PDA

View Full Version : 1 in 2 Americans poor or low income



cx3
12-15-11, 10:21am
http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/15/9461848-dismal-prospects-1-in-2-americans-are-now-poor-or-low-income

Has the economy bottomed out,or have we not reached bottom yet?
What would be your advice to poor people? I just found out yesterday that my nephew and his mom and sister are homeless,thats why I asked the last question.

cx3
12-15-11, 10:28am
"Its time to start calling what the current situation is:a depression."
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/12/opinion/krugman-depression-and-democracy.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

cx3
12-15-11, 10:35am
I just discovered givemethesimplelife's thread.I would have posted this under his/her thread if I had noticed it sooner.

reader99
12-15-11, 11:00am
Advice to poor people is something I feel able to address. I'm sort of poor myself, have friends who live on income below the poverty level, and attend a church that has many low income members.

1. People aren't logical. If they see a fancy cell phone or gold jewelry, or even a car, there is always going to be someone that says, they must not REALLY need help, because they have X. Never mind that it would be dumb to sell the car when it's something you can sleep in, and get to work or job interviews in. Never mind that you already had that phone before your income dropped. This is an excellent time to sell gold jewelry, at or very near the top of what it will ever be worth in our lifetimes. Think of what you can use the cash for that will have long term benefits - moving to a place where you have people or prospects, job interview clothes, shoes, work tools, permanent alternatives to disposables such as cloth napkins/cleaning rags/handerchiefs. These things save cash in the long run.
My main point there is that with a low income we depend a lot on the good will of others, and those others form their ideas from appearances more than facts.

2. Along the same lines, stay clean and groomed. Cut each other's hair, trim the beard, take a sponge bath in the handicapped stall at McDonald's if you have to. The number one turn-off among my associates who go to church with or help the homeless is when a person smells bad. This reaction is just human nature - roll with it. For the homed, when asking for help, wear clean clothes that don't look like they were expensive. People don't stop and think you could have had those nice clothes for years before the current problem set in. Leave the designer bag and shoes at home and use the ordinary *-mart version. Leave most of the jewelry at home too.

3. Start cutting costs now. Just because you still have a job today is no guarantee of tomorrow. Use library books and internet resources to find less expensive alternatives to things you currently spend money on. I've noticed I use perhaps 1/5th as much dish detergent using a dish brush as with a dishcloth. Their are tons of sources for that kind of money saving idea. see also www.frugalliving.about.com (http://www.frugalliving.about.com)

4. Open your mind to sharing living space. At poverty level, living alone is very hard to afford. Likewise transportation and household tools. Lately I see far, far more of those little scooters than I did even two years ago. People still want to be able to go places, but the scooters are far less expensive to buy and to run than a car is.

5. Be nice to people. Join things, build social networks. The less money you have, the more you depend on the kindness of your personal 'village'.

reader99
12-15-11, 11:08am
Oh, and I forgot mention "Don't get sick".

CathyA
12-15-11, 11:12am
I just don't understand how there are so many agencies that send food overseas to help starving people there. Seems similar to having a starving family, yet feeding your neighbors first. Let's fix our own country first.

flowerseverywhere
12-15-11, 11:21am
the article mentions an 18 year old who has a baby. What do you expect? Mistakes can happen of course but now women had a great deal of control over their reproductive health. Keep your pants on. Contact planned parenthood and figure out how not to become pregnant until you can afford to support and feed a child (and advocate funding for birth control - already they cannot use federal money for abortions).

reader99, great advice. Shared living space is one thing I think will become more common. Cleanliness is another big factor as you have pointed out.

Another one is learn how to cook with inexpensive foods when you have a place to stay. Like lentils, oatmeal, flour for biscuits and bread, carrots etc. Don't buy fast food or packaged food.

Change your attitude. No cable TV, no home internet, phones besides a basic cell or homeline for job contacts, basic transportation (shoe leather express, biking, scooters) etc. will all go a long way towards preserving the funds you can get your hands on and keep you in living space.

Look into all possibilities in your area. Is there a soup kitchen? then go to it. Job finding programs at your library or works programs? attend, be on time and attentive. If you can find a relative to take you in do everything you can to pitch in, keep your area neat and tidy, be as unobtrusive as possible and contribute sweat equity to the home, especially if people who own the home go off to work. Do everything you can to have the owners of the home walk into a clean and neat space, and be respectful of their privacy when they are in the home. Retreat to the library or go for a walk, or to your own room if you have one, anything to make yourself more welcome as you get back on your feet.

ctg492
12-15-11, 12:17pm
Cathy A, Ditto your post. I wonder is that wrong of me to feel that way sometimes. I don't know. We went to a new church a few weeks ago and the first offering was for someplace in Africa for the starving. I felt bad that your post was my exact thought.

ctg492
12-15-11, 12:45pm
Reader99 I am guilty of the seeing a cell phone and question " How poor are they?". I have a hard time getting over that one. Only from personal experience I suppose. I went a long time back in the day of the cavemen with out a phone cable for that matter too, it just was not in the ability to afford category. I used the neighbor's phone and they took messages for work. 6 years ago we made some big changes (for us) with no income coming in, but not a crisis situation, so we downsized, cut to one cell no land of course, parked the extra cars and insured one. We did this till things stabilized again. I would do it in a heart beat again too if needed.

Tiam
12-15-11, 12:55pm
I think I heard 1 in 45 children are homeless.

Stella
12-15-11, 1:26pm
I went a long time back in the day of the cavemen with out a phone cable for that matter too, it just was not in the ability to afford category. I used the neighbor's phone and they took messages for work.

If you didn't have a neighbor willing to take messages for you for work, a prepaid cell phone seems like a reasonable thing to have to me. It would be pretty hard to find work if you didn't have a phone number people could contact you at. Cell phones aren't necessarily a luxury item anymore. It would be much, much cheaper to have a prepaid cell phone with $10 loaded on it so you could recieve messages from potential employers than have a $30 a month landline. You can even get cell phones for free from friends. I've done that for frugality's sake. My dad used to have a drawer of old cell phones.

