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Forum Post: poverty level is $23,000 for a family of 4 - try it!

Posted 6 years ago on Oct. 9, 2012, 1:12 p.m. EST by flip (7101)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Let’s consider just one particular policy area, poverty, where we lag far behind other democracies. We have an abysmal record in reducing the level of poverty in this country. It went down in the 1960s, but for the last 40 years it has hovered stubbornly at around 11-13%. Today, over 43 million Americans continue to suffer severe economic hardship. Conservatives consider our failure to reduce poverty as evidence of the inherent limitations of government. They conclude (wrongly) that since our current anti-poverty policies have failed, that there is nothing the government can do and that it should get out of the business of trying to eliminate poverty. It is this attitude that has animated Republican attempts to cut back on programs for the poor, such as welfare and job training. For them, our failures in poverty policy only contribute to the case they are making for a more limited government.

But the record of fighting poverty in Europe clearly demonstrates that governments are quite capable of addressing poverty much more effectively. Anti-poverty policies in the U.S. only lift 36% of people out of poverty, while government policies reduce poverty in Germany by 76%, by 83% in the Netherlands, and by 89% in Sweden.2 Not surprisingly, all of these other countries end up with much lower rates of poverty. While our poverty rate continues to hover around 12%, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden have reduced their poverty rates to 4%, 4% and 2% respectively.

These are very impressive differences. And it is not a mystery how these other countries have been more successful in addressing poverty. First, these countries simply spend more on helping people out of poverty – welfare payments are higher, unemployment benefits are more generous and last longer, and so on. Spending more money helps lift more people out of poverty. In addition, social welfare policies in these other countries are much more universal – they include everyone, not just limited groups. Everyone has national health insurance; everyone qualifies for day care subsidies, and so on. Because of this, the social safety net is much more complete and effective than in the U.S., and this means that fewer people are likely to slip into poverty because of personal disasters such as a serious illness, a divorce, or the loss of a job. Most other democracies also pursue policies that help to raise wages. They encourage rather than discourage the formation of unions and they set a much higher minimum wage – both of which help to lower the number of the working poor in these countries.

As Bok found, poverty is just one of dozens of areas in which the U.S. lags behind other Western democracies. Clearly our government could be doing much more to address a wide variety of problems and could make even greater strides in improving the lives of Americans. This fact by itself is a powerful argument in favor of more government in the U.S.



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[-] 4 points by beautifulworld (22834) 6 years ago

We actually live in a plutocracy, not a democracy, and this is why poverty is not addressed. The wealthy and corporations view policies that redistribute wealth as taking away from themselves and so they do everything they can to prevent it, from mis-educating the masses by convincing them to worship materialism and to hold to the hope that they, too, can become rich some day, to outright purchase of the government itself.

[-] 0 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 6 years ago

Why aren't the candidates talking about reforming trade laws that mandate all imports abide by American labor standards? This would bring outsourced jobs back to America as well as improve standards for foreign businesses that want to do trade.

Why aren't the candidates working to increase minimum wage?

Why aren't the candidates talking about reforming monetary policy? Currently the system is set up to give unlimited resources to banks and nothing to the people.

Why aren't the candidates addressing the fact that we're paying interest on a fake debt to the Federal Reserve? Where did the Federal Reserve get the money to buy Government debt? They created it from nothing.

Why aren't the candidates proposing reforms on drug laws that have contributed to the world's largest prison system in the world? A system for profit prisons are making money on...

Why aren't the candidates talking about ending the wars today and just staying out of the middle east's affairs?

Reforming policies on these issues would mean the top 1% all the way to the top .00001% would have to become part of the top 10% or even the top 20%.

We have a choice... This is why the top 1% all the way to the top .00001% are spending so much money on candidates that do not work for these issues.

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (22834) 6 years ago

Great post, Trevor, as usual. You make way too much sense. These candidates have failed us miserably and should all be tossed into a heap and be done with.

[-] -1 points by alva (-442) 6 years ago

medicaid, section8 housing, food stamps and other govt programs address lower income levels.

