Poverty in the U.S. of A.

Hope you’re sitting down as you read this.

If you’ve been following the daily news, you’ll know that the government released its latest poverty figures yesterday, and for people who believe that we all live in one big happy middle-class family, the figures came as a huge shock. Of course, these were mainly the talking heads and pundits on the mainstream TV news channels and the rest of the corporate media–for most regular folks, I doubt that it would have come as much of a surprise.

So, what’s the main headline? Well, the poverty rate has shot up. One out of every seven Americans is now below the official poverty line!

1 out of every 7. That’s 46 million people.
And what is the official poverty line? It is artificially low (every government does this–in India recently there have been huge debates over who is and is not to be included in the poverty estimates). Imagine this: the U.S. government defines “poverty” as a paltry $21,954 for a family of four! What this means is that, if you are in a family of four that earns, let’s say, $22,000 a year, you don’t count as being poor! In this day and age, does anyone think that a family of four, living on 25, 30, or even 40,000 a year is living comfortably and isn’t poor?!

What a joke farce travesty tragedy.

Here are some of the other egregious numbers that the government census reveals, according to a report:

  • Among the working-age population, ages 18 to 65, poverty rose from 11.7 percent to 12.9 percent. That puts it at the highest since the 1960s, when the government launched a war on poverty that expanded the federal role in social welfare programs from education to health care.
  • Poverty rose among all race and ethnic groups, but stood at higher levels for blacks and Hispanics. The number of Hispanics in poverty increased from 23.2 percent to 25.3 percent; for blacks it increased from 24.7 percent to 25.8 percent. The number of whites in poverty rose from 8.6 percent to 9.4 percent.
  • Child poverty rose from 19 percent to 20.7 percent.

So in the land of milk and honey, one out of five children live in poverty.

On a related note, check out this graph that comes to us from The Washington Independent, via The Daily KOS website. The data itself is fine–what I find fascinating (and infuriating) is the way that journalists continue to be tethered to the term “middle class,” even when describing egregious poverty rates! What on earth does “middle class” even mean on this graph??! Everyone but the very rich??

From the Daily KOS

"Middle Class"? Come again?