Is your family suffering from poverty? You might be surprised.

The Headmistress always finds info that makes me grin and grimace at the same time.  It’s a talent, I say.
Maybe you knew things were tight, but you just thought you needed to stick to a budget.  Maybe you never felt entitled to a gym membership and were just grateful to have food on the table and gas in the car.
Maybe you were wrong.  If you thought your income was modest but sufficient, the truth is you could be teetering on the brink of poverty.   Let’s put an end to your blissful ignorance, because nobody should be forced to choose between gasoline and a gym membership.  It’s just un-American.

2009 U.S. Poverty guidelines by number of persons in household:
1…………………………………………………$10,830
2…………………………………………………. 14,570
3…………………………………………………. 18,310
4…………………………………………………. 22,050
5…………………………………………………. 25,790
6…………………………………………………. 29,530
7…………………………………………………. 33,270
8…………………………………………………. 37,010
9…………………………………………………. 40,750
10……………………………………………….. 44,490
11……………………………………………….$48,230

I’ve expanded the original chart to show our family size.  If you are even crazier than we are, keep adding $3,740 for each additional person.  Before you ask, let me add that this is only for the 48 contiguous states.  The figures are significantly higher for Alaska and Hawaii.

It’s interesting to note the change in how poverty has been defined:

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary said this:

Poverty
1. Destitution of property; indigence; want of convenient means of subsistence. The consequence of poverty is dependence.
The drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty. Prov.23…
Sounds serious, doesn’t it?  Maybe you weren’t starving, but you probably didn’t know where your next meal was coming from.
Fast forward 180 years, and see how times have changed.  The modern Merriam Webster definition makes poverty sound much better:
Poverty
1 a: the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions…
Usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions? Now it sounds like we’re keeping up with the Joneses.  We’re not hungry or homeless or naked.  We just want need a newer vehicle and a bigger house, because that’s what most people have.
Poverty?  Call me cynical, but to my jaded ears this sounds more like coveting.

Comments

  1. my husband nearly took my 2 older boys heads off when they cried how poor we were he came from a family that was lucky to have dinner never had breakfast before school he had 1 pair of pants maybe 2 shirts this is no kidding some people bring it on their self not living within their means like my mom always says you cant have a champagne taste on a beer income

  2. Government that can give you everything you need can also take everything you have. Remember this when you’re debating getting public
    assistance.

    Jesus said ‘Blessed are the poor, for they will always be with you’. If the Son of God knew of a system to eliminate poverty don’t you think he would have told us? And yet he didn’t. ‘Will always be with you’ sounds fairly permanent to me. At least on this Earth. So, I don’t think Jesus would have sponsored taking from some people in order to give to others. Theft and coveting your neighbors goods at the voting booth both sound like fairly sinful and unproductive non-Christian behaviors. Class warfare is nothing but commandment breaking coveting. If someone has derived riches from *criminal* behavior that’s one thing. Simply being rich is not criminal behavior, recent political rhetoric aside.

    No, we’re not rich. Not too far above the poverty level for a family of 5. Would rather be hungry than take stolen property. No good will ever come of that.

  3. It helps to achieve the ultimate goal of the left to define poverty upward. The more people you have qualifying for government aid the faster you get the system you really want:

    http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=6967

    Cloward-Piven, people. Eventually people will decide that a few hungry folks were far preferable to the government you’ll get to provide for everyone.

  4. I found it..very interesting!

  5. I am wondering what the figures are for Alaska–since I live here now..hmmmm.

  6. Hmm…. I think that part of why this seems so silly is because when you get above a certain number, economies of scale kick in. I see a lot of my friends have two children and then go out and buy a 6-passenger van. If they were to have an additional two children, they would all still fit in the same van. It would be crazy to go out and buy an eight passenger van in order to maintain the same two empty seats. So each person added probably doesn’t actually cost another $3740. There also tend to be options like family plans on health insurance, where 2 children cost the same as 12 children. (Remember, if you don’t have private health insurance, you would in fact be dependent on the government if you were to have a health crisis you could not pay for. Dependence is in your original definition of poverty.)

    But I would agree that when I had only $10,830 a year, I was wondering where my next meal was coming from, how I would pay rent, etc. Maybe this is because I don’t live in central Texas? I know that the cost of living varies widely. But I would call $10,830 a year poverty. Not abject poverty, but definitely “a want of convenient means of subsistence.”

  7. The food stamp formulas are also extremely interesting. I don’t know how they compute them…but I know it gets really screwed up when you get 10 people, or even 8 people.

  8. Hey cool, my family’s actually out from under the poverty level! My dad finally got a good job that got us out from under it less than a year ago, I think. Before that I think we were under the poverty level for a family of 5 or 6 – and there were 10 people in my family at that point.

    But I still can’t pay anything for college for a while…or rather, my parents can’t, according to FAFSA. Large families have advantages, apparently, especially in government formulas.

    I’ll take all of my siblings over not being “poor” any day!

  9. That is hilarious. We are considered living well under poverty level and yet all of our basic needs are met and we are incredibly happy. It is amazing that our definition of poverty has changed so drastically!

  10. we don’t make near what it shows is poverty for us, but by the grace of God we have always gotten by. we have our meals and then some (dessert or a snack)
    I’ve never felt poverty level.. I guess I’m content..

  11. I love that you filed this post under the category of “madness”! The difference in those definitions says so much about our society today!

  12. Wow. I hear certain people in my town complain about “being poor”, when according to this chart they could be supporting a family of 25 🙂 Amazing. What’s the chart based on, I wonder?

  13. In our society, children = poverty!

    There were many years when, with 7 children and hubby in job difficulties, we definitely qualified for assistance and didn’t take it. At those times I would read about people on the dole complaining about where they were “forced” to shop!

    Let me tell you, we weren’t shopping!

    Ah well, we are reaping the benefits now in happy, responsible adult children….

  14. Well, the government may label us as “in poverty,’ but we’re far from suffering from it LOL :). We have three meals a day, full cabinets, transportation, a warm, dry house, a mom who is home full-time, and NO DEBT. If that’s poverty, bring it on! I have 1 Tim. 6:6-8 on my kitchen cabinet where I can see it every day. It’s a potent reminder that even though we might not be keeping up with the neighbors, it doesn’t matter anyway. We are so blessed!

  15. I’m so quoting this blog entry! I’m tired of people telling me how ‘poor’ they are with their three TVs and two cars and house full of crap. Not to mention eating out seven or eight times a WEEK. And that’s my mom. sigh.

    We have been blessed exceedingly…thanks be to God!

  16. well if I am in poverty I wouldn’t know it I just thought I was Blessed! I am very blest….
    This was very eye opening Kim as always.

  17. I’m linking to you, just fyi! 🙂

  18. Wow! Yes! Exactly!
    The ironic thing is that Americans will go into debt not be poor – rather, not to be perceived as poor.
    As a nation, our standards of what is “necessary” have shifted a great deal in the last hundred years! If you don’t have a laptop of your own by the time you’re in high school, as well as a cell phone and a TV in your room, you’re deprived.

    Anyway… I won’t get on my soap box. 🙂 But this is a great post.

    “Poverty? Call me cynical, but to my jaded ears this sounds more like coveting.”
    *nods emphatically* You nailed it.

Don't just think it: say it!

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