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September 13, 2011 9:40 AM   Subscribe

U.S. Poverty Rate, 1 in 6, at Highest Level in Years (NYT) - An additional 2.6 million people slipped below the poverty line in 2010, census officials said, making 46.2 million people in poverty in the United States, the highest number in the 52 years the Census Bureau has been tracking it, said Trudi Renwick, chief of the Poverty Statistic Branch. That represented 15.1 percent of the country. The poverty line in 2010 was at $22,113 for a family of four. (related)
posted by infini (121 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sickening.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:44 AM on September 13, 2011


I guess the gap between the rich in the poor is widening faster in Canada than it is down there.
We're just in such a damn hurry to catch up.

And uh, 22,000 for a family of four? That's insane. Double that, and 44,000$ a year for a family of four still sounds pretty damn impoverished to me.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:45 AM on September 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


The worst part of course is the completely predictable turn to religious/racist demagogues, which just happen to be the same people causing the problems in the first place.
posted by DU at 9:48 AM on September 13, 2011 [14 favorites]


Yeah, not only is the 1 in 6 stat alarming enough. If the government set anything close to a reasonable measure for "family of four," we're going to be pushing 25%.

I suppose that's why the government does not do that.
posted by absalom at 9:49 AM on September 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement. Economic wounds must be healed by the action of the cells of the economic body - the producers and consumers themselves.--Herbert Hoover

Ergo we need to (re)start making stuff, though preferably not military equipment..
posted by obscurator at 9:53 AM on September 13, 2011


More americans are also living with their parents: http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2011/09/13/more-americans-are-doubling-up/?mod=e2tw
posted by The1andonly at 9:53 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Me and my girlfriend each pull in about 40 a year and we still have a roommate.
In fucking Sacramento no less.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:55 AM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I think you could triple that and still be eeking by in most parts of the country--especially if the two kids are not old enough to attend public school and you have to pay for daycare because both parents are working (easily $800-1500 a month right there). It's one thing to lower the standard of living across the board and keep unemployment high, but then to not provide the social services of other 1st world countries (i.e. paid maternity leave, free preschool, fucking BASIC free health care)?? I'm not optimistic about the future.
posted by mattbucher at 10:01 AM on September 13, 2011 [24 favorites]


There's a bunch of motherfuckers out there who're making twice that and barely scraping by. This is a national shame.
posted by Mister_A at 10:01 AM on September 13, 2011


Income Used to Compute Poverty Status (Money Income) (from the census.gov site)

* Includes earnings, unemployment compensation, workers' compensation, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, public assistance, veterans' payments, survivor benefits, pension or retirement income, interest, dividends, rents, royalties, income from estates, trusts, educational assistance, alimony, child support, assistance from outside the household, and other miscellaneous sources.
* Noncash benefits (such as food stamps and housing subsidies) do not count.
* Before taxes!!
* Excludes capital gains or losses.
* If a person lives with a family, add up the income of all family members. (Non-relatives, such as housemates, do not count.)

posted by infini at 10:02 AM on September 13, 2011


EDIT: I acknowledge that everyone else has the same sentiment. It's just so nuts though - $25,000/year for 4 people ≠ poor? Huh?
posted by Mister_A at 10:03 AM on September 13, 2011


* Excludes capital gains or losses.

Ahhh capital gains. That is some bullshit right there.
posted by Mister_A at 10:04 AM on September 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Last night we learned that the right wing is fine with letting poor people die, but I think we can do better. Let's have a minimum income that you have to make every year or you're put to death. This program combines two things that pro-life values voters love: poor people dying and government-sanctioned executions.

Of course, children would be exempt until they're 7, at which point they can work in a factory.
posted by Legomancer at 10:05 AM on September 13, 2011 [60 favorites]


I wonder if this is related to trends in immigration at all. Honest question. Anyone have any insight?
posted by stroke_count at 10:06 AM on September 13, 2011


Noncash benefits (such as food stamps and housing subsidies) do not count.

Huh. At what income level(s) do people become eligible for food stamps? I assume it's different for single people vs parents, and likely different from state to state.
posted by elizardbits at 10:06 AM on September 13, 2011


I know a lot of people are saying similar things, but $22,000 for a family of four is so, so low. My sweetie and I--and it's just two of us--are making slightly above that together, and we are broke. I want to have a baby so damn bad, but there's no way we could pull it off (outside of moving in with his parents, I suppose), at least for the next year, and that makes me miserable. We're 30, if that matters.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 10:07 AM on September 13, 2011 [19 favorites]


Of course, children would be exempt until they're 7, at which point they can work in a factory.

Eh?

Hmm. You planning on charging their parents for the airfare to China?
posted by notyou at 10:08 AM on September 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


'Cause otherwise, SOCIALISM.
posted by notyou at 10:09 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


For, WIC, for a family of four, it's $41,000-ish a year. WIC is only supplemental food, not enough for an entire diet, and only for pregnant or nursing mothers and children under 5, but the feds acknowledge that under $41,000 you probably can't feed your kids enough for adequate nutrition.

