mental health de-funding through the years and it’s criminal what has happened.

    Just ask yourselves what happens after you’ve lost your income, your severence (if you’re lucky) has run out, you’ve plowed through your 401K and taken the tax hit on that, and you are competing against 100′s of well and over qualified for a entry level position at job x. How long are you going to last? Your savings, gone at 6 months. Hopefully no medical emergency happens.

    There are things you plan for with insurance, savings, planning. Then, there are things you cannot ever plan adequately for. This recession has brought many to that point. You cannot exist unfunded for a year or more without falling out and through.

    As I said, there is a new class of poor in this country that will have to be reckoned with. It is just amazing the views of some who think that it’s all the fault of some ignorant decision made by a homeowner. I just pray you never have to experience the reality of so many millions of Americans today.

  • Cincinnatus

    Mary Johnson@23:

    Thanks for your reply. To some extent, I sympathize with what you are saying. On the other hand, though, I detect a latent assumption that is problematic and that has poisoned the entire discussion of poverty in the United States. You paint the scenario of an unemployed but able-bodied man who has lost his savings, etc. (perhaps even his home), and is finding it difficult to land a job in his chosen field. This, of course, is the popular depiction of poverty in the media, punditry, political rhetoric, etc. But this is not poverty per se. Poverty is indigence and destitution. Poverty is when one literally cannot assemble the means for his own bodily survival. Poverty, in short, is very rare in the United States.

    What has happened to your unemployed Joe is highly unfortunate and regrettable. He certainly deserves our compassion. But, in most case of the sort you describe, what has happened is not poverty but merely a fall from the middle class. Again, unfortunate, but I submit that it is not the responsibility of the government or even the compassionate community to ensure that he and everyone like him retain their middle class standards of living. The impoverished have never even heard of a 401k. Unemployed Joe can, if he is desperate, seek employment as a fry cook at McDonalds or a basket-pusher at Wal-Mart. These places, I assure you, are always hiring. It will not be enjoyable. It is “easy for me to say,” not yet having suffered that sort of circumstance. But he can do it, and he can sustain himself by scraping pennies and the like. This is not poverty. Call me when Unemployed Joe is literally living in a box under a bridge and eating wild berries from the hedgerow while scratching the festering boils that the emergency room won’t treat (which, you’ll note, is something that wouldn’t even happen in the United States).

    I’m not trying to be flippant here, but the distorted image we Americans harbor of poverty has corrupted our public policy and our approach to materialism and consumerism.

  • Cincinnatus

    Mary Johnson@23:

    Thanks for your reply. To some extent, I sympathize with what you are saying. On the other hand, though, I detect a latent assumption that is problematic and that has poisoned the entire discussion of poverty in the United States. You paint the scenario of an unemployed but able-bodied man who has lost his savings, etc. (perhaps even his home), and is finding it difficult to land a job in his chosen field. This, of course, is the popular depiction of poverty in the media, punditry, political rhetoric, etc. But this is not poverty per se. Poverty is indigence and destitution. Poverty is when one literally cannot assemble the means for his own bodily survival. Poverty, in short, is very rare in the United States.

    What has happened to your unemployed Joe is highly unfortunate and regrettable. He certainly deserves our compassion. But, in most case of the sort you describe, what has happened is not poverty but merely a fall from the middle class. Again, unfortunate, but I submit that it is not the responsibility of the government or even the compassionate community to ensure that he and everyone like him retain their middle class standards of living. The impoverished have never even heard of a 401k. Unemployed Joe can, if he is desperate, seek employment as a fry cook at McDonalds or a basket-pusher at Wal-Mart. These places, I assure you, are always hiring. It will not be enjoyable. It is “easy for me to say,” not yet having suffered that sort of circumstance. But he can do it, and he can sustain himself by scraping pennies and the like. This is not poverty. Call me when Unemployed Joe is literally living in a box under a bridge and eating wild berries from the hedgerow while scratching the festering boils that the emergency room won’t treat (which, you’ll note, is something that wouldn’t even happen in the United States).

    I’m not trying to be flippant here, but the distorted image we Americans harbor of poverty has corrupted our public policy and our approach to materialism and consumerism.

  • DonS

    Mary — good point about the 401k. It’s amazing to me that the government hasn’t at least taken the very simple and compassionate step of alleviating the tax burden, or at least the tax penalty, for invading your retirement savings during a time of unemployment. Of all the stimuli that have been proposed, that would be the easiest and one of the more compassionate steps to take, but the government has steadfastly refused to do so.

  • DonS

    Mary — good point about the 401k. It’s amazing to me that the government hasn’t at least taken the very simple and compassionate step of alleviating the tax burden, or at least the tax penalty, for invading your retirement savings during a time of unemployment. Of all the stimuli that have been proposed, that would be the easiest and one of the more compassionate steps to take, but the government has steadfastly refused to do so.

  • Steve Billingsley

    I agree with many of the comments about the way poverty is measured. It only measures income in one year. It doesn’t take assets into account. By that measure, Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, if they had taken a loss in one year for tax reasons, could be counted as being in poverty (although I doubt that is the case this year or any year).

    But my concern is the direction of the statistical data, regardless of the flaws in its measurement. I have no doubt that more people are actually living in poverty now than was the case a year ago, or even three or four years ago. The economy is in horrible shape by any reasonable measure (GDP, joblessness, debt, the Dow, whatever). We can argue as to the political reasons for this, but I am thinking as a member of a local church. Do we know who the poor in our midst are (within your church or neighborhood or community)? Are we taking tangible steps of generosity to help with not just their immediate situation, but their prospects for a better future? I am blessed in that I have a good job and a healthy income. But I know that my situation isn’t written in stone. My circumstances could change. I have a political point of view to be sure, but I hope that our churches are all engaged in trying to alleviate suffering and offering as much help as we possibly can.

  • Steve Billingsley

    I agree with many of the comments about the way poverty is measured. It only measures income in one year. It doesn’t take assets into account. By that measure, Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, if they had taken a loss in one year for tax reasons, could be counted as being in poverty (although I doubt that is the case this year or any year).

