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On being poor
People line up at a food pantry. The number of people in poverty rose in 17 states, the Census Bureau says.
September 20th, 2012
05:02 PM ET

On being poor

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) The Census Bureau released a depressing statistic Thursday: 46.2 million people in America fell below the poverty line last year. One in five children are poor. 

What does it feel like to live in poverty?

Writer John Scalzi knows.

He remembers a Southern California childhood marred by a broken family. His mother put her two children in the back of the car and drove away from the home they’d known.

She bought a box of Raisin Bran and warned her children: “That has to last.”

John Scalzi's essay on poverty was based on his own experiences.

Scalzi, 43, was in the first grade then.

Years later, the Raisin Bran memory became a line in an essay called “Being Poor.” He wrote it in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when so many asked why the poor of New Orleans had not fled their drowned city.

It occurred to him then that wealthier Americans did not understand that the poor do not always have the luxury of choice.

But he knew.

He was the kid who wore the cheap shoes from Lucky Drug Store – the ones with the glued-on soles. He could feel them come off on the playground.

He was the kid who discovered letters from his mom to his dad begging for child support and the kid hoping he would get invited to a friend’s for dinner. He once stole a piece of meat from Ralph’s supermarket, fried it up and cleaned the plate before Mom came home. He then told her she didn’t have to make any dinner because he wasn’t hungry anyway.

Here are a few other ways Scalzi measured poverty:

Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV.

Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won’t hear you say “I get free lunch” when you get to the cashier.

Being poor is living next to the freeway.

Being poor is a heater in only one room of the house.

Being poor is hoping your kids don’t have a growth spurt.

Being poor is Goodwill underwear.

Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal.

Being poor is stopping the car to take a lamp from a stranger’s trash.

Being poor is making lunch for your kid when a cockroach skitters over the bread, and you looking over to see if your kid saw.

Being poor is a sidewalk with lots of brown glass on it.

Being poor is picking the 10 cent ramen instead of the 12 cent ramen because that’s two extra packages for every dollar.

Read Scalzi’s full essay here.

Posted by
Filed under: Census • Economy • How we live • Poverty • Who we are
soundoff (1,811 Responses)
  1. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    What is a handout? TARP bailout of Wall Street banks is a handout and republicans are the biggest recipients. Just ask Paul Ryan!

    September 21, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  2. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    What is a handout? Campaign donation is a handout and Mitt Romney is the biggest recipient!

    September 21, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  3. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    What is a handout? Blood donation is a handout!

    September 21, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  4. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    What is a handout? Organ donation is a handout (ask the heartless Dick Cheyney)

    September 21, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  5. King Kong

    It's so funny to read on here about distributing wealth and the folks that writing it most likely don't have wealth to be distribute. What's wrong with helping others or if the president care for the unfortunates. Somebody needs to, many poor people die for lot of these other to get wealthy....I bet some of you who are talking would not trade to be in a poor person shoe for a second! Stop watching FOX news and think for yourselves! that's all i have to say!!!

    September 21, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Always Amused

      Remmet – "conservatives give more to charity than liberals do" I think this is more Republican B.S.! There are just as many "studies" that show the OPPOSITE is true! It simply depends upon whose statistics you want to believe!...

      September 21, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Yours Truly

    The vast majority of the poor live in Southern states to include Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, etc. These "red" states are always voting for the conservative Republican base. Is it any wonder they are struggling?? Also, a great majority of the poor don't even have high school diplomas, let alone a college degree. In today's world, no high school diploma = minimum-wage (or even below for illegal immigrants).

    My best suggestion to the extreme-poor – get your GED and at least a two-year degree, if not a four-year from an accredited college / university. Personally, I know several poor individuals that are working two-to-three jobs. In a family of four, with two-to-three jobs, all paying minimum wage, it is not easy to survive, especially when you're living in a place like Brooklyn, NY where the cheapest rent is $1,200.00 for a 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom apartment.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • remmett70

      Poor live in the south, because it is warm, not because they are red or blue. they live their because if you can't afford heat in North Dakota, you freeze.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Sparko

      It is a very interesting fact that blue/liberal states tend to pay more into the federal gov than they get back, and that many red/ conservative states get back more than they pay in. Perhaps the red states and all conservative who resent the gov. helping those in need should refuse that very same help. As a liberal in a blue state that pays out more they we put in, I'd like to invite all those in the red, money sucking states to practice what they preach, or change what they preach........

      September 21, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
      • remmett70

        what you should find interesting, is, in the red states, how many democrats do they still have? In the blue states, how many republicans do they have. the difference between a red an blue state is a few percentage points in an election.

        In both, more democrats than republicans are the ones using and abusing the system.

        September 21, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
      • Sparko

        I would say the continued poverty in those red states also underline how fruitless GOP policies are on providing thriving economies and providing a way out of poverty for those who find themselves in that category. These states are usually in the bottom half as far as education, health etc despite GOP dominated state governments. If the GOP policies are so wonderful, why do these states continue to languish?

        September 21, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
      • Sparko

        Sorry- I am generalizing its true, But the South has been conservative for decades and what have their generally GOP dominated state gov. done solve these issues? I live in a very conservative area of an otherwise blue state and its annoying to say the least to see people who complain about gov aid unless they're the one taking it......If one is so against ti, don't take it or shut up IMO.

        September 21, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
      • remmett70

        When the poor, flock to conservative states. what does that tell you. when the poor leave, liberal states what does that tell you? Everyone talks about how conservatives hate the poor. So if they are living in an area that hates them, what does that tell you about the areas that they are not living in? They are either hated more, or they cannot get the benefits they are getting.

        Probably because the liberal states and areas, are wasting to much of what could be used to help the poor.

        September 21, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
      • Sparko

        Ok, that argument is pretty funny considering here the cry is poor come here because the gov dole is so good! So pardon me if I cannot take your statement seriously.....But let me get this straight, you are saying the poor in the south have come from blue states? Other than the snowbirds and retirees I really have to disagree.....seriously

        September 21, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
      • remmett70

        Not all, but yes, many do. If the liberal areas were so good for the poor because liberals care. Why do the poor not flock to those areas?

        September 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kevin

        Post of the year!

        "remmett70
        When the poor, flock to conservative states. what does that tell you. when the poor leave, liberal states what does that tell you? Everyone talks about how conservatives hate the poor. So if they are living in an area that hates them, what does that tell you about the areas that they are not living in? They are either hated more, or they cannot get the benefits they are getting.

        Probably because the liberal states and areas, are wasting to much of what could be used to help the poor."

        It's not that southern states are poor, it's that the poor are flocking to the South! So, a constant supply of poor Northerners are keeping the numbers of poor in the South high. Are the poor Northerners getting out of poverty and being replaced constantly by new carpetbagging poor? In that case they are not abusing the system, but are using it as it is intended to be used. But this all seems a little far-fetched.

        September 21, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. rollaman

    Well, the poor in the USA really aren't poor, when they're viewed from a world perspective.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • ohTheIrony

      The existence of worse conditions elsewhere does not make bad conditions here any less bad for those who endure them. If you have one broken leg and someone else has two broken legs, it doesn't make your one broken leg less broken.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ohTheIrony

    Republicans are proof that it's far easier to fool the people than it is to convince the people they have been fooled. Hint: that stuff they're "trickling down" onto you isn't wealth. If it were, then I just flushed a car payment down the office urinal.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • remmett70

      The money gets trickled down to those of us with jobs. If you flush it, or give it right back to rich.. that is your choice.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Agreed, I wish Mark Twain were around today, we sorely need him.

      I still cannot believe the masses fell for something so denigrating as "trickle down", and I am more than boggled that there are still those who would tow the line even after 30 years of failed policies in action.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
      • remmett70

        Where do you think the money that pays the middle class comes from?

        September 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
      • Ruthie

        He's still around, only now he's called Jon Stewart.

        September 21, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
      • Chris

        It comes from the companies that gave them the job, obviously. Their money comes from their customers. Create more value within the company via products/innovations/services and you can charge more, charge more and you can pay employees more, pay employees more and they might be able to go off on their own and create jobs. At a minimum, you can grow the company with the extra cash. These are the only economic principles that matter RE: wealth creation. Too many business leaders are only focusing on the cost side of their business. It's easier to cut heads/cost instead of innovate to move the top line. They're already rich, so why would they put in more effort for the same pay-off? They don't care about the "underlings" is the only logical answer.... this is the core problem in our country... the myth of Individualism the GOP likes to cling to is the source of this lack of compassion.

        September 21, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • Always Amused

        Remmet70- "Where do you think the money that pays the middle class comes from?" ANSWER: It comes from the MIDDLE CLASS that spend their small disposable incomes on products and services that give the rich their profits! Without this MIDDLE CLASS CONSUMER demographic, there would be NO revenue source to feed the RICH!!!!!!! There would be VERY FEW rich people without prosperous MIDDLE CLASS CONSUMERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        September 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. economicsgenious

    What its like to be poor. Easy, wake up at 6:00 AM, get ready for work, jump in your KIA, drive 45 miles to work, start work at 7:30 AM, miss the morning break cause to much work to do, deal with immature bosses that play mental games with their employees, take a short lunch to get more work done, miss afternoon break, get yelled at for missing breaks and then get yelled at for not getting enough done, get ready to leave for the day, realize you have more to do, watch 5:00 PM pass, get off at 5:30, get ready for class, got to class, learn for an hour and a half, leave class, get home at 9:00 PM, say high to the kids, eat a snack, start studying, finish studying at 10:30 PM, take a minute to breathe, fall asleep at 12:00 midnight, get up at 6:00 AM the next day and repeat, miss vacation each year, car breaks down, borrow money cause can't afford it, look at bank account, wonder how your gonna pay for food or make it to work next week, look at rent, pay rent, look at balance, start crying, miss out on food for the day, go to sleep as soon as possible so you don't have to think about it, call your parents, ask for money, listen to their its time to grow up story, look at the hours you work, look at the bills you pay, look at the education your getting, ask your self how much more can I grow up. Look at the bank account again, Start crying realize that the American dream is a manipulation tool to keep you working for debt. Watch your executive drive up in a Ferrari, look at your broken down used cheap car.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • economicsgenious

      Finish it all off with plans to commit suicide because you realize your not really free and that they turned the credit system into modern day slavery and you are just a pawn for 9854 people that manipulate the system to make things even further away from the true concept of America that the hard work you do creating billions in wealth should pay off for you just as much as it would for anyone else. But again and finally, life is not fair and never will be. The final answer. So the truth is, be ready to do what ever to whom ever when ever when it comes to wealth, its everyone for themselves and the only person who cares about you, is you so why care about anyone else. Get yours while you can, every man for themselves. May the weak parish. May the socially unacceptable die off and the strong remain, that's America today.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
      • Tired of Silly1

        Gee, and with all that to do you found time to write a lengthy whine. I'm NOT one of the "poor", but if I chronicled every little thing I do all day it would look equally as overwhelming. I got my bachelor's while working full time, raising two kids, and managing a home. I still routinely put in an 18 hour day from the time I get up til I go to bed at night. Suck it up and yes, your parents are right, grow up. When you finish your education, assuming you're taking something that will actually translate into a job and not some BS Liberal Arts degree, you'll have more money, but life won't be all that much easier. Welcome to reality.