BUT YOU'RE NOT POOR!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:10 AM on September 13, 2011 [22 favorites]


Poverty line for a single household is $11,139. Median rent $602. $326.25 left per month. Less $100/month in food, $100 in utilities and phone. Need transport to find/keep a job. Yeah, totally not poor. That leaves a handful of change left over to save up so one incident doesn't send you spiraling into debt and ruin your life.
posted by Garm at 10:11 AM on September 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


From some light research, it seems like the poverty line is just 3x the minimum food cost for a family.

I think some people are misunderstanding the concept too. It's not the divider between poor and not. It's the divider between being able to be homeless / starve to death or not.
posted by smackfu at 10:13 AM on September 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Let's have a minimum income that you have to make every year or you're put to death.

Where would the servants come from?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:13 AM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


That leaves a handful of change left over to save up so one incident doesn't send you spiraling into debt and ruin your life.

But don't worry, everyone will totally be able to buy their own health insurance!

/stabbityburger
posted by elizardbits at 10:14 AM on September 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


If the US was a family:

Two children, one has a paper route, the other is too young to work.
One parent who is a teacher, making 40k a year.
One parent who is the CEO of a multinational, making 15m a year.

The CEO parent refuses to chip in for food for the child who cannot work, that lazy brat should just get off his ass. Refuses to chip in for healcare for the teacher parent, what kind of moron becomes a teacher? They should have gotten an MBA. Refuses to chip in for upkeep on the house, those deadbeats don't deserve a nice house if they refuse to work. The CEO parent simply builds himself a mansion in the backyard, but hooks into the existing gas and electric. He laughs while the others starve trying to cover the electric bill, bunch of suckers.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:14 AM on September 13, 2011 [55 favorites]


I was making about that, living by myself, and having about an extra $100-$200 a month. This was with all my student loans in deferment and just ignoring the pile of medical bills on my desk. After paying for rent, transportation, food, internet, phone, electricity, water, insurance, and a little bit of other entertainment that was almost all my money. Then if I was paying off my debt? No fucking way.
posted by Glibpaxman at 10:15 AM on September 13, 2011


See, this is why "prosperity gospel" is so fucking hilarious.
posted by aramaic at 10:15 AM on September 13, 2011 [5 favorites]



Hmm. You planning on charging their parents for the airfare to China?
posted by notyou at 10:08 AM on September 13 [+] [!]


Us Albertans just amended our labor laws to allow twelve year olds to work, give it time, give it time.

I want to have a baby so damn bad, but there's no way we could pull it off (outside of moving in with his parents, I suppose), at least for the next year, and that makes me miserable. We're 30, if that matters.


I can't think of anyway to phrase this that doesn't sound trite, bordering on condescending, but that's utterly awful, and more than a little heart breaking. You should be furious about that. We should all be pissed off right now, there is some stellar exploitation and mismanagement of resources and labor going on right now.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:16 AM on September 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


This saddens me. I would point out that the idea of "bringing back industry" to the US is just not going to happen. Corporations are free to have stuff made wherever they will, and if EVERY American worked at the MINIMUM wage he or she could still not compete with workers in Far East nations.
posted by Postroad at 10:17 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Things would be better if only we didn't tax the job creators!
posted by Theta States at 10:17 AM on September 13, 2011 [5 favorites]




This saddens me. I would point out that the idea of "bringing back industry" to the US is just not going to happen. Corporations are free to have stuff made wherever they will, and if EVERY American worked at the MINIMUM wage he or she could still not compete with workers in Far East nations.
posted by Postroad at 10:17 AM on September 13 [+] [!]



Then it's time to build an economy that doesn't ruthlessly exploit the people that hold it together.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:21 AM on September 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


George Carlin - The American Dream and your owners.
posted by elpapacito at 10:22 AM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am going to quote a commenter from this post on Gawker:

http://gawker.com/5839283/the-middle-class-is-dead

Hamilton,

Americans live under the illusion that the American middle class has been the cornerstone of American society since the American Revolution.

But nothing could be further from the truth. The American middle class is essentially a post-World War II phenomenon born from the advent of automobile manufacturing and other high end industrial manufacturing on a grand scale matched by higher productivity and rapidly advancing technology.

You are completely right that the American middle class is disappearing again as manufacturing fades and we turn into a mostly service economy but the middle class dominated our society for just a sixty year life span...really just a fragment of American history.

I personally think that in our lifetimes we will see massive social unrest as the division between rich and poor grows wider and perhaps a second American revolution leading to a massive redistribution of wealth and power. All it will take is a dynamic leader to lead the masses to the new promised land.

posted by ninjew at 10:23 AM on September 13, 2011 [14 favorites]


This is what happens when a country spends trillions and trillions of dollars on a decade of war against an invented enemy, whether or not the war was illegal. Whether or not the war was for oil.

