Category Archives: poverty

Poverty in America

According to the Census Bureau, 43.6 million Americans live in poverty. This is the highest it has been since the 1960’s. The recent recession has put millions of Americans out of work, starting a cycle that has led to a series of climbing poverty rates.

As many have lost their jobs, they have lost their employer-provided health care benefits as well which leads to mounting medical bills and prescription costs. After a long battle, congress passed a health overhaul bill which has already made some improvements for seniors, students and those with pre-existing conditions but many of the main provisions of the bill will not go into effect until 2014.

Often times, when money is not coming in and bills need to be paid, people will turn to their credit cards. Medical bills, utility payments and even mortgage payments were being paid on credit cards as a short term solution to a long term problem.

However, the credit card companies themselves had been a nightmare for many consumers and there seemed to be no solution to a problem that was driving many Americans further in debt at a very critical time.

Now, to back up a bit, there’s a bigger picture here to look at before the recession and before the economy started showing signs of falling apart. The picture is this. Many households had taken on more credit, more payments and more cost than in reality was needed or realistically could be paid had anything come up or gone wrong. The rule of thumb to follow is this,“If something can go wrong, it will.” Another is, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”

 

Of course everyone dreams big and wants more for their children than they had. Most people want the “American Dream.”   Maybe it’s time to adjust the dream.

 

Right now though, sights need to be set on the 43.6 million people living in poverty. What is really being done to help the situation for those people? That number grew from 39.8 million people in 2008.

Are the companies who received bailouts hiring employees? Loaning money to small businesses? Are bailed out companies still giving multi-million dollar bonuses to people receiving multi-million dollar salaries?

 

Are companies hiring those in need of jobs and are people in need of jobs still pursuing businesses in their communities?
The Credit CARD Act of 2009 was signed into law by President Obama on May 22, 2009 to help protect consumers and force credit card companies to be more fair and transparent.
As Americans have been forced to look at their credit responsibilities, many have seen just how wrongly credit card companies had been treating them but also realized there was little they could do aside from cancelling their account.
With this new Credit CARD Act of 2009, the Health Care Overhaul, Americans taking a long hard look at what is being spent compared to what they are making and a more vast amount of Americans wanting to hold their state and national leaders more responsible, will this make a difference for the 43.6 million individuals that need to see change NOW?

 

Programs that have been signed into law and are going into effect will make some differences. Health care costs cause many families to lose everything or claim bankruptcy. Health care will now start seeing improvements for many. Job losses could have been much worse had the stimulus or tax incentives not gone out. The idea is to focus on what is working and keep growing on new ideas and make sure they get passed and not stalled in the House or Congress.
Poverty is not picky. It can choose anybody at anytime. It does not only affect third world countries or people of a certain educational level or certain backgrounds. It is here in America and it can be affecting someone you know and you can’t tell. There are 43.6 million people in the U.S. living in poverty. 

 

That number doesn’t need to increase.

 

 

Help for America Pt. 3 – The "Working Poor"

Having a job in today’s economy and current job crisis is an enormous step toward solving a person’s financial hardships, right?

For many Americans, going to work every day, bringing home a paycheck and doing everything they can to support their family is far from enough. They find themselves in the category, the “working poor”.

Many working families live below the poverty level. As inflation has gone up, the cost of gas, heating, mortgage or rent, electric and overall the cost of living, their rate of pay has not increased near the rate of inflation.

To leave one job to find another is just not possible and even finding a second job is not always an option or a possibility.

Many families are struggling to pay only the basic utilities, as well as rent or mortgage and taking away from items like clothing, medicine and even groceries. This is living in America as the working poor. More often, this is becoming a reality for more people in the richest country in the world.

In 2008 there were 39.8 million Americans who lived below the poverty level according to the U.S. Census Bureau. New data will come in from the new Census Data collected this year.

The 2010 Poverty Guidelines from the CMS.gov state that in order to fall below the poverty level a family of four would need to make below $1,837.50 per month or less to be considered fully at poverty level. For more or less family members, the income is adjusted and there are different levels of poverty. 39,800,000 Americans fell into this category in 2008 and since then the economy fell more into a slump. Did these numbers rise?

To look around a community, workplace, school, church or anyplace people are gathered a person may not be able to pick out the “working poor” families. They are everyday Americans working hard to support their families, keep their utilities from getting turned off, their children happy and safe and they have goals and dreams like anyone else. They watch the news and hear how the economy is changing both in good ways or bad ways and like everybody else, they want so badly for things to turn around and improve.

Many of these families were middle class families not too long ago. Due to the financial crisis, they have now found themselves living in a situation they had never planned on living. What they were planning for is now a distant memory.

America is a country that was established on opportunity and freedom. Working Americans want the opportunity to move ahead and live, providing for themselves and their children and plan for their future.
It is always said to “set aside for a rainy day”. The opportunity needs to be there to not only live each day and take care of a person’s family and responsibilities that day but also to be able to plan ahead for what may come up or just to be able to have a “nest egg” set aside, plan for a child’s college fund or take care of things to insure prevention of larger bills due to neglect (i.e. insurance on vehicles, rentals, dental, appliances, etc.)

For 39.8 million Americans, it has been a “rainy day” for a long time and although many are extremely grateful to have a job to work each day, they want to be able to take care of their families and responsibilities as well. In a great country like America, with so many resources, it doesn’t make sense to have so many families that are working to still be struggling and living below the poverty level.

America has always been a Nation to be able to come back stronger and show its resilience through tough times. But, for this to work, things have to work as a whole and not as a part. Just like a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, America has to stand strong together and for each other through each community, state and Nationwide.

Part Four of this series will be pretty shocking to read. Stay tuned.