[-] 3 points by beautifulworld (22834) 6 years ago

I am talking more about actually providing real jobs that pay real wages to people so that they do not need these types of programs. And, these programs are majorly resented by the wealthy even though it is they who cause the need by being greedy and failing to fairly share share the profits in the first place.

[-] -3 points by alva (-442) 6 years ago

why is being successful considered to be " greedy". jobs are the result of a thriving economy. the programs i cited are to supposed to be a safety net, not a way of life , which they have become over the last few years.

[-] 3 points by DKAtoday (33651) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 years ago

Hmmmm - wonder why people can't get off of social safety net programs - hmmm - wonder if it has anything to do with the economic meltdown combined with decades of offshoring work....hmmm.....

[-] 2 points by Jencats (20) 6 years ago

What can we do to change this? What can we do to get the government to change their policies?

High Wages might help, but what about better education? How do we encourage or help those that do not wish to seek to better their situation? Some people just do not want to put in the effort.

[-] 0 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

well you can look at how other countries do it - sweden has done a great job - so did most of the rich countries of western europe until 2007. higher minimum wqage, free health care, free day care, free university, better pensions - should i go on. getting our government to change course is the problem - how to solve the problem is easy

[-] 4 points by Builder (4202) 6 years ago

A lot of the supporters of the #ows movement are college-educated people with a huge loan to pay off, and no job prospects, despite their education.

The middle-class is now the educated poor. The poor are now the destitute. Even those with jobs are living on food stamps, because there hasn't been a significant rise in the minimum wage for decades, while the banksters hand themselves ten million dollar "performance" bonuses.

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

yea, great country don't you think - the most enlightened in history - a shining city on a hill

[-] 1 points by Builder (4202) 6 years ago

The only path left soon will be to consume the 1%.

I hope they've been eating biodynamic produce, at the very least.

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

i used to have a t shirt that said "eat the rich" - that was 20 yrs ago - long before ows!

[-] 2 points by Builder (4202) 6 years ago

Yeah, it's an old joke. There's not enough of them to go around anyways. ;-)

[-] 1 points by conservatroll (187) 6 years ago

You really need to subsitute the word "free" with "taxpayer funded". The gov does not 'earn' the money it redistributes.

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

that is a silly comment - the government prints it - where do you think those dollars come from your employer? do you not read the papers and understand how the government is being funded these days - the fed buying our debt just so you know. do you not understand that money is debt - all money is debt? no i guess not

[-] 1 points by conservatroll (187) 6 years ago

So, why should anyone work? Let's just crank up the presses!

Seriously, you are correct that the Fed is engaging in some very questionable practices (eg QE) but the fact remains the same....

GOvernent redistrutions are not FREE. And please don't condescend to me about economics. You know nothing about my education or experience.

[-] -1 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

i know all i need to know from this comment - The gov does not 'earn' the money it redistributes. - a nonsense ron paul tea party notion. read hudson - educate yourself. look to the depression and how it was ended and then look to the financing of ww2 - i know you were badly educated - and you bought it - sorry for that

[-] 0 points by conservatroll (187) 6 years ago

You find it nonsense. Is that how you deal with realites you don't like?

[-] 0 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

austrian school nonsense - Ever heard of Alan Watts? ...on the fundamental confusion between money and wealth: Remember the Great Depression of the Thirties? One day there was a flourishing consumer economy, with everyone on the up-and-up; and the next, unemployment, poverty, and bread lines. What happened? The physical resources of the country -- the brain, brawn, and raw materials -- were in no way depleted, but there was a sudden absence of money, a so-called financial slump. Complex reasons for this kind of disaster can be elaborated at length by experts on banking and high finance who cannot see the forest for the trees. But it was just as if someone had come to work on building a house and, on the morning of the Depression, the boss had said, "Sorry, baby, but we can't build today. No inches." "Whaddya mean, no inches? We got wood. We got metal. We even got tape measures." "Yeah, but you don't understand business. We been using too many inches and there's just no more to go around." A few years later, people were saying that Germany couldn't possibly equip a vast army and wage a war, because it didn't have enough gold. What wasn't understood then, and still isn't really understood today, is that the reality of money is of the same type as the reality of centimeters, grams, hours, or lines of longitude. Money is a way of measuring wealth but is not wealth in itself. A chest of gold coins or a fat wallet of bills is of no use whatsoever to a wrecked sailor alone on a raft. He needs real wealth, in the form of a fishing rod, a compass, an outboard moter with gas, and a female companion. Alan Watts - Does It Matter?