    But my concern is the direction of the statistical data, regardless of the flaws in its measurement. I have no doubt that more people are actually living in poverty now than was the case a year ago, or even three or four years ago. The economy is in horrible shape by any reasonable measure (GDP, joblessness, debt, the Dow, whatever). We can argue as to the political reasons for this, but I am thinking as a member of a local church. Do we know who the poor in our midst are (within your church or neighborhood or community)? Are we taking tangible steps of generosity to help with not just their immediate situation, but their prospects for a better future? I am blessed in that I have a good job and a healthy income. But I know that my situation isn’t written in stone. My circumstances could change. I have a political point of view to be sure, but I hope that our churches are all engaged in trying to alleviate suffering and offering as much help as we possibly can.

  • Grace

    Mary @23

    I agree with much of what you stated, there is a real problem when people lose jobs, cannot pay their taxes, their health care no longer exists.

    I believe that anyone who has a good sized down payement to buy a home ‘THEY CAN AFFORD, is a good thing. However, many don’t adhere to that rule, they buy a home they want, not one they can afford, they put as little money down as possible, with no extra cash in the bank to back up an emergency …. when things go upside down, they have nothing to fall back on.

    There are many combinations of the problem we see in the U.S. Some I truly feel sorry for, others make me wonder how they can brazenly continue to spend money, when they have just done a ‘short sale on their condo or home – it happens. We have witnessed it just this past few months, it’s a poster for those who continue to drain the economy. They have now leased a home at approximately the same price as their short sale condo payements – bought new furniture, continue to send their children to private school – decided the dishwasher wasn’t just right, so they, using their own funds but a new stainless steel one, and a fridge.

    We were all under the impression they had SOLD their home, but in fact it was a condo, not a home. They leased the home before the short sale was recorded. Why did they short sale? – most likely because the condo wasn’t worth what they owed, and they didn’t want to be ‘stuck with it – the bank gets the loss, and those of us who bank lose out as well.

    The bank took a dive on the property, only because the owners were unhappy that it had not increased in value.

    To add to this circus, they both drive late model SUV’s – they have a great desire to keep up with the community they live in, but it has become increasingly clear that it’s a facade.

    How many people have jumped their home or condo and chosen instead to short sale, just so they aren’t saddled with the morgage, which is the same price as the property they end up renting?

  • Grace

    Mary @23

    I agree with much of what you stated, there is a real problem when people lose jobs, cannot pay their taxes, their health care no longer exists.

    I believe that anyone who has a good sized down payement to buy a home ‘THEY CAN AFFORD, is a good thing. However, many don’t adhere to that rule, they buy a home they want, not one they can afford, they put as little money down as possible, with no extra cash in the bank to back up an emergency …. when things go upside down, they have nothing to fall back on.

    There are many combinations of the problem we see in the U.S. Some I truly feel sorry for, others make me wonder how they can brazenly continue to spend money, when they have just done a ‘short sale on their condo or home – it happens. We have witnessed it just this past few months, it’s a poster for those who continue to drain the economy. They have now leased a home at approximately the same price as their short sale condo payements – bought new furniture, continue to send their children to private school – decided the dishwasher wasn’t just right, so they, using their own funds but a new stainless steel one, and a fridge.

    We were all under the impression they had SOLD their home, but in fact it was a condo, not a home. They leased the home before the short sale was recorded. Why did they short sale? – most likely because the condo wasn’t worth what they owed, and they didn’t want to be ‘stuck with it – the bank gets the loss, and those of us who bank lose out as well.

    The bank took a dive on the property, only because the owners were unhappy that it had not increased in value.

    To add to this circus, they both drive late model SUV’s – they have a great desire to keep up with the community they live in, but it has become increasingly clear that it’s a facade.

    How many people have jumped their home or condo and chosen instead to short sale, just so they aren’t saddled with the morgage, which is the same price as the property they end up renting?

  • DonS

    Well said, Steve @ 26.

  • DonS

    Well said, Steve @ 26.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Sorry, but attempts to point out the “relative” nature of poverty seem largely inclined to minimize the state of the poor in this country.

    Yes, air conditioning used to be a luxury. Yes, more poor people have AC today than in the past. But maybe, just maybe, AC is a lot cheaper than it used to be? And so more people having it — yes, even the poor! — might be less a sign of how great the poor have it, and more a sign of the commodization of cheap electric climate control units? I mean, I live in a part of the country where even houses in fancy neighborhoods lack AC, but I’d be willing to bet that, in places where it gets hotter, you’d be hard-pressed to find shelter that wasn’t air-conditioned.

    Likewise, a TV used to be considered a luxury precisely because purchasing one took such a huge chunk out of one’s disposable income. Not so much anymore. And cell phones and Internet service? Kind of more of a necessity in getting a job than they were ten years ago.

    I mean, why not bemoan that the poor even have access to telecommunications — or electricity! or running water! — at all! All of these are, by someone’s definition, luxuries.

    Remember all the poor people who came to our country in centuries past? Guess what? They weren’t poor, either! Why, they could afford to move to another country. Their children had clothes and didn’t run around naked. Luxuries, all of these!

    Indeed, unless someone is sleeping on the ground with at most one scrap of cloth draped around their body, eating no more calories than are necessary to maintain their base metabolic rate, and that scraped together from a single food source, then can we really say they’re poor? Really?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Sorry, but attempts to point out the “relative” nature of poverty seem largely inclined to minimize the state of the poor in this country.

    Yes, air conditioning used to be a luxury. Yes, more poor people have AC today than in the past. But maybe, just maybe, AC is a lot cheaper than it used to be? And so more people having it — yes, even the poor! — might be less a sign of how great the poor have it, and more a sign of the commodization of cheap electric climate control units? I mean, I live in a part of the country where even houses in fancy neighborhoods lack AC, but I’d be willing to bet that, in places where it gets hotter, you’d be hard-pressed to find shelter that wasn’t air-conditioned.

    Likewise, a TV used to be considered a luxury precisely because purchasing one took such a huge chunk out of one’s disposable income. Not so much anymore. And cell phones and Internet service? Kind of more of a necessity in getting a job than they were ten years ago.

    I mean, why not bemoan that the poor even have access to telecommunications — or electricity! or running water! — at all! All of these are, by someone’s definition, luxuries.

    Remember all the poor people who came to our country in centuries past? Guess what? They weren’t poor, either! Why, they could afford to move to another country. Their children had clothes and didn’t run around naked. Luxuries, all of these!