War is destructive. It's philosophically similar to piling up money and burning it - except you don't get the deflationary bump that a reduced money supply would bring.

This is what happens when at the same time a lot of people extract a meager profit from that expensive war.

This is also what happens when the richest people and the most profitable corporations have years of record profits and yet still don't pay taxes. There are major corporations that pay less taxes than individuals on disability or welfare.

This is what happens when those same corporations send most of the work overseas while avoiding paying taxes.

This is what happens when a country tries to function on cheap food, cheap imported crap.

This is what happens when a country has a race to the bottom, seeing who can sell each other out first. Thanks, Walmart!

This is what happens when an entire population is kept in check with fear and distractions instead of fighting back. Fighting not just for their rights, but for everything. For the right to clean food. For affordable healthcare. For affordable homes.

For the right not to be ripped off by assholes who see money as the high score in a video game, by people who have more money and resources than they'll ever need.


Do you still think America is the "greatest country"? You haven't been paying attention. We have an income (and rights) disparity in this country that now exceeds that of the worst 3rd world dictatorships, despots and banana republics.

We're getting ripped off on a scale that's never been seen before in the history of civilized humanity.
posted by loquacious at 10:25 AM on September 13, 2011 [85 favorites]



But nothing could be further from the truth. The American middle class is essentially a post-World War II phenomenon born from the advent of automobile manufacturing and other high end industrial manufacturing on a grand scale matched by higher productivity and rapidly advancing technology.

You are completely right that the American middle class is disappearing again as manufacturing fades and we turn into a mostly service economy but the middle class dominated our society for just a sixty year life span...really just a fragment of American history.


Sure, but that's an over simplification.

It also happened to be the strongest haven for industrial unionism, and held strong long after the concessions won at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th were already fading out for everyone else.

I mean, prior to the 20th century you worked brutally long weeks for very little money, unless you happened to be in the right skilled trade, and even they didn't have it great. They're right that "the middle class" was a blip, but it didn't/doesn't have to be, and it was actively undermined by certain financial interests.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:29 AM on September 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Know what one of the scariest and saddest moments of my life was?

When I finally understood that the state of things is not some unintended consequence of choices made by our politicians and corporate leaders who are mostly well-meaning, if overly enamored of money, but rather the result of deliberate choices and actions on the part of the ruling elite.

They want wages for average people to stagnate or regress, they want to see jobs evaporate, they want to see people uneducated, frightened, confused and stressed out, and they want to socialize risk and privatize profit.

When I figure out why they want these things, I'll likely have a new scariest and saddest moment.

On preview: All it will take is a dynamic leader to lead the masses to the new promised land

"They" will use their control of the media to discredit any such leader long before she or he reaches a point where they can shake things up. Dean Scream-type video played endlessly on all the channels and online; declining to invite them on the talking head shows and debates; all sorts of dirt dug up from their past.

And if They can't discredit this would be populist, They'll fall back to what worked so well for Them in the 60's: click-boom-dead.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:29 AM on September 13, 2011 [14 favorites]




We're getting ripped off on a scale that's never been seen before in the history of civilized humanity.
posted by loquacious at 10:25 AM on September 13 [3 favorites +] [!]


Well no, it was pretty standard after the industrial revolution. But I doubt that makes anyone feel any better about it.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:30 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where is the recovery of which they speak? For me and most people I know, times are rough and getting rougher. I feel we are still in the recession, and it's bound to get worse before it gets better. Am I the only one?
posted by cass at 10:31 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


...the highest number in the 52 years the Census Bureau has been tracking it...

Watch for the poverty line to be adjusted upward to solve this problem, similar to what they did with unemployment.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:33 AM on September 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


I was below the poverty line my first year out of college and too proud to ask my family for help. I got food stamps, but it was so hard to make ends meet, even though I lived in a converted closet. I can't imagine how stressful it would be if I had a family to feed. One time I filled up a basket of groceries and got to the checkout and their EBT machine was broken. I tried all my cards, but they were empty. I cried as I put every single one of those groceries back.

Also, I spent hours applying for food stamps. Imaging doing that with babies in tow just frightens me.

Did you know that FA Hayek said that he supported a minimum income for every person in the US? Can you imagine having that kind of true freedom? Instead of all kinds of stupid random programs with a zillion restrictions that are so hard to get into and have tons of bureaucracy, people could have a true safety net.
posted by melissam at 10:36 AM on September 13, 2011 [19 favorites]


people could have a true safety net

But they might spend their money on immoral activities! How do we know they're not out having fun on the taxpayer dime? Only the rich get to do that; that's the whole point of being rich!
posted by aramaic at 10:38 AM on September 13, 2011 [13 favorites]


I feel we are still in the recession, and it's bound to get worse before it gets better. Am I the only one?

