Friday, November 25, 2011

Who are the poor?

In the U.S., the so-called poverty level is as follows:

The 2011 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia Persons in family Poverty guideline
  • 1 person $10,890 
  • 2 people 14,710 
  • 3 people 18,530 
  • 4 people 22,350 
  • 5 people 26,170 
  • 6 people 29,990 
  • 7 people 33,810 
  • 8 people 37,630 
For families with more than 8 persons, add $3,820 for each additional person. If you have a family, like ours, with seven children, you would have to make over $40,000 a year to be above the poverty level. Under these guidelines, I never knew I was poor for many of my working years. I am not making this up. From the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in the U.S. in 2009 was $50,221.00, meaning half of the U.S. population was below that figure. The figures for 2009 show 14.3 % of the population below the poverty level.

Let me contrast this with the average annual income of Mozambique, for example, which is estimated to be $900 per year. Their 9 person family would make about $8100 year, less than the poverty level for one person in the U.S. But more than likely, that 9 person family would only have one or perhaps two working people and the real income would be much lower.

Who are the poor? In the U.S. you can get food stamps if your household has less than $2000 in "resources." But not all things you own count, your home does not, your car or truck may not. The requirements generally follow the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) guidelines. If you want to know how many different programs you could qualify for if you were defined as poor, look at the

I ask again, who are the poor? Think about this. If I made $10,000 a year as a single adult and managed to live and save $500 a year, I would soon fail to qualify for most federal programs. In other words, if I try to save myself out of poverty, I am penalized by the U.S. Government.

I will come back to this issue again.

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