It bothers me when people make judgments about stuff like cell phones or cars or houses. There are a lot of places where it's not possible to get to work without a vehicle. I remember one day when I worked at a daycare and my car broke down. There was no bus that would actually take me to and from work. It just wasn't possible. I had to call in until my car was fixed the next day.

I know a lady from church who went on food stamps and lived in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. Her DH lost his job and her hours were cut. Her son, daughter-in-law and a friend of her son's moved in and started paying some rent, but the son then lost his job also. She bought the house before the housing market took off and her payment was less than rent on an apartment would have been and it housed 6 people. Those 6 people would not have fit into an apartment, and with the housing market it was not likely they would have been able to sell the house anyway. It made financial sense to keep the house, but it didn't mean they weren't hurting for money. After the husband's unemployment ran out they were living on two part-time incomes for 6 people and all of the able bodied adults were looking for work. Happily, eventually the husband and son both found good jobs and the wife got a second part-time job that she really enjoys. She makes a real point now of volunteering at and donating to the parish food shelf.

herbgeek
12-15-11, 1:34pm
I am also guilty of seeing a cell phone and other "luxuries" and thinking "how poor could they be? " In my case, its personal experience on the husband's side. My sister in law and her husband were frequently homeless in their younger years (until his mom bought them a house) but they always had the latest gadgets including cell phones when they first came out and were uber expensive. More recently they were the first I knew to get a flat screen (something like 70") and a 3D TV (is there any broadcasting in 3D yet?). They could have had a roof over their heads with better choices, which would have been better for their 2 kids who had to get used to moving schools every few months. Sister in law decided to not work many years back, and her husband only works until he's about to hit the threshold for paying taxes (he's bragged this publicly).

I realize this is not the norm, and not everyone is this way, but I must admit its my first reaction.

Stella
12-15-11, 1:35pm
Actually, my advice to the newly poor would be to work your assets first. Examine what you have and how you can use it. Do you have stuff you can sell? Do you have a room you could rent out? If you own land, can you plant a garden on it? Get some chickens?

Do you have skills you can use to make money on the side? Babysitting? Handyman? Lawn care? Selling stuff on ebay? Sewing or knitting things to sell? Rather than instantly liquidating your assets to make people feel sorry for you, think about it logically and see how you can make what you already have work. Once it's gone it's gone.

reader99
12-15-11, 1:36pm
Reader99 I am guilty of the seeing a cell phone and question " How poor are they?". I have a hard time getting over that one. Only from personal experience I suppose. I went a long time back in the day of the cavemen with out a phone cable for that matter too, it just was not in the ability to afford category. I used the neighbor's phone and they took messages for work. 6 years ago we made some big changes (for us) with no income coming in, but not a crisis situation, so we downsized, cut to one cell no land of course, parked the extra cars and insured one. We did this till things stabilized again. I would do it in a heart beat again too if needed.

As a food stamp recipient I get a free basic phone and 250 minutes a month. I have no land line, and keep under the 250 free minute level of usage.

Bastelmutti
12-15-11, 4:11pm
One of my kids goes to a school where 65 percent of the families are low income and 15 percent are homeless (not all on the street - some sleeping on family's couches and that sort of thing). This is in a wealthy suburb. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I was still surprised at how high the number was in that article when I read it in the morning.

flowerseverywhere
12-15-11, 4:20pm
As a food stamp recipient I get a free basic phone and 250 minutes a month. I have no land line, and keep under the 250 free minute level of usage.

I don't think anyone has an issue with a simple cell phone. But I think all of us have been in a situation where it seems like someone is a big spender yet on benefits too. The other night I was behind someone who was paying with a food stamp card, she was having trouble with it and told the cashier that is what it was. Not only was her cart full of expensive food, when we went into the parking lot she was driving a big shiny new SUV. Maybe she borrowed it from someone, who knows but I think a picture like that makes a lasting impression on people who are plodding to work and scrimping to buy food.

You never know the whole story of course, but right now there are way more people that need benefits and help than there are resources so I just hope the people that get help are those who really need it.

ApatheticNoMore
12-15-11, 4:32pm
If you didn't have a neighbor willing to take messages for you for work, a prepaid cell phone seems like a reasonable thing to have to me.

An answering machine would work also. Honestly instant response isn't necessary, but having a way to be contacted at all is. I also think a computer with internet is useful if not absolutely necessary for job hunting. Maybe you could do this at a job center, but yea it is THE primary tool of job hunting.

Zoebird
12-15-11, 5:06pm
we have been looking into co-housing with other families, but so far no one is really interested. we found a place not far from here that has two "ensuites" and thought we might share the common spaces (living room, dining, kitchen) with another family. We also really like staying in hostels, so it's entirely possible that a larger setting like that would be cool.

but we really can't find other people who are interested UNLESS we go a religious/spiritual route. There's a group of local yoga teachers who co-house, and some have children. But if you have children, m oct people do not want you as a "roommate" if they are looking for people to just rent a room/bathroom in their space.

most young, single adults here DO "flat" together -- having roommates and so on. But once you are married and/or have children, it's considered unusual.

I tried to move in with another young couple whom we love like family, but they are moving to a town 8 hrs away!!! :*(

ctg492
12-15-11, 7:07pm
Reader99, how do you get free basic cell service?

Nella
12-15-11, 7:33pm
An answering machine would work also. Honestly instant response isn't necessary, but having a way to be contacted at all is. I also think a computer with internet is useful if not absolutely necessary for job hunting. Maybe you could do this at a job center, but yea it is THE primary tool of job hunting.I'm a chaplain at a homeless shelter, and I can confirm the necessity of a cell phone and access to a computer for job hunting. Many of these homeless men find work through word of mouth, temp services, and plain old scrambling. In their cases an instant response to an offer for work is vital. Potential employers find it too cumbersome to leave a message on a machine or even voice mail because there are way too many folks out there looking for work who have cell phones and will jump at the chance to take on a job. People who are looking for someone to hire will just go to the next name on the list if they don't get an answer immediately. More lucrative jobs that are more permanent and require an application via internet can be applied for at the local library or on a borrowed computer. But for folks in more desperate circumtances who are willing to shovel snow at 2:00 a.m. or flag construction on the hottest days in the middle of August must have a cell phone to be able to make those connections.