Yup it is definitely getting worse. Those with jobs (for the most part) tend to be unhappy and their salary has stagnated. As for those looking for employment , in the unlikely event that they do get an offer it is usually for a much lower salary that whatever they had before.


In the meantime the rich is getting richer, the poor is getting poorer and a generation of new graduates will probably never realized any of the wealth attained by their parents.
posted by The1andonly at 10:38 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


From some light research, it seems like the poverty line is just 3x the minimum food cost for a family.

I think some people are misunderstanding the concept too. It's not the divider between poor and not. It's the divider between being able to be homeless / starve to death or not.



From M. Ravallion's paper (he's the guy that wrote the book on poverty lines and on the team that sets it globally - they did indeed shift it upward recently, from $1.00 a day to $1.25. Dunno about the US line though)

A poverty line helps focus the attention of governments and civil society on the living conditions of the poor. In practice, there is typically not one monetary poverty line but many, reflecting the fact that poverty lines serve two distinct role. One role is to determine what the minimum level of living is before a person is no longer deemed to be "poor". The other role is to make interpersonal comparisons.
posted by infini at 10:46 AM on September 13, 2011


I was below the poverty line my first year out of college and too proud to ask my family for help. I got food stamps, but it was so hard to make ends meet, even though I lived in a converted closet. I can't imagine how stressful it would be if I had a family to feed. One time I filled up a basket of groceries and got to the checkout and their EBT machine was broken. I tried all my cards, but they were empty. I cried as I put every single one of those groceries back.


This makes me feel like crying.
posted by Maisie at 10:52 AM on September 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


when are the aliens going to come and make pets of us
posted by angrycat at 10:56 AM on September 13, 2011


Yeah, I think you could triple that and still be eeking by

Eking. To eke is to accomplish with great effort. Eek is the sound my husband makes when he sees a roach in the shower.

/pedant

And really, I'd rather think about the various forms of "eke" than this depressing but unsurprising fact. It's heartbreaking.

They interviewed Nickeled and Dimed author Barbara Ehrenreich lately, who says she could not repeat her experiment now because things are so much harder she wouldn't even make it as long as she did then.
posted by emjaybee at 10:59 AM on September 13, 2011


Where would the servants come from?

Guatemala, same as before.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:03 AM on September 13, 2011


They interviewed Nickeled and Dimed author Barbara Ehrenreich lately, who says she could not repeat her experiment now because things are so much harder she wouldn't even make it as long as she did then.

Relevant MetaFilter thread.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:04 AM on September 13, 2011


Recent related post: Nickel and Dimed, 10 years later.
posted by homunculus at 11:05 AM on September 13, 2011


Ack!
posted by homunculus at 11:06 AM on September 13, 2011




They also cheered wildly at the idea of removal the department of education and environmental regulations...
posted by Theta States at 11:11 AM on September 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Tea Party Debate Audience Cheers Idea Of Letting Sick Man Without Insurance Die
posted by homunculus at 2:06 PM on September 13 [+] [!]


Well, you know, he took his own risk and that's what freedom is.

Those fucking people are either insane or complete motherfucking assholes.
posted by Maisie at 11:13 AM on September 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


seeing the word /pedant always makes me think of the pink panther tune for some reason
posted by infini at 11:15 AM on September 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


One does not preclude the other.
posted by elizardbits at 11:15 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those fucking people are either insane or oh and in addition to that they are complete motherfucking assholes.

posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:16 AM on September 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hey, The Heritage Foundation says you're not poor if you own such luxuries as a refrigerator, television, or stove, so stop your whining! You want poor? They'll show you poor!
posted by briank at 11:17 AM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


It seems the Tea Party is now one giant death panel. How about that.
posted by schoolgirl report at 11:17 AM on September 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


You know, I just don't even know anymore. This kind of shit is so immoral in my opinion. I don't understand how people who claim to be Christians can support candidates and a party that's so fucking uncharitable to the point of allowing their neighbors to suffer or die needlessly. Is making sure that same sex couples can't get legally married worth it to these people? Do they have any fucking idea what it's supposed to mean to be a Christian?
posted by Maisie at 11:18 AM on September 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


No, they don't.
posted by notsnot at 11:18 AM on September 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


I am pretty sure Jesus would set aside some time from his busy schedule of healing lepers to punch each tea partier in the face.
posted by elizardbits at 11:20 AM on September 13, 2011 [25 favorites]



I am pretty sure Jesus would set aside some time from his busy schedule of healing lepers to punch each tea partier in the face.


At the very least, I'm sure he would trash the little coffeeshop named "Hebrews" in their megachurch.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:23 AM on September 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm sure he would trash the little coffeeshop named "Hebrews" in their megachurch.