    Indeed, unless someone is sleeping on the ground with at most one scrap of cloth draped around their body, eating no more calories than are necessary to maintain their base metabolic rate, and that scraped together from a single food source, then can we really say they’re poor? Really?

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD: Huh? The twentieth century immigrants who arrived from Southern Europe and Ireland, etc., were poor by their contemporary standards. Most of them were fleeing almost certain starvation and, in general, destitution in their home countries. They weren’t wealthy emigres seeking tax shelters. They lived in widely acknowledged poverty when they arrived here as well, though generally not as bad as the places they left.

    Look, you can snark all you want, but I maintain that our definition of poverty is absurd. Yes, a definition of poverty is also to some degree historically contingent: there was a time when living in a drafty log cabin while subsistence farming was considered a tolerable life. But on the other hand, the mere fact that AC, TV, fatty foods, automobiles, and cell phones have become ubiquitous and more accessible for more people doesn’t mean they’ve become human rights without which a flourishing life is impossible. Such a claim plays into the very myths of perpetual growth, consumerism, and commodification that have endangered the American economy in the first place. In short, poverty, to some extent, must be recognized as poverty. It’s not the job of the community–cannot reasonably be the job of the community–to ensure that everyone has AC and the like. And, really, it distracts attention from the, you know, actually impoverished, so then we waste billions and crash our economy with subsidized/no interest mortgage mandates and other foolish ideas in order to provide middle class ideals to the not-really-impoverished without doing a lick of good for those who are actually starving.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD: Huh? The twentieth century immigrants who arrived from Southern Europe and Ireland, etc., were poor by their contemporary standards. Most of them were fleeing almost certain starvation and, in general, destitution in their home countries. They weren’t wealthy emigres seeking tax shelters. They lived in widely acknowledged poverty when they arrived here as well, though generally not as bad as the places they left.

    Look, you can snark all you want, but I maintain that our definition of poverty is absurd. Yes, a definition of poverty is also to some degree historically contingent: there was a time when living in a drafty log cabin while subsistence farming was considered a tolerable life. But on the other hand, the mere fact that AC, TV, fatty foods, automobiles, and cell phones have become ubiquitous and more accessible for more people doesn’t mean they’ve become human rights without which a flourishing life is impossible. Such a claim plays into the very myths of perpetual growth, consumerism, and commodification that have endangered the American economy in the first place. In short, poverty, to some extent, must be recognized as poverty. It’s not the job of the community–cannot reasonably be the job of the community–to ensure that everyone has AC and the like. And, really, it distracts attention from the, you know, actually impoverished, so then we waste billions and crash our economy with subsidized/no interest mortgage mandates and other foolish ideas in order to provide middle class ideals to the not-really-impoverished without doing a lick of good for those who are actually starving.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG said (@17):

    My ancestors with no plumbing living in a sod hut in S. Dakota were poor. Folks living in air conditioning with access social services etc. are not poor.

    So what you’re saying is that one’s access to particular commodities — completely irrespective of when one happens to live, what commodities were common or expensive then, and pretty much any other context one might consider — is the sole definition of “poor”?

    Well then, your ancesters in the sod hut weren’t poor, either. Why, they had a hut! Like friggin’ royalty, they were. See how this game is played?

    You also said (@21):

    I just wonder why they aren’t grateful for all the years they lived above their means and didn’t save money.

    Wait, who said they weren’t “grateful”, SG? Oh, what’s that? You merely assumed that part? I see.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG said (@17):

    My ancestors with no plumbing living in a sod hut in S. Dakota were poor. Folks living in air conditioning with access social services etc. are not poor.

    So what you’re saying is that one’s access to particular commodities — completely irrespective of when one happens to live, what commodities were common or expensive then, and pretty much any other context one might consider — is the sole definition of “poor”?

    Well then, your ancesters in the sod hut weren’t poor, either. Why, they had a hut! Like friggin’ royalty, they were. See how this game is played?

    You also said (@21):

    I just wonder why they aren’t grateful for all the years they lived above their means and didn’t save money.

    Wait, who said they weren’t “grateful”, SG? Oh, what’s that? You merely assumed that part? I see.

  • Grace

    Cincinnatus @ 30

    YOU WROTE: “But on the other hand, the mere fact that AC, TV, fatty foods, automobiles, and cell phones have become ubiquitous and more accessible for more people doesn’t mean they’ve become human rights without which a flourishing life is impossible. Such a claim plays into the very myths of perpetual growth, consumerism, and commodification that have endangered the American economy in the first place.”

    They are not “human rights” – however there is a majority who believe they are, including many more items which they don’t have, and have not worked for.

  • Grace

    Cincinnatus @ 30

    YOU WROTE: “But on the other hand, the mere fact that AC, TV, fatty foods, automobiles, and cell phones have become ubiquitous and more accessible for more people doesn’t mean they’ve become human rights without which a flourishing life is impossible. Such a claim plays into the very myths of perpetual growth, consumerism, and commodification that have endangered the American economy in the first place.”

    They are not “human rights” – however there is a majority who believe they are, including many more items which they don’t have, and have not worked for.

  • Grace

    Let’s not forget the illegal aliens who live here, consider themselves to be disadvantaged, all the while taking advantage of FREE, health care, education, welfare, and the list goes on.

  • Grace

    Let’s not forget the illegal aliens who live here, consider themselves to be disadvantaged, all the while taking advantage of FREE, health care, education, welfare, and the list goes on.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@30) said:

    The twentieth century immigrants who arrived from Southern Europe and Ireland, etc., were poor by their contemporary standards.

    Yes, but if you hadn’t noticed, the whole point of the comments to which I was replying was that “contemporary standards” don’t count. And if we’re not going to shed a tear for someone who has air conditioning for crying out loud, then I really don’t think we should for someone who could afford passage on a ship for crying out loud. And yes, I can snark all I want. Though I didn’t exactly expect you to call me on it.

    As Steve noted (@26), I’m less interested in the government’s definition of poverty than how the number of people who qualify for that admittedly arbitrary definition changes over time.

    And, frankly, I think you’re bringing too much baggage into this discussion. Who mentioned “human rights”? You were the first to bring it up.