[-] 0 points by Jencats (20) 6 years ago

I think you are right. if we modeled ourselves after a country that has proven to work it would be great. However, I don't think elected officials would ever want or have any reason to change. We could hope they would on the basis it would be better for everyone, but realistically we need to make them want to change the system

[-] 0 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

i agree - we have to change the political system before anything else will change in a real way. getting money out of the electoral system is one way to start - we have a long way to go - lbj's war on poverty worked pretty well but was dismantled by reagan and clinton and the rest

[-] 0 points by Jencats (20) 6 years ago

Yea definitely. I think really we can't necessarily change the political system. It is too deep rooted in many facets of this country and world BUT we can change the type of people we elect to hold these offices.

We need to elect our kind of people. Turn this movement into a campaign to elect OUR types of people to power. It wouldn't be all at once but gradual to slowly change things.

We gotta start locally at the municipal level and build up to State and Federal seats. Get our first Senate seat in 2 years! Plenty of time to build up a real following!

Some may argue this is not how Occupy operates, but I disagree. Occupy is about change, and this is how we change the game. Play by their rules, then once we have the power, change the rules!

Marching in the street can only go so far. We need good, intelligent leaders to pick up the Occupy Mantle and turn it into something that will really influence change in this nation.

This way it will be peaceful, no one gets arrested, and the average American get behind the cause.

Preach logical, rational, intelligence, not emotional outbursts!

[-] 0 points by VQkag2 (16478) 6 years ago

I can agree with your election approach. Reform the system from within. Some OWS people say that is useless and we must recreate a new system from the outside.

I can support a new system And until it emerges I support your approach of electing "our kind" of pols.

I do think marching is required though. We must protest peacefully to pressure all pols to pass laws that benefit the 99%.

[-] -2 points by Jencats (20) 6 years ago

Of course, there always has to be some sort of public movement. protesting is good and can achieve goals. However, the way in which it has been used, frankly is just diluting the power of marching.

Occupy marches over EVERYTHING. Yes there are a lot of causes that need attention, but we are becoming the "Group that cried wolf".

Focus on something major. Like economic reform. Make that our civil rights movement or womens suffrage. Make that our main cause and focus. Give us clear goals to achieve and strive for.

[-] 0 points by VQkag2 (16478) 6 years ago

I like a specific focus, I like economic reform/money out of politics perhaps, & I agree the scatter shot approach thus far may not be helping.

I can't bring myself to criticize any protest, but would welcome some specificity.

I think it can easily evolve that way.


[-] 1 points by Faraujo (-4) 6 years ago

The poverty rate in 1960, prior to the War on Poverty" was the same as it was in prior to this recession - 2007. The US is the only first world country to have net immigration and net immigration of lower wage scale workers hence the make-up of those in poverty has changed since 1960 to many more hispanics and much less whites and blacks. The other major factor in people being in poverty is that families that are headed by one parent and fatherless families are more likely to be in poverty.

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

you are wrong on all counts - the war on poverty was a success but has been rolled back since reagan. other countries have the same one parent families - they simply support them better. it is very easy to do we just choose, as a country not to do it! and fools like you go along with it

[-] -1 points by Faraujo (-4) 6 years ago

Sorry, those statistics are straight from the Census bureau. No, other countries have not had net immigration and not anywhere close to the level and scope of the US. That is why the make-up of the poor has changed over the past 30 years from blacks and whites to Latinos.

