Skip to main content

Ok, maybe not "poor", but the Americans that people use that word to describe. What exactly is "poor" in America? Lots of definitions exist, including one tied strictly to household income - according to this study about $11k a year for a single person - but that is hardly an indicator for every place people could live in the USA, and the "poor", being people, are free to live everywhere (at least that is what I've been told).

We all know that's not quite true. People at the "poverty level" of income are often concentrated in certain locations, due to all sorts of factors. But this diary entry isn't about that.

Following up on yesterday's diary entry concerning the need to define what "fair" means, I thought this term would be a good one to do next, because the right love to tell us how good "the poor have it in America".

I suppose I'll start with a list of things that I believe anyone in the USA should have, at bare minimum, in their households. (The following is crude and I'm sure it has holes I will plug later but in the hour I have for lunch it's the best I can do for now.) Each item assumes that after you pay the bills at the end of the month, NOTHING is left over.

1. You have nothing. Destitution like we see in the worst images of poverty stricken countries. No shelter, distended bellies from malnourishment and prolonged starvation, naked but for rags and perhaps some mud and leaves for modesty and or decoration.

2. Just enough food and water and clothing to meet a bare minimum existence in a mild climate.

3. 2 plus shelter, but nothing else. All of your income goes to food, water, and shelter.

(1 through 3 assume you have access to a telephone and access to transportation - either a friend or public provided. If a person can't get access to those two things then their ability to rise out of poverty is curtailed so I don't believe we can set the bar so low that it precludes at least access to transportation and communication.)

4. 3 plus electricity. Food, water, shelter, and lights and an appliance like a refrigerator. But nothing left at the end of the month after you pay the electric bill.

5. 4 plus you have a cell phone.

6. 5 plus a computer with internet capability. Access to one, such as at a local library, would count too but many rural areas and inner city areas are finding libraries are "out of business". (Still no car.)

(1 through 6 assume you have access to public transportation so you can get to a job so that you can rise out of poverty (in theory, anyway))

7.  6 plus a car. This assumes enough income to purchase, maintain and insure the car, with nothing left over at the end of the month. For a majority of people a car is the only way they can get to work.

So without going too nutty, what do you think is a minimum for existence in the USA consumer/economic environment, that we can classify as POOR? Having no money is not automatically being poor, as you could have tons of "stuff" and all the food and care you require.

I think it's important to set the bar for what POOR is in the USA - and not tie it to strictly monetary income - so we can address factors like FAIR pay, because if person is working 40 hours a week and can't get past #7 (such as being able to afford medicine, health care, eduction and a means to increase their skills to escape being poor) then that person is not doing well. But is that person POOR?

What is POOR? Does it start at 7? 6? 5? Or 1? I think most of us know how conservative Republicans wold have this defined so I won't bother to mock them (here, anyway). They want a SLAVE CLASS of individuals who will do anything to make a buck and they probably have plans similar to this to capitalize on misfortune. They want POOR defined as #1. How about you? What is POOR to you?


At what level would you define a POOR person in the USA?

0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
42%6 votes
7%1 votes
7%1 votes
35%5 votes
7%1 votes
0%0 votes

| 14 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (0+ / 0-)

    Send conservatives to for re-education.

    by filthyLiberalDOTcom on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 10:53:28 AM PST

  •  Don't think you can stuff it into those categories (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The Living Wage calculators might give some idea:
    They take into account differences in housing and other costs in various parts of the country. It is set to determine the amount a household would need to meet their basic needs without assistance (such as Food Stamps, etc.).  Anything less than that would mean you are, to some degree, poor; and thus qualify for some amount, whether large or small, of assistance such as food stamps, subsidized housing, etc.

    Your first link is not "a study", it is the official government definition of the poverty level, revised annually. However, numerous government, and non-government, programs for the poor do not use it "as is" but define eligibility as some other amount based on the poverty guideline. 125% or 133% of the poverty guideline is quite typical.

    " can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem." Mitt Romney

    by Catte Nappe on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 12:57:37 PM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site