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 (784 Responses)
  1. City On A Shining Hill

    Solomon said in the Proverbs that he who lends to the poor, lends to the Lord, and Jesus mentioned that the poor will always be among us, in the gospels. James rebukes believers who favor the wealthy who wears nice clothes to church, but then shuns the man who dresses the way he has low income.. Jesus also said the the value of a man or woman is not determined by their income or social status, and the poor in spirit (those who do not have materially), will have much in Heaven.

    And, Paul mentions coming into the world at birth with nothing, and at death carrying nothing out, in his writings.

    So, we should be concerned with the poor and homeless, as God and Jesus are.

    September 21, 2012 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Tell me when God pays my rent and I'll give a care

      September 21, 2012 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Evolutionisforunaccountability

      Then maybe that should have taught you they dont have Gods blessing.

      September 21, 2012 at 3:45 am | Report abuse |
  2. OC

    This is heartbreaking. And this group is part of Romney's 47% that he believes chooses to live poor.

    September 21, 2012 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. EIEIO

    Prov. 29:7. The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor; the wicked does not understand such concern.

    1 John 3:17. But whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?

    September 21, 2012 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  4. Equestrian Citizen

    THank Goodness for Pinto beans, I can make so many yummy meals with a food that is so cheap to buy and so easy to put in a pot that could last for a week..Healthy too!

    September 21, 2012 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • ELY

      Poor peoples food is un-healthy, fattening food. Healthy food cost more. Poor people survive on cheap , starchy food
      and get fat.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Joyce

      Recipes, please. Seriously.

      September 21, 2012 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mark

    being poor is a state of mind more than anything if you let it effect you it will, If you want to climb out of it you can. I often ask myself why not work harder, smarter, quicker for more I guess I feel there would be a loss In the value of life if I just worked day and night. I have little but I am so thankful for what I have been blessed with and that in its self is a blessing.. Friends anger, frustration, want are very powerful but humility is the most powerful.

    September 21, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • jc

      I have heard it said many times that the happiest people are the ones that are grateful for everything, and I have found that to be true.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
    • seebs

      People vastly overestimate the amount of control they have in their lives. For the most part, if you really want something, and do your absolute best, you have slightly better chances than people who don't try as hard. Slightly better, that's it. Events outside your control still tend to dominate outcomes.

      September 21, 2012 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
  6. Catarena

    Can I add one. Being poor is walking the streets looking for bottles to turn in for the money they give you so you can buy a bag of beans, and also being poor is sleeping on the floor with one mattress and no sheets or blankets wondering where your parent is and when your going to get to eat next.

    September 21, 2012 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
    • theresa

      To me, you're description of being poor is much more believable than that of the author.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jason

    RT Thadwin, you are full of it. It seems like everybody who hates the poor has a "friend" like you described. I have a question. If your "friend" is so bad then why are you friends with her? You know you lying. People like you are a joke.

    September 21, 2012 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
    • helenCarlson

      Let me add:
      Being poor is working for cash, without paying tax
      Being poor is getting SNAP benefits by fraud
      Then spent all amount on junky craps, & welcome obesity
      Within the same transaction pay foods with SNAP card, then pay rest ALCOHOLIC tipsy with the DEBIT card
      What's the point being poor, if we pay those unhealthy TIPSY
      Then why don't we just pay for good food.....

      September 21, 2012 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
      • nicinnc

        You are a truly horrible person helenCarlson. I hope you know this. You probably think you are a Christian. You aren't. You're hateful and there is not room for Christ in a hateful heart.

        September 21, 2012 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
      • KC

        A friend was briefly on SNAP while recuperating from surgery. He bought the healthy foods his doctor recommended and used up his whole month's benefits for the first week's groceries. He quickly discovered that the only way to eat for a full month on the amount of money they gave him was to buy cheap junk - the non-nutritious fluff bread for 79c a loaf instead of the healthy whole-grain stuff for $4 a loaf, lots of spaghetti and very little protein.