        September 21, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Lee Warren

      This is only beginning, just watch what happens to you and your family if you re-elect the dipshidiot (obummer)!

      September 21, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
      • economicsgenious

        Hate to tell you buddy. This started under Ronald Reagans watch not the current sitting leader. Secondly this has nothing to do with your government. Your president does not have enough power. Blame and point all you want. You need to study the powers of the different branches of your government, especially the limited power the executive branch has. Education is key in helping yourself.

        September 21, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
      • Tom

        Ohhhh, thaaaaaaaats right, I forgot Romey is all about this person and the rest of the 47% WHO DON'T MAKE ENOUGH TO QUALIFY FOR INCOME TAX (See below)!! He said so himself. Oh wait...

        You must pay income tax if you are/and make:
        Self-employed, any age: $400
        Children and Teens classified as a dependent: $5,700
        Single, under 65: $9,350
        Single, over 65: $10,750
        Married, filing jointly, both spouses under 65: $18,700
        Married, filing jointly, one spouse over 65: $19,850
        Married, filing jointly, both spouses over 65: $20,900
        Married, filing separately, any age: $3,650

        Of all the NERVE. These commie freeloaders are holding the 1% back DAAMMMMMMIIIITTTT!!!!

        September 21, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
      • B

        Watch what happens when Romney wants to raise taxes on these individuals by 20% by pushing the 20% flat tax rate plan because people like this are part of the 47% that make so little money they dont have to pay income tax.

        September 21, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lord Toronaga

      You basically didn't have a very good plan. Maybe you should start listening to rich people instead of poor people.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Being Poor Means

      STAY STRONG you'll eventually get out of that cycle...Hold on to it and then flourish! I know it's tuff but what doesn't break you makes you stronger.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • ES

      Lol, it sounds exactly the same as my life while was when I was working, going to school for maters and I had 2 y.o. Stop feeling sorry for youself. Once you get the degree it will be worth it.
      And frankly, my life is just as busy now. Except now I take my kids to various classes. My day starts at 6Am and I work until 8-9PM (real work, kids classes, getting ready for next day). My personal time is 1 hours a day – from 9PM to 10PM.
      But this is the life I chose. I chose to have kids, nobody forced me.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
      • Ruthie

        Enjoy them "maters." We eat a lot of those in the South.

        September 21, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lord Toronaga

    Oh Oh... Lord Toronaga is getting censured....
    When this happens you know you struck a liberal nerve.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Sparko

      Yeah, never take it as sign you've gone too far......#1 rule of the GOP-Complain about how no one takes responsibility then never take responsibility for our own actions......

      September 21, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
      • Mike

        Projection is all they have anymore. No responsibility, no independent thought. They are their own victims and everybody else is in on it.

        They are crazy.

        September 21, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Sparko

      Oh yeah, and ALWAYS blame a liberal! Hilarious!!

      September 21, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
      • Paul

        Sparko, are you seriously trying to argue with a person claiming to be "The Lord"? BLASPHEMER!!!

        September 21, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
      • Sparko

        Yeah, moment of weakness. Should have just have let him be.....let myself sink into snarkiness-which is not conducive to the civil discourse I usually try to shoot for.

        September 21, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Sparko

      Snappy comeback! that told me! my my.....

      September 21, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Actually it's the 'conservatives' who are burning embassies. They are the conservative 'muslim right'.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. ale biglio

    You clearly have no idea. I'm European and I've never seen the poverty level in Europe that i see in the US. your problem is, with so many ignorant others that don't travel and don't use their brain except to criticize and have no empathy, that you compare the US with the third world not with the other industrialized countries, is that your model? The US is so much better then Somalia or Afghanistan....but is so much worse then Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, etc. Learn to read the statistics put out by international organizations and you will see that the US is very far from being "the best country on earth" and maybe travel a bit and see for yourself instead of keeping drinking the Republicans Kool Aid.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Jo Ann

      Thank you!

      September 21, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Coop

      Norway:
      -Kill 70+
      -Get a 21 year sentence (That's the max anyone can get)
      -Make that 10 for 'good behavior'
      -Live in your own dorm room with flat screen tv, cook in your own kitchen, record a new album
      in your own recording studio, play basket ball and stroll around the 75 acre, well treed grounds.

      What's next ?
      Get out and do it again ?

      September 21, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • remmett70

      Would be nice, if the rest of the countries you refer to, would foot their own bill more so the US doesn't have to.

      We take care of paying for the majority of medical research, we are the defense force for your countries. if it wans't for us, there woudl be no europe. You would all be German or Russians. When a disaster happens anywhere in the world. Who do they come to for help first? Not Canada, not anwhere in Europe. Little hint. Its initials are USA.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • ES

      Yes, Norway and Germany are better because everyone is paying taxes and less people game the system. In the US half of the people don't pay taxes but feel that they deserve the services . And they want the other half pay even more so that they get more of these services.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. A F

    How cruel.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  13. Dave

    Holly,

    Not trash talking lazy individuals is what has created this problem to begin with. A vast number of immigrants come to this country every year from third world countries with nothing. They escape oppressive governments, extreme poverty, have very little formal education, many of them don't even speak English. They face racism and ridicule. Yet a higher percentage of them manage to succeed in this country than our nation's own poor. It is because they have the work ethic. Struggling for survival has taught them the value of hard work. Instead of giving an able person a hand out, give them the tools they need to succeed. Give them hard work. Teach them work skills. Inspire them to work harder, instead of giving up. You can succeed, if you want to succeed, and you believe you can succeed. Look at all those immigrant success stories. That should be enough to instill the belief. Then it's up to the individual, what they want to do from there.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      Well said. Government handouts via welfare certainly benefits some who truly need it in order to get back on their feet, but all too often it is used as an ineffective and temporary band-aid to the real issues causing poverty. More effective programs would adress the one of the major root of poverty (and poor choices that lead to it): effective and responsible parenting.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sparko

    Do you know what the results have been welfare drug testing? In FL about 2.6% were found to be using drugs. It has cost the state a net loss of $46,000. Genius! Gotta love the GOP and their groundbreaking , tax spending, morally superior governing!

    September 21, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Sparko

      Hmmmm. this was suppose to be in reply to a post that seems to be gone now....Still pertinent info on how the poor are stereotyped.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  15. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Mitt Romney is an elitist and a blatant racist who throws around negative stereotypes to label Americans as outcasts and second class citizens. Let's face it, the Jim Crow era is long over and enough is enough. So what should America do with the less fortunate? Should we round up all poor Americans and put them in a concentration camp like Adolph Hitler did to the Jews? When Mitt Romney's ancestors came to this country in the 19th century, they too were poor as most immigrants were. But America didn't discriminate against them and laught at them because they were less fortunate. No, she opened her arms and say welcome to the free world. And because of this opportunity, many have been able to fulfill the American Dream. For some, realizing the American Dream will take long than some because many weren't fortunate to get as many breaks as Mitt Romney. Romney was born on thord base and he swears he hit a triple. But on election day it will be strike three for Mitt the elitist Robmoney.

    Obama/Biden 2012 by a LANDSLIDE!

    September 21, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Lord Toronaga

      Hate to say it, but Hitler did not round up poor people....he rounded up rich religious people and took their money. He was definitely a liberal type and liked to redistributed the wealth.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  16. Being Poor Means

    Being poor means not able to afford health insurance and hoping and praying the pain in your stomach is not something serious

    September 21, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  17. susan

    I guess being poor means being overweight.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Wisco30

      Susan – a lot of the time yes, because they cant afford to buy anything but the cheapest food. What's your point?

      September 21, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
      • susan

        I was noting the irony. Once upon a time, being fat meant that you were wealthy. Now it's sadly a sign that your access to food is often crap.

        September 21, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      Actually yes to some extent because you can't afford healthy food choices. Fresh vegetables and fruits are expensive. Meat is expensive. Cheat Ramen noodles are 'affordable' and 'fill your stomach', but they also cause 'starch fat'. Being 'fat' doesn't always mean gluttony sometimes it means poverty.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
      • Wisco30

        Exactly.

        September 21, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Peyton

      I gained 40 pounds during the 2 years my husband was unemployed because inexpensive food is extremely high in carbs, fat and fillers. Only when he found another job were we able to go back to fresh fruits an vegetables.

      It's been a well known fact for a long time that a cheap diet causes people to get fat. You would do well to do a little research before you post.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
      • ES

        Grow your own veggies and fruits, it is not that hard. In USSR where I grew up the only veggies we ever saw came from our patch of land we rented from the govenment. And almost everyone was skinny in USSR .
        So I don't really buy "unhelathy" food excuse.

        September 21, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  18. Odin

    Being poor is continuing to work 2 jobs so you can feed your kids and, hopefully, afford your cancer treatments.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  19. Mint

    I think you're what people would call a "racist". You'll find that being unable to speak the language in any country you live is detrimental to improving your lot in life. Obviously, you've never traveled, known people of other cultures and you're totally ignorant of why people come to the U.S. in the first place or you wouldn't be spouting such stupid comments.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  20. CarrotCakeMan

    Willard should read this article–but we know he WON'T. We know he doesn't even much care for his children or grandchildren, we saw that in the Fox News video where his son said Willard always has to eat first, can't wait for anyone.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  21. poor_in_america

    If only more people could see the world through this guy's eyes. It's not a crime to be poor but many see it that way so there is mindless descrimination by the greedy. How many here are below the poverty line?

