“Poor” in America

I would imagine that most of you have never read this article. Its pretty enlightening in regards to discussions about poverty in our country.

Here’s a little teaser from the piece.

The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:

  • Forty-six percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
  • Seventy-six percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
  • The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
  • Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 30 percent own two or more cars.
  • Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
  • Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
  • Seventy-three percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher.
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9 responses to ““Poor” in America

  1. So, is this to say we shouldn’t help the poor? Be more discerning about which poor we help? Tell them to go without air conditioning before we’ll help them?

  2. I guess more than anything its to show how different poverty is in this country than in others. Poor people here live much much better than do people in third world countries. What does Jesus consider poor, and what do we consider poor? Its interesting to see that, because our country is so wealthy, the poor are people who have all these things.

  3. The question still remains the same though. Does this mean that we don’t help them? Perspective is perspective and that’s fine, but does that perspective alter our responsibility to those in geographical proximity to us, hence they have a higher standard of living?

  4. I think it calls for us to reevaluate our goals sometimes when trying to help the poor. I’ve always thought and still do that the real story of American poverty is the break down of these communities. The daily line at the local convenience store of men after work buying their nightly alcohol, fathers not present, mothers trying but displaying some of the worse parenting you can imagine. Getting paid and immediately getting that big screen to watch digital cable instead of investing the money in the family. (Yes, I know this isn’t true for all) These are the problems and too often middle class America (the goal as described by american society) displays these same tendencies, its just that they can absorb it easier.

  5. Dude, all of those statistics apply to me, yet there have been months when, despite working and spending wisely, we simply couldn’t afford to put food on the table. Poor is poor, and when poverty hits the central heat and air we bought when we could afford it just doesn’t do much to put beans in our bellies.

  6. By the way, my family has been poor even though we bought no cigarettes, alcohol, lottery tickets, restaurant meals, movie tickets, car payment, CDs, DVDs… the list could go on and on. We also have no credit card or consumer debt. What we do have is a mortgage, a student loan, a child in college, thousands of dollars in medical bills and health insurance we have to buy on our own.

    As a minister I see freeloaders every day–those who try to get a handout from the church while still managing to buy cigarettes, beer, lottery tickets, and making payment on a late-model car. It’s easy to look down on poor people when you have plenty, but when things get lean despite your best efforts, it helps you see things differently. I hope you don’t have to be poor to find that out. Peace.

  7. I think you’ve missed my point with this post milton.

    Sometimes I think we need perspective on how blessed we are. There is a tendency among middle and lower middle class (I don’t like those words because it sounds like the people are lower, which they aren’t) people to look at those with more than they have and criticize them because they have too much. The reality is, if we have a house, clothes, clean water and food we are much better off than the rest of the world. People in Africa would love for their major concern to be, “Shoot, we’re gonna have to have Ramen tonight cause we’re short because of medical bills”. Forget having no medical coverage… even the doctors there don’t have nearly the technology we have. And Ramen would be a delicacy for many people in Africa who die of starvation every day. That is my point.

    Now, this isn’t to say that your situation isn’t tough. My fiancee’s dad is a minister at a small church, so I’m beginning to understand… and believe me, it frustrates me to no end that she doesn’t have health insurance, but I can’t pay for her myself yet, so there’s nothing I can do at this time.

    (BTW, on the health care issue, I’d suggest medishare, a christian group that pays for medical bills. Its a really neat thing)

    On the freeloader deal (this is not what I was getting at in this post) I saw a guy at the grocery store the other day, buying his food with food stamps, who was wearing nicer clothes than I was. I know I don’t know his whole story, but it is frustrating because I know there are people who need that assistance.

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