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

still wrong in every way. the numbers may be correct but you did not address what i said - did you not read it or not understand it? so which of your statements is correct - this one- "The US is the only first world country to have net immigration and net immigration of lower wage scale workers" or this one - "No, other countries have not had net immigration and not anywhere close to the level and scope of the US." as to the poverty level have you read the original post - the poor are all shades - you are very sad - that is the nicest thing i can say about you.

[-] 0 points by Faraujo (-4) 6 years ago

So what are you disagreeing with.

The US Census showed that 27% of children live with one parent, as compared to about 16% of children worldwide who live in a single-parent household.

So you wan to have a hostile debate, is that your method?

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

my method is not to waste time on people who cannot follow a logical line of debate - go back and read through your comment from 20 hrs ago and then all of my comments and yours - try to understand what is being said and let me know what you come up with - otherwise play with someone else


[-] -1 points by alva (-442) 6 years ago

if it was such a success why has the number of people on food stamps doubled with the obama administration?

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33651) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 years ago

Wallstreet - WTFU.

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

i guess you haven't read the papers in the last few years. or maybe you were born yesterday - or maybe just stupid - so let's see - how about bank deregulation (glass steagall) - ninja loans, gambling at the big banks, huge bonuses for fraud etc and then oil at $147 a barrel - should i go on or would you like to think it is obama's fault. i did not vote for him - i knew he was a tool of the rich from the get go but that does not mean this is his fault. he should have been much more aggressive fixing the problem but once you put the people who caused the crash back in power then you will have a mess on your hands (read larry summers etc here). now if you would like i can educate you on how reagan pushed the povert rate up and how that shit boy clinton ended welfare as we know it but no point trying to help you is there - you are blinded by the right

[-] -1 points by alva (-442) 6 years ago

" clinton ended welfare as we know it" clinton administration reqired people to work or at least try to work in order to get welfare. obama did away with that requirement a few months ago.

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

why would you tell me what i already know. do you have trouble following a logical argument

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 6 years ago

Prove it.

Your claim is unsubstantiated.

[-] 0 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 6 years ago

Right, so basically it just gives states more rights, which Ive heard many on here claim to be a "con" thing to do.

It will take a year or two to see if the states that got the waivers have more people working or less.

[-] -1 points by alva (-442) 6 years ago

do your own search. just type in................obama changes works requirement for welfare.

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 6 years ago

You certainly should have.

[-] 0 points by conservatroll (187) 6 years ago

Really. If I had time I'd google the billions that have been spent in the last 60 years that haven't moved the poverty needle. In factm government handouts encourage single motherhood....what a screwed up system.

[-] 0 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 6 years ago

looking right through

[-] 1 points by factsrfun (8243) from Phoenix, AZ 6 years ago

An excellent post flip, I think that by pushing the concept that an employer should be required to pay enough to cover the cost of providing the labor, in other words a living wage is one important tool. The measure of how great a nation is should be by how many it has lifted form poverty not how many guns it has.

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

right on

[-] 0 points by factsrfun (8243) from Phoenix, AZ 6 years ago

Of course if you got all the guns, who's going to disagree with you, and there you go that's most of what passes for foreign policy around here.

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago


[-] 1 points by factsrfun (8243) from Phoenix, AZ 6 years ago

Sorry I got off on a tangent, I was just referring to how Americans stomp around saying American is the greatest nation on earth, when mostly they mean we got the biggest Army, and who can disagree? Don't we get our way, most of the time? (at the point of a gun)

I think the greatest nation would be one where everybody has a chance for a quality education and health care.

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago


[-] 0 points by Builder (4202) 6 years ago

Fuck the guns.

Don't we have enough of them already?

The poorest people on the face of this earth are those who live for their greed. The only people they look in the eye, are those they intend to steal from.

[-] 1 points by BetsyRoss (-744) 6 years ago


I realize it's only to 2005. It doesn't have to be up to date to prove the point I'm about to make.