    September 21, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  22. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Or use her books as toilet paper.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  23. Lady_Bex

    Poor is when you are 61, have no college education and are working a minimum wage job at the local elementary as an aide because that's the best you can do. Poor is when you can't get food stamps because the food stamp office counts the court ordered support that you're not getting as "income." Poor is when you can't run the air in the sumnmertime and the heat in the winter because you may not have enough to buy food and get other bills. Poor is when the court recognizes your ex husband makes more than 100K a year and not only orders a minimum amount of alimony (less than $500/month), but does not enforce it's payment. Poor is when your two kids break and enter into your home, leave food in the freezer and cash in the drawer because they are worried about your well being.
    I am grateful for what I can provide my family. I might be working my butt off at 70 hours a week, and my sister is busting her hump working and going to school, but we pull together as a family. Monitarily, we are the 47%, and we work hard for what we have. In love, we are definitely the 1%.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Coop

      Well said.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  24. Jon

    Instead of just taking ignorant right wing evangelists for their every word, maybe you should do some fact-checking: "In 2010, for instance, the president’s taxable income was a little over $1.7 million, much of it from book sales. Line 19 of his itemized deductions shows that he gave $245,075 in gifts to charity.

    That would be a rate of more than 14 percent, easily meeting Huckabee’s standard of a “dime out of a dollar.”

    In 2009, the president’s taxable income was about $5.5 million. He listed $329,100 in charitable contributions on his tax return and also directed the Nobel Prize Committee to give his $1.4 million prize directly to 10 charities (which meant he could not take a tax deduction for donating the prize).

    This adds up to a rate of 31.4 percent of taxable income, again easily surpassing Huckabee’s standard. (Update: a reader correctly notes the percentage would be 25.1 percent if you added Obama’s Nobel Prize money to his taxable income.) "

    September 21, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  25. Holly

    While I would agree with those that say being poor in America is not the same as being poor in a 3rd world country, I don't think that means is is easy or desirable. It really saddens me to see so many trash talk fellow Americans for being poor. You haven't lived their life, and it is not for you to judge. For every "welfare queen" example, there are hundreds more scraping by honestly. It would not be fair for me to paint all wealthy people with a Bernie Madoff brush, and it is similarly unfair to assume all poor people are lazy. I happen to be "wealthy," and yes, we work very hard. But I also recognize the benefits I received simply by being born to middle-class, college-educated, married parents. I had the benefit of amazing teachers, even though I lived in a "blue collar" city. I was blessed to be born with some strengths that the world happens to value. I give generously to those that have less. I have worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and I can tell you, being poor looks like hell.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Jo Ann

      Great post!

      September 21, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      Amen Sister! I too grew up in a middle-class family, but I'll tell you when I volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and Meals on Wheels I saw what being poor really means. One particular family the father worked two jobs and the mother worked full time at minimum wage jobs. They had three kids (1 + twins) and every single paycheck the money was spent the minute it hit the bank and they had NO 'frills' at all. Every little 'luxury' they had was either a gift or 'second hand'. I remember how grateful and proud they were to finally have a 'home' for their kids when we finished their house. I'll tell you I was proud to be an American that day because I thought Americans will pull together when we have to, but the last few years has shown me not all Americans think that way and sadly quite a few seem to be elected 'representatives' of the people. Even more sadly some of those 'representatives' have people just like this in their 'districts', but still follow the current 'Tea Party' line.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  26. Being Poor Means

    Being Poor Means learning a good lesson in life and realizing others of their struggles.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  27. kendrick1

    ...and a vote for assurance that one will always be poor!

    September 21, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  28. Sparko

    our post also begs the question, what "values" does the GOP stand for? The so called "Christian" party that resents doing the thing Christ talk about the most-taking care of the poor. Romney has just been outed as not caring about 47% of the population. Not because all them are poor-the majority of that number DO work, just do not end up paying income taxes due to tax deductions. The other big chunk is the elderly who are retired disabled. He wrote them all off. Why the h**l would anyone in that 47% vote Romney or the GOP? Working is no longer good enough for them. Romney's definition of middle class is making$250,000-and its obvious that he cannot "see" let alone care about anyone below that amount. So don't talk about "voting values" The only "value" Romney has is wealth.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  29. Dave

    I am not poor. I have enough free time to read an article about being poor and to comment on it.
    If you are commenting about this article and are complaining about being poor, you are not poor, but lazy, my friend. If you want to have more money, then go out and earn it, because writing comments to articles whining about being poor is just wasting time you could be out earning money.. if that's what you really want. It's really about what you want, not what you need. If you NEED the money, then you need to stop posting comments and find yourself a job. Common sense people.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      What are you talking about? Ann Rumney never worked a day in her life. And besides, your confederate ancestors who benefited from four hundred years of FREE slave labor never held a real job either.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
      • Dave

        Tell that to my uncle who grew up on the streets of Shanghai as a teenager, because my grandfather was put in a communist concentration camp, and nobody would take him in for fear of government retaliation. He is now a successful business man. How about my other uncles who came to the states with nothing and started successful businesses of their own? I feel utterly lazy compared to these individuals, who had to work extremely hard for everything they have. Yes, there are injustices out there, companies that collude with government to destroy small businesses and squander tax money. People who make millions gambling against our economy on the stock market. A government that wants to take all of our money away from us, and then tell us how we should spend it. But despite all that, through hard work you can be successful. If my "communist" uncle made it, so can you.

        September 21, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
      • Me

        Obama never had a real job either. Speaking of jobs, why do we continue to send ours overseas? The only one that can control that is the government. $6 Trillion in 4 years on Obama's watch!! GE in the house and didn't pay any taxes.

        September 21, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wisco30

      Wow Dave, really? That's all you take away from this article?
      You do realize you can have a job and still be poor, right? In fact I'm going to guess that's pretty much the norm right now.
      Good thing you're better than everyone else or you might actually feel compassion for those less fortunate than you.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Being Poor Means

      Being poor means not able to afford health insurance and hoping and praying the pain in your stomach is not something serious.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Nerva Vels

      How dare you, Dave? I am of the WORKING POOR. I have two or three jobs, none of which are full time. I have been non-stop looking for fulltime work, and finally have an offer for an $8/hr job, full time, which will never pay off my school loans but at LEAST will keep a roof over my head and food on my plate. I was middle class, but things happen, as they do to all of us. Everything that goes around comes around; and I'm sure you've heard the saying "But for the grace of God there go I." Well, I hope the grace of God reminds you that you, too, can be here in front of a computer reading and commenting on being poor while actually being poor and busting your butt trying to find enough work in a depressed economy to live.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
      • Wisco30

        Its ok, Karma has a way of setting things straight for nasty peices of garbage like Dave.

        September 21, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      What Dave the idiot doesn't understand is that there are many working poor who are living in areas with limited resources. Drive across the rural south...you will see that many of the working poor live in areas that have no other work than minimum wage paying jobs, and no access to higher education within reach. Why not move to where the jobs are, you ask? Because they're too damn broke! Besides, if they did move, how long would it take for their destination would be out of slightly higher paying jobs? Some people ARE too broke to improve their situation without assistance!

      September 21, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      Right because going to the library and using a computer during your 'off time' from your minimum wage job to increase your knowledge and computer skills to get a better job is a waste of time and taxpayer money, right Dave? Pathetic. If you are an American you should be ashamed of yourself.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Deb Ed

      You know absolutely nothing of how all people have become poor. NOTHING! Jobs? What jobs? Haven't you seen the economy lately? Have you seen the job market? We used to be upper middle class. Until 2 brain surgeries in 3 days and a stroke robbed me of that. I get less than 1/4 on disability than what I used to make. My husband was/is on SS. Our car had to be repossessed. Our church paid our electric bill for one year. Our home went into foreclosure. I sold furniture, doll collections, most everything not nailed down to survive until the 6 months SSDI money kicked in. I would say that most people don't become poor because they chose to. Walk a mile in our shoes before you make stupid remarks.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  30. Michael

    Housing starts up 29% over this time last year; the auto manufacturing sector saved from total collapse; Osama Bin Laden DOA. The first to two practically define the trickle down theory that the GOP is so enamored with, a failed policy proven to only enrichen the weathy and send more middle class to the poor house. Why pay salaries when you can outsource the job and make millions by stealing the retirement funds? Oh yeah, make sure you hide the money off shore so you can claim a 14% tax rate. Ann, your arguments don't hold water at all, at least not under scrutiny.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  31. Sparko

    Your post also begs the question, what "values" does the GOP stand for? The so called "Christian" party that resents doing the thing Christ talk about the most-taking care of the poor. Romney has just been outed as not caring about 47% of the population. Not because all them are poor-the majority of that number DO work, just do not end up paying income taxes due to tax deductions. The other big chunk is the elderly who are retired disabled. He wrote them all off. Why the h**l would anyone in that 47% vote Romney or the GOP? Working is no longer good enough for them. Romney's definition of middle class is making$250,000-and its obvious that he cannot "see" let alone care about anyone below that amount. So don't talk about "voting values" The only "value" Romney has is wealth.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Jo Ann

      Good post! I wish there were a like button!

      September 21, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  32. glades2

    Though a poor working person, I've seen both sides of life by being around wealthy people in and out of the office and knowing many on a person level, and after years of being around them I found that often (but not always) the wealthier the person the tighter they squeeze their pennies, as if they're going to take it with them. As the Bible states, money is not evil unto itself – but the lust for money is...

    September 21, 2012 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  33. Sparko

    Yeah, if you're talking about our first black president, then what about all the other elections people of color voted for white guys? Oh snap!

    September 21, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  34. Nick

    Being poor means you live in Appalachia and nobody gives you a dime because its all being sent in aid to Somalia

    September 21, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  35. Brent Bondolge

    Woe is me! I must find the nearest Democrat to give me other people's money! It is my RIGHT!

    September 21, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • dt

      Sometimes when we are comfortable we feel justified in politicizing those less fortunate. Maybe when we find ourselves doing this we should look in a mirror to see greed. I volunteer at a food bank. Many clients have been lucky most of their lives but find themselves in a terrible situation through medical problems or accidents. A client in such a situation told me last week that he wished he had known throughout his life just how helpless someone can feel when things go bad. He said he wished he had listened when someone told him what goes around comes around for those without compassion. To me he was just as nice a person as the rest, and just as in need of help. I only wish we had more to give those needing help.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
      • Wisco30

        Well said DT.

        September 21, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  36. Frances

    Being poor means having to send your kids to live with relatives because you can't afford to feed them.
    Being poor means staying in an abusive relationship because you can't find a job to fend for yourself.
    Being poor is the difference between paying your utilities/rent or feeding your kids.
    Being poor means you have to put up with ignorant people who believe that you are somehow stealing their money even though you have a job - that doesn't pay you enough to break out of the cycle of poverty.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Odin

      Exactly.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • ES

      > Being poor means staying in an abusive relationship because you can't find a job to fend for yourself.

