THE POVERTY LINE
What’s the poverty line?
The poverty line is a metaphor for the financial divisions that happen in society. It’s not the line that separates the middle class from the rich. Middle class people are nowhere near the rich and in many ways, the poor are nowhere near the middle class.
In 2005, sociologists William Thompson and Joseph Hickey estimate an income range of roughly $35,000 to $75,000 for the lower middle class and $100,000 or more for the upper middle class. For this reason, we call people who are making 35-45k a year lower middle class and anyone 50k and up upper middle class. It’s safe to say to be considered rich, you have to hit the half a million dollar mark annually and that’s a lot of money, so where does that leave the poor.
The people who we consider poor are living in households of at least 4 people who’s annual salary is 24K a year. That means each person has less than 6k to live off for a year. It’s not as bad as living on a dollar a day, but it’s a pretty bad scenario with the cost of living going up and a chunk of that change going to taxes, which by default makes a 24k salary turn into 21-22 K salary. Keep in mind bills, car payments, cell phones, gas, food, student loans, other loans, credit card debt, medical bills, electricity, daycare.
A family on a low salary such as this is barely making it at the end of the month, it wouldn’t be uncommon for them to have to reach out to their friends and family for some extra help. Families like this are lucky if good grandparents are involved, but families like this will likely be very stressed simply because they cannot financially afford entertainment, vacations, cool gadgets, world class deserts, a trip to the theme park, eating out. Though life isn’t always about living luxurious, it’s certainly not about living in huddled spaces and hungry.
The poverty line is the stress line. Being in poverty is a hellish reality for many people and I am not going to glamorize the situation in any way. All people should have the goal to get out of poverty. It’s probably not going to happen in a month, or a year, but it can happen over time and with smart decisions.
Jobs with such low paying salaries usually offer no benefits, which means people are paying out of pocket for medical expenses, which means they are likely not going to the doctor, which means poor people are likely neglecting their health by default. There are number of reasons it’s dangerous to touch the poverty line.
So what happens when you are touching the poverty line. First of all your life is full of stress. I would like to STRESS there are two kinds of poor people. The people who work and are broke with a little and the people who don’t work and have absolutely nothing. Honestly, I don’t know which version of poor is harder. Living in a homeless shelter sucks, but renting rooms with strangers off craigslist because you are too broke to afford a security deposit can feel like living in a homeless shelter honestly.
What’s poor America?
For starters it’s a low income neighborhood, where everyone is struggling to survive. Struggling to survive doesn’t mean we don’t have food in America. Struggling to survive in America means we are on food stamps and pissing off tax payers and worried about getting mugged, evicted, or both. Hell, people who pay taxes are on food stamps too and still poor. Poor America is big and being poor means your quality of life is drastically lower. No vacations for you, no foot massages, no expensive clothes. Hell, you might be lucky if you have shoes and one decent outfit to interview in. Make no mistake, being poor means you are in a more dangerous neighborhood and your kids are getting a second rate education. It also means, you are probably over weight and depressed.
Just because we live in a developed country does not mean we are all “wealthy.”
Despite five years of economic recovery, poverty is still stubbornly high in America. More than 45 million people, or 14.5 percent of all Americans, lived below the poverty line in 2013 and the numbers haven’t gotten better in 2017.