But LOOK-see how much HIGHER the PERSONAL income tax rates are in those countries you're so excited about compared to the US? Do you realize how MUCH MORE in taxes the AVERAGE person in those countries pays in income tax than the AVERAGE person in the US???

Note-even though the CORPORATE tax rate is MUCH higher in the US-we're NOT conquering "poverty" anywhere near as well as the other countries....which would make it seem STUPID to continue to raise taxes for Corporations when it's producing the OPPOSITE result. Right?

Sweden, France, Germany-they ALL have an AVERAGE PERSONAL income tax rate over 45% of income. Those perks aren't FREE-the taxpayers themselves are paying for them in income tax whether they want or use those services or not. (For example: GERMANY=41%, 15% for one of the many public health insurances (fixed rate by law), as well as a solidarity tax (depending on income) and a 26% social security tax (retirement + unemployment)

Did you catch that? 15% tax on YOUR personal income before you get a paycheck to PAY FOR "PUBLIC HEALTH INSURANCE" and 26% SOCIAL SECURITY tax! Let's see....what is the US's current SS tax rate? 10-12%????

So...it appears that if we want to "change things" so we can keep up with those countries, we'll need to RAISE income taxes on the "average/middle classes" to 45% and LOWER corporate tax rates!


[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

i have been to sweden many times - going there next month. i know very well how the system works and how they live - average working people that is. they live much better than we do. more free time, and better quality of life. go some time and check it out instead of watching fox news. you are right their taxes are higher but they also get many things that compensate for that. free health care, free college, and many give backs and subsidies that make the trade off good for them - go - check it out and then shut up!

[-] 2 points by Mooks (1985) 6 years ago

My wife and I took a cruise that stopped in a few ports in Sweden and Norway a few years ago and one thing that struck me was how monolithic the population was. Nearly everyone was white, well-educated, and fairly secular. And I think the total population is under 10 million people.

The Scandinavian economic model is great. The best in the world in my opinion. I just don't think it is applicable in a country as diverse and as large as the United States. We have many different cultures with many different values.

[-] 0 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

and we are much richer - we can grow food they can only dream about and have resources they can never have - so.........

[-] 0 points by BetsyRoss (-744) 6 years ago

I have no problem with increasing taxes on the "average" worker in the US to 47% (like it is in Sweden) and decreasing the corporate tax rates to 27% (like they are in Sweden) in order for everyone to get health care, college etc and improve the quality of life for everyone.

Do you?

[-] 0 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

no i am for raising corporate taxes in sweden - back to the 1989 rates and moving ours back to the 1955 rates - a time when inequality was low and workers lived better than now - Corporate Taxes as a Percentage of Federal Revenue 1955 . . . 27.3% 2010 . . . 8.9%

Corporate Taxes as a Percentage of GDP 1955 . . . 4.3% 2010 . . . 1.3%

Individual Income/Payrolls as a Percentage of Federal Revenue 1955 . . . 58.0% 2010 . . . 81.5% Finally, for those in the top 0.01 percent of the income distribution, the effective tax rate was 71.4 percent in 1960, 74.6 percent in 1970, 59.3 percent in 1980, 35.4 percent in 1990, 40.8 percent in 2000 and 34.7 percent in 2004.

[-] 1 points by TruthRightsFreedom (259) 6 years ago

You forgot the cost of waging war. Remember, America is more afraid of truth than war so of course the poor, the sick and the disabled are neglected.

[-] 1 points by richardkentgates (3269) 6 years ago

All the hype about gov being to blame and yadada is all coded language. There is an old adage about "hungry people work". It is this idea they live by and it is true, though most of the people that live by such an idiom have never been hungry nor have they ever worked, thus every populist uprising in history. Like a dog chasing it's tail.

[-] 0 points by Builder (4202) 6 years ago

Lee Camp on money.


[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

very good - esp the first part - the second part about barter is a bit off base though - all we have to do is print the money - u s or aussie dollars and off we go! building whatever we need