      Why can't you find a job? Taxpayers provided you with free K-12 education. If you excelled at it you could go to a college, study something useful and find a job.
      Opportunities are endless abut you refuse to see them,
      It all starts with wasting K-12 education.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
      • Starfire

        @ES–my mother was an honor roll student, graduated from her college with honors–and yet has never been able to get a job that was not a temp job. Contrary to the propaganda you've been fed endlessly for years, getting good grades and going to college does not guarantee a living wage or even a job in the first place. Too many places do not want to hire entry-level anymore, and there are always 30 other people with the same credentials and good grades you got vying for the same position.

        As for moving? That's a luxury too many in our country cannot afford. In my last place of residence there were exactly zero jobs in my field (and I went to college on scholarships–I could not afford college on my own). I was only lucky enough to move because I had the fortune of having land that I could sell. I moved with that, but many others are not so lucky. My classmates, whether high school educated, high school drop outs, or college grads, are languishing in poverty if they cannot afford to get out of the trap of the rural South. Not everyone is able to get loans from banks to start businesses (and who would be their customers?) or move, not everyone has family with money.

        September 21, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • jean

      Being poor means working two jobs (one full-time and one part-time) with 30 minutes to get from the day job to the nite job and laying down on the car seat to take a little nap in the few minutes before it is time to start working the second job and living in a state of perpetual exhaustion.

      Being poor is pawning things (never been in a pawn shop since) to buy milk for the children for the next day when the husband is laid off during a recession.

      Being poor is living on a steady diet of ramen noodles and explaining to others that you really like them.

      Being poor is getting a prescription from the doctor because you are sick, only to get to the pharmacy and find out that you can't afford it and telling the pharmacist to keep it.

      Being poor is feeding the children first and telling them that you're not really hungry.

      September 22, 2012 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
  37. Lord Toronaga

    Being poor is Obama claiming he hasn't done enough to help the illegal aliens because Republicans blocked his reform measures but has on record deported the most Latinos in our history. Oops.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  38. Dave

    Being poor means working 2-3 jobs and still worrying about paying rent, while the intentionally ignorant folks highlight the exception to the rule ("welfare queens") and try to make it a global statement about everyone who is poor.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Btw – I am not affiliated with the tool that posted directly below me.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
      • Sabrina

        I agree with you. Glad your not the tool below you as well.

        September 21, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  39. Dave

    Being poor is getting free lunch at school.
    Being poor is having to work to survive.
    Wow. And all the "poor" people commenting are literate and have access to computers?
    I am assuming that none of these comments are coming from the 90% of the rest of the world where being poor means starving to death. No wonder people are burning down our embassies when our "poor" people are complaining about things that would be luxuries in their countries. We live in the only country on earth where somebody will complain that they are so poor that all they can afford to eat is fast food, which has made them morbidly obese.
    There have been times when my family didn't have much money, but I never considered myself poor. We live in the greatest country on earth. If you work hard, you can be successful. When was the last time you heard of someone in this country starving to death because there just wasn't enough food? Survival is work, don't ever forget that. Stop being lazy and asking for handouts, because if everybody did that, then we would all starve. Work hard, and you won't be poor, unless the government forces you to give your hard earned money to some lazy people. BTW, hardworking people are alot more generous than lazy people. They will help out people who truly need help, more than a person who is looking for a handout themselves.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Dave, have you ever been a position where you had to choose between payint rent or electricity and putting food on the table? I have. It sucked. I was busting my hump but at minimum wage, it became increasingly difficult to make ends meet. Add on top of that needing to get your car fixed so that you could even get to and from work, earning your minimum wage ... Even 40 years ago, working hard didn't always automatically earn you a trip to the Good Life. Perchance your comments are just a little too hard nosed. Walk a mile in my shoes and your feet would hurt too. "Do unto others ..."

      September 21, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
      • John D

        Michael, you still dont get it. You never will. You must visit other nations or atleast search youtube to have a glimpse of what poor means.

        September 21, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
      • Michael

        John D ... with all due respect, I definitely DO get it. Being poor is relevant to the environment. Being poor in the richest country on the planet is completely different than being poor in Sub-Sahara Africa, for example. I've been poor in the US and it was tough. Yes, I had to resort to Food Stamps for 4 weeks whilst between jobs but I eventually dug myself out of the hole by being extrememly frugal and fiscally responsible. After 30+ years, I'm finally out of debt but it was by no means easy. So having been there, done that and buying the TShirt, I can speak from experience. Can you?

        September 21, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Mint

      No Dave, it's knowing what it's like to be poor, because they were once poor. Doesn't mean that they don't have money now, a better job or what not. So yeah, to your question, they currently have access to a computer, internet and stuff they once didn't have. I hope that clears it up for you.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
      • Dave

        So why don't they say, "look at where I've come from and what I have achieved?"

        September 21, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • John D

      Well said! Very inspiring though your words are.
      I had started to believe with my 150k salary that I was poor but not anymore.
      ...

      September 21, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • ale biglio

      You clearly have no idea. I'm European and I've never seen the poverty level in Europe that i see in the US. your problem is, with so many ignorant others that don't travel and don't use their brain except to criticize and have no empathy, that you compare the US with the third world not with the other industrialized countries, is that your model? The US is so much better then Somalia or Afghanistan....but is so much worse then Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, etc. Learn to read the statistics put out by international organizations and you will see that the US is very far from being "the best country on earth" and maybe travel a bit and see for yourself instead of keeping drinking the Republicans Kool Aid.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
      • Dave

        So I didn't see Police in Venice brutalize two North Africans with billy clubs at a water bus stop? I haven't seen skinheads running through malls in Berlin. I guess it depends on where you look and what you're looking for. I prefer America. So are you living in the U.S. seeing all this poverty, or just a tourist?

        September 21, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Odin

      When I upgrade my computer, I donate my old one to a program that helps kids who have aged out of the foster care system. My last donation went to a young woman who was making 8k a year and studying to be a corrections officer. THAT is the real face of "the poor".

      September 21, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Amused

      "Stop being lazy", says the guy spouting anger on a keyboard behind a screen. Dave, I'm your boss, get back to work, you lazy deadbeat!

      September 21, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Always Amused

      Dave (the "TOOL") – It is ignorance like YOURS that generally keeps the status quo in our society and prevents many poor people from having an opportunity to improve their situation! It is quite easy to denigrate others from your tiny little ivory tower you have built for yourself to re-assure yourself that you "Really are better than everyone else", but until you have walked in the shoes of a person whose opportunities have been yanked out from under them, YOU will NEVER comprehend the reality of struggling to get by! You really ARE quite a TOOL!

      September 21, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  40. poorispoor

    Ironic that all of this talk is coming from people that have never lived poor so they don't understand what it is like to work 50 hours a week and still not make enough money to cover all of your bills. Minimum wage is $7.25. Most places that poor people do work at won't let you work over 32 hours because then you would be a full time employee and require paying benefits. This causes poor people to have multiple jobs with no benefits and god forbid you get sick and have to pay for medical bills. Yes being poor is much better then being poor in another country but should we as Americans say that it is acceptable to have people live this way. Poor people pay a payroll tax which is not returned to them while rich people do not alas Mitt Romney who payed 13% in taxes. If he paid his full taxes and didn't use loopholes he would pay the roughly 35% taxes that poor people do pay a year in payroll taxes. Don't let the rich people tell the middle class that its the poor peoples fault. Maybe its just them trying to pay less than 13% and have you pay more?

    September 21, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  41. St. Xavier

    Poor to day isn't like being poor in the 30's today poor means not having a livable wage an just getting by. Poor to day means not having the education to get ahead an having to except low wages just to get along. Poor to day means being look down on by those who are not poor to day. Poor to day means an YES having some material things second HAND mostly an at times NEW but all ways wishing they had more an having to live an work at low paying jobs through no fault of their own just to get along. Those who say to day the poor have material things are not poor I say to them GO LIVE in their shoes an see how it feels an be thankful your not POOR, you've gotten the breaks most likely.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  42. gateway

    What? What article are you reading?

    September 21, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  43. William

    In the 1950's, we got a 49 cent toy and an apple for Christmas. We got a pair of shoes, 2 pair of blue jeans, 2 pair of socks and underwear, two shirts, and a coat each year. Winter was always below zero for a couple of weeks in Feb. No running water until 58, electricity in 54, a radio in 56, a car in 58, and a tv in 61. Never had an indoor restroom until joined the military in 65. Two parents, us 3 boys and a sister, top grades in math and science, 66 wpm – no errors in typing, ran cross-country. Today: 3 retirements plus two for the wifey, 3 boys and a girl, grown and college educated, and they do are all independent and working hard, all over the globe. One married a girl that grew up on welfare and they do whine all the time. Folks, poor is a negative mental condition in a fully healthy adult.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      I see that you dont list a terrible medical condition as part of your hardships growing up. That does make a huge difference to many many people. In "your day" those terribly ill people would have just died, and if it was the father, who was often the sole provider, god help that family. And the huge medical bills would have still been required to be paid, leaving even less money for food for that family.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Wisco30

      Riiiiiight, the good old days when segregation was the norm and women had no rights. Ok then.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  44. kissladynika

    Being Poor for me means working 5 days a week to take care of 3 children(whom all have the same father) getting them ready for school and football practice after. making dinner reading and doing homework with them. I work for the county courts, I have a Bachelors degree in Business and still I receive Food Stamps. Being poor for me is not having the money to pay for my co-payments at the doctor's. Yes I have to use food stamps to help feed my children. so no everyone on food stamps are loosers and looking for hand outs. but im sure you wouldnt understand.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • gimmeshelter

      Would you please explain why taxpayers should assume the responsibility for providing for your 3 children fathered by the same man? This was a decision the two of you made together, so what is his financial contribution?

      September 21, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  45. Mizzhopper

    In regards to the following comment....If you live in Hawaii, you need Brinks to help you out carry all the cash you get out of your half a dozen EBT cards, the white people so nicely have given you. Being poor has no bounderies of color, and neither does the government who provided that card (or those cards) for you.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  46. bpierce

    Let me get this straigt: you had TV, a functioning car, a multiroom house, free food at school, used clothing available for next to nothing at a local Goodwill, and working for one hour would buy you 80 meals ($8 per hour for $0.10 Ramen Noodles). By any global, historical perspective ...you won the lotto, my friend.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Doug

      Well said. Poverty in America, Poverty in Africa, completely different concepts. The current state of governing in this country requires the manufacturing of poor people to pit against successful people.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
      • fatal42

        Mr O veiws America's poor as RICH compare to the third world countrys , & his idea of redistribting the wealth will start here but will ulltimatly end up redistributing America's wealth to the other nations till we are as poor & even with them !!!