        September 21, 2012 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
  8. Chris

    Yeah...I can definately say that those things were felt in my childhood. You know what? I cherish that experience. Not one of these "middle-classers" or "upper classers" know what that feels like nor can they realize the importance of humility that comes from that experience. I am not a veteran of the armed forces and currently enrolled full-time in college dedicating my time towards a bachelors degree in biological science. These experiences got me here with a feeling of accomplishment. Whereas someone who had that kind of a future as a sure thing would be incapable of appreciating the benefits of their own life. Bless the poor.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jc

    I am amazed at all the negativity about poor people. Of course there will always be others in 3rd world countries who have it worse, but just how poor do you have to be before someone throws you a rope or a kind word. Any poor person I have known did not choose to be poor. I came from a large family of six children. My father went to work every day, and my mother stayed home with the children. They both worked very hard. I and my sister both wore hand-me-downs. There were many years when we did not have a television or phone. We each only got one 10 dollar gift for Christmas most years. We even probably missed some meals along the way. But although we were poor by some standards, I don't think I nor my brothers and sisters ever realized it. Neither parent drank alcohol or smoked, and there were no loud arguments but rather only laughter in our home. They were both home with us except when my dad was working. The years we did not have a television were spent at the kitchen table playing board games like monopoly or card games like go fish. We lived in a clean home without air conditioning, but that didn't matter because we spent our summer days playing outdoors all day. I look back on those days now as very happy, carefree times even though we did not have much in the way of expensive toys or fancy clothes. And we all grew up to be happy, responsible, loving, caring, and compassionate middle class working people that all live in nice homes and have nice families of our own. I guess what I am trying to say is not all poor people are looking for handouts. And everyone deserves respect and a hand to help them through the hard times if they need it and should not be shamed for that.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • savviecat

      ditto jc, we didn't know we were "poor" either and I honestly can't say I suffered any lasting effects of eating 10 cent ramen other than an incredibly self-reliant work ethic. Feel sorry for me?

      September 20, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • HonorThePoor

      I'll take a town of poor people before dining with rich sociopath. Any day... and Sunday... Poor people are honest people.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
      • theresa

        Poor people are honest and rich people are not? There's little logic with that statement.

        September 21, 2012 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
      • Brian

        This isn't a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Poor people are usually poor for a reason, and honesty usually isn't a part of it.

        September 21, 2012 at 1:33 am | Report abuse |
      • Peace Lily

        Well now Teresa and Brian. Aren't we the answer to the world's prayers? I know quite a few rich people and far more poor people. The poor are poor for a reason? Try to remember that a lot of people in poverty now are there as a result of decisions that the rich made! I, too, would sit down to dinner with a town full of poor people before I would a rich a**hole who got rich off the toil of people he took advantage of! Try getting laid off after you literally played a HUGE role in saving a company from shutting down after a big tech project went bad. The economy caused that one. Then try working for peanuts in a field that paid others very well who had been out there longer while you built yourself back up. Just the way things are caused that one. Then try to recover from your spouse having a mid-life crisis after 22 years of marriage that cost you everything you had gained. Not being able to predict the future caused that one. THEN be just in sight of seeing it all good again, to suddenly not being able to even get hired to wipe someone else's behind. Generations of bad government, bad ideals, bad economy caused that one. Sure...I CHOSE these things and am poorer because of my choices! Riiiiggghhhtttt! You are so clueless as to the way things really are. But I do CHOOSE to rise above what has happened and maintain my compassion and be a good citizen in spite of it all. I dare not speak badly of the poor...I was there! And I may be there again before it's all over. But I will never forget those less fortunate. While there are some rich who deserve kudos, most do not. They are only rich because THEY gamed the system that we built ourselves. Capitalism...gain at the expense of others!

        September 21, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Oneofsix

      I agree...we (my family) may have been seen as poor by current standards, but we were loved and lacked for nothing we needed. Maybe we should stop and think as a society "what do we really need", as apposed to "what do we want". (Big difference). We never felt as though we were different. Additionally we learned to respect others, the value of a dollar and what we had...plus developed a work ethic that is missing in many young people today who have everything they want. Something to think about.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
    • marie morgan

      I like you, I like your comment, you see I am French and grew up after world war2, we were all poor on an american standard, so what?we all know that money does not buy happiness, you sound you were raise in dignity with good moral values, and happy?Just like me, we were a happy bunch of people , living our life socializing,talking, playing,interacting.
      My father always said people with money are evil....well I look at what happened in 2008,and I agree, speculation belongs to the Devil, unfortunately in the US you are judged by the money you make and not the person you are, it seems to me the Devil took over. Well I do not worry because I don't play the game, I am for what I stand with or without money, solidarity, compassion, understanding, and a lot of laughs .