Gardenarian
12-15-11, 7:35pm
This news is truly tragic. It is a sin in a country as rich as ours that people are going hungry and homeless.
Yes, this is a depression. About time they said it. What is OWS but a bunch of little Hoovervilles?

I honestly have never noticed whether someone pays with food stamps or not. I think the number of people who qualify and don't apply for them is probably far greater than the number who have them and may not need them.

The U.S. spends so little on helping the poor that it seems silly to worry about a few loopholes - especially when there are a lot more loopholes for the rich.

reader99
12-15-11, 7:45pm
Reader99, how do you get free basic cell service?

http://www.assurancewireless.com/Public/HowToQualify.aspx

reader99
12-15-11, 7:47pm
This news is truly tragic. It is a sin in a country as rich as ours that people are going hungry and homeless.
Yes, this is a depression. About time they said it. What is OWS but a bunch of little Hoovervilles?


Perhaps our country is no longer as rich as we still think of ourselves as being.

reader99
12-15-11, 7:56pm
Actually, my advice to the newly poor would be to work your assets first. Examine what you have and how you can use it. Do you have stuff you can sell? Do you have a room you could rent out? If you own land, can you plant a garden on it? Get some chickens?

Do you have skills you can use to make money on the side? Babysitting? Handyman? Lawn care? Selling stuff on ebay? Sewing or knitting things to sell? Rather than instantly liquidating your assets to make people feel sorry for you, think about it logically and see how you can make what you already have work. Once it's gone it's gone.

Did someone suggest liquidating assets to get sympathy? Is that different from 'do you have stuff you can sell'? Would it not make sense to sell a designer bag, use part of the money to buy an ordinary purse and use the difference for expenses?

I suggested selling gold jewelry to buy things like work tools or to fund moving somewhere where you have family or prospects. That would be making what you already have work.

I did suggest that people see things like phones and cars and wonder if you really need help. Sadly, phones and cars mostly don't generate income with which to buy food.

reader99
12-15-11, 8:01pm
An answering machine would work also. Honestly instant response isn't necessary, but having a way to be contacted at all is. I also think a computer with internet is useful if not absolutely necessary for job hunting. Maybe you could do this at a job center, but yea it is THE primary tool of job hunting.

Please realize that a cell phone can cost @$26 a month; landline phone service is not likely to be any less expensive. Sometimes a cell phone is a person's only phone, certainly a poor person's only phone. Far more effective for job hunting and just about everything else than a landline that one can only use when actually at home. Most poor people I know have ONLY cell phones; landlines are too inefficient and cost too much.

reader99
12-15-11, 8:08pm
I don't think anyone has an issue with a simple cell phone. But I think all of us have been in a situation where it seems like someone is a big spender yet on benefits too. The other night I was behind someone who was paying with a food stamp card, she was having trouble with it and told the cashier that is what it was. Not only was her cart full of expensive food, when we went into the parking lot she was driving a big shiny new SUV. Maybe she borrowed it from someone, who knows but I think a picture like that makes a lasting impression on people who are plodding to work and scrimping to buy food.

You never know the whole story of course, but right now there are way more people that need benefits and help than there are resources so I just hope the people that get help are those who really need it.

That's a good example of what I'm talking about. Granted a big SUV might not have been the most efficient purchase in the first place, but if the household had a good income when they bought it, they are probably stuck with it now - big SUVs are hard to re-sell, and unlikely to fetch more than is owed on it. If they have now lost their income, the grocery money has to come from somewhere and the SUV doesn't generate any cash flow to buy food with.

Lainey
12-15-11, 11:56pm
As a food stamp recipient I get a free basic phone and 250 minutes a month. I have no land line, and keep under the 250 free minute level of usage.

reader99 - is this a state-run program? I hadn't heard of this cell phone benefit for food stamp recipients before.
Never mind, I just saw your link. Thanks.

Jemima
12-16-11, 3:44am
I just don't understand how there are so many agencies that send food overseas to help starving people there. Seems similar to having a starving family, yet feeding your neighbors first. Let's fix our own country first.

I agree with you, and I've often felt guilty that I resent money that goes to overseas missionaries when we've got North Philadelphia, one of the worst slums in the country, a half hour train ride away. I'm beginning to think of my church's Missions Committee as Chicken-aries, because if they served people close to home they might have to go into scary neighborhoods or (gasp!) actually meet a poor person!!! EEK!!! So they send money to other people to build wells in the darkest recesses of Africa and feel noble about it. I think not, Alphonse.

Jemima
12-16-11, 3:56am
If you didn't have a neighbor willing to take messages for you for work, a prepaid cell phone seems like a reasonable thing to have to me. It would be pretty hard to find work if you didn't have a phone number people could contact you at. Cell phones aren't necessarily a luxury item anymore. It would be much, much cheaper to have a prepaid cell phone with $10 loaded on it so you could recieve messages from potential employers than have a $30 a month landline. You can even get cell phones for free from friends. I've done that for frugality's sake. My dad used to have a drawer of old cell phones.

It bothers me when people make judgments about stuff like cell phones or cars or houses. There are a lot of places where it's not possible to get to work without a vehicle. I remember one day when I worked at a daycare and my car broke down. There was no bus that would actually take me to and from work. It just wasn't possible. I had to call in until my car was fixed the next day.

I know a lady from church who went on food stamps and lived in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. Her DH lost his job and her hours were cut. Her son, daughter-in-law and a friend of her son's moved in and started paying some rent, but the son then lost his job also. She bought the house before the housing market took off and her payment was less than rent on an apartment would have been and it housed 6 people. Those 6 people would not have fit into an apartment, and with the housing market it was not likely they would have been able to sell the house anyway. It made financial sense to keep the house, but it didn't mean they weren't hurting for money. After the husband's unemployment ran out they were living on two part-time incomes for 6 people and all of the able bodied adults were looking for work. Happily, eventually the husband and son both found good jobs and the wife got a second part-time job that she really enjoys. She makes a real point now of volunteering at and donating to the parish food shelf.

Thank you, Stella. We're far too quick to pass judgment on others whose circumstances we can't possibly know.