    Oh, and, yes, AC can easily be a matter of life-and-death. Cities with more air conditioning, not surprisingly, experience fewer deaths from extreme heat conditions. But I guess we shouldn’t consider that when pondering poverty? If you have AC, you’re not poor, and that’s that, forever and ever?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@30) said:

    The twentieth century immigrants who arrived from Southern Europe and Ireland, etc., were poor by their contemporary standards.

    Yes, but if you hadn’t noticed, the whole point of the comments to which I was replying was that “contemporary standards” don’t count. And if we’re not going to shed a tear for someone who has air conditioning for crying out loud, then I really don’t think we should for someone who could afford passage on a ship for crying out loud. And yes, I can snark all I want. Though I didn’t exactly expect you to call me on it.

    As Steve noted (@26), I’m less interested in the government’s definition of poverty than how the number of people who qualify for that admittedly arbitrary definition changes over time.

    And, frankly, I think you’re bringing too much baggage into this discussion. Who mentioned “human rights”? You were the first to bring it up.

    Oh, and, yes, AC can easily be a matter of life-and-death. Cities with more air conditioning, not surprisingly, experience fewer deaths from extreme heat conditions. But I guess we shouldn’t consider that when pondering poverty? If you have AC, you’re not poor, and that’s that, forever and ever?

  • steve

    sg #18, I’m curious to no end (pun intended) about the Satmar and the Hassidim in general but I don’t know what general conclusions can be drawn from the example of Kiryas Joel. It’s certainly not a fair example of a typical American community.

  • steve

    sg #18, I’m curious to no end (pun intended) about the Satmar and the Hassidim in general but I don’t know what general conclusions can be drawn from the example of Kiryas Joel. It’s certainly not a fair example of a typical American community.

  • Jon

    @33 Grace, FREE health care?
    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/insurance-24-year-dies-toothache/story?id=14438171

    Go tell this man’s family.

  • Jon

    @33 Grace, FREE health care?
    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/insurance-24-year-dies-toothache/story?id=14438171

    Go tell this man’s family.

  • Grace

    Jon @36

    Illegal aliens do receive free medical care. They go directly to ER whether their child has a cold, or a tooth ache, or if they have broken a bone, etc.

    What you post @36 doesn’t appear to be an illegal alien – however, if someone went to ER, they would most likely be seen. Someone that ill would require emergency treatment.

    There are free clinics as well.

  • Grace

    Jon @36

    Illegal aliens do receive free medical care. They go directly to ER whether their child has a cold, or a tooth ache, or if they have broken a bone, etc.

    What you post @36 doesn’t appear to be an illegal alien – however, if someone went to ER, they would most likely be seen. Someone that ill would require emergency treatment.

    There are free clinics as well.

  • Jon

    Grace, getting patched up in the ER is not the same as receiving antibiotics or any other drug, which are not free to anyone. That’s why this man died.

    And ER treatment is not limited to undocumented people; anyone without health insurance is welcome to wait for hours and hours and hours, assuming they can take such time from their job, which likely provides no sick time.

  • Jon

    Grace, getting patched up in the ER is not the same as receiving antibiotics or any other drug, which are not free to anyone. That’s why this man died.

    And ER treatment is not limited to undocumented people; anyone without health insurance is welcome to wait for hours and hours and hours, assuming they can take such time from their job, which likely provides no sick time.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@37), whether someone attempts to go to the ER for “free medical care” does not determine if they will receive it. Nevertheless, it is not true that one can get treated for a cold for free, citizen or not. With your apparent background in medicine, you should know that.

    According to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1986, hospitals accepting federal funds (i.e. most of them) must provide emergency healthcare to anyone who shows up, regardless of ability to pay, citizenship, etc.

    This is hardly the same as “free healthcare”, however. It is, quite notably, not preventative in the least, only being available once one is affected. Also, I don’t know of any ER that defines a “cold” as necessitating emergency care. Heck, even my own provider won’t see me for a cold! I wouldn’t be surprised if an ER turned away someone for a tooth ache, as well. Or at least would turn him away if a cursory exam revealed that the tooth ache did not necessitate emergency treatment.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@37), whether someone attempts to go to the ER for “free medical care” does not determine if they will receive it. Nevertheless, it is not true that one can get treated for a cold for free, citizen or not. With your apparent background in medicine, you should know that.

    According to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1986, hospitals accepting federal funds (i.e. most of them) must provide emergency healthcare to anyone who shows up, regardless of ability to pay, citizenship, etc.

    This is hardly the same as “free healthcare”, however. It is, quite notably, not preventative in the least, only being available once one is affected. Also, I don’t know of any ER that defines a “cold” as necessitating emergency care. Heck, even my own provider won’t see me for a cold! I wouldn’t be surprised if an ER turned away someone for a tooth ache, as well. Or at least would turn him away if a cursory exam revealed that the tooth ache did not necessitate emergency treatment.

  • Jon

    @39, thanks for the clarification, tODD. I’ve heard many people say they believe that anyone (including those darn ‘illegals’!) can drop into the ER and get precisely the same kind of med care which their health insurance covers. And they say it with some resentment, as if they have to pay for what others waltz in and get for free. I suspect such people deep down don’t really believe that, because I don’t hear them say they’re choosing the ER for their own care. Grace among them. You can’t go to the ER for an annual physical, a rectal or prostate exam, bloodwork, or, as I said, antibiotics. All the preventable stuff that those of us w/insurance take for granted. You go when things get really bad, which means that many times you go much too late.

  • Jon

    @39, thanks for the clarification, tODD. I’ve heard many people say they believe that anyone (including those darn ‘illegals’!) can drop into the ER and get precisely the same kind of med care which their health insurance covers. And they say it with some resentment, as if they have to pay for what others waltz in and get for free. I suspect such people deep down don’t really believe that, because I don’t hear them say they’re choosing the ER for their own care. Grace among them. You can’t go to the ER for an annual physical, a rectal or prostate exam, bloodwork, or, as I said, antibiotics. All the preventable stuff that those of us w/insurance take for granted. You go when things get really bad, which means that many times you go much too late.

  • Grace

    Jon 38

    YOU WROTE: “And ER treatment is not limited to undocumented people; anyone without health insurance is welcome to wait for hours and hours and hours, assuming they can take such time from their job, which likely provides no sick time.”

    You speak of ” they can take such time from their job” which indicates they do have some means by which they can get medical help, or at least by medication. Often times dentists will help those who REALLY are in need, or they will set up a small payment plan.