        September 21, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • nya bey

      I love your perspective. It's not based on wanting what you do not have; it is based on appreciation for what you DO have. Our American perspective is so skewed: we think if we can not have what the celebrities have or what the Media says we "should" have, we don't "have" anything. Thank you for your insight!

      September 21, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • nya bey

      I love your perspective. It's not based on wanting what you do not have; it is based on appreciation for what you DO have. Our American perspective is so skewed: we think if we can not have what the celebrities have or what the Media says we "should" have, we don't "have" anything.
      If you don't like being poor in America, check out the "grass" in Africa, China, South America; the grass is not greener!

      Thank you for your insight!

      September 21, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Wisco30

      Because I'm sure you'd all do so well on $8.00/hour...pretax....to feed an entire family. Right. You've obviously lived a pretty easy life and never had to worry about eating for the next day, week, etch. Nobody said he didnt appreciate what he had and to mock him for his story is appalling. Hope you all sleep well at night.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  47. realoldguy

    Wow, get a whiff from the sewer of real American values in these comments!

    September 21, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  48. Ann

    Being poor is sitting in line at the food bank that's directly across from the grocery store where people who come and go there look at you and feeling ashamed.

    September 21, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  49. susan

    And I ...... bet your are what is 100% wrong with our country.. rampant,.misguided political correctness!

    September 21, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  50. Tom

    Here's a SOLIDLY Republican State:

    Roadmap to Prosperity all the way baby!!

    Mississippi – 1st in poverty.
    Mississippi – 50th in education.
    Mississippi – 1st in obesity.
    Mississippi – 3rd in Teen Pregnancy

    For every $1 Federal Dollar it contributes it receives back $2.47 in Federal Aid!

    Whooohoooo!! Wait.... What??

    September 21, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      Tell us what obama has done for anyone. He talks about sharing the wealth. He doesn't donate any money to any charities whatsoever. He's an empty chair president and full of hot air. He doesnt do anything that he preaches, but he expects everyone else to do it. Do what I say, not what I do. There's your'e hero!!

      September 21, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
      • Jo Ann

        Actually, the Obamas give nearly 15% of their income to charity.

        September 21, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • susan

      And here is a solid Democrat State: Hawaii

      50 % of the population will go after high school to have kids...many kids
      Welfare is a right in Hawaii and easy to get.
      Everyone cheats and the government does not make checks
      You cash you EBT's and off you go to the beach!
      I think that every poor person should really move to Hawaii! Come on over folks this is truly paradise!

      September 21, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Your hearsay does not stack up to scientificaly derived mathmatical statistics I have provided.

      Oh wait, nevermind, you guys don't do science...

      September 21, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  51. Lord Toronaga

    Being poor is growing up in Hawaii, having a mother that works at a bank, an absentee father who drinks too much, and going to Harvard for free because his skin is just the right color.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Lord Toronaga

      Antonio. Something I said ? Point out the non-fact.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      Everyone I know who went to Harvard (and there are several) was brilliant.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
      • Lord Toronaga

        Really. That's a blanket statement. Most of the problems our country endures today were caused by brilliant Ivy League types.

        September 21, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Wisco30

      lord toronga = troll. stop feeding him.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  52. Tom

    Is that a picture of Republicans in line to vote???

    September 21, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  53. jack sinclair

    Its like being rich in 90% of the rest of the world. Poverty is not doing without a cell phone. Its watching your kid die of dysentary because their is no running water or sewage system.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Sparko

      I totally agree that being poor in the US is not the same as being poor in underdeveloped countries but that does not mean we should ignore the poor here.

      September 21, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • JF

      I completely agree. I don't mean to belittle the poor in this country, but to keep things in perspective, they aren't truly poor and don't live in poverty like many in the third world. Our poor at least have a chance to better themselves. The third world live in a continuous cycle of poverty with little hope of getting out.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  54. Sam

    I am so touched by "Bidentwit"'s compassion (yes, sarcasm)...he sounds very much like Romney.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  55. OTTO SALAMON

    Some years ago, as I remember, children in a wealthy school were asked to write an essay about a poor family. One child wrote – and I paraphrase – this family was so poor that their chauffeur was poor, their two maids were poor....You get the point.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  56. susan

    Depending where you live. I you live in Wisconsin, you are leaving the store with 6 cans of soup, followed by really raged kids. If you live in Hawaii, you need Brinks to help you out carry all the cash you get out of your half a dozen EBT cards, the white people so nicely have given you.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  57. hesea

    With 17T in debt and no plan to address we as a country are headed in the same direction. Sorry Obama does have a plan tax the 1%, that'll do it.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  58. hesea

    Seems like yet another attempt by CNN to support the Dem's and their socialistic policies. By the look of these comments, most feel poor in America isn't what poor is in other countries. Don't like to see anyone poor but when people start listing the benefits we seem to be giving them the support they need to lift themselves up from poverity. For those that are trying 8.6% unployeement isn't helping.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Sparko

      I don't see any political slant here. The man who wrote it is just giving an account of what is was like for him as a boy to be poor. I do not see a plea for any particular political action. He seems to have worked his way out of poverty so not sure why there is so much bile being spewed here. Perhaps deep down inside you do feel something like compassion brewing in you and and you have to quickly dispell that by finding ways to mock him and the poor. Fact is, regardless why family is poor and what the parents may or may not have done or what forces beyond their control got them there, many of those that make up the number of those in poverty are children who are not responsible for their condition in anyway. So, go on and mock the poor, that will not make them "go away" it will just make you a world class ja.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
      • Lu

        Absolutely true. No matter what our political ideology is, children should not suffer from poverty for what they have no control for.

        September 21, 2012 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Sparko

      Funny how just acknowledging the poor is a political statement these days....not mention of party or politics in this essay yet it "has to have" a political slant. Pretty sad.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Peyton

      If you did a lick of research before you spouted off you'd know that John Scalzi is a well known author and political Independent.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • froggyalley

      I think you need a JOB to pull yourself out of poverty. Where are the jobs? And how much should they pay to lift a person/family out of poverty? Until there is a job for every person who wants one and has the education to pull it off, some people really need to just shut up. Pay your taxes. make "poor" go away.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Slappy_McGiggles

    There are much worse places to be poor than in America.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  60. susan

    The other day I went to Walmart in Hilo on "food stamp" day. Of course the "locals" where all out, finally ditching the couch and the telly for some grub. The place was absolutely full, mama and dada filling up those carts with super size bags of carbos and the keikis picking up every box of candy they could manage. By the cash register mama pulls 6 EBT cards to pay for the groceries. Why 6 you may ask, let me explain, there are usually several adults in the household all claiming paying rent and getting the maximum in stamps...200 dollars each, plus the keiki....because there is no limit as how many kids you can have and locals have made it a way of living. At 600 dollars in welfare dollars per kid this is serious income. When mama is done swiping the card, she gets into the none essential items which she will pay with her EBT cash payment benefit on the card and that includes not only the booze, but the 10 dollar a packet cigarettes. Here in Hawaii we have an epidemic of obese people, because between eating and laying on the beach does not leave you much room to burn all those calories.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  61. Snake-Eyes

    I can personally relate to this article, thanks for posting it. To sum it all up, for me: Being poor (formally poor in my case) means looking at someone else that is poor & knowing exactly how he/she feels. I could go so far as to say I can even correctly guess exactly what he/she is thinking.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Snake-Eyes

      Being poor means growing into a man, having a family of my own, getting out of pverty, & looking at my aging mother that provided for me & my siblings & thinking "wow, what an incrdeible woman". Now, as an adult & parent, can I even acknowledge the sacrifices she made on her children's behalf.

      September 21, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  62. Being Poor Means

    Being Poor Means NOTHING FOR MITT ROMNEY & CO

    September 21, 2012 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • hesea

      Or Obama,and the rest of the Dem's in office, the're all wealthy.

      September 21, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Scrappyike

      Really? Being poor means nothing to a lot of Americans. America has become the home of the selfish.

      September 21, 2012 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  63. Mark

    I think that it is much easier to be poor today than in previous generations. Most households considered "poor" today have cable TV, cell phones, two cars, a full kitchen, washer/dryer, and housing that would not be considered as substandard. If you just go back a generation or two, you will see how things have improved. Until the mid-late 70s, in some parts of the country, being poor meant living in a one or two room shack with no plumbing and possibly no electricity. Families had no car, and the kids had to walk to school barefoot. Into at least the late 60s, states like Mississippi had large components of the African-American population making $3/day (which would be about $15-20 today) picking cotton by hand or cleaning houses of "wealthier" white people.

    LBJ's war on poverty definitely made an impact...although it took quite a few years for the impacts to be felt (much of it due to local resistance). While I am not saying that we should take all this back from the poor, I think people need to look at this in retrospect.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  64. Karmas.Laugh

    You people making fun of this are jerks. I guess while some maybe able to say that you've been poor and risen above it, most haven't been poor. It's awful, being poor is trying and trying every day, it's your mother letting you eat the can of soup and not having any herself, telling you she needs to lose a few pounds, it's your mother doing 'favors' for her boss because the car broke again, and food+daycare+house is freaking expensive, You don't get the bad times the poor go through, you don't, just stop being jerks and trying helping, it's not a gov hand out, it's being a human and caring about a human, god you disgust me

    September 21, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • cc

      Not all poor try-that's the problem. How can we distinguish between those who are poor but trying to find more/better work and those who have given up? I've been poor, living on the streets for a time but have never given up-and in time, I succeeded. Most people who never give up eventually do-and those are the ones I want to help. The ones who've given up, who just want a handout, they're poor and they'll always be poor. I don't care about them-but if it takes helping them in order to help the others then I say do it. The others are worth whatever it takes.

      September 21, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
      • Jo Ann

        So, because we can't easily distinguish between the "deserving" and "undeserving" poor, we should stererotype and talk hatefully of everyone who is poor?

        September 21, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
      • CJP

        Those are few and far between. I think you are exaggerating to think there are that many people that enjoy being poor. Given up hope is probably a better way of describing it. If a person is satisfied living in squalor then perhaps that type of person really wouldn't fair well in a regular job anyways.

        September 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Karma, they don't get it. They don't see the difference between being poor and being welfare abusers. When my wife and I were starting out, I made $9/hr and she was a full time college student and waiting tables. We had my oldest son in this time (not planned), and we were BROKE. I never took any assistance even though we qualified.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
      • Jo Ann

        How did you pay the bills for your son's delivery? Just curious. . .