Genuinely serious question: It's been a long time since I've stepped foot in a church, and I've never been a megachurch. Are there really coffeeshops in the megachurches or is that just hyperbole? Because that would really make me laugh/cry.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:26 AM on September 13, 2011


*been in a megachurch. Stupid grammar.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:27 AM on September 13, 2011


I've been listening to Tom Waits' "God's Away On Business" (yes, the Cookie Monster makes it even more enjoyable) a lot because it fits my work situation (trapped on what's very obviously a sinking ship with no escape), but also because it fits the general mood of watching everything go to hell around us.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:28 AM on September 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Are there really coffeeshops in the megachurches

Oh yeahhhh it's a real thing!
posted by mattbucher at 11:28 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, you know, he took his own risk and that's what freedom is. Those fucking people are either insane or complete motherfucking assholes.

Their greatest failure of imagination not bering able to understand the idea that things done for the common benefit of all might actually include them, as well - not being able to picture themselves in that hospital bed.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:28 AM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Interesting that people are talking about declines, while the poverty level is just back to where it was in 1993. That wasn't so long ago.
posted by smackfu at 11:29 AM on September 13, 2011


Do they have any fucking idea what it's supposed to mean to be a Christian?
posted by Maisie at 8:18 PM on September 13 [+] [!]


No, they don't.
posted by notsnot at 8:18 PM on September 13 [+] [!]


I'm not one of those "Love thy neighbour" Christians.
posted by molecicco at 11:32 AM on September 13, 2011


It's telling that I have to mouse over Onion links these days to determine if they're satire or not.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:33 AM on September 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


I want to have a baby so damn bad, but there's no way we could pull it off (outside of moving in with his parents, I suppose), at least for the next year, and that makes me miserable. We're 30, if that matters.
I can't think of anyway to phrase this that doesn't sound trite, bordering on condescending, but that's utterly awful, and more than a little heart breaking.
Seconded. I'm so, so sorry, and believe me, I am pissed off as well.
posted by Gelatin at 11:35 AM on September 13, 2011


$22000 between two people is just not much money though. What is that, two part time jobs making around $10 per hour? I would be surprised if people expected to be able to raise a child on that.
posted by smackfu at 11:48 AM on September 13, 2011


This is what happens when a country spends trillions and trillions of dollars on a decade of war against an invented enemy, whether or not the war was illegal. Whether or not the war was for oil.

The $1.2 Trillion Trap: What America Gave Up For 10 Years Of War Since 9/11
posted by homunculus at 11:50 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


"They" will use their control of the media to discredit any such leader long before she or he reaches a point where they can shake things up.

I firmly believe that anyone who says that $22,000 is enough money to live on for a family of four should be encouraged to do so for a year. Politicians and pundits alike. I think it should be like Norquist's "no new taxes" pledge, only it states that anyone who wants to influence policy regarding the poor will only do so if they've demonstrated an effort to live in the same circumstances. And anyone else will be mocked and ignored for not trying to "understand the real problems" or something.

The only way I ever see this getting better is to make people living on the top edge, making decisions of the rest of the country, to get an understanding of what it is really like out here in the darkness.
posted by quin at 11:52 AM on September 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


> I firmly believe that anyone who says that $22,000 is enough money to live on for a family of four should be encouraged to do so for a year.

In 1995, Ontario's Conservative social services minister David Tsubouchi countered opposition to welfare cuts by putting together a shopping list: buy dented cans of tuna, haggle with shopkeepers, don't butter your bread or put sauce on your pasta and buy in bulk. His proposed "diet" was less nutritionally adequate than the food prisoners received in Ontario jails and was worse than what a country is legally obligated to provide for prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention.

That's how little people like this care about the poor.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:03 PM on September 13, 2011 [32 favorites]


And still, step one is to get money out of politics (reversing Citizens United, campaign finance reform, etc). Of course there are many, many things that need to be done, but eliminating the legal corruption in politics will help remove the first roadblock in achieving anything of value for the underclass. Democracy is not where a hedgefund manager has 100,000 times the say of a teacher. Perhaps next would be better public education and broadening support for public media. Then there might be actual outcry over what a terrible situation we are in.
posted by Wyatt at 12:06 PM on September 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Tea Party Debate Audience Cheers Idea Of Letting Sick Man Without Insurance Die

That's how little people like this care about the poor.

How long will it be before they openly call on supporters to attack and kill their opponents, or vulnerable, scapegoated members of the "taker" / "parasite" class? Or at least hound them to death?

I'm having an increasingly hard time seeing any future for the US that doesn't involve elite-directed mob violence and murder.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:09 PM on September 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


~All it will take is a dynamic leader to lead the masses to the new promised land.

Careful. Dynamic leaders have a tendency to lead masses over the edge of the cliff, too. Benito Perry, anyone?
posted by Thorzdad at 12:15 PM on September 13, 2011


I want to have a baby so damn bad, but there's no way we could pull it off (outside of moving in with his parents, I suppose), at least for the next year, and that makes me miserable. We're 30, if that matters.