    Jon, what you write, and what you are opting for is: FREE HEALTH CARE. We cannot afford to offer free health care.

    We have gone over these subjects numerous times. People for the most part CHOOSE what they want to spend their money on, that includes many items they COULD do without, but instead, spend their money, and then want free medical.

    My conversations with those who feel the government should pay their medical bills is shocking – they purchase new furniture on their credit cards, but they don’t want to pay for medication or anything else. It’s not a secret that a lot of people operate this way. And YES, there are those who have no funds.

    There are Soup Kitchens who have doctors who donate their time, IF people are willing to look into that as an option. That is a fact many don’t want to acknowledge!

  • Grace

    Jon 38

    YOU WROTE: “And ER treatment is not limited to undocumented people; anyone without health insurance is welcome to wait for hours and hours and hours, assuming they can take such time from their job, which likely provides no sick time.”

    You speak of ” they can take such time from their job” which indicates they do have some means by which they can get medical help, or at least by medication. Often times dentists will help those who REALLY are in need, or they will set up a small payment plan.

    Jon, what you write, and what you are opting for is: FREE HEALTH CARE. We cannot afford to offer free health care.

    We have gone over these subjects numerous times. People for the most part CHOOSE what they want to spend their money on, that includes many items they COULD do without, but instead, spend their money, and then want free medical.

    My conversations with those who feel the government should pay their medical bills is shocking – they purchase new furniture on their credit cards, but they don’t want to pay for medication or anything else. It’s not a secret that a lot of people operate this way. And YES, there are those who have no funds.

    There are Soup Kitchens who have doctors who donate their time, IF people are willing to look into that as an option. That is a fact many don’t want to acknowledge!

  • Grace

    Todd @ 39

    YOU WROTE: “whether someone attempts to go to the ER for “free medical care” does not determine if they will receive it. Nevertheless, it is not true that one can get treated for a cold for free, citizen or not. With your apparent background in medicine, you should know that.”

    It is TRUE that a parent can bring a child in with a fever, and all the other symptoms and receive free care if they don’t have insurance. I’ve witnessed it – The same is true for an ear infection, they will be seen, and they will be treated.

  • Grace

    Todd @ 39

    YOU WROTE: “whether someone attempts to go to the ER for “free medical care” does not determine if they will receive it. Nevertheless, it is not true that one can get treated for a cold for free, citizen or not. With your apparent background in medicine, you should know that.”

    It is TRUE that a parent can bring a child in with a fever, and all the other symptoms and receive free care if they don’t have insurance. I’ve witnessed it – The same is true for an ear infection, they will be seen, and they will be treated.

  • Jon

    @41 See my comment @40.
    Health care is virtually unaffordable w/out health insurance. I make a decent salary but w/out health insurance my wife’s medical bills would bankrupt us tomorrow. I get insurance through my employer, and the 2 health plans offered must by law take those w/pre-existing conditions. Otherwise, I would not be able to afford insurance, assuming I could find a company that would even insure my wife.

    Your suggestion that those w/out insurance, and thus w/out health care, seek out a volunteer doctor in a soup line is appalling. You obviously won’t do that yourself.

  • Jon

    @41 See my comment @40.
    Health care is virtually unaffordable w/out health insurance. I make a decent salary but w/out health insurance my wife’s medical bills would bankrupt us tomorrow. I get insurance through my employer, and the 2 health plans offered must by law take those w/pre-existing conditions. Otherwise, I would not be able to afford insurance, assuming I could find a company that would even insure my wife.

    Your suggestion that those w/out insurance, and thus w/out health care, seek out a volunteer doctor in a soup line is appalling. You obviously won’t do that yourself.

  • Grace

    Jon – 40

    YOU WROTE: “And they say it with some resentment, as if they have to pay for what others waltz in and get for free. I suspect such people deep down don’t really believe that, because I don’t hear them say they’re choosing the ER for their own care. Grace among them. You can’t go to the ER for an annual physical, a rectal or prostate exam, bloodwork, or, as I said, antibiotics. All the preventable stuff that those of us w/insurance take for granted. You go when things get really bad, which means that many times you go much too late.”

    I have gone to ER when there was an emergency, or after doctor office hours, on at least four ocassions in the past two years. There is no choice when it’s late at night, or on a weekend.

    When people don’t have insurance the hospital often times absorbs the costs, that of course escapes the mind of some.

  • Grace

    Jon – 40

    YOU WROTE: “And they say it with some resentment, as if they have to pay for what others waltz in and get for free. I suspect such people deep down don’t really believe that, because I don’t hear them say they’re choosing the ER for their own care. Grace among them. You can’t go to the ER for an annual physical, a rectal or prostate exam, bloodwork, or, as I said, antibiotics. All the preventable stuff that those of us w/insurance take for granted. You go when things get really bad, which means that many times you go much too late.”

    I have gone to ER when there was an emergency, or after doctor office hours, on at least four ocassions in the past two years. There is no choice when it’s late at night, or on a weekend.

    When people don’t have insurance the hospital often times absorbs the costs, that of course escapes the mind of some.

  • Grace

    Jon @ 43

    YOU WROTE: “Your suggestion that those w/out insurance, and thus w/out health care, seek out a volunteer doctor in a soup line is appalling. You obviously won’t do that yourself.”

    No I don’t have to go to a “Soup Kitchen” to find medical care, we have insurance, and I’m very grateful for it. My point was and is, there are ways to be treated when ill, there are free clinics, and there is emergency care for those in need.

    I’m very sorry that your wife is ill, but thankful that you have insurance to cover her medical needs.

  • Grace

    Jon @ 43

    YOU WROTE: “Your suggestion that those w/out insurance, and thus w/out health care, seek out a volunteer doctor in a soup line is appalling. You obviously won’t do that yourself.”

    No I don’t have to go to a “Soup Kitchen” to find medical care, we have insurance, and I’m very grateful for it. My point was and is, there are ways to be treated when ill, there are free clinics, and there is emergency care for those in need.

    I’m very sorry that your wife is ill, but thankful that you have insurance to cover her medical needs.

  • Jon

    You don’t get it, Grace. But you’re taken care of, so f– the others. That’ll offend you far more than hearing about a man who died for lack of antibiotics.

  • Jon

    You don’t get it, Grace. But you’re taken care of, so f– the others. That’ll offend you far more than hearing about a man who died for lack of antibiotics.

