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Non-technical chit chat.

By OnTheRopes ·
ABC News is talking about poverty in America being greater than previously thought. Anyone here, besides me, ever live in poverty?

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Depends on what you consider poverty

by jck In reply to Non-technical chit chat.

Have I ever lived in it? Yeah. Mom was in and out of the hospital for months, Dad was the only income. I was an 18 year old fielding phonecalls for debt collectors and banks and all.

Plus, I lived on $20 for a month. How do you do that?

12 for $1 ramen noodles
4 for $1 packs of hot dogs and hot dog buns
lots of water
staying with friends who lived near the college so i didn't waste gas.

i went home a few times a week to check the mail and stuff, and make sure no one broke in or to call dad.

Did I live that way all of my life? No. I was lucky.

Now compare that to my father, who grew up living in a tiny house in urban Iowa with his mother and 7 siblings while his father worked away in Chicago for the railroad.

My father was delivering newspapers in the 1940s before he learned how to do multiplication.

And then, there was my mother who before she even went to school, she was washing other peoples' clothes and helping feather and butcher chickens because her mother was a single parent in the 1940s.

Neither of my parents or their families took a hand-out. They always worked for what they got.

Something that's been lost amongst many in society today.

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Unfortunately, yes

by NotSoChiGuy In reply to Non-technical chit chat.

Without going into too many details (I'll share if asked...not embarrassed....just don't like to sound like a whiner is all), I lived in poverty for much of my youth.

Bear in mind, when the media talks about 'poverty', they are talking about an arbitrary income number assigned to a given family situation. Here is a chart I found:

I'd say that people that are living even up to $10K above these amounts are probably still struggling mightily.

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Depends where

by JamesRL In reply to Unfortunately, yes

I think a large factor is where you live.

Big cities equal higher cost of housing, higher municipal taxes, less access to cheap fresh produce, etc.

Ontario did an experiment to pay for welfare families to move from big cities to small towns. They found they could have a much better standard of living with the same welfare cheque.


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Location is definitely an important factor

by NotSoChiGuy In reply to Depends where

Different areas have higher costs of living, different access to public transportation (we never had a car growing up), better access to jobs of all levels, etc, etc. One of the reasons I'm not keen on the government 'guesstimate' of the poverty line is that the amount listed means far different things to someone in the greater NYC area than to someone in rural Iowa. If they broke it down by at least region, it would be more sensible, imho.

From my personal experience, I think it was better I was in the city. I was homeless for a span of a few months at one point, and suffice to say, it was rough. I think, though, it would have been exponentially worse had I been out in the burbs.

That's just my hunch. I don't plan on ever knowing for certain!

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Not yet

by DMambo In reply to Non-technical chit chat.

But next year my oldest starts college. Despite having decent joint income, there's no way we will be able to pay what's expected. And our savings for it, which weren't nearly enough to begin with, got killed a year ago. Then there are 2 more, each a couple of years behind her.

I didn't come a well-to-do family, but we weren't poor. When I look at what's ahead, I think poverty is right around the corner.

But isn't that what all parents work for anyway? To spend money on our kids' futures? ****, my grandparents crossed half a continent and an ocean to better their kids' lives. I just wish they invested in IBM in the 50's!

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Things to make sure to to

by jdclyde In reply to Not yet

apply for every grant and scholarship under the sun. There is a lot of money out there, you just have to look for it and be willing to fill out paperwork.

And no, it isn't all based on grades or income.

Having the twins go off to college at the same time (in two years) has me terrified. I don't expect the ex to step up and help at all, so it will fall right into my lap.

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Problem is,

by TonytheTiger In reply to Non-technical chit chat.

It's a category which presumes that every person has exactly the same needs.

While I have lived with less money than the government thinks I need. I have never been impoverished.

I'm just low maintenance :)

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Pretty sure

by NickNielsen In reply to Non-technical chit chat.

Our income when I was growing up was VA and Social Security survivors' benefits. I believe even back then that such income put a family of five below the poverty line.

Did we always have what we needed? Yes. Did we ever go hungry? No. Did we always eat what we wanted? No. Leftovers from Friday, Saturday and Sunday dinners were usually casserole for Monday through Thursday.

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There's poverty, and then there's poverty

by maxwell edison In reply to Non-technical chit chat.

There's abject poverty, and then there's relative poverty.

Abject poverty - the lacking of basic human needs, such as food, water, and shelter - is practically nonexistent in the United States. Anyone in such a dire state of existence in the United States has any number of options available from which those basic human needs can and will be met; thus, abject poverty in the United States is nonexistent.

Poverty, as often (or always) cited in such stories, is based soley on personal income as reported to the IRS and/or by the Census Bureau statistics. This is relative poverty. I've often wondered if it included people who might have little or no income, live in a home that's paid for, and live comfortably off of savings or tax-free investments. I admit, I don't know; I haven't bothered to look that far into it, but my guess is yes. Or does it include those who actually choose to live the simplest lifestyle possible? Again, probably yes.

Moreover, those relative poverty percentages as often cited don't include any aid provided (federal, state, or local aid, or aid provided by private charity or personal help.) A family of 4 might have an income of only X (X = whatever the poverty number of the day happens to be - $14,000 per year, for example), but they live in subsidized housing, receive food stamps, etc. Their actual living conditions are head and shoulders above the image of poverty most people conjure up when hearing the stories such as you cited.

Conclusion: Any poverty statistics cited should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt - or seen in relative terms.

Have I ever lived in abject poverty? No, because there is no reason for anyone in the USA today to suffer under such conditions.

Have I ever lived in relative poverty? Sure I have. I've been so broke that I couldn't pay attention. I've had annual income in my life that fell well under the poverty threshold of the day.

Is living in relative poverty always a bad thing? I suppose it depends on the state of one's own mind. If other people are expected to improve one's own standard of living, then a such a person is probably forever destined to live under any defined poverty threshold (since it's a monetary number always on the rise). On the other hand, it's facing such personal circumstances that should be the impetus for a person to reach deep within one's self to improve one's own standard of living. Necessity is not only the mother of invention, but also an extremely strong motivator.

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by jck In reply to There's poverty, and then ...

Anyone in such a dire state of existence in the United States has any number of options available from which those basic human needs can and will be met; thus, abject poverty in the United States is nonexistent.

You haven't been to some parts of rural America.

Go to the old coal mining towns in WV or the steel towns in PA.

Some people don't have cars, can't afford a bus, it's too far to ride a bike, etc.

Getting to care/help isn't possible in some cases.

And, the local pastor isn't always willing to drive the welfare mom and her kids into the city 40 miles away to help them.

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