I've blogged a bit about the fertility crisis among lower middle class women and I've had several commenters tell me they made the decision to live as an extended family in order to have a child. It makes sense...that's the way families have worked for thousands and thousands of years. I'll probably do that myself. It doesn't have to be degrading or a source of conflict, particularly if you can build an in-law suite or have a basement apartment, which can sometimes be done cheaply.
posted by melissam at 12:23 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


How long will it be before they openly call on supporters to attack and kill their opponents, or vulnerable, scapegoated members of the "taker" / "parasite" class? Or at least hound them to death?

I'm having an increasingly hard time seeing any future for the US that doesn't involve elite-directed mob violence and murder.


Hobo with a Shotgun: The Documentary.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:26 PM on September 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Really, this doesn't end until the poor start killing the rich. And that generally makes things even worse for a while.
posted by klangklangston at 12:28 PM on September 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm having an increasingly hard time seeing any future for the US that doesn't involve elite-directed mob violence and murder.

Arthur Silber:

In this world -- and, I would argue, in any world where brute power is the final means of settling every dispute, especially when that power is consolidated in the State -- the ruling class seeks power and wealth by dominating and controlling the weaker segments of society. The ruling class may not set out to kill those people it finds unnecessary for its aims, but if the ruling class can maintain and increase its power and wealth only by eliminating them, it will eventually eliminate them.
posted by Trurl at 12:38 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Really, this doesn't end until the poor start killing the rich.

Unfortunately, the ones who seem especially eager to take-up arms are the same ones who are working hard to make sure the rich get more and more.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:40 PM on September 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was in AmeriCorps, 2009-2010. $22k is two AmeriCorps stipends. So if both parents are in AmeriCorps - that's regular AmeriCorps, not VISTA, which pays less - that's supposed to take care of a family of four. My teammates and I crunched the numbers - an AmeriCorps stipend came out to about $4 an hour when you approached 40 hours a week.

The idea behind the AmeriCorps stipend is that people working with those in poverty are supposed to learn from living in a somewhat sheltered poverty themselves. We were supposed to live with 3 or 4 roommates and go on food stamps, and that was just to support ourselves. To say that two people doing a Year of Service can raise a family and not be considered poor is madness - the government gives such low wages because they define them as living poor.
posted by Peevish at 12:48 PM on September 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Unfortunately, the ones who seem especially eager to take-up arms are the same ones who are working hard to make sure the rich get more and more.

That's the sick genius of it all.
posted by Theta States at 12:49 PM on September 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Do they have any fucking idea what it's supposed to mean to be a Christian?

I have this theory that at this point in time there are two entirely different and somewhat opposed views of Christianity. The Christianity of the right focuses on abortion, homosexuality and punishing the sinner. The Christianity of the left focuses on the social justice. People on both sides of the divide can even attend the same churches and come away with entirely different messages.
posted by drezdn at 1:04 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


The way I see it, there are really only three possibilities:

1) Massive economic growth coupled with the benefits of that growth going almost entirely to the bottom 98%.

2) Wealth redistribution.

3) Continuing as things are until they hit the point where people actually start rioting and revolting.

The first two could be combined. But I suspect they won't happen at all until the third does.
posted by sotonohito at 1:12 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh and by the way, only rich white people should be allowed to vote.
posted by Legomancer at 1:14 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


BTW, the numbers are even worse in Texas (and Arizona, and Mississippi, and Louisiana, etc.).
posted by mattbucher at 1:17 PM on September 13, 2011


Oh and by the way, only rich white people should be allowed to vote.

Ah, the founding of the republic
posted by infini at 1:19 PM on September 13, 2011


Ah, the founding of the republic

More like "foundering."
posted by entropicamericana at 1:39 PM on September 13, 2011


Is Obama depressed?

It's the odious Gawker, with rumors of coverage in the NYT. But fuck it, if I were Barry, I would not want to get out of bed either.
posted by angrycat at 1:39 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also via Gawker: Fox News Troubled By Obama’s Use of Paper Clip
posted by homunculus at 2:22 PM on September 13, 2011


Some more about these poverty numbers:

Doubled-Up Households

- Doubled-up households are defined as households that include at least one "additional" adult: a person 18 or older who is not enrolled in school and is not the householder, spouse or cohabiting partner of the householder. In spring 2007, prior to the recession, doubled-up households totaled 19.7 million. By spring 2011, the number of doubled-up households had increased by 2.0 million to 21.8 million and the percent rose by 1.3 percentage points from 17.0 percent to 18.3 percent.

- In spring 2011, 5.9 million young adults age 25-34 (14.2 percent) resided in their parents' household, compared with 4.7 million (11.8 percent) before the recession, an increase of 2.4 percentage points.