        September 21, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
      • Paul

        JoAnn, I was fortunate enough to have insurance...an HMO in fact. But still made barely above minimum wage.

        September 21, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
      • Jo Ann

        I'm glad you had the HMO, but many people working at that level don't have health insurance. I suspect if you did not have the HMO, you would have accepted Medicaid. While I think it is honorable to try to do things without assistance, we need to acknowledge that there is often a need to accept it.

        September 21, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  65. Mary

    Reading through this list of "being poor means" just caused a flashback to my childhood. I am 73 years old, so was a child in the early '40's when my father died leaving my immigrant mom with four children, 17 yrs down to 4 yrs.old. No SSI, no foodstamps and welfare consisted of going to the food distribution place (walking by the way) with a borrowed red wagon and bringing bags of flour, sugar and don't remember what else. Fortunately our neighborhood was a mixture of employed and unemployed so "shame" was shared. It was humiliating for my mom and older siblings. For me, it was a game and I didn't understand any of it until many years later. How did my mom escape, a kind sweet bachelor who had always admired her from the moment he met her as a young woman arriving from Italy, married all of us. How fortunately for us that he felt lucky to get a family and loved us and all the grandkids that came. We need to provide a support system for people who fall on hard times. People read Matt Tabbi's article in Rolling Stone on what Romney really believes in. Building jobs for the future from a man whose company did the opposite? Please read the article.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  66. Sparko

    Wow.... the comment here are really insightful.....that is they provide insight into the people who wrote them. Being poor is a joke to many apparently. Hopefully you ignorant, callus posters will never know how stupid you really are, that is to say hopefully you will never be poor. BUT if you do find yourself in the same boat as the writer of the essay did when he was a boy(and in no way responsible for his family's condition) may other idiots like yourself show you the same "compassion".

    September 21, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • DontPretend

      Awwh, poor victims. They couldn't go to school and do well; they were forced to skip classes and do drugs instead. It's not their fault that they didn't succeed in the nation of opportunity. BTW, I grew up poor. 6 kids in my family, dad worked at a grocery store, mom worked part time. We never accepted government assistance, we were never taught to stick our hand out, or that someone elese owed us. Instead of teaching us that the rich were evil and success was bad, we were taught to try and that only we could keep us from being successful. All 6 of us are now upper middle class. Don't make yourself into a victim and you won't be one.

      September 21, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
      • Sparko

        Must be good to feel so superior. If you are comparing your life to the one of the boy written about in the essay, then think again. He states his mom left his dad. He does not give a reason so we can only guess but point is she was single. This adds the issue of affordable/dependable child care. Minimum wage jobs do not make enough to pay for childcare plus all the other expenses. Take your dad out of the picture and where would your family have been? There are many reason for being poor. The person who wrote this,like you seems to have worked his way out of poverty so he is not playing the victim, rather trying to relay what it like for a child to live in that condition. The fact t hat so many here do not get that is pathetic. As far as education goes, we all know not all schools are created equal. Poor areas have underfunded schools. Its does not make it impossible for students to succeed but it does make if more difficult. So go on feeling superior. Its too bad your experience didn't instill some compassion in you as well as a can do spirit though.

        September 21, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
      • Amused

        You never accepted assistance....that you know of. It's possible that your mom was too ashamed and embarrassed to tell you about it. Many on public assistance are too ashamed to tell anyone.

        September 21, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
      • Starfire

        Wow, I went to school, was an honor roll student, graduated from college with honors, and have never made over 25,000 dollars. My mother is worse off than me and she was just as hard working a student as I was. Diplomas guarantee nothing if interviewers think you are now over-qualified or if they have no jobs to fill in the first place. There are too many college grads out there now regretting spending money on their education that still gets them no better than a job at Wal-mart.

        September 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
      • CJP

        One thing your parents forgot to teach you was compassion and instead let that pride of yours go to your head I hated smug kids like you...poor or not.

        September 21, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  67. DontPretend

    Being poor means not being able to spell methamphetamine, but thinking you are a chemist who can create it in your kitchen.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  68. susan

    Where does Scalzy live? Not in Hawaii, she doesn't. Here being poor means:
    getting 600 bucks a month per kid
    getting 200 bucks a month in food stamps per kid/adult
    getting extremely cheap housing
    getting the best medical insurance with no deductibles or copays
    getting help with utilities
    getting free car insurance
    getting free basic phone
    getting all the education you can stand...which goes by the way...un used
    going to the beach whenever you like and spend the foodstamps in beach parties
    surfing
    surfing some more
    hatting the damned whites for all the things we get.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Slappy_McGiggles

      He's reflecting on his life as a child, he's 43 now and some things have changed since then.

      September 21, 2012 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
      • susan

        nahh, is still the same.

        September 21, 2012 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Dragoon21b

      I would sugest that you read a history book. Hawaii was a Kingdom. A soverign and indipendant state that was conquered in the name of american busuness and the sugar market. Now you take that and consider the soul destroying and nearly genocidal poverty inflicted on other Native American nations, or the African Americans that were contained in gettos and slums for decades. The Hispanic migrant workers who harvest the food I know is on your table and you ask those people what poverty means and you have the audacity and gall to complain about resetment. You show a genuine and willfullly squed view of poverty that only comes from never having known it

      September 21, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
      • susan

        thank you. I would suggest you get on reading yourself. Hawaii was a Kingdom after Kamehameha with the help of large Portuguese ships conquered the other islands. Moreover, the Ali'ii betrayed their people because they wanted to be recognized as British royalty and they made sure that they married their daughters to savvy "foreigners" who went into inheriting large amounts of lands, like the Parker Ranch...the largest ranch in American. The Ali'ii were not as wonderful as you like to portray it. The land was segmented and families living on those lands had to work very hard to come up with the food to feed the royalty. As a matter of fact I do not know ONE Kanaka Maoli that really would want to go back to a diet of fish and taro, let alone do the back breaking work to get a measly meal. So don't shove your pompous comment to me, because if you go to the Big Island today you will find a few things:
        Real Hawaiians are very far and few in between,
        Most locals are Filipino or Samoan, meaning that your argument is moot
        No one will give up their "hemie trucks", their cells phone, their computers and the nice cozy homes they have to go back to grass shacks and taro.
        And yes the welfare state is king here, and thanks to it, the "local" demographics have exploded in recent years. Aloha

        September 21, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
      • susan

        By the way, big mouth...I am Hispanic and I grow my own food. In addition, I don't spend my days mopping my face on the floor with pity, I move on. That is why I live in this country, because I you get on with it you can make it. I don't know one country on earth where there are no inequalities. Have you actually lived in Africa, I doubt it...that is why so many folks move to Europe. What do you know about Hawaiians, the grandiose stories that some people recollect from their selective memories? GET REAL .

        September 21, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • someone

      That would be called an illegal in Colorado.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
      • susan

        yeap, and on top they hate your guts. I would truly suggest to make it really balanced on our 50 State, every poor folk in the mainland should move here and get the same goodies as well.

        September 21, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • The Sally

      The best medical care, if you are referring to medicade then you are way off base,you have to jump through sooooo many hoops just to see a doctor which they still may not pay for, it is hardly the best medical care.

      September 21, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  69. TSB8C

    There are certainly some extreme cases of poor in America. But according to the census bureau, half of those that fall below the ever adjusting poverty line actually have cell phones, TV's, internet access, and home their own homes. Not what I would call "poor". The 46.2 million figure cited in this article includes such individuals. The government keeps raising the declared poverty line to make it look like more people are poor and in need of government programs to save them. This is just not true.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
    • CJP

      The poverty threshold for a family of four was $23,021 last year. If you think that's a lot of money you're delusional. I own a cell phone. Costs me $5 dollars a month for unlimited texts. Too expensive you say? Well, I justify it because I don't have a landline or cable. I did just recently have Internet (didn't for many years because I couldn't afford anything but dialup but you need a landline for that) but have now splurged on it for my kids' sakes because they found themselves behind the other kids in being able to research things. Not only that, but to feel included with their peers. Do you know how shameful it is to a child to not have what others take for granted? Sorry, I suppose I'd have to get my Internet disconnected for you to "classify" me as truly one of the working poor. But thank the Lord for music! I'll still have my music. :)

      September 21, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • MysteriaKiito

      Internet access has become a necessity in this day and age. When my husband lost his previous job many places he went to ask for an application told him he had to fill one out online. At the time we didn't have internet access because we couldn't afford it. But when he had trouble finding a new job it forced us to get internet access. He got a job after that, but it doesn't pay as much as his last job, so the internet stays so he can browse a few times a week for places to apply for work. Even Pizza Hut does their applications online now, and that's where a lot of poverty stricken people will apply for work!

      September 22, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  70. barneybird

    Being poor means having the time to sit in a park day after day asking for redistribution. No wait, that's an Occupier

    September 21, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  71. jc

    Being poor is not always a bad thing. When I as young me and my dad were working on the rice field. My dad asked me "do you want to work on this rice field for your whole life?". I said no, I am going to study hard to get out of there. I did and I make a lot of money now.

    Today I do not know how to convey the same message to my 4 years old daughter. She does not know what poor feels like. Maybe she is still too young to understand why people have to work hard to earn what they have. But being poor can teach you a lot of things that the rich just can’t get easily.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  72. fiftyfive55

    If you have a cell phone-your not poor
    If you have cable TV-your not poor
    If you eat in any restauraunt-your not poor
    If you turn down ANY jon offers-your not poor
    If you dont go out and look for a job-your not poor
    If your reading this on your computer instead of looking for work-your not poor

    September 21, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • getaneducation

      *you"re

      September 21, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • bigern77

      It's you're, not your. Did you miss the 1st grade?

      September 21, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
      • Dan

        OK while this mans comment I posted a reply to is one I disagree with, If you're correcting grammar and not actually posting something of value You are being an ass.....

        First if he is typing on a tablet or such auto correct is a PIA and it could have been an oversight,

        Second if he typed it wrong its a mistake and who really gives a crap......

        I am bad at the English language, my grammar sucks, my spelling sucks, But I also have an IQ well above the Average in America... So get off the supposed High Horse you have on grammar and such and take the actual meaning of the post and reply to that and not some Idiotic miss type.