      September 21, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  10. I am not poor and i am proud of it.

    If you are posting on this article you can't be that poor, because you have access to an internet and a computer.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matthew from St. Louis

      Just because you post on here does mean you can not be poor. You can get on the Internet with NO Money or even a computer... Go to the Library or if someone goes to a public school!

      September 20, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marc

      Yes they are poor...of course they get free cable internet with their subsidized cable. Live in subsidized housing, have food stamps, eat free at school.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
      • Rio Von

        Oh jealous are we? Filled with envy. A believer is what that there is a good job with benefits and middle class pay? Wanting to look down on others?

        September 21, 2012 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
    • marie morgan

      you are funny, you are right, don t think American are poor...I am french, lets get a tour to Africa, or why not Syria...
      will see what it means to be poor...

      September 21, 2012 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  11. ToughTimes

    The system is broken. If the programs meant to end poverty worked we would end poverty. No instead we have created a class of people who are comfortable with having, doing, owning less. Not from some sense of Walden but from laziness and terrible modeling by parents or their community. The system was meant to help people until they could help themselves. Instead we have created incentives for people to act irresponsibly and still eat and live comfortably. We all want to help the poor but no one wants to help someone who is gaming the system and the problem is we can not tell them apart. If we really wanted to help the poor we would fix public education, add incentives for people to get and stay married, teach nutrition and P. E in our schools, teach ethics at every level. No instead we blame the rich cause we are poor and likely to remain poor cause poor people need politicians and well politicians need rich people. I haven't heard either of the choices drive to the root cause of the problem and that is Americans have lost their sense of shared values.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peace Lily

      I guess my biggest question is this: should those undeniably in need be punished for the misdeeds of others who are gaming the system? The gaming of the system is what we need to stop. We should never forget those less fortunate. I, too, have a hard time feeling empathy for the milkers. But if stopping it means hurting the rest who are innocent of doing such things, I just don't buy that as a solution. There has to be a way to care for the less fortunate while cutting off the ones milking the system. That alone would probably reduce our deficit tremendously!

      September 20, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thoughtful_Reply

      Wow...That was really well said. Thank you.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • limeade46

      Have you ever gotten involved with helping the poor? Volunteering with a church organization, a soup kitchen or a well baby clinic? If you have you know people don't fake being poor. They simply are and most of them are so embarrassed. Please don't think everyone takes advantage of the system.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
    • marie morgan

      I agree with you
      But in America we lost solidarity in our way to the american dream
      But poor american are still richer than anyplace in the developing world

      September 21, 2012 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  12. polyxenes

    This article really hit a nerve with me.

    From the early 1970's, I raised my two little kids alone, their father hatefully telling me, "You're divorced now." when I called, again begging for the child support he owed us. Without the "burden" of supporting, or even acknowledging his children, my ex was able to put himself through medical school and is now a respected member of his community. His comfortable lifestyle is financed by my children's lack of basic material needs as they grew up. The family laws had no teeth then, I hope they do today.

    Regardless, I worked entry-level jobs, two and three at a time – just us three. My kids were "latch-key" kids from the first grade on, something that I think I would be punished for these days.

    I remember one time buying my son a much-needed pair of shoes for $6, for which I'd saved several weeks. One morning I woke to a smoke-filled house – my little daughter had put one of his shoes in the open-burning gas space heater. At my wit's end, I hysterically called (collect) my parents, swallowed my pride, and asked for $6 to replace the shoes.

    My shame was so great that my own family did not know our situation. My pride was so great that I didn't ask for help when it would have greatly benefited my kids – this is the regret with which I live today.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • polyxenes

      In all fairness, I should add that we "turned out" OK.