- It is difficult to precisely assess the impact of doubling up on overall poverty rates. Young adults age 25-34, living with their parents, had an official poverty rate of 8.4 percent, but if their poverty status were determined using their own income, 45.3 percent had an income below the poverty threshold for a single person under age 65


posted by mattbucher at 2:24 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fox News Troubled By Obama’s Use of Paper Clip

*Terrorist Fist Bump!*
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:33 PM on September 13, 2011


More evidence Democrats lost the cultural war years ago.
posted by Shit Parade at 2:42 PM on September 13, 2011


Is that the animated paper clip? it troubles me too so I switched to open office
posted by infini at 2:54 PM on September 13, 2011


"It looks like you're writing some legislation. Would you like help?"
posted by entropicamericana at 3:24 PM on September 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


James Fallows has been writing off and on about one on of the most terrifying things I've come across in politics lately: the political class talking about revolution.

In general, it's easy to discount this sort of thing as extremism, but when you have Congressional staffers involved in the conversation it suddenly takes on a very real dimension. I don't know if these views are representative, and I doubt they are, but nonetheless the thread of posts Fallows has had on this lately have really struck a chord with me.

I used to daydream about becoming rich and having a nice condo in the city. Now I think about a house deep in the woods with sturdy walls and a self-sufficient power supply.
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:30 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I almost hate to bring this up but I think I've been living with a sort of low grade depression these last 6 months or so. Up to now, I've always felt optimistic about the future-- no matter how badly I was doing personally, there was a chance that things would work out; I could-- and I did-- improve my lot in life. I was always confident this country would progress. We would get out of Viet Nam, we would end bigotry, we would end sexism and homophobia. Education would improve. The environment would improve. There would be medical breakthroughs and they would be available to everyone.

Now, the future doesn't look very good, and I am really struggling with this. I walk around with this heavy feeling that I can't shake. If I was in my 20's, I would get out of this country.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:03 PM on September 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


The poverty line in 2010 was at $22,113 for a family of four.

Jesus Christ, I make more than that. And I'm a PhD student. In the humanities.
posted by oinopaponton at 5:51 PM on September 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


If I was in my 20's, I would get out of this country.

Singapore is always hiring.
posted by Roman Graves at 6:37 PM on September 13, 2011


"Martin! Oh, Martin!"
"Yes Valerie?"
"One in six Americans live below the poverty line! How dreadful!"
"Let me see those figures, woman, you know you're awful with fractions. Hmm. Yes, yes, dry your eyes. Now look here - it's just negros and Mexicans making it look dreadful for everybody else. It's more than one in four for...those people, you see."
"So...*sniff*...so white people are alright, then? They are, aren't they Martin?"
"Oh yes, Valerie. Only one in ten below the poverty line. But then, we can't all be from the right sort of families, can we?"
"Oh thank heavens, Martin! I thought I might have to do something!"
"I've got something you can do right here!"
"HAHAHAHAAHAHAAAA"
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:38 PM on September 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't know if this makes anyone feel better, it doesn't for me. But nevertheless for mathematical accuracy, the actual rate of poverty reported in that NYT article is 1 in 7.
46 million below the poverty line, in a populatoin of 304 million.
posted by storybored at 8:49 PM on September 13, 2011


James Fallows has been writing off and on about one on of the most terrifying things I've come across in politics lately: the political class talking about revolution.

That was in response to Mike Lofgren's article which was posted here, btw.
posted by homunculus at 8:56 PM on September 13, 2011


Nothing will get better until more people take ownership of their communities and country and work deeply within the political process to improve things. There's too much tongue-clucking and waiting around for someone else to solve problems.
posted by shivohum at 9:14 PM on September 13, 2011


You sort of wonder if another Huey Long will pop up soon.
posted by klue at 10:18 PM on September 13, 2011


Nothing will get better until more people take ownership of their communities and country and work deeply within the political process to improve things.

Oh, definitely. I mean, I had to get two Masters degrees and get paid a six figure salary to talk to politicians, but I'm sure poor people will do just as good a job for free. The people with the most to gain are unemployed, so they've got lots of spare time, yeah? We'll just say 'leverage social capital' often enough that we'll believe it's as good as having paid lobbyists supported by an army of college-educated interns working for free.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:57 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Okay, this is a bit rambly. Apologies.

For some of us who are on or near, the line of poverty, a lot of it is about context. I live with my partner, who makes twice my salary. Without his salary, we wouldn't have a car, internet access, etc. We both have health insurance through our jobs. *

My take-home pay is $1300 a month, too high for me to be poverty-level. If I had to, I could pay ALL the living expenses out of that $1300-- rent, gas / water / electric, insurance, keeping the car running and buying groceries. It wouldn't be pretty, and there would be no room for error or emergency or student loans, but we could do it. We live in a very, very small community, though, or there's no way in hell it would work. But we could make it work. If we had to.