I read recently of a doctor who wrote to the Fed about a patient he'd examined in the ER who was receiving Medicaid. He was outraged that she sported tattooes, body piercings with jewelry, and smoked. He believed that if we kicked people like this off welfare, we wouldn't need healthcare reform. I'm glad he isn't my doctor.

Did he stop to think that many poor women become hookers just to get by, a pitiful life indeed? No, he just got judgmental and angry.

I consider myself fortunate to have been an addictions counselor for some years and to have volunteered at a food pantry. My experiences affirm that old Native American saying about not judging a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes.

Jemima
12-16-11, 4:05am
One of my kids goes to a school where 65 percent of the families are low income and 15 percent are homeless (not all on the street - some sleeping on family's couches and that sort of thing). This is in a wealthy suburb. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I was still surprised at how high the number was in that article when I read it in the morning.

I was very surprised to read in the local rag that a man had robbed the Acme (a supermarket not far from my house) of over $400 in baby formula and food a few nights ago.

This is a wealthy community. Merck Pharma HQ is here and many people make far more than they need. I was shocked.

Jemima
12-16-11, 4:16am
An answering machine would work also. Honestly instant response isn't necessary, but having a way to be contacted at all is. I also think a computer with internet is useful if not absolutely necessary for job hunting. Maybe you could do this at a job center, but yea it is THE primary tool of job hunting.

I pay close to $30 a month for my landline, and about $10 a month for a Tracphone, so a cell phone may be more economical than most people think. As for computer use, from where I live there are two libraries, each of them about a 45 minute drive away. It makes a lot more sense to have my own computer. Individual circumstances are as unique as individuals.

Jemima
12-16-11, 4:18am
This news is truly tragic. It is a sin in a country as rich as ours that people are going hungry and homeless.
Yes, this is a depression. About time they said it. What is OWS but a bunch of little Hoovervilles?

I honestly have never noticed whether someone pays with food stamps or not. I think the number of people who qualify and don't apply for them is probably far greater than the number who have them and may not need them.

The U.S. spends so little on helping the poor that it seems silly to worry about a few loopholes - especially when there are a lot more loopholes for the rich.

()()()()()APPLAUSE()()()()()

Jemima
12-16-11, 4:37am
Perhaps our country is no longer as rich as we still think of ourselves as being.

True. But there are still people who have money to spare and who should be doing more. I'm comfortably retired and looking for more ways to help. I can certainly scrimp some to help someone who has nothing.

simplelife4me
12-16-11, 5:45am
I don't believe this is true.

flowerseverywhere
12-16-11, 9:06am
That's a good example of what I'm talking about. Granted a big SUV might not have been the most efficient purchase in the first place, but if the household had a good income when they bought it, they are probably stuck with it now - big SUVs are hard to re-sell, and unlikely to fetch more than is owed on it. If they have now lost their income, the grocery money has to come from somewhere and the SUV doesn't generate any cash flow to buy food with.

People judge because they are human. It would be a wonderful world if everyone of us was perfect but unfortunately I know I am not and constantly find areas where I could improve. I cannot believe there are not others here who at times wonder about our system and if it is really reaching those who need it the most. Because there should be a safety net in place but if you read the news at all you must know that as we speak local, state and federal agencies are looking for ways to cut this very safety net. It is crucial that the help reach those that need it the most.

The one thing we all can agree on is that as a world we are in trouble. More people all over the world are going without water, without food and proper medical care, as well as a safe roof over their head. The problem that I really see is putting a bandaid on a gaping wound, like food stamps for those that are the most poor does not improve the larger situation of so many people who struggle each month that are above the magic line yet struggle mightily to live day to day. People who want to work but cannot find work. Kids who go through school and can't read very well or do basic math. Our medical system in the US, which throws many people into poverty and bankruptcy. People who have medical needs and don't go to the doctor because of money. Teen pregnancy. Inadequate treatment of the mentally ill. All this is going on while the people at the top are raking in the dough.

You know one night Dh had the TV on during the republican debates and a question was asked of the candidates that essentially said "when was the last time you had to go without the basic necessities of life- had to choose between food or heat etc." Well Perry grew up in a house without running water, and Bachman talked about her mom being a single mother but in truth none could truly claim that they had in their adult life not been affluent. This group is probably a pretty good cross section of our political representatives. The ones who decide how much will be spent on food stamps, on education, on medical care for the poor and elderly.

But here is the greater picture, what will improve the situation of our country and make it so people don't have to depend on food stamps or medicaid? What will bring this huge amount of people back to middle class? Is the middle class gone forever?

Alan
12-16-11, 9:14am
But here is the greater picture, what will improve the situation of our country and make it so people don't have to depend on food stamps or medicaid? What will bring this huge amount of people back to middle class? Is the middle class gone forever?
Free markets and constitutionally limited governance?

pinkytoe
12-16-11, 10:45am
Something I always wonder about is how did folks like my grandparents exist from day to day without social programs? Like so many others back then, they didn't have much - just a little farm where they grew their own food, bartered and somehow got by from year to year. What changed that such a large majority of people can no longer fend for themselves?

flowerseverywhere
12-16-11, 10:56am
Free markets and constitutionally limited governance?

can you elaborate and explain this further, I for one don't really understand what this means.

Alan
12-16-11, 10:57am
Something I always wonder about is how did folks like my grandparents exist from day to day without social programs? Like so many others back then, they didn't have much - just a little farm where they grew their own food, bartered and somehow got by from year to year. What changed that such a large majority of people can no longer fend for themselves?

My guess would be dependence which breeds further dependency.

Alan
12-16-11, 11:01am
can you elaborate and explain this further, I for one don't really understand what this means.
It's just my thought that governmental interference into the free market played a large part in driving manufacturing offshore. A little less interference might bring them back.
Also, if our government limited itself to it's constitutional mandate, that interference could have been avoided.

reader99
12-16-11, 11:45am
Something I always wonder about is how did folks like my grandparents exist from day to day without social programs? Like so many others back then, they didn't have much - just a little farm where they grew their own food, bartered and somehow got by from year to year. What changed that such a large majority of people can no longer fend for themselves?

