Off Topic: Poverty in America

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Submitted by PerryChase on February 5, 2007 - 1:59pm

Yesterday, I was talking over lunch with my brother about poverty in America. Yes, we have problems like out-of-reach education and health care, but we also have problems of people consuming themselves into poverty.

Compared to the real poor around the world, poor Americans are extremely rich. Go to any low income apartment in America and you'll likely find dozens of CDs, earings, video games, nail polish bottle, lipsticks and mountains of clothes and magazines strewn about. Of course, people have to have cells phones and cable TV.

My brother employees' are always off to 7-Eleven where they overpay for everything. I never buy any of the junk they sell at 7-Eleven.

I can see why Bill Gates and Oprah are choosing to spend their money overseas. Americans are spoiled brats. The poor in Africa, Asia and Latin America can't afford to consume, but Americans consume themselves into poverty. That includes overpaying for real estate.

Submitted by blahblahblah on February 5, 2007 - 2:32pm.

The poor in Africa, Asia and Latin America can't afford to consume, but Americans consume themselves into poverty. That includes overpaying for real estate.

Have you spent much time in Latin America? The favelas in Rio are full of CD players, TVs, Air Jordan sneakers, etc... Go to any mall in Brazil and look at the price of shoes. There are always TWO prices -- the whole price and the weekly price. Yes, that's right, people in Brazil buy their sneakers on the installment plan.

The only difference in my experience is a matter of degree. Here in America we are more wealthy so our poor people have more stuff. But poor people in other countries consume too much too.

In Peru last year I noticed that none of the farms I saw had tractors. Everywhere I looked people where plowing the earth BY HAND. The "rich" farmers had a couple of oxen or cows rigged to a plow. When I told my guide that our family but their first tractor in 1937, he was astounded. He laughed and said that the Peruvian government had instituted a low-cost loan program for farmers to purchase capital equipment. It was hugely successful, many many farmers signed up. "Then where are the tractors?" I asked; my guide laughed and said that most of the people just bought TVs and cars with the money.

Bottom line is -- many many many (not all!) poor people are poor because they don't understand money or business.

But I will agree that our country needs to do something to ensure that our poverty doesn't reach the level of those countries. Education, health care, and birth control are really important to achieve that goal in my opinion. A huge uneducated and poor population is extremely dangerous to any free society...

Submitted by North County Native on February 5, 2007 - 3:57pm.

I have to agree with you that people here consume themselves into poverty. I live in "affordable" housing and we got here while my husband was still in college. It is a very nice apartment in a very nice are. Today I went in to the manager's office to ask her a question. She explained to me that 131 people paid rent today - LATE!!! She was frantically writing out reciepts. As we spoke, one more person came in and paid his rent late. She remarked to me that the majority of people pay the rent late (there are only 170 something apartments and not all are occupied right now) but of course they won't pay the fancy car payment late! Some of the rents are as low as $300 and they can't pay it on time!!!! You should see our dumpsters the day after Christmas!!!!! Some of these families spare no expense and buy the kids some very pricey items. Does a kid in elementary school need an IPOD? I'm talking real IPOD - not generic.

For us, this is just a stepping stone. We now have the chance to pay off our debts from my husband going to college. We don't have cable T.V. because we don't really need it and my parents pay for our cell phones because they think its important for us to have one. We are paying for the internet as it is something that he needs for his job.

Now that it is tax season - I'm sure that soon there will be adds on T.V. saying ,"Come to ____________ and spend your tax return here!" Similar to an ad campaign that Home Depot or Lowes had a couple of years ago. Since I don't have T.V. I won't be seeing these adds but others that do just get it in their heads to go spend, spend, spend!
We got our tax return and plunked most of it into paying off one of our larger balance credit cards. We are planning to do the same next year and we should have all of our debt paid off within 16 months. In this case, affordable housing is doing something to help us out and then when we are ready to move on - WE WILL!!!!! Some of my neighbors will be here forever. Those are the same neighbors that are shocked that we go without the finer things in life.
It takes a sacrifice to get ahead and many people just have not had that taught to them by their own parents or they just don't care. Its very sad for me to see that a lot of these kids that are my neighbors will wind up in the same situation that their parents are in. Maybe schools should teach kids more about how to get the most out of money. Every time I get a credit card bill, I cringe at the interest I have to pay! To some people it is just a fact of life and they don't even realize that it works the other way - that we can save and earn interest ourselves. I'm looking forward to the time when our money works for us and every time I pay something else off - I'm delighted!