  • Grace

    Jon @ 46

    “You don’t get it, Grace. But you’re taken care of, so f– the others.</b."

    Speaking that way, even though you use the –after the letter is abominable.

  • Grace

    Jon @ 46

    “You don’t get it, Grace. But you’re taken care of, so f– the others.</b."

    Speaking that way, even though you use the –after the letter is abominable.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@42), you said:

    It is TRUE that a parent can bring a child in with a fever, and all the other symptoms and receive free care if they don’t have insurance. I’ve witnessed it – The same is true for an ear infection, they will be seen, and they will be treated.

    Okay, if you’ve “witnessed” these events, then tell me which hospitals you witnessed them at. Where did you see a child with a fever or ear infection get accepted into the emergency room and receive treatment?

    Because, again, that is almost certainly not due to the EMTALA law to which I earlier referred (@39). Many hospitals are still run by religious organizations, and may choose — as is their right — to provide free care to whomever they wish. That is not what is being discussed here, however. Or are you merely complaining that charity exists?

    No, the point here is allegedly “free health care” that is due to government mandate.

    As a final note, just because one gets seen by a doctor and gets a prescription for a drug that would address one’s illness, does not mean that one can therefore afford that drug. You may receive said drug(s) while receiving emergency care at an ER. But once you are out of there, you will almost certainly have to pay for any prescriptions yourself. The article Jon linked to (@36) is a good example of this.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@42), you said:

    It is TRUE that a parent can bring a child in with a fever, and all the other symptoms and receive free care if they don’t have insurance. I’ve witnessed it – The same is true for an ear infection, they will be seen, and they will be treated.

    Okay, if you’ve “witnessed” these events, then tell me which hospitals you witnessed them at. Where did you see a child with a fever or ear infection get accepted into the emergency room and receive treatment?

    Because, again, that is almost certainly not due to the EMTALA law to which I earlier referred (@39). Many hospitals are still run by religious organizations, and may choose — as is their right — to provide free care to whomever they wish. That is not what is being discussed here, however. Or are you merely complaining that charity exists?

    No, the point here is allegedly “free health care” that is due to government mandate.

    As a final note, just because one gets seen by a doctor and gets a prescription for a drug that would address one’s illness, does not mean that one can therefore afford that drug. You may receive said drug(s) while receiving emergency care at an ER. But once you are out of there, you will almost certainly have to pay for any prescriptions yourself. The article Jon linked to (@36) is a good example of this.

  • Grace

    Todd,

    I am not giving out the names of hospitals – after Jon’s abominable use of language, I don’t feel safe in giving out much of anything. No one in their right mind would be so stupid as to answer such questions.

  • Grace

    Todd,

    I am not giving out the names of hospitals – after Jon’s abominable use of language, I don’t feel safe in giving out much of anything. No one in their right mind would be so stupid as to answer such questions.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    So you propose that the average family shell out the 100 grand for a house before they buy? Save until they are old before they can own a home? What planet are you living on? Even if you do own outright, try not paying your property taxes for a year or two and see what happens.

    Ah the entitlement mentality.

    Yes, I was just explaining to my teen aged son how arguments of this sort really resonate with folks who didn’t grow up poor or who have not been poor. I have plenty of friends and family and who actually were poor despite their parents working hard. In fact, they had to work even as children to help support their families. I have friends who are war refugees. These are people who really did lose everything. They lost stuff they actually owned, not just that they had been making the payments on. It is a totally different mindset. So, it isn’t the planet, it is the country where one lives. Go try to get a mortgage in Mexico. The short answer is, you can’t. Again same planet, same homo sapiens, but different expectations. The prosperity we enjoyed in the late 20th century in the USA is likely gone at least for a long, long time, because conditions have changed. We have to face it. We made our bed.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    So you propose that the average family shell out the 100 grand for a house before they buy? Save until they are old before they can own a home? What planet are you living on? Even if you do own outright, try not paying your property taxes for a year or two and see what happens.

    Ah the entitlement mentality.

    Yes, I was just explaining to my teen aged son how arguments of this sort really resonate with folks who didn’t grow up poor or who have not been poor. I have plenty of friends and family and who actually were poor despite their parents working hard. In fact, they had to work even as children to help support their families. I have friends who are war refugees. These are people who really did lose everything. They lost stuff they actually owned, not just that they had been making the payments on. It is a totally different mindset. So, it isn’t the planet, it is the country where one lives. Go try to get a mortgage in Mexico. The short answer is, you can’t. Again same planet, same homo sapiens, but different expectations. The prosperity we enjoyed in the late 20th century in the USA is likely gone at least for a long, long time, because conditions have changed. We have to face it. We made our bed.

  • Grace

    Those who cannot afford the medications or other needs they can contact:

    The County Health Dept. –

    The Salvation Army

  • Grace

    Those who cannot afford the medications or other needs they can contact:

    The County Health Dept. –

    The Salvation Army

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@49), that is, quite frankly, a pathetic excuse for not backing up your claims with examples.

    Especially since I’m pretty certain I’ve seen you allude to foul language yourself on this blog. But when you’re cornered, you frequently take an out by feigning outrage.

    This is all especially humorous since Jon predicted this of you (@46):

    That’ll offend you far more than hearing about a man who died for lack of antibiotics.

    Yup. He nailed that one.

    No, seriously, giving out names of hospitals that are more charitable than required by law doesn’t make you more or less safe. We already know what part of the country you live in from previous comments of yours. So what’s your reason for not telling us, Grace? Did you maybe overstate your case?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@49), that is, quite frankly, a pathetic excuse for not backing up your claims with examples.

    Especially since I’m pretty certain I’ve seen you allude to foul language yourself on this blog. But when you’re cornered, you frequently take an out by feigning outrage.

    This is all especially humorous since Jon predicted this of you (@46):

    That’ll offend you far more than hearing about a man who died for lack of antibiotics.

    Yup. He nailed that one.

    No, seriously, giving out names of hospitals that are more charitable than required by law doesn’t make you more or less safe. We already know what part of the country you live in from previous comments of yours. So what’s your reason for not telling us, Grace? Did you maybe overstate your case?

  • Grace

    Todd,

    No amount of ridicule, insults or trumped up accusations will entice me to answer such questions.