One thing that changed is that a majority now no longer live on farms, or even have much land. As a nation we are far more urban and suburban than we were in the 30s

reader99
12-16-11, 11:51am
The fact that people judge because of being human is exactly why my main advice to the poor was to present in a way that people can understand. Mostly we don't have time to get to know the complex situation of everyone we encounter, so it just makes sense that we base our judgments on appearances, demeanor, all the easily accessible information. In a job interview or when asking a neighbor for help, it just makes sense to dress and behave in a way that will spark their understanding and acceptance.

reader99
12-16-11, 11:54am
To the list of possible short term small ways of getting some money, I want to add secret shopping, paid to click, and Amazon's Mechanical Turk. None of these pay anything like a real wage, but it is all money I didn't have before. I shop a lot for www.marketforce.com (http://www.marketforce.com), and see other companies at www.volition.com (http://www.volition.com). I started paid to click with www.inboxdollars (http://www.inboxdollars) just a few months ago and have already made $18 just for clicking a box in emails. Mechanical Turk is fun and keeps my skills sharp.

ctg492
12-16-11, 12:22pm
I think the times were so different and people did not expect any help...there was not any. Needs could be covered, but 0 extras. Ideas of needs and extras were far different then today. My parents grew up in the cities in the 1930 and 40s. No ten miles up hill in a snow storm stories, but Mom's parents lost their home in the depression, so her life was different then my Dad's who's father had a job through it all. Both will tell similar stories of hard work as teens and young adults.

Bastelmutti
12-16-11, 12:30pm
The article mentions "poverty level" and then "low income" (from 100-199% of poverty level) - does anyone know what the actual $ numbers are, say for a family of 4? Just curious.

Spartana
12-16-11, 1:52pm
This from Wikipedia:

"The government's definition of poverty is not tied to an absolute value of how much an individual or family can afford, but is tied to a relative level based on total income received. For example, the poverty level for 2011 was set at $22,350 (total yearly income) for a family of four."

They didn't say what they considered low income though but that probably varies from state to state and county to county. Each state may also have it's own definition of "poverty level" and that may also vary from county to county in each state due to the differences cost of living. Because the govmint doesn't define the amount based on "how much as individual or family can afford", I assume that "poverty level" is subjective to where a person lives. $22K in rural Mississippi may be middle income compared to the same dollar amount for a family of 4 in San Francisco.

Zoebird
12-16-11, 2:40pm
the sad thing, jemima, is that if breast feeding had been supported, no need for formula. secondarily, there are many women who are willing to provide milk (breastmilk) for babies for free (i was one such), but this is also so demonized that it's just not possible.

one of the great tragedies of american-styled parenting is the reliance on others, rather than the self-reliance of letting the body do it's job.

i know that there are women who "can't nurse" who try really hard and can't. but the actual percentages of that in nations where breast feeding is supported (eg, NZ) is very very low (I'll look for the stat, but it was definitely less than 10%).

So, imagine if you will 90% of women providing breastmilk for their children -- something that is FREE -- and for the remaining 10% there is either formula (provided as health care) or there are milk-shares. I'm part of the local milk-sharing group. i can no longer produce milk, BUT i did before weaning to children my son's age since milk is age-specific. This was another FREE option. And, we discover that one mother can usually provide for two or more children, but typically, we have 4-5 women providing for one child! My friend benefitted -- she was only able to produce half of her child's needs, and two other women provided the other half. She used a lact-aid (a tube and bag so it promotes breastfeeding) to deliver the milk and when her daughter started to eat, she simply used her own (small) supply.

It's a much more normal and healthy diet for a baby, doesn't cost a fortune, and wouldn't result in the desperation that we see in times of natural disaster (i'm thinking of katrina and so many desperate young woman crying that there was no food for their babies. new born, beautiful little babies -- who should have had mama's milk!) or hardship such as these.

Zoebird
12-16-11, 2:53pm
I agree about presenting. it makes a HUGE difference in things. because we bought many of our things in the US -- and in the US these things were inexpensive -- in the US we would present as clean, functional, simple, and "poor."

But here, our shoes are worth about $500. So, people look at us and see "wealthy." That has been interesting.

I also remember a job that I had years ago. I was contracted to work X and they were going to pay me X. It was written and signed. When I arrived for the job, I was informed that they "simply didn't have the money to pay me." And I said that they would have to pay me -- eventually -- as they were contractually obligated OR they had to pay enough for me to return home. They didn't want to do that, so they kept me on to work, and I kept pushing to get paid the amount they owed. I ultimately threatened to sue. They did pay.

But the WHOLE TIME the owners of the business were behaving ridiculously. She would go out and buy furniture -- thousands of dollars worth of furniture -- for her apartment, "but we don't have money to pay you." Then, every week (i was there a total of 8 weeks), he would buy some piece of jewelry for her. And not inexpensive jewelry at a road-side stall or some such. The fancy jewelry store with gold and jewels. One day, it was diamond earrings. Another day it was a peridot and aquamarine in a gold setting ring. All really lovely jewelry, but I passed by the store to buy my groceries one day, and noticed that a similar ring cost $795. So, she would be gifted these things in front of me, and then I would be told "but we don't have money to pay you."

Assuming each piece of jewelry cost $400 on average, in 8 weeks $3200 was spent on jewelry. That was 1/2 what I was to be paid. Considering the furniture that she purchased cost another $3000ish (she had me show up for delivery, so I happened to see the delivery slip -- she was going out of town that weekend on a "desperately needed holiday." So, right there, they had basically the money to pay me.

I grant you, this was their "private" money not their "business money" -- but still. If you are crying poor, it's kinda helpful to actually APPEAR to be poor.

This is also why we never, ever cry poor. We might put the pressure on folks to pay us so that we can pay our expenses for the business -- but that's running a business. We never say it's because we "simply don't have the cash." And when we need to make payments -- which we have done before -- most people are cool with that. We simply explain that the budget affords us X, and can we make Y number of payments? It's not poverty, and we never cry poor.

but i can assure you that i'm not spending $400 in jewelry per week.

Zoebird
12-16-11, 2:57pm
Oh, and that's not to say that people with stuff or even these folks weren't "poor" but don't contract me and say you can't pay when you are buying stuff. kwim?

