UN Expert Reveals Shocking Facts about Poverty in the U.S.

I wish I knew what to make of all this, I really do. How is it possible that after fighting poverty for five decades or more we seem to be going backwards?

Technology is changing work, but that has happened before although not as rapidly or to such an extent. Competition is global, we are fighting with the rest of the world for jobs. Security that is job based has declined significantly in recent decades. The relationship between worker and employer has declined; loyalty on both sides is a thing of the past.

The family unit is redefined and the two parent household has declined.

😢Between 1960 and 2016, the percentage of children living in families with two parents decreased from 88 to 69. Of those 50.7 million children living in families with two parents, 47.7 million live with two married parents and 3.0 million live with two unmarried parents.<

During the 1960-2016 period, the percentage of children living with only their mother nearly tripled from 8 to 23 percent and the percentage of children living with only their father increased from 1 to 4 percent. The percentage of children not living with any parent increased slightly from 3 to 4 percent. Source: US Census Bureau😢

WHAT IS WRONG? Why can’t we fix this?

I think we focus on the wrong solutions. Expanding social programs does not solve anything. It’s a bandaid over a wound that gets larger and larger.

What is the root cause of poverty? How do we break the cycle? How do we assure children born into poverty don’t stay there? My belief is that a significant portion of ongoing poverty exists because of the individuals involved; life style, poor and detrimental decisions and on occasion simply indifference to change. How do we identify all that and how do we help people better help themselves out of poverty and give them the tools to do so?

TORONTO (IDN) – More than one in every eight Americans, numbering 40 million, equal to 12.7 % of the population, are living in poverty, and almost half of those – 18.5 million – in abysmal poverty, according to a new report.

Though the United States is one of the world’s richest, most powerful and technologically innovative countries, “neither its wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation,” stresses Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights in his statement on a two-week visit to the USA. . . .

The face of poverty in America is not only Black, or Hispanic, but also White, Asian, and many other colors, notes the UN expert. Nor is it confined to a particular age group. “Automation and robotization are already throwing many middle-aged workers out of jobs in which they once believed themselves to be secure.” In the economy of the twenty-first century, only a tiny percentage of the population is immune from the possibility that they could fall into poverty as a result of bad breaks beyond their own control.

“The American Dream is rapidly becoming the American Illusion as the US since the US now has the lowest rate of social mobility of any of the rich countries,” declares Alston. He adds: Many statistics could be cited to demonstrate the extent to which women shoulder a particularly high burden as a result of living in poverty. They are, for example, more exposed to violence, more vulnerable to sexual harassment, discriminated against in the labour market.

Quoting Luke Shaefer from the University of Michigan, School of Social Work, and Kathryn Edin from the Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government, the UN expert says: The number of children in single-mother households living in extreme poverty for an entire year has ballooned from fewer than 100,000 in 1995 to 895,000 in 2011 and 704,000 in 2012.

“But perhaps the least recognized harm is that austerity policies that shrink the services provided by the state inevitably mean that the resulting burden is imposed instead upon the primary caregivers within families, who are overwhelmingly women. Male-dominated legislatures rarely pay any heed to this consequence of the welfare cutbacks they impose.”

Source: UN Expert Reveals Shocking Facts about Poverty in the U.S. – IDN-InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters


  1. Little to fix here – best fix would be to change personal behaviors.

    It is mostly bullshit to suggest that our government agencies, federal and state and local, aren’t doing enough; or that if they just spent more, if they just throw more money at the issue of poverty, that poverty could be substantially reduced, even eradicated. Fact is that studies show that many times, poverty may be handed down from generation to generation.

    Important to remember that most adults in poverty in America are individuals who self-selected or self-inflicted poverty on themselves due to behavior choices (having children out of wedlock, substance abuse, crime, failing to complete schooling, etc.) And, many are led into a life of poverty by their parents – because a substantial minority of those in poverty are children of adults in poverty (about 1/3 of all Americans living in poverty). There are some social challenges here as well – failing public schools come to mind. However, even those can be overcome through family, government, NGO, church and other support.