    I don’t use the kind of language that Jon used, with his ‘letter before using -. To insinuate that I have is a lie.

  • Grace

    Todd,

    No amount of ridicule, insults or trumped up accusations will entice me to answer such questions.

    I don’t use the kind of language that Jon used, with his ‘letter before using -. To insinuate that I have is a lie.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    When I had meningitis, I went to the regional medical center in rural Kansas, and they didn’t ask for financial info or insurance etc. till after I was admitted. It wasn’t a religious institution and I wasn’t a trauma case, unconscious etc. It was just a plain old state hospital. Yes, they have to take you and treat you whether you can pay or not, and they do it based solely on your medical condition. Talk to some folks working in health care. On the whole, they actually want to help people.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    When I had meningitis, I went to the regional medical center in rural Kansas, and they didn’t ask for financial info or insurance etc. till after I was admitted. It wasn’t a religious institution and I wasn’t a trauma case, unconscious etc. It was just a plain old state hospital. Yes, they have to take you and treat you whether you can pay or not, and they do it based solely on your medical condition. Talk to some folks working in health care. On the whole, they actually want to help people.

  • http://Www.Toddstadler.com tODD

    Grace (@53),

    No amount of ridicule, insults or trumped up accusations will entice me to answer such questions.

    Oh, trust me, I suffer no illusions as to the lengths you’ll go to in order not to answer a question!

    I do think you’d be better off, however, only making claims you’re capable of backing up. Because I’m interested in the facts here, not speculation.

  • http://Www.Toddstadler.com tODD

    Grace (@53),

    No amount of ridicule, insults or trumped up accusations will entice me to answer such questions.

    Oh, trust me, I suffer no illusions as to the lengths you’ll go to in order not to answer a question!

    I do think you’d be better off, however, only making claims you’re capable of backing up. Because I’m interested in the facts here, not speculation.

  • Grace

    sg @ 54

    “Talk to some folks working in health care. On the whole, they actually want to help people.”

    That’s right!

  • Grace

    sg @ 54

    “Talk to some folks working in health care. On the whole, they actually want to help people.”

    That’s right!

  • Cincinnatus

    Well, this has gone downhill. But sg is correct: medical care in the United States is already socialized. Yes, seriously. Whether it is efficiently or fairly socialized is another question, but it is indeed socialized, so this war of anecdotes is really missing the point. A person with life threatening injuries or diseases in the United States isn’t going to waste away in the streets if he simply walks into an emergency room.

  • Cincinnatus

    Well, this has gone downhill. But sg is correct: medical care in the United States is already socialized. Yes, seriously. Whether it is efficiently or fairly socialized is another question, but it is indeed socialized, so this war of anecdotes is really missing the point. A person with life threatening injuries or diseases in the United States isn’t going to waste away in the streets if he simply walks into an emergency room.

  • Tom Hering

    Uh, an emergency room treats you for, you know, emergencies. By the time your condition has reached that stage, you may not end up wasting away on the streets, but you may end up dying in the hospital from a condition that might have been treatable earlier.

  • Tom Hering

    Uh, an emergency room treats you for, you know, emergencies. By the time your condition has reached that stage, you may not end up wasting away on the streets, but you may end up dying in the hospital from a condition that might have been treatable earlier.

  • Cincinnatus

    Technically, Tom, they’re for emergencies, but have you ever been in an emergency room? They are employed for far more than just emergencies, which is why they are so crowded, and why our system is inefficient. The system is also inefficient because socialization-via-the-emergency-room does not work very well as preventative care, as you well note.

    But then we would get into the question of whether routine doctor visits constitute a human right, etc. As a non-believer in human rights, I’m not exactly keen to have that discussion right now, and it’s rather beside the point of poverty.

  • Cincinnatus

    Technically, Tom, they’re for emergencies, but have you ever been in an emergency room? They are employed for far more than just emergencies, which is why they are so crowded, and why our system is inefficient. The system is also inefficient because socialization-via-the-emergency-room does not work very well as preventative care, as you well note.

    But then we would get into the question of whether routine doctor visits constitute a human right, etc. As a non-believer in human rights, I’m not exactly keen to have that discussion right now, and it’s rather beside the point of poverty.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @58 and @59

    But how would you even get them to go for preventive care?

    An unusual and much-heralded program that gave poor families cash to encourage good behavior and self-sufficiency has so far had only modest effects on their lives and economic situation, according to an analysis the Bloomberg administration released on Tuesday.

    The three-year-old pilot project, the first of its kind in the country, gave parents payments for things like going to the dentist ($100) or holding down a full-time job ($150 per month). Children were rewarded for attending school regularly ($25 to $50 per month) or passing a high school Regents exam ($600)….

    The program had a bumpy start, city officials and donors said. It was hard to recruit families from the beginning, said Margot Brandenburg, an associate director of the Rockefeller Foundation, the primary source of financing….

    One Brooklyn family who participated in the program said they collected more than $7,610 in two years. Janice Dudley and her 16-year-old daughter, Qua-neshia Darden, of East New York, said they received rewards for school attendance, good test scores and receiving regular medical checkups….

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/31/nyregion/31cash.html?hp

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @58 and @59

    But how would you even get them to go for preventive care?

    An unusual and much-heralded program that gave poor families cash to encourage good behavior and self-sufficiency has so far had only modest effects on their lives and economic situation, according to an analysis the Bloomberg administration released on Tuesday.

    The three-year-old pilot project, the first of its kind in the country, gave parents payments for things like going to the dentist ($100) or holding down a full-time job ($150 per month). Children were rewarded for attending school regularly ($25 to $50 per month) or passing a high school Regents exam ($600)….

    The program had a bumpy start, city officials and donors said. It was hard to recruit families from the beginning, said Margot Brandenburg, an associate director of the Rockefeller Foundation, the primary source of financing….

    One Brooklyn family who participated in the program said they collected more than $7,610 in two years. Janice Dudley and her 16-year-old daughter, Qua-neshia Darden, of East New York, said they received rewards for school attendance, good test scores and receiving regular medical checkups….

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/31/nyregion/31cash.html?hp

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I think dysfunction and/or low status is the new definition of poverty, because the definition certainly isn’t actual deprivation.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I think dysfunction and/or low status is the new definition of poverty, because the definition certainly isn’t actual deprivation.