Do I consider myself poor? No. Even without my partner's income, just with my paycheck, I don't "feel" poor. Hell, I used to live on $800 a month, back in 2005 before I got a full-time position. I was broke, but I kept the bills paid.

I work at a domestic violence shelter. My clients almost never have any money in the bank, have limited earning potential, and almost always have kids. Some of them have a nominal income (SSI, housing vouchers, food stamps, access to the local free-clothing warehouse, etc). Some don't. Not surprisingly, money and the lack of it comes up a lot around here.

Do my clients consider themselves poor? Some, yes. Others, no.

The dividing line seems to be, Can you support yourself and/or your kids? If you can, then to us-- and again, this is just a very small group's opinions-- you're not poor.

What's the larger meaning? I don't know. But I think it may explain part of why there's not more rebellion. The feeling that we may be low on money, but not totally broke, keeps us going. The day-to-day weariness that goes along with that saps a lot of the energy that outrage needs, too.

* I pay the bulk of our living expenses-- rent & 2/3 of the utilities-- and will continue to do so until... whenever. I promised myself years ago I would never, ever be financially dependent on anyone but myself. What will I do when I'm too old to work? Some of us were joking about that one night, and one of my friends answered the "what happens when we're too old" question with "jump off a bridge!" We all laughed, but that's the kind of thing that keeps me awake at 3am.
posted by ElaineMc at 1:37 AM on September 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


My fundamental pet peeve in this context is regarding all the eager young faces fresh out of school in development or design or some such world saving category asking about opportunities to uplift the poor in glamourous Africa or India and turning their faces away when I point out to them that there's far more to be done in their own backyards.
posted by infini at 3:46 AM on September 14, 2011


Jesus Christ, I make more than that. And I'm a PhD student. In the humanities.

I don't really get your point. Aren't you saying that basically anyone with a job should be able to be above the poverty line?
posted by smackfu at 7:06 AM on September 14, 2011


Aren't you saying that basically anyone with a job should be able to be above the poverty line?

What? No. I'm saying that $22K is a tiny amount of money for even one person with no dependents to live on.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:16 AM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


obscurator: "Economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement. Economic wounds must be healed by the action of the cells of the economic body - the producers and consumers themselves.--Herbert Hoover"

Really? We're quoting Hoover as the exemplar here?

Might as well let the poor eat cake while we're at it.
posted by schmod at 7:37 AM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm saying that $22K is a tiny amount of money for even one person with no dependents to live on.

Right, but as you said even a student is making more than that. So what kind of job do you have to have to make less than $22k for a couple?
posted by smackfu at 9:11 AM on September 14, 2011


Two people working at WalMart "full time" (as defined by WalMart at 28 hours/week) will be below the poverty level.
posted by Orb at 9:27 AM on September 14, 2011


So what kind of job do you have to have to make less than $22k for a couple?

Any of a whole plethora of seasonal or part time jobs. Lots of places don't offer full time positions because they don't want to classify their workers as full time. It's cheaper in some circumstances to have 2 20-hour-per-week workers that 1 full-time in a lot of circumstances, I guess.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:29 AM on September 14, 2011


Two people working at WalMart "full time" (as defined by WalMart at 28 hours/week) will be below the poverty level.

Only if they are making minimum wage. Two people working 28 hours a week at federal minimum wage ($7.25) is $20k. At my states minimum wage ($8.25), it's $23k.

I mean, if you don't have a steady job, and make only minimum wage when you do work, I don't think anybody would be surprised if you are below the poverty line.
posted by smackfu at 10:20 AM on September 14, 2011


Via Digby: The rise of the 'gigayacht'
posted by homunculus at 12:30 PM on September 14, 2011


>Yes, I know it seems stupid to quote Hoover...but his quote does get at the inherent problem we're having. Yes, he presided over a shitty decade, from which we climbed out as an industrial superpower. Manufacturing seems like a clear way out of poverty, but hopefully the maritime kind.
posted by obscurator at 1:24 PM on September 14, 2011


One answer to the problem with loss of minimum wage jobs is to have the IMF and World Bank quit holding the third world and developing nations' currencies artificially low to import deflation and fund continuous expansion of first world capitalist regimes (= you can't buy more stuff on the same income, unless it gets cheaper and cheaper, then you can). Although this would ruin certain economies as they stand - China, Bangladesh - the thirdworld would win in the long term because their local farms, industries etc would become profitable again, creating jobs and reducing dependence on exports and improving trade balance etc etc, while we would lose cheap trash, some of which each of us is partial to (cheap laptops? digital cameras? cheap fashion? pens? even the 'i buy no tat' brigade do, actually, me included) but gain (probably crappy, but no worse than my current cleaning) jobs and trade deficit reduction, etc....
posted by maiamaia at 7:08 AM on September 15, 2011






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