    Means-tested welfare programs are scattered across numerous government agencies, making it easy for the large size of the welfare system to be hidden. Nowhere in government budgets is welfare spending presented in total. The U.S. welfare system is enormous. The federal government operates over 90 means-tested welfare programs that provide cash, food, housing, medical care, and targeted services to poor and lower-income Americans.

    In 2014, federal and state governments spent over $1 trillion on these programs; 90 percent of this spending, or $924 billion, went to cash, food, housing, and medical benefits. (Social Security and Medicare are not included in this count.) Approximately 50 percent of means-tested welfare spending goes to low-income families with children. Cash, food, and housing spending alone on those families in 2014 came to $222.8 billion. When medical care is added, the total came to $402.2 billion. Spend in all programs in 2017 far exceeded spend in 2014.

    Most means-tested welfare spending is allocated among lower-income families, defined as those with pre-welfare incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). For a family of four in 2017, 200 percent of the FPL equals $49,200.

    In 2014, about 40 percent of all families with children, or 15.3 million families, had pre-welfare incomes below 200 percent of the FPL. If the $223 billion in means-tested cash, food, and housing spending on families with children were spread evenly among these low-income families, the average benefits would come to $14,575 per family. If medical care were added, the average would be $26,885 per family. Moreover, only a tiny portion of these families rely on welfare aid alone; most combine welfare with earnings or other sources of income.

    Of the $402.2 billion spent on cash, food, housing, and medical care for families with children, the Census counted only $11.9 billion as “income” for purposes of measuring child poverty.

    Consider a single mother who has two school-age children and has worked full-time for 52 weeks in the year at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. (The overwhelming majority of single parents actually work at a higher wage rate.) This mother would receive $13,853 in annual post-tax earnings. Based on earnings alone, this mother’s income is well below the official fiscal year (FY) 2015 poverty income threshold of $19,096 for a family of three. But this mother would also be eligible for basic means-tested benefits including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) ($5,548); the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC); ($1,800), food stamps $3,974; school lunch and in some cases school breakfast benefits ($1,269). All in, $26,444, nearly 40 percent above the official poverty level. In a Medicaid expansion state, both the children and the parents would be eligible for Medicaid, with a value of $10,005 (in 2014). So, all in, $36,444, about 80% above the official poverty level – but these three would all be counted as living in poverty.

    Finally, focusing solely on income-based measures, and counting only a portion of the income based wages and benefits, really does overstate poverty. Consider the accumulated assets of families living in poverty. According to the 2010 Census:
    • The typical poor household, as defined by the government, has a car and air conditioning, two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR.
    • By its own report, the typical poor family was not hungry, was able to obtain medical care when needed.
    • The typical average poor American has more living space in his home than the average (non-poor) European has.

    As scholar James Q. Wilson has stated: “The poorest Americans today live a better life than all but the richest persons a hundred years ago.”

    The typical household defined as poor by the government had a car and air conditioning. For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. If there were children, especially boys, in the home, the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or a PlayStation. In the kitchen, the household had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker.

    The home of the typical poor family was not overcrowded and was in good repair. In fact, the typical poor American had more living space than the average European.

    The typical poor American family was also able to obtain medical care when needed.

    By its own report, the typical family was not hungry and had sufficient funds during the past year to meet all essential needs.

    Poor families certainly struggle to make ends meet, but in most cases, they are struggling to pay for air conditioning and the cable TV bill as well as to put food on the table. Their living standards are far different from the images of dire deprivation promoted by activists and the mainstream media – as well as this UN flunky whose livelihood probably depends on overstating the number of people living in so-called “poverty”.


  2. How in the world did they define poverty. There are places in the world that that people live on less than $10 a day. The USA pays more than that in welfare. The UN provides food aid to over 80 countries and the United States is not one of them.


  3. I really do not care what a UN expert has to say, but for my money, the changes are due to people taking less responsibility for their lives. Also they feel that they can change spouses, like they change jobs. I guess taking GOD out of school, and also removing the Pledge of Allegiance has also had an effect. I know people do not want to hear this, but too bad, this to me is the outlying cause for this change.


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