      My little latch-key kids learned important skills that helped them later in life, such as responsibility (keep the door locked and don't answer it for anyone, getting themselves up, dressed / fed / off to school, and learning to do their own laundry) and frugality (making a pb&j when they were hungry, and lawn-mowing / baby-sitting to earn their spending money). This, while I worked as much as possible and struggled mightily with undiagnosed/untreated severe depression. I was not a stellar parent.

      I should also mention a one-time boss that remains a friend to this day. Unknown to me, he subsidized another coworker's weekly (slaughtered/dressed/frozen) rabbit purchase so that my kids and I had fresh meat, and he gave me "extra" produce from his garden. He always acted like he was going to throw the vegetables away unless we took them, and I was too young/naive/desperate to argue the point. Thanks to him, we survived with my stupid pride intact.

      Today my grown kids are hard-working, responsible, loving spouses and parents. They roll with the punches. They love me and have fond memories of growing up, which I can hardly believe.

      I in no way am gloating. I rarely think or talk about the struggles these days – but this article brought all the memories and feelings back tonight.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ted

    My father was defrauded when he put all his life savings into buying a gas station.
    When the gas station was fradulently taken from him, he went into depression mode for 2years. Thanksfully welfare helped sustain my family diet and helped pay the mortgage.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • marie morgan

      You see , help in the US is available, poor in the US has no meaning on a world scale, where people die every day of hunger

      September 21, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
      • Mel

        I recall just a few years ago, an elderly man in my state froze to death one winter in his house because his electric was turn off.

        September 21, 2012 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
  14. bloodghost

    i know being the internet the chances of being read to the last period are slim but i hope this makes sense for those who read it the whole way. most of these "being poor" statements are problems some folks would literally kill to have. being poor in america is comparatively a godsend to being poor in a third world country. now before i face the gallows over what i just said, please understand, i have gone to bed hungry. there were nights when i was a kid when the only thing that was there to eat were the tears in my dad's eyes. fortunately i haven't faced that desperation in a few years. i still eat 10 cent ramen, and probably always will. without doubt there are examples of extreme poverty in the USA, the income desparity between the working poor and the well invested elite is so extreme it makes my stomach turn. but even that being the case, many in other countries would give everything to be a poor person in the USA. is our compassion altered by proximity? does the compassionate cause end at our borders? look, i am an anarchist, i hate the state and all of its forms, it isn't my friend and trust me it isn't yours. on top of that, i know the monied elite of the world stand by and watch as those who are flesh of their flesh, bone of their bone, and blood of their blood, die in the streets, starving and naked. ultimately, the poor in the USA are better off than the poor in the third world. this isn't a secret. the biggest secret is how those who have the ability to change the tide of international poverty and hunger can stand idley by while other humans waste away. are these people waiting for the government? are they waiting for better times? do they want to make sure they have enough money in their childs 529 account before they help a neighbor? look – i don't do as much as i could, the hamburger helper i ate tonight could have been split around to another couple of people and i would have been just fine. i haven't had a homeless person in my house in a couple of months, and i probably should. but my means to help are small compared to some of the fortune 500 cats. i will never call for government intervention, like i said, i am an anarchist through thick and thin, mainly thin. i am asking that those who can help their fellow man. and for those who are really up in arms about being poor in the USA, i am with you, i've been hungry, but remember, while hungry in Indiana feels a lot like hungry in India the chances of getting a sandwich in Indinapolis are 40x higher than the chance of getting a bite to eat in New Delhi.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • marie morgan

      you are so right!!!Lets just take the situation in America compared to the whole world..
      In America you always get help , the system is here to step in when you are in need,and some people know how to manipulate it well, agreed
      So we should look at all the "real poor", we american are not really poor, we are american....

      September 21, 2012 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
      • Yesperson

        So, just because it isn't as bad as it could be means it's not worth improving? Relative poverty can still be miserable.