Spartana
12-16-11, 3:15pm
One thing I have found is that people's perception of "need" or "poverty" is not based on the amount of stuff they have or the lifestyle they live, but often on the amount they owe and how deep in debt they are. For instance many friends are constantly complaining that they can't afford this or that and are too poor to make ends meet, yet they have tons of luxury items and do many things that I personally consider luxuries - like getting their nails done. My dad and his 2nd wife (who had 3 adult kids when they married - about 10 years older then my sister and I) had once annouced that they were leaving all their estate to his wife's 3 kids because they needed it more then sis and I did. That because my sister and I didn't have debt and lived below our means that we didn't need it. His wife's kids, on the otherhand, were "poor" because they had taken on so much debt to fund an extreme luxury lifestyle that they could barely afford to eat. They all had McMansions, Cadillac or Lincoln SUV's, huge motorhomes, huge boats, many motorcycles and ATV's, always fine dining, trips to Vegas where thy would drop 10 grand at the poker tables, etc... Yet they were preceived as "poor" compared to my sister and I - both of us with 10 year old inexpensive cars and tiny older homes and not much else. I see this alot amongst people - both in seeing themselves as poor and (shockingly) that other's also view them as poor because they live pay check to pay check. My Dad and his wife were mega spenders themselves who never saved a dime of their fairly high salaries. When they retired, their retirement income was over $75K/year - where my "early retirement" income was $12K/year. Yet, because I choose to not work and live on less money, the expected me to financially bail them out when they got deep in debt (for a $60K RV they never used - once!!) because they were so poor and I didn't need as much as they did. Geeze!

flowerseverywhere
12-16-11, 3:19pm
Something I always wonder about is how did folks like my grandparents exist from day to day without social programs? Like so many others back then, they didn't have much - just a little farm where they grew their own food, bartered and somehow got by from year to year. What changed that such a large majority of people can no longer fend for themselves?

The standard of living has increased so much- so much more to spend on and our expectations are so much higher about what we need to survive. Less connection with family and neighbors.

things your grandparents (and people like me as a child) were not paid for because they were not in existence:

families had one phone, and you paid long distance charges so you better believe you wrote letters. DH had a party line.
My first TV came into the house when I was about ten, for DH when he was sixteen. No cable.
No DVR, VCR, no air conditioning, I know no one who had a pool nor did DH and we lived in very different areas. No computers, no computer games and no internet of course.
One car if any
We had a wringer washer and clothes line. Our electricity use was a fraction of what it is today.
you lived close to work and walked or carpooled if you had a car because chances were you only had one in the family.
No new clothes, or rarely new clothes- hand me downs and way fewer clothes in the closet. Why do you think closets are so small in old houses? My mother would drop dead from the shock if she were alive today and saw the stuff people throw away or donate to Salvation Army.
No restaurant foods. Ever. We had no fast food restaurants (there were eight McDonalds in 1954) and no restaurants.
Smaller houses, kids sharing bedrooms, family members of multi generations sharing living spaces- way less to heat, clean, way less furniture in them.
almost no divorce
if you became pregnant before marriage you were expected to marry or give the baby up for adoption. In my elementary school there was one family whose mother died and they moved in with the grandmother to help raise them.
no storage units, you did not have enough stuff to put in them.
And did you ever look at old photos from the 40's and 50's from Christmas? There may have been a few gifts, but nothing like the decorating and gifting extravaganza that goes on today.
and have you seen the British show "Are you being served?" That is what shopping was like when I was young. A department store with American made goods, employing long term employees who knew what they were selling. Hardware stores owned by a local family, not these big box stores with CEO's and vice presidents worried about stock prices. You paid more but had so many fewer but higher quality things.


So you spent way less, helped each other way more, and had no idea you were poor because everyone else lived like you. Some people fell through the cracks, like a BIL who was poor and never saw a dentist until he went into the military at age 18.

I am not saying it was perfect but just a different slice of life than today.

flowerseverywhere
12-16-11, 3:23pm
It's just my thought that governmental interference into the free market played a large part in driving manufacturing offshore. A little less interference might bring them back.
Also, if our government limited itself to it's constitutional mandate, that interference could have been avoided.

Thanks. I would love to be able to buy things made in the US.

Spartana
12-16-11, 3:34pm
Please realize that a cell phone can cost @$26 a month;

I have a pay-as-you-go Tracfone that cost $10 to purchase (a double minute phone) and about $7/month if I buy an annual card - approx. $96/year. A 400 minute annual card gives me 800 minutes that can roll over forever. It has voice mail as well as internet capabilities, and I use it to check my e-mail when travelling. This would be a perfect cell phone for a low income person looking for work or needing to check e-mail. Very low cost and no long term conttract.

Spartana
12-16-11, 3:45pm
I agree with you, and I've often felt guilty that I resent money that goes to overseas missionaries when we've got North Philadelphia, one of the worst slums in the country, a half hour train ride away. I'm beginning to think of my church's Missions Committee as Chicken-aries, because if they served people close to home they might have to go into scary neighborhoods or (gasp!) actually meet a poor person!!! EEK!!! So they send money to other people to build wells in the darkest recesses of Africa and feel noble about it. I think not, Alphonse.

I think the reason people send money to REALLY impoverished natiions like Africa is that the need they have is so much greater - basicly if they don't get those services (a well, food or medical aid, etc... ) they will die - and die fast and young and enmass. Nothing like seeing millions of children die each year becuase they couldn't get clean water and a tiny bit of food. The level of poverty in an inner city still meets the basic subsistence living standards. What I would love to see if greater community involvement to help out local people. Especially the elderly and infirm. But like you pointed out, it's easier to give money then time for alot of people who really don't want to see the real face of poverty - either in this country or overseas.

Florence
12-16-11, 3:48pm
flowerseverywhere, That sounds like the norm for when I was growing up in Galveston during the late 1940's and 50's. Everyone played outside with jacks, jump rope, hopscotch, bicycles, roller skates--no wonder we were skinny, we were always on the move. Books from the library. My mother wasn't a great cook but goodness could she sew. She made everything from school clothes to evening dresses. By today's standards, we were poor..but I had no idea that we were.

