Half of Americans are Poor or Low-Income

Poverty graph
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

h/t Paul Buchheit.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Relative Poverty Measure (see Table 4), which is “most commonly used in developed countries to measure poverty,” 18 percent of Americans are below the poverty threshold and 32 percent are below twice the threshold, putting them in the low-income category. In other words, half of Americans are poor or low-income.

The bottom half of America own just 1.1% of the country’s wealth, or about $793 billion, which is the same amount owned by the 30 richest Americans. ZERO wealth is owned by approximately the bottom 47 percent.

Our politicians can either do something about inequality, or Americans will do something about our political system.

Recommended viewing: Jacob Kornbluth’s film “Inequality for All” with Robert Reich. Now on Netflix.

More info:
Inequality for All

UPDATE:
After-tax profits for American corporations hit another record high last year, rising to $1.68 trillion. American workers have experienced a “lost decade” of wage growth, as their pay stayed flat or declined between 2000 and 2012, despite a 25 percent bump in productivity.

  1. #1 by brewski on March 24, 2014 - 10:53 pm

    Yes, they can “do something”. They can make us all equally poor. That will solve it.

  2. #2 by brewski on March 24, 2014 - 10:57 pm

    Data from the Department of Energy and other agencies show that the average poor family, as defined by Census officials:

    ? Lives in a home that is in good repair, not crowded, and equipped with air conditioning, clothes washer and dryer, and cable or satellite TV service.

    ? Prepares meals in a kitchen with a refrigerator, coffee maker and microwave as well as oven and stove.

    ? Enjoys two color TVs, a DVD player, VCR and — if children are there — an Xbox, PlayStation, or other video game system.

    ? Had enough money in the past year to meet essential needs, including adequate food and medical care.

    • #3 by cav on March 25, 2014 - 9:37 am

      We all like it when our taxes are low, but there is such a thing as cutting of the nose to spite one’s face.

      We buy cheaply manufactured “stuff” that’s made abroad, in order to maintain a borderline standard of living, now that the jobs are gone.

      The companies we buy from are all spending a lot of time planning how to make certain they don’t pay any taxes at all, and they like to hide their money abroad.

      So what we have to do is accept that how we spend our money can either kill us slowly, or help us rebuild.

      Yes, it’s a little more expensive to buy local, but you are sustaining your own community; not the tax haven accounts of tax-avoiding multinationals or private equity raiders.
      Consider that extra expenditure a tax you pay to keep your own community alive – and do so by not buying crap you don’t need from companies that don’t care about you.

      Buy from people who care about you, and your community.

      If enough people do that …

      • #4 by brewski on March 25, 2014 - 10:14 am

        I do buy local a lot and I do pay more for doing so.

        Those companies you mention would pay a whole lot more in US taxes if our tax code was fixed. See Denmark. You think they don’t get it?

  3. #5 by brewski on March 24, 2014 - 10:59 pm

    But the apparent lack of progress is misleading for two reasons.

    First, it ignores immigration, which has increased reported poverty. Many immigrants are poor and low-skilled. From 1989 to 2007, about three-quarters of the increase in the poverty population occurred among Hispanics — mostly immigrants, their children and grandchildren. The poverty rate for blacks fell during this period, though it was still much too high (24.5 percent in 2007). Poverty “experts” don’t dwell on immigration, because it implies that more restrictive policies might reduce U.S. poverty.

    Second, the poor’s material well-being has improved. The official poverty measure obscures this by counting only pre-tax cash income and ignoring other sources of support. These include the earned-income tax credit (a rebate to low-income workers), food stamps, health insurance (Medicaid), and housing and energy subsidies. Spending by poor households from all sources may be double their reported income, reports a study by Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute. Although many poor live hand-to-mouth, they’ve participated in rising living standards. In 2005, 91 percent had microwaves, 79 percent air conditioning and 48 percent cellphones.

  4. #6 by Richard Warnick on March 25, 2014 - 12:24 am

    brewski–

    Yeah, I know Faux News Channel says that low-income Americans are secretly living the good life. You’ll love this ad from the Koch brothers, that says “quit bitching and/or go live in Pakistan.” This kind of attitude is what makes billionaires so beloved by us common folk!

    • #7 by brewski on March 25, 2014 - 8:17 am

      You violated that modified Godwin Rule. I automatically win!

  5. #8 by cav on March 25, 2014 - 9:05 am

    Another win for the ‘b’ man!!!!!!!!!!!

    Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld says ‘a trained ape’ could do better than President Obama on Afghanistan – @washingtonpost

    So, why didn’t he?

    • #9 by brewski on March 25, 2014 - 10:15 am

      Every former president except Obama sought Jimmy Carter’s help.

      Hmmmm.

      • #10 by cav on March 25, 2014 - 10:31 am

        Why are The chimps painting s hanging ONLY in Hizzown Presnitdential Libarry?

        When Jimmy is dead (of old age – give me a break) Billary will have to visit the Chimp for that level of help. Of course, Darth will STILL be among us – that’s a given.

        No wonder we’re experiencing a post-flush society.

        Oh, and, ‘Rummy’ really should be in jail!

  6. #11 by brewski on March 26, 2014 - 5:50 pm

    This is why people are poor:

    Federal law enforcement officials arrested two public officials in California and North Carolina and raided the office of a New York state senator in connection with separate corruption investigations on Wednesday.
    Hundreds of federal agents conducted searches of offices around the San Francisco Bay Area and arrested several people on Tuesday, including state Sen. Leland Yee (D) and a former head of a Hong Kong-based crime syndicate, as part of a major public corruption probe.
    Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon (D) was arrested Wednesday and charged with theft and bribery after an FBI sting operation, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. The mayor, first elected in November after serving for two decades on the Charlotte city council, allegedly solicited and accepted bribes from undercover FBI agents.
    And in New York, FBI agents raided Assemblyman William Scarborough’s (D) offices and questioned Scarborough at his Albany hotel room. Scarborough told reporters the FBI asked questions about per diem reimbursements he received during his service in the state legislature.
    Spokesmen for the FBI and the Justice Department did not immediately return calls and e-mails seeking comment.
    The arrests come just days after federal agents raided the home and offices of Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox (D), as part of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office, the FBI, the IRS and Rhode Island state police. Fox resigned his position on Friday and dropped his bid for reelection.
    In California, FBI agents arrived to search Yee’s Capitol office in Sacramento at 7 a.m., while hundreds of federal and local law enforcement personnel searched locations around San Francisco and San Mateo, local media reported.

    • #12 by Richard Warnick on March 26, 2014 - 11:04 pm

      Still waiting for the FBI raids on Wall Street investment banking firms. :-(

      • #13 by brewski on March 27, 2014 - 8:02 am

        Why would Obama raid his own benefactors?

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