Half of America in Poverty — and It's Creeping Upward

Search form

Half of America in Poverty — and It's Creeping Upward

Half of America in Poverty — and It's Creeping Upward
Wed, 5/29/2013 - by Paul Buchheit
This article originally appeared on AlterNet

The Census Bureau has reported that 15% of Americans live in poverty. A shocking figure. But it's actually much worse. Inequality is spreading like a shadowy disease through our country, infecting more and more households, and leaving a shrinking number of financially secure families to maintain the charade of prosperity.

1.Almost Half of Americans Had NO Assets in 2009.

Analysis of Economic Policy Institute data shows that Mitt Romney's famous 47 percent, the alleged 'takers,' have taken nothing. Their debt exceeded their assets in 2009.

2.It's Even Worse Three Years Later.

Since the recession, the disparities have continued to grow. An OECD report states that "inequality has increased by more over the past three years to the end of 2010 than in the previous twelve," with the U.S. experiencing one of the widest gaps among OECD countries. The 30-year decline in wages has worsened since the recession, as low-wage jobs have replacedformerly secure middle-income positions.

3.Based on Wage Figures, Half of Americans Are in or Near Poverty.

The IRS reports that the highest wage in the bottom half of earners is about $34,000. To be eligible for food assistance, a family can earn up to 130% of the federal poverty line, or about $30,000 for a family of four.

Even the Census Bureau recognizes that its own figures under-represent the number of people in poverty. Its Supplemental Poverty Measure increases, by 50%, the number of Americans who earn between one-half and two times the poverty threshold.

4.Based on Household Expense Totals, Poverty is Creeping into the Top Half of America.

A family in the top half, making $60,000 per year, will have their income reduced by a total tax bill of about $15,000 ($3,000 for federal income tax and $12,000 for payroll, state and local taxes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau agree that food, housing, and transportation expenses will deduct another $30,000, and that total household expenditures will be about $50,000. That leaves nothing.

Nothing, that is, except debt. The median debt level rose to $75,600 in 2009, while the median family net worth, according to the Federal Reserve, dropped from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010.

5.Putting it in Perspective

Inequality is at its ugliest for the hungriest people. While food support was being targeted for cuts, just 20 rich Americansmade as much from their 2012 investments as the entire 2012 SNAP (food assistance) budget, which serves 47 million people.

And as Congress continues to cut life-sustaining programs, its members should note that their 400 friends on the Forbes list made more from their stock market gains last year than the total amount of the foodhousing and education budgets combined.

Arguments about poverty won't end. Neither should our efforts to uncover the awful truth.

Originally published by AlterNet

 

Article Tabs

With stores near military bases across the country, the retailer USA Discounters offers easy credit to service members. But when those loans go bad, the company uses the local courts near its Virginia headquarters to file suits by the thousands.

Despite the 828-page Dodd-Frank Act, the derivatives pyramid has continued to explode to a value now estimated to be as high as $2 quadrillion.

HSBC, Deutsche Bank and the Bank of Nova Scotia have been accused of attempting to rig the daily global price of silver in the latest price fixing scandal to rock the banking industry.

The British Medical Association joins a growing movement of institutions – including dozens of universities, foundations and even the World Council of Churches – dumping oil, coal and gas holdings.

A community without dollars is not a community without wealth.T his basic insight lies at the heart of the community resilience movement.

This summer, the CIA's private Amazon Web Services cloud—shielded from the public behind a wall of national security—becomes operational.

Posted 5 days 11 hours ago

The Premier of the Province, Kathleen Wynn, is being given another chance to respond to growing calls from the Indigenous community to protect their Territorial Rights.

Posted 6 days 10 hours ago

Extensive research and reports commissioned by the fracking industry are treated as seminal, informative works within the U.K. government – but to date, no one outside industry vouches for its safety.

Posted 5 days 11 hours ago

It seems the people of the world are factually correct when they label the United States the greatest threat to peace in the world.

Posted 6 days 10 hours ago

From the Trans-Pacific Partnership to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership to the Trade In Services Agreement, massive trade deals are being advanced in coordination with a militarized police state.

Posted 3 days 14 hours ago

The elections opened stark new divisions in Egypt's society as public criticism of President-elect Abdel Fattah al-Sisi becomes an “at your own risk” endeavor.

Latest Batch of DHS Occupy Documents Reveals Surveillance

The DHS has received and disseminated numerous internal intelligence reports and threat bulletins about Occupy Wall Street's activities, and monitoring of the group is widespread.

Occupy the Bookshelf: A Handbook to Defeat the 1%

Gabriel of Urantia's book is a compilation of articles that address the deeper issues surrounding the Occupy movement, with step-by-step strategies for the 99% to create real and lasting change, including discovering true forms of leadership.

The whistleblower told Europe's top human rights body that the NSA deliberately snooped on groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

The settlement between America's largest bank and the Department of Justice was greater than the anticipated $11 billion, and will not release the bank from facing further criminal liability charges for its role in helping bring down the US economy.

Sign Up