  • Cincinnatus

    sg@61: Yeah, this goes back to my discussion about the moral poverty of America’s lower classes a few weeks ago. It was not received well at the time, but it is nonetheless a true statement.

  • Cincinnatus

    sg@61: Yeah, this goes back to my discussion about the moral poverty of America’s lower classes a few weeks ago. It was not received well at the time, but it is nonetheless a true statement.

  • Grace

    sg @ 61

    YOU WROTE: “I think dysfunction and/or low status is the new definition of poverty, because the definition certainly isn’t actual deprivation.”

    BINGO – most people are NOT DEPRIVED, but they want, demand and believe they are entitled to everything, everyone else has around them.

    Many of these same people squander the money they have, and then complain when they don’t have what they consider are necessities, but instead are those things which they desire. SUCH AS —- AC, which is very expensive to run, especially if you live in an area that has high temps – a big screen TV, an SUV, new furniture, free lunches and breakfast for their kids in school, personal computers for their children (paid for by tax payers) —-

    OH, did I forget health insurance? – no, I didn’t, but many others do, and BELIEVE that the GOVERNMENT SHOULD COVER their HEALTH CARE. And who pays the taxes to cover this minor oversight on the part of those who spend their money on other non-essentials?

  • Grace

    sg @ 61

    YOU WROTE: “I think dysfunction and/or low status is the new definition of poverty, because the definition certainly isn’t actual deprivation.”

    BINGO – most people are NOT DEPRIVED, but they want, demand and believe they are entitled to everything, everyone else has around them.

    Many of these same people squander the money they have, and then complain when they don’t have what they consider are necessities, but instead are those things which they desire. SUCH AS —- AC, which is very expensive to run, especially if you live in an area that has high temps – a big screen TV, an SUV, new furniture, free lunches and breakfast for their kids in school, personal computers for their children (paid for by tax payers) —-

    OH, did I forget health insurance? – no, I didn’t, but many others do, and BELIEVE that the GOVERNMENT SHOULD COVER their HEALTH CARE. And who pays the taxes to cover this minor oversight on the part of those who spend their money on other non-essentials?

  • Grace

    There will always be the very ill, those who are unable to care for themselves, and the mentally ill – They deserve our help.

    But lets not forget those who use drugs and booze, who are unable to work, those who don’t want to work, have the system all figured out…………who believe they are entitled to everything everyone else has? I don’t want to pay their freight!

  • Grace

    There will always be the very ill, those who are unable to care for themselves, and the mentally ill – They deserve our help.

    But lets not forget those who use drugs and booze, who are unable to work, those who don’t want to work, have the system all figured out…………who believe they are entitled to everything everyone else has? I don’t want to pay their freight!

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  • steve

    To state the obvious, the whole question about whether or not to provide medical care to illegal aliens should be a mostly moot point. The real question should have been how to properly enforce immigration laws in the first place. By not doing so, the federal government has put a great burden on our health care system and educational system and caused unnecessary moral dilemmas for a great number of people. Nobody wants to see anyone go without health care but at what cost? Should it be at the cost of nearly crippling the entire system for many, many legal residents, as has happened in California?

    Yet we keep electing the very people who caused the problem in the first place and are now promising ways to fix it–with a little tax money, of course.

  • steve

    To state the obvious, the whole question about whether or not to provide medical care to illegal aliens should be a mostly moot point. The real question should have been how to properly enforce immigration laws in the first place. By not doing so, the federal government has put a great burden on our health care system and educational system and caused unnecessary moral dilemmas for a great number of people. Nobody wants to see anyone go without health care but at what cost? Should it be at the cost of nearly crippling the entire system for many, many legal residents, as has happened in California?

    Yet we keep electing the very people who caused the problem in the first place and are now promising ways to fix it–with a little tax money, of course.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@53):

    I don’t use the kind of language that Jon used, with his ‘letter before using -. To insinuate that I have is a lie.

    Grace from three months ago:

    they make @ss’s of themselves every time they open their mouths……. which is ALL TO OFTEN!

    Hmm.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@53):

    I don’t use the kind of language that Jon used, with his ‘letter before using -. To insinuate that I have is a lie.

    Grace from three months ago:

    they make @ss’s of themselves every time they open their mouths……. which is ALL TO OFTEN!

    Hmm.

  • Grace

    tODD @66

    What Jon referrenced, and I stated three months ago is not a comparison. It’s telling that you spend so much time investigating something and then embarrassing yourself by making a comparison, that doesn’t exist.

    What I stated in your post 66 comparing that to the language Jon used in 46 with the letter and then – is abominable, as I stated in 47 there is no comparison.

  • Grace

    tODD @66

    What Jon referrenced, and I stated three months ago is not a comparison. It’s telling that you spend so much time investigating something and then embarrassing yourself by making a comparison, that doesn’t exist.

    What I stated in your post 66 comparing that to the language Jon used in 46 with the letter and then – is abominable, as I stated in 47 there is no comparison.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@67) said:

    What Jon referrenced, and I stated three months ago is not a comparison.

    It is a comparison, and I made it! Both are examples of the same “kind of language” — words that are considered impolite by some people in some situations.

    The fact that you intentionally misspelled the word as “@ss” when you used it a few months ago indicates that you know this. That is what is done when people want to use words that they know may offend others. It’s what Jon did, and it’s what you did.

    Either way, it’s clear that you’ll find any excuse not to back up wild claims you make when called on them. You’ll feign offense at one bad word, but defend your own right to use other bad words. There’s a term for inconsistency like that …

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@67) said:

    What Jon referrenced, and I stated three months ago is not a comparison.

    It is a comparison, and I made it! Both are examples of the same “kind of language” — words that are considered impolite by some people in some situations.

    The fact that you intentionally misspelled the word as “@ss” when you used it a few months ago indicates that you know this. That is what is done when people want to use words that they know may offend others. It’s what Jon did, and it’s what you did.

    Either way, it’s clear that you’ll find any excuse not to back up wild claims you make when called on them. You’ll feign offense at one bad word, but defend your own right to use other bad words. There’s a term for inconsistency like that …

  • Grace

    tODD,

    If you don’t see the difference between the two words, that’s too bad, — FOR YOU!

  • Grace

    tODD,

    If you don’t see the difference between the two words, that’s too bad, — FOR YOU!

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