Your Opinion: Living in poverty

Dear Editor:

Have you ever wondered who the poor were and how they have to live?

Here are some statistics about how the poor live, recently released by the Census Bureau. Note, this is not everyone that is poor, only the percentages.

One out of every seven Americans (about 46 million) was living below the poverty line in 2010.

This is the third year in a row that the percentage of people living in poverty has increased, and it now stands at a 52-year high of 15.1 percent.

Our method of defining “living in poverty” came from the Social Security Administration on instructions from President Lyndon Johnson. Johnson needed statistics that would help him push his “Great Society,” a welfare program.

If you look at a chart depicting poverty in America, you will notice that poverty declined every single year, since they started tracking in the 1950s. That was every single year until Lyndon Johnson implemented his Great Society! Now the rate has always bounced between 12-15 percent.

The typical poor household in America has a car. Seventy-eight percent of poor households in America have air conditioning. Sixty-four percent of poor households in America have cable or satellite TV and most have two TVs, along with a DVD player and VCR. Most poor households in America with children have a gaming system such as an Xbox or PlayStation. Thirty-eight percent of poor households in America have a personal computer. Most poor households in America have a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave.

They also have other household appliances such as a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker. The typical poor American has more living space than the average European.

The typical poor American family is able to obtain medical care when needed. The average poor household in America claims to have sufficient funds to meet all essential needs.

As of 2010, the poverty line was drawn at $22,314 for a family of four. There is one key element that we are forgetting and that is by and large these people are also getting benefits from the government.

Remember, in America you can do as well working one week a month at minimum wage as you can by working $60,000-a-year, full-time, high-stress job.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to editor@newstribune.com

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