Submitted by salo_t on February 7, 2007 - 1:46pm.

This is an interesting topic. I know this all too well having come from a lower middle class home and growing up in a small
southwest town. My family made average wages and we were not poor but because of my parents very bad spending habits and bad business decisions we never seemed to have quite enough to get by and have the nicer things my friends always had. After growing up and leaving that town I had the opportunity to meet very successful people (some were girlfriends) who showed me how to make my money work for me. I am also very driven, since I never had money growing up I am now very careful how I spend and I think out large purchases well before pulling the trigger. Even to this day when I try and help my Mother with money I just don't think she will ever understand it or just chooses not to.
I have been saying for years that money management should be taught in school, if you don't learn these skills at home then you have to learn them somewhere. This is why rich families stay rich and poor families usually stay poor.

Submitted by qcomer on February 8, 2007 - 11:42am.

I agree with PerryChase that poor Americans are much more well off than poor people from other countries. It is the American way of taking basic necessities of life, for granted and stretching yourself beyond means for needless pleasures.

Submitted by blahblahblah on February 8, 2007 - 11:45am.

I agree with PerryChase that "fiscal responsibility" is generally lower in poor Americans than poor people from other country.

Again, I would recommend that anyone making that statement should spend some time in Latin America. I might agree that poor Africans and Chinese probably manage their money better, simply because they have almost no money to manage. But visit one of the many casinos in Lima and you'll see that they're full of stupid poor people throwing their meager savings into slot machines just like in our casinos here.

People are the same everywhere, you see more waste here only because America is very wealthy relative to most other places...

Submitted by Veritas on September 18, 2011 - 1:51pm.

"The U.S. government has just released a bunch of new statistics about poverty in America, and once again this year the news is not good. According to a special report from the U.S. Census Bureau, 46.2 million Americans are now living in poverty."

Submitted by joec on September 18, 2011 - 11:31pm.

Sad article on people in poverty now:

I think short of some massive upheaval (world war, mass riots/killings/crime, aliens), I don't think much will change. We'll just bump along the bottom here.

There simply aren't enough "do with your hands" jobs which pay a decent amount. In a service/information global society, just unlikely these jobs will be back.

Tough thing for a lot of the folks is if you have kids, you're sorta screwed since no affordable daycare to allow you to work. Best bet I think for these folks is give the kid up for adoption, but that probably wouldn't work for the older kids.

Submitted by scaredyclassic on September 19, 2011 - 8:51am.

It's tough to let go of stuff when poor. A friend is a single mom very broke. Has all old stuff in storage at 200 a month. Don't know but I bet these items wouldn't even fetch 1000 at a yard sale. Been in storage for years. May never have a steady place to put it.

Lean and mobile and smart is probably best for the future.

Submitted by Aecetia on September 19, 2011 - 11:21am.

That's because you are (Walter) looking at the real (dollar) value of the things she has stored and she is hanging on to them for the emotional value of the items, such as what the thing represented to her at that time in her life. "And never the twain shall meet."

Submitted by scaredyclassic on September 19, 2011 - 11:33am.

Yet it makes you poorer. Carrying the past carries a heavy price

Submitted by briansd1 on September 21, 2011 - 9:14pm.

I guess Republican voters don't need to worry about poverty because cutting taxes is a sure way to create jobs.

Roland Martin: Of the 10 poorest states in the country, most are the reddest in the nation -- solidly GOP states. Yet the word "poor" is seldom uttered by the Republican presidential candidates.

The most impoverished state is Mississippi, and it's followed by Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, Louisiana, Montana, South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama and North Carolina.

Submitted by Zeitgeist on September 21, 2011 - 11:25pm.

Obama is driving the poverty bus.

Submitted by briansd1 on September 22, 2011 - 9:09am.

I'm starting to think that Republicans are right. The poor are rich, so no need to worry about them (afterall they have refrigerators and TVs). It must be because they are lazy.

The poor who vote for Republicans must deserve to be poor. If only they would take advantage of the opportunities, they'd be rich.

And talking about welfare, I'm sick of the tranfer payments to the small states. Money from California and New York should not be redistributed to Mississipi and Alabama. It's like Greece, if they can't live within their means, fxck them.

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