Spartana
12-16-11, 4:07pm
One car if any.
Smaller houses, kids sharing bedrooms, family members of multi generations sharing living spaces- way less to heat, clean, way less furniture in them.



I was a child of the 60's and 70's and even then no one used credit cards or credit for anything except the house and maybe the car. You bought the family truckser with cash or a short term loan you could afford and kept it as long as possible. No trading in - and up - every couple of years. And you didn't buy your kids new - or even used - cars. They had to work for them to buy themselves.

Same with the house. You bought a modest place with a fixed rate affordable 30 year mortgage as a family "home" that you intended to stay in forever - hoping to have it paid off when you retired. You knew that 10 years from the day you bought it the monthly payment would be the same - as it would be 30 years later - and that's why you bought. It wasn't an investment to make money on, or a bank to borrow from, it was an affordable roof over the heads of your family that someday you'd own outright.

Zoebird
12-16-11, 5:37pm
I suppose i'm just living in another era, spartana. That's how we were doing things in the US, and it's basically how we are doing things here. :)

we don't own our own home, but when we were talking about it with friends (who all have children in their 20s and 30s), they were asking whether or not "our generation" wants to buy homes.

i said that we do, but that considering school debt and the amount needed for the basic down payment and to be frugal, it's very hard if not impossible for most of us -- if we are choosing to live close to work, etc. For example, the house I rent right now, if i were to buy it, would probably cost about $300k in land-value alone. The house is probably worthless, because it's not that big of a place, it's old, and probably needs a lot more work than I even want to know about. LOL That's just a guess, though, and for this neighborhood, that's an affordable piece of land.

anyway, we couldn't afford a mortgage on this place at this point. Yes, we have enough in savings for a down payment, but we need that in cash to support us "just in case" until we get residency and such -- so we can't tie it up in property. Eventually, maybe, but we really don't want a mortgage of that size once we do. And this place IS modest.

If i were to go about a 1.5-2 hr drive out of the city, we could get a modest house at a good, affordable price and in decent condition, but then we'd have transportation costs (at about $7/gal of gas, it's not a small amount) and the commute time. But, we like living in the city, and if we were to look in this neighborhood or a neighborhood that we like. . . well, here's an example (http://www.tommys.co.nz/buying/property/T9874-live-a-dream-lifestyle-by-the-sea). This place is slightly larger than ours, and three doors down. Two bedrooms, semidetached, garage, small yard, faces the water (like our place). RV is $600k, and this is the minimum cost that people will accept usually.

so, you can bet I won't be taking on a $540k 30 yr mortgage on this place. As much as I love the neighborhood, the house itself, etc. . . that's too much debt.

This (http://www.tommys.co.nz/buying/search?city_id=1&suburbs%5B%5D=Seatoun&price-min=0&price-max=0&bedrooms-min=0&bedrooms-max=0&quick-search=&search=Search) shows the other 8 houses listed in our community as well.

The second one listed, a three-bedroom new build cutey -- which is easily about 1200 square feet or so with a small yard and about 1/2 block from the beach and a 15 minute drive (or 30-45 minute bus ride) from the city -- is "buyer inquiry welcome starting at $795k.

So, the reality is that if we live where we want to live -- and a lot of us young folk want to live IN the city, or very near to the city -- then we cannot afford to buy unless we are making a considerable amount of money. I know very, very few people -- even young lawyers and doctors and accountants and computer folk who are my clients -- who make enough to afford a $795k "modest" house, kwim?

Talking with my friends, anyway, they were saying that there is a huge price value jump in houses in the last two decades, and that they don't see how their 25-35 yr old children -- all of whom are educated and working -- could possibly afford to buy a house once I informed them of prices and values.

Even in Nelson -- which is a lovely small town -- a house in/near town is $300k for a starter home fixer-upper. Which is just not realistic when most of us earn between $50-70k/annum.

So, we are saving up to buy the house outright, and we figure that we'll need to be mobile anyway until we decide where we want to live out our golden years. We don't plan on retiring per se (i love my work, so I don't plan on retiring), but there might be a time when we want to be less mobile, settle down on some property (perhaps here, perhaps elsewhere), and then we'll likely have the capital to buy a place.

or maybe not.

if the houses are worth double or triple or whatever then. who knows?

And i'm not trying to be ostentatious here, truly. It's not like we need to live in THIS neighborhood. But like every city, they are neighborhoods that you like and those you like less, and so while there are less expensive neighborhoods, those are often not as safe, and sometimes just as expensive anyway.

A friend of mine just bought a place in another neighborhood, and it cost about the same as the place i liked above ($600k) for a smaller, craftsman style house (3 bed, two bath, garage, yard), but her house got vandalized after she put the new paint job on the house, and her car was stolen last week. So, she got more house for the same amount of money, btu the neighborhood is leaving a fair bit to be desired.

Zoebird
12-16-11, 5:45pm
that being said, this house (http://www.tommys.co.nz/buying/property/T9913-modernist-masterpiece-alington-house) in the neighborhood it's in. . .and the appearance of being well made and cared for. . . may well be worth the price. $625k for an architectural gem in a good neighborhood. . . that might be do-able.

moreso than the $795k one here. :) other side of town. and i'm still not going into debt for it. LOL

iris lily
12-16-11, 8:08pm
zoeb, I do not know where I got the idea that houses in NZ were low priced. A few years ago I found (via Realtor.com) some delightful small homes for , I was thinking, $60,000 - $80,000 US. I wonder where I was looking? Certainly it was not in the big cities, but I know that I looked on the South island because I want temperate climate, not tropical.
I even had conversations with someone here about non-citizens buying real estate becuase I ran into some kind of restriction about it.

Later I will go back to realtor.com to see if I can figure out what I was looking at.

I love the idea of NZ and that would be in my top 5 places worldwide to live.

Zoebird
12-16-11, 8:34pm
Some areas are quite inexpensive. But, it can be difficult to find an income once you are there, you know?

Land -- off grid, no access land -- can be very inexpensive. But, you'll have to live entirely off grid and figure out how to get there without a road and figure out how to build out there without a road, etc. Some places are still only accessible by helicopter, you know?