        September 21, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Ok, Let us rip apart your post a little, (some I will say ok to)

      If you have a cell phone-your not poor – WRONG you get one for free from say Assurance Wireless

      If you have cable TV-your not poor – Still Technically WRONG Basic is 12.95/mo but If you have that you have some money. (still can be poor though)

      If you eat in any restauraunt-your not poor – Depends what you call a restaurant Mcdonalds – $1 for a double cheese, White castle 50c for a slider

      If you turn down ANY jon offers-your not poor – (I agree since you can get a job and still qualify if the job pays too little, Frankly your refusal should be suspension of benefits)

      If you dont go out and look for a job-your not poor – (same as above but I will say most poor look for work or hang out by HomeDepot or Lows for the contractor needing a day labor)

      If your reading this on your computer instead of looking for work-your not poor – Still could be wrong, My public library has computers and internet, Jobs post free on job sites on the internet, so they could be on there, The also are checking the news FREE because a paper costs 75c on weekdays and 1.50 on sunday.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      If your confederate ancestors benefited from four hundred years of FREE slave labor then you're not poor.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Peace Lily

      But if you pass judgement on others when you personally know nothing of their lives...you are indeed, poor! I still have a few remnants of my past life when I earned a good living. But I sure don't have an extra nickle for anything of "want" value. It all goes to survival. So who is really poor here? Someone who "thinks" they know it all, or someone living the nightmare themselves and knows better than to pass judgement on the less fortunate?

      September 21, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  73. Scott

    If you didnt graduate from high school, or did with a GED, or did graduate from high school but didnt elect to go to college for additional education....you made those coices. Not me. My parents didnt pay for my college–I did. It was my choice. I provide for my family...but it is not my responsiblility as an American to pay into solial welfare that strings along those who made poor choices in there life...or where not motivated to be something maore than working at McDonalds. Romney has it right...help those temporarily who need it but enough to get up and moving. Not an exstended government vacation paid for by taxpayer dollars which reinforces individuals to bartely get by because the government will take care of them instead of motivation to achieve the most success you can for you and your family.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Peace Lily

      Temporarily helping is fine. The problem we have here, though, is that this thing will reach into the very depths of the abyss that we have allowed our government to create over the last several decades. It won't seem temporary to help get this country righted again and to help those who have suffered the most. I don't think anyone who has been devastated by our current situation wants to stay where they are now without ever getting back what they once had. So try to remember that a lot of the poor that you speak of were, just a few years ago, productive and hard working contributors to our society and they would love nothing more than to have back the life they worked so hard for. I know I am one of those. While not as poor as most...better yet, I don't even consider myself poor, I would certainly love my old life back. I worked hard for it. I spent many years doing without to get ahead and then it was gone in the blink of an eye. I did nothing wrong to deserve that. I was doing what I was brought up to do. Work hard, pay my bills, be financially responsible. In the end it didn't matter one bit!

      September 21, 2012 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  74. obamasinoverhishead

    Like anyone who works for CNN would know.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • DontPretend

      Yeah really, if the topic was "what it means to be a gay atheist" they would be absolute experts though.

      September 21, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  75. heime

    Being an off-topic moron means slinging out politics where politics isn't the story. Oh wait... that's you!

    September 21, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • doubledees

      LOL!!!!!

      September 21, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  76. you mean what's it like to be lazy in america????

    eom

    September 21, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • steven silletti

      You know Mitt Romney's father was on welfare, right?

      September 21, 2012 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  77. Terry

    You must be very smart. I can tell by reading your well thought out remarks.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
    • JHL

      I'm not sure about smart, but you'll have to admit he's fairly clever.

      September 21, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  78. DontPretend

    Being poor means being able to list the names and numbers of every NASCAR driver in the last 25 years.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  79. DontPretend

    Being poor means getting in a fight with your wife Brandine after you have both finished your daily fifth of liquour and having to smile for the TV camera when the police come and give the punchline "I'm white trash, and I'm in trouble"

    September 21, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  80. Blossie

    I grew up in the 50's and we were all poor, we just did not know it. My dad was laid off quite a lot. He grew a garden and my parents canned. We even collected "government free food" at times. We had a few outfits to wear for school and they were passed down to the next kid. You did not every new thing that came out and nothing was replaced unless it was not repairable. My grandmother gave my mother money for the children's Christmas.

    What did I learn? When I graduated from HS I borrowed some money and went to school, I paid it back too. I NEVER wanted to be poor after having been there. I have worked all my life and am now retired. People can work their way out of poverty but they are stuck in a rut of government handouts and must haves.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  81. tv22

    What the author misses is that in almost every other country he'd be poor now too. He wouldn't be a writer. He wouldn't have food, he wouldn't have a computer, he wouldn't have a byline on a major news site. But in America, because he took the time to get an education and work hard and pursue his passion he is not poor anymore. Being poor is supposed to suck, it should be a great motivator to not be poor.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
  82. jack

    Those who are really poor do not spend $5 – $10 everyday buy cigarrettes, they don't have cable TV or Internet, poor people DO NOT HAVE Iphones, they do not wear P Diddy stretchy pants, poor people do not have Jordan snickers... People in this country honestly have to stop complaining and get their act together. Walmart and Burger King are always hiring, but they consider themselves to good to work for minimum wage, oh that is right, it is easier to live of the government.

    September 21, 2012 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Peace Lily

      I dare say that the ONLY people who CHOOSE to live off the government are the children of the children of the children who started the idea that living off the government was a way of life. This took generations and it's a mindset that started back when social programs were enacted. THESE are the people who need to be targeted to get off welfare. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater by punishing all for these acts. There is never an excuse for inflicting pain on the lesser of our society for no other reason than just to inflict pain.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      or drink Starbucks while complaining about that school days free breakfast offering.

      No doubt the welfare program needs major reform in oder to close the loopholes to abusers while aiding TEMPORARY those who truly need it in order to get back on their financial feets.

      There are instances where Bg Brother government progams are enablers to continued poverty, but also instances where they are needed to give a lift to those who need it to get out of poverty. It is a complex problem with many shades of gray that reaches back to a child's family situation and upbringing.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  83. jack

    The 47% remark was nothing BUT THE TRUTH... Being poor in America is NOT POVERTY. Those who call themselves poor should make a trip to Haiti and several countries in Latin America.

    September 21, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  84. indianriver

    You're the scrawny little kid I used to beat up in high-school...

    September 21, 2012 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
    • JHL

      And you're probably still beating those folks up. The only difference is that now you've got a spotty criminal record and are likely youself part of the working poor. Your consistent spelling errors and grammatical mistakes in your posts indicate that education hasn't been a focus for you and that usually has its own consequences - see working poor. I won't comment on the lack of intellectual gravitas in your comments as I suspect that would just blow by you.

      September 21, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  85. Laerrus

    Being poor is not owning a car to start with... And hoping there is food under that lamp in the garbage.

    September 21, 2012 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
    • indianriver

      Being TRULLY poor is not having a house, but simply a cardboard box, in a slum in Liberia without running water or even a bathroom. Americans really don't grasp the concept of "poor" at all. I laugh at these articles because they are complaining about getting "cheap shoes". Wow. Just wow. I'm ashamed. After seeing the REALLY poor in other nations, my views have changed. We have a bunch of whinny, government-pampered babies here in the states and it angers me.

      September 21, 2012 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
      • tribalbeat

        Being poor is relative, being under the poverty line is not really arguable. I suppose this refers to being poor in a civilized and developed part of the world. if you'd rather buy 10 cent ramen instead of 12 cent ramen and you've got no other motivation to do so other than it is a cheaper alternative you are indeed poor.

        September 21, 2012 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
      • james madison

        Have you been to other countries, or are you basing this off armchair observations through your television?

        To say that it's embarassing that people in America claim they're poor when really they're only wearing used underwear, fallen-apart shoes, not eating meals, resorting to stealing to survive, etc and they should be ashamed of themselves for not being "actually poor" by living in a 3rd world country that does the same exact thing is just astounding. Are you proposing that we need to further this gap between sorta poor and actually poor to the extent that we have a noticable amount of homeless people (is that even your criteria for "actually poor"?). Then will you be okay with offering government assistance to these people? Do you currently offer any assistance to the homeless or poor, or "is it their fault for getting there in the first place" too? Do you have any human compassion?

        You come across as generally just the type of person that likes to be angry with anyone else that doesn't act like you or is in the same social standing as you. You are the problem with this country right now, not these "poseur poors" as you see it.

        September 21, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  86. indianriver

    You can tell this guy doesn't get out much from the basement of his mother's McMansion in white suburbia...

    September 21, 2012 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  87. willie

    welcome to our world..working poor

    September 21, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  88. indianriver

    The poor in America live in absolute lavish luxury compared to the absolute poor in other nations. After going overseas and seeing firsthand, people that really have NOTHING, I can only shake my head when people complain about having "cheap shoes" or "having to obtain food from food bank". These people have no concept of what "poor" is. "Poor" Americans still can get free education, free or reduced lunches, food stamps, post-secondary education assistance, access to free or subsidized public transportation, and the list goes on. ALL because of SOCIAL systems already in place. Being "poor" in America is being lucky, they could have lived in Haiti, or Liberia.

    September 21, 2012 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Peace Lily

      While your rant is valid, it doesn't apply. We live here...now. Not in another country. Some of you still seem to not understand that people who live on welfare do better than those working at Burger King. Anyone bother to find out how these restaurants are making it now that minimum wage is $7.25 an hour? Let me enlighten you. They do not hire anyone full time except for managers and they do not offer any kind of insurance. Nothing. Compound that by the fact that NOT ALL areas have public transportation. You big city slickers need to realize what it means to live in a rural area. You walk down the block to pick up a few groceries. My in-laws drive for 30 minutes to get theirs. You don't survive here without a car or some other means to get around. The sooner all of us realize that our lives are DIFFERENT, the better things will be for everyone.

      September 21, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  89. Steph

    "Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed." -Herman Melville, novelist and poet (1819-1891)

    September 21, 2012 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Jo Ann

      Excellent quote!

      September 21, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Peace Lily

      Absolutely!

      September 21, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  90. bill

    My parents had 10 kids, I was the last. We had lunch tickets in school. We didn't cry about it or make a big deal about it. We just went on with our lives. Now, all 10 of us are self-sufficient people with jobs and houses.
    MY PARENTS DIDN'T TEACH US TO BE VICTIMS.

    September 21, 2012 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
    • JHL

      Please Bill, don't tell us that you accepted government help growing up. I just hope it was limited to lunch vouchers. Why didn't you just kill yourself rather than being a drain on the rest of us?

      As I think about it, that is pretty much what Romney and Ryan would have wanted you to do. And if there had been no lunch vouchers?