ApatheticNoMore
12-16-11, 9:15pm
Zoebird: basically same situation in California with houses. So if I moved to NZ I'm already ready for it :)

JaneV2.0
12-16-11, 9:29pm
Oh Zoebird, that house is dreamy! http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-love013.gif (http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php)

Zoebird
12-16-11, 9:35pm
ANM, I hear ya! :D

PA was less expensive, but in irony, we wouldn't have felt comfortable buying the house we sold at the price for which we sold it. Does that make sense?

With our income, it still would have been too high for us to afford!

iris lily
12-16-11, 9:36pm
ah, real estate in other countries: now I get to ask my questions. The British use of this term "double bedroom"--does that mean big enough for a double bed? Does it mean 2 closets ( i doubt that.) whot oh whot does that mean?

Zoebird
12-16-11, 9:37pm
Jane -- the 1962 architectural gem? too damn true. I would just sleep on the floor in there.

Zoebird
12-16-11, 9:41pm
Double bedroom means that it will fit a double bed, possibly a queen. In some cases, it means "king size" as well, but usually only if it says "generous double bedroom" will it fit a queen or king. :)

redfox
12-16-11, 10:48pm
The article mentions "poverty level" and then "low income" (from 100-199% of poverty level) - does anyone know what the actual $ numbers are, say for a family of 4? Just curious.

It varies by county. Google poverty level and your county & state name; it will come up. There is also an index called the Liveable or Living Wage.

Here is a calculator that was created by Penn State to calculate this based on local data.

http://www.livingwage.geog.psu.edu/

redfox
12-16-11, 10:52pm
http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/15/9461848-dismal-prospects-1-in-2-americans-are-now-poor-or-low-income

Has the economy bottomed out,or have we not reached bottom yet?
What would be your advice to poor people? I just found out yesterday that my nephew and his mom and sister are homeless,thats why I asked the last question.

IMHO, it's never appropriate to give advice unless asked, especially to someone suffering from poverty or homelessness. Better to listen & invite them to share a meal.

redfox
12-16-11, 11:24pm
My guess would be dependence which breeds further dependency.

My experience as a social worker doesn't support this guess. I witnessed countless people be ashamed & embarassed, then grateful, for help in the form of food stamps, rental assistance, child care assistance, medical care, job search assistance, and education. And become independent of these supports, gradually, over time, as they built personal life skills & replacement structures in the form of friends, church, workplace & neighborhood relationships.

Sometimes it takes YEARS of financial aid to give people the time & tools to learn independence. Usually those that take the longest are the ones who were raised in a family that did not know how to teach life skills.

Perhaps that's what you see as dependence, Alan. There are a few families that have multiple generations of people who don't know how to live at a sophisticated level in our complex and advanced society. Parents cannot teach what they do not know. It is important for our overall society to provide this teaching and care, so that we can collectively break the cycles of poverty in our communities. I view this as a sacred opportunity to be of service to my community.

Dependency upon social support systems can be a sign of depression, too, in my experience. Some people have had no models for self-determination, and no belief that they can master this. They have given up before they are defeated; it's a form of self-protection. It's very sad. ALL of us lean on social support systems.they are called family, church, neighborhood, community. We're a congregate species; we depend upon each other. It's a good thing!

For those who do not have the social safety nets of family, friends, neighbors, church & community, I am happy to pay a social service agency to help. I do not see those in need as bad, incompetent, less than, etc. I see them as my brothers & sisters in need, and there but for the grace of God go I.

Zoebird
12-17-11, 12:05am
thanks for that personalized account, red fox.

JaneV2.0
12-17-11, 12:38am
Yes, that was powerfully written. A primer for the empathy-challenged.

flowerseverywhere
12-17-11, 12:41am
It is important for our overall society to provide this teaching and care, so that we can collectively break the cycles of poverty in our communities.


but are we breaking the cycle? Are we winning the war on poverty with what we are doing? From what I have read, the percentage of children of the group of those in poverty is rising. And these children are apt to attend schools that are located in close to war zones, full of violence and drugs. Something like 40% of children born today are born to a single mother, and many of those go on to raise the child without the financial and emotional support of the father so naturally many will join the ranks of the poor. Even in the best of times, when the coffers were overflowing schools have been unable to do the job of educating our poorest youngsters. Now that our government officials have not been good stewards of our money and our economy and we are in a bad situation how can we possibly expect things to improve for the poor?
I for one see nothing but belt tightening, and some at least will be at the expense of the poor. Of course all of us would love to see every child have the opportunity to have a good life, good job, enough to eat, roof over their head, warm coat in the winter etc. How can that be accomplished? If someone could tell me I would put my heart and soul into the solution.

flowerseverywhere
12-17-11, 12:50am
I also had to post this article about a mother who managed to get off welfare, similar to what Redfox is describing. maybe the need is to increase welfare and food stamps...

http://www.thenation.com/article/165163/end-welfare-i-knew-it

redfox
12-17-11, 1:07am
No, we're not breaking the cycle of poverty... But we could. Clinton's so-called welfare reform was a draconian disaster. I hated it. The article you posted names it well.

gimmethesimplelife
12-17-11, 1:43am
It's just my thought that governmental interference into the free market played a large part in driving manufacturing offshore. A little less interference might bring them back.
Also, if our government limited itself to it's constitutional mandate, that interference could have been avoided.My thinking is that free markets worked in the days of Henry Ford paying more than he had to so that his workers could buy his product.....And in the fifties and sixties, until the US started losing manufacturing jobs so that the wealthy at the top of the chain could hoard more of the wealth.....I personally don't believe in free markets as they work against too many in their current form - but I don't believe in communism either (though what I have heard of how things are done in Cuba interests me a great deal) as it does not seem to motivate human gumption much.....I have always believed in the social democracies of Western Europe with high taxes and wonderful safety nets and a great quality of life we don't have here BUT look how that's ending up, on the edge of being Gone With the Wind.....So I don't have the answer is my point, but I don't believe free markets are an acceptable answer to the majority any more than these other options are.....Just my two cents worth.....Rob