      September 21, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  91. D

    I am just starting on my own after an abusive marriage. I am working two jobs at $8 an hour and I have a college degree. I never thought at this age that I'd be poor. I hope things change in this economy so that us hard workers are able to contribute. I like to give to charity and provide for the community, not easy to do when you're the poor one. I volunteer instead, but it's been hard lately because I work 7 days a week. I am grateful for the jobs I have, but again during this stage of my life I am not able to keep up.

    September 21, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
    • bill

      God bless you for being your own person, not accepting less.
      God willing, Romney will be elected and things will change. For all of us.

      September 21, 2012 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
      • CanThinkForMyself

        Romney has clearly stated he will not help the poor. He will only help the rich get richer. Anyone who is suffering right now needs to vote for Obama if they expect any relief.

        September 21, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
      • JHL

        It will change for all of us. If you're making $250K and above, happy days are here again. If you're middlle class and lower middle class, there will be effectively higher taxes in store for you and less services such as education loans for your kids, tax credits for child care, etc.

        If you're poor, you'll be expected to do your part supporting the rich by limiting your health care, forgoing government food pantires (as there won't be any) and getting no assistance. In fact the poor will be encouraged to die more quickly and quietly so as not to burden the rest of us and disturb our rest. Thanks in advance.

        September 21, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
      • Peace Lily

        I am afraid that Romney would kick her to the curb! I have never been so fearful of anyone as I am Mitt Romney! He is spouting ideals that got us here to start with. Making life easier for corporations didn't work...it's a fact! We have been there and done that! Corporate America just got greedier and greedier until our jobs are now living overseas and now they want ridiculous prices for their goods! Re-think your position before it is too late!

        September 21, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • jean

      Hang in there! I was in your shoes not so long ago and working two minimum-wage jobs. I remember that there were days that I thought I would drop from exhaustion. Things have improved immeasurably since then, and I'm wishing the same for you.

      September 22, 2012 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
  92. Colleen

    Being poor is:

    wearing your brother's hand me down shirts – and you're a girl

    when the Dr.'s daughter on the bus lets the world know that you're wearing something of hers, after her mother left the poor person clothes bag on your front porch b/c your mother cleans for them.

    not being able to look out your rotting drafty windows because of the plastic stapled on them to hold in the heat.

    having your dad sneak to the plant's fence at lunchtime to stick his curled up paycheck through the links to your mom b/c she needs the money before quitting time that day to pay the utility bills.

    September 21, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
    • chefdugan

      The worst thing about being poor is a constant feeling of hopelessness – that nothing you do will change things. LIve with that feeling for too long and you give up. Once you give up you get the free ticket to being homeless and just letting things happen. For many people that can change but for a lot, nothing will ever change unless you get some help. By the way, don't even think about asking a Republican for help.

      September 21, 2012 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
      • bill

        See, that's the problem, what you said.
        Republicans will help you be your own man, but you have to work for it.
        Dem's will help you be dependent on the man, and you don't have to work for it.

        September 21, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
      • CanThinkForMyself

        Republicans will help you??? LOTFLOL Have some more KoolAid!

        September 21, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
      • Peace Lily

        Hmmmm...which should I choose? The Republican extreme, or the Democrat extreme? Why do we have to live on either side of this equation when it is obvious that the answer lies somewhere in the middle? Neither party...to which I REFUSE to bestow my blessing, has the answer. Both sides are preaching extremes as usual. But I fear the Democrats far less than I fear the Republicans. So why do we keep doing this to ourselves?

        September 21, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  93. Jim

    Just ask the 39.1 million people (plus) people here...

    September 21, 2012 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
  94. Bill

    Time and age offer me brittle bones and slow walking but a humorous perspective based on experience and not a partisan media. Based upon todays standards I would have been poor Fifty years ago. My family had a single car, one B&W television, one central phone for the entire family, no clothes washer or dryer,a two bedroom house for two adults and five children and we shared clothing, had hand-me-down items like bicycles, skates, etc. Todays poor, perhaps I will call them the middel class poor, have so many more items of convenience and , well, just outright have much more than I did when I was solid middle class. In some ways, I see families with their multiple cars, multiple cell phones, multiple tv's, electornics, etc. and believe most of us have PURCHASED our way to poverty. Certainly there are those who are truly impoverished but I think in todays world, looking simply at income is an inaccurate way of measuring class. Today if I lived as I did I would indeed be considered poor but I have to say, I never felt that way back then- I felt lucky becasue the truly poor had so much less than I.

    September 21, 2012 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
    • johndanger

      Thanks for that, Bill.

      September 21, 2012 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
    • JHL

      This may be a different Bill, but I thought there were 10 kids?

      I hope you're not accepting Social Security which will pay you more than you contributed; I hope you're forgoing medicare will probably pay more on your belf than you contributed; I hope you look long and hard at what you've received and will continue to receive. Even under Romney and Ryan, your life won't get worse, it will just be hell for everyone else toher than the rich. Enjoy your self-delusionary years.

      September 21, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  95. hereinswfl

    Being poor in America means not having enough money to eat but you do have the new Iphone.

    September 21, 2012 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  96. bear

    There will always be poor. The poor are those who have less than the rest. Today's poor would be upper middle class in the 50s or 60s.

    September 21, 2012 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Jo Ann

      Not really. Of course there will always be poor, and always some with less than others. However, I grew up in a middle class family in the sixties. We didn't have cell phones or a computer, because the technology wasn't widely available. However, we had two relatively new cars, and always traded them in when they started breaking down a lot. We owned a four bedroom home. Our family took a vacation every summer. My parents had to moniter the budget, but they never postponed a trip to the grocery store until payday. When we were sick, they took us to the doctor, without any worry about money because they knew that any significant bills would be covered by insurance. We always had the school supplies and clothes that we needed. We were able to go on every school and scout trip, without concern for the fees associated with it. My parents also made clear that they were expecting us to go to college, and they were going to help pay our way; they did and we all received at least a Bachelor's degree. The poor of today may have cell phones (often instead of a landline), but most have few if any of the other hallmarks of the middle class which haven't changed much in the last 45 years.

      September 21, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
      • g2-df9cf4c1c3a5098395457c8bc262a97a

        The poor use to be feared..... Allowed to grow to numerous the "the government could fall " The masses would go to the castle with pitchforks and torches, the Guardians had little chance of stopping the rebellion.

        So it was in the rulers self interest to keep the people fed...

        Today... the ruling elites now have the TECHNOLOGY the trumps the power of numbers of the poor... The elites no longer fear the poor... We will now see a lot more poor...

        And poor is relative to the surrounding environment... middle class perception in India is far different than in the US..

        September 21, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  97. FREEDOM

    Being "poor" is a state of mind – nothing more.

    September 21, 2012 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
    • bcarreiro

      2 be enRICHed with knowledge .......is far better than just ones state of mindset. freedom thinks outside the box and if the less fortunate robbed the mobb you wouldnt even KNOW what hit ya! People lie not the TRUTH!!! 2 be or not 2 be the poor u have to be there to understand it.

      September 21, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
    • FREEDOM

      People of "lower" (relative) incomes spend money to survive. Beyond that, those who have the "survival" part covered – buy things to impress OTHER people. Cars, cloths, homes, gadgets, etc. In other words US opinions are skewed more by "envy" as opposed to any bare reality. So beyond basic survival, there are no base amounts to distinguish "rich and poor", just levels of greed and ambition.

      September 21, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
    • WGS

      Really? Tell that to the kids who go to bed hungry. You're lucky...you must be in Romney's 3-4%.

      September 21, 2012 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
      • FREEDOM

        Believe it or not, I was. South West Detroit, Delray neighborhood. Most kids I went to HS with, never graduated, they are dead, or in prison. Goodwill, Salvation Army, second hand – you name it. Product of the Detroit public school system. A few great teachers and role models help. No one, Dem or Repub who's "lived it", and fought to "leave it" will believe they are "victims" – no will they "buy the "victim argument"

        September 21, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  98. Janie

    I am 59 years old, white, divorced , disabled female. My dad earned between $400-600 a month and had to support a wife and 4 kids on that in the 50's and 60's in Texas. My mother either kept a garden or found one where she would take all 4 kids every single year to pick fresh veggies so she could go home and can them so we would have food to eat for the next several months. She took us fishing every summer to catch enough fish to have meat also. My dad and older brother went hunting every season to put more meat in the freezer. My Mom also mowed the yard, painted the house, worked on her car, etc...all by herself. We were not put on "free lunch" programs in school. She packed us brown bag lunches every single day. She was a high school drop out at the age of 15. When I was in 6th grade she decided to get her GED and go to LVN/nursing school . It took a couple of years but she graduated at the top of her class. My point of telling you this is folks do not have to be on welfare for the most part. They can and sometimes do chose to improve their lives and those of their family. My parents were too proud to accept welfare/charity. The current generations were not taught how to take proper care of themselves or their families. They take the easy way out. I wish people would take the initiative that my parents had and apply to their lives. Then start teaching their own children from birth to adulthood how to provide for themselves. Teach them the importance of getting a job and keeping it and pay into the SS system so they will have money to live on in their retirement years.

    September 21, 2012 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      Seen any open fields for growing veggies in the cities lately? Even in rural areas many poor do not own or are able to rent property with land. It's apartments. If there are two parent households, BOTH parents are more than likely working. You say you are disabled? Well if you are receiving a disability check from the government through SSA. You ma'am are on WELFARE.

      September 21, 2012 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Duke5343

      My hats off to you & your mom Janie that is what America is all about, my parents lived in shanny town and worked their way out to live a nice home my dad spent years working on & they raised 3 kids- America is not the OBAMA or Dem america where everyone lives on a GOV Check

      September 21, 2012 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Strider

      600$ in 1955 is worth 4800$ now, I sure as hell hope you didn't have to be on welfare. 60k after Taxes is not poor.

      September 21, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Joanna @ I Won't Be a Hoarder Too

      Trying living on $600 a month now and see how far you get, honey. Oh, and don't forget that your disability check is GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE.

      September 21, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
    • icanthinkforme

      I can identify with your background. We truly need to teach our kids that doing without does not necessarily mean you are poor. We live in a society that feeds into our greed and selfish nature. We see and we must have! It strikes me though that with all the wisdom that your statement contains,for some you and I are part of the 47% who are dependent(social security) on the government. I never really saw myself that way. I thought SS was there because I did all those you described. I don't know if I need to rethink that for my kids and tell them that SS is not something to support any longer. I don't know.

      September 21, 2012 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  99. American

    Free healthcare, free food, no income tax. It;s great to be poor!

    September 21, 2012 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
  100. Obama

    Hopey changey!

    September 21, 2012 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
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