        September 21, 2012 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
  15. alfred

    made a reply. liived it been there done that.. you don't want to hear that su faack off. been more poor than any one you can come up with.,.., a/w

    September 20, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  16. janus

    Americans do not know what poverty is. Being poor means wearing 3 generation hand me downs. Being poor is being barefooted year round. Being poor is living in trash dumps. Being poor is living in a place where public defecation is routine. Being poor is giving your children for others to take care of them. Being poor is being high on drugs to satisfy hunger.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • alfred

      Don't know poverty!!?? bite me.. 1950's Mich. no heat no food, no meds., 5 kids no help... poor?? poverty?? not even close...if you live where it's warm ,, cool..,.but in MI, you fraxking freeze,.,. done that.. while I frooze i also had no food. no libs, in those days?? No one has poverty lioke we had in the 50–60"s.. not even close../. screwwrw the fraackking rats nof today!!!!!!!

      September 20, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mel

      Sounds like America to me janus. You've been to the city right?

      September 21, 2012 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
    • marie morgan

      I strongly agree!!!

      September 21, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  17. alfred

    Poor!! Damn!! you people have no idea what poor is!! late 40's–to mid 60's. little food,,oh if you go get it, you got it.. brown bag surrplus USDA. No heat, no food, no water,, no meds., no fracking heip, for 5 kids. No Fracking Help at all .. but here we are and we served our country 28+ years and still pay our way.. No food,, no watet,, n o heat,, NO Help and we still made it. Fukkck todays welfare!!!

    September 20, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Kodak

    It is true that many people need legit help. Shame on us if we the people don't step up and help. BUT, there are many who do take advantage of the system. There are many jobs available but some people would rather do nothing than work at McDonalds or building a house for a contractor. Yes, I know those jobs won't pay to support a family but something is better than nothing. How is it that a typical illegal can get a job in front of 7-11 and support two or four families with that income?? We have a lot to learn here in the US of A about responsibility.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • TJH

      You are referring to individuals that reside in households that may have 4 generations living under the same roof; pooling resources, knowing that the family separated will not survive. Divided, those individuals would be forced to seek assistance for housing and food; all those luxuries that Mitt believes are not basic human needs. So, that said, I hope you welcome your 39 year old son back into your house after he loses his job, along with his 3 wailing children, his b!tc4 of a wife that will not miss an episode of Dr. Phil, your mother-in-law and perhaps an incontinent aunt or two. We have a lot to learn... thank you so much for your insight.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dee

        Thank you, I have had 4 generations in my house already.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  19. RHEA

    growing up in the PHILIPPINES, being poor is:
    -having to figure out when and what is next meal
    -if you're fortunate to have enough money for rice, then, figuring out where to get SOY SAUCE to put in your rice

    September 20, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |

    How about if all these big fat, over fed poor people in the picture stopped eating so much food and spent the money on something more productive? that would be a good start.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stop to think.

      Most people below poverty line are overweight because they cannot afford healthy food/lifestyles. With long work days and low pay they resort to cheaper foods with less nutritional value, hence the attraction to cheap fast food by poor populations.These people do not have the extra leisure time to work out or go running. It's a revolving door and unless you're a health specialist or a sociologist or someone who lives in a poor neighborhood, you are POORly informed. It is a revolving door that needs fixing.

      September 20, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
      • RT THADWIN

        You are an idiot. No matter what food you are eating... eating less of it will lower your weight.
        The real issue is that poor people need to learn self control, and need to make better choices with their lives.
        Your attempt to rationalize bad choices and bad morals as "out of their control" is enabling them. This is the root of the problem.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
      • bannister

        What a bunch of BS.

        The connection between poverty and obesity is INTELLIGENCE. People who make "bad choices" about eating are the same people who make bad choices about money. A bad of apples costs the same as a Big Mac with fries but the lower IQ people choose the Big Mac and suffer the consequences.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dee

        A big Mac is about two bucks, a bag of apples is 6 bucks, you obviously don't shop!

        September 20, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
      • john

        When was the last time you got a Big Mac? A Big Mac Meal is at least $6.00 where I live. $2.00? I believe you are the one that does not shop

        September 20, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peace Lily

      I'll tell you what RT THADWIN. Go buy you a month's worth of pinto beans, flour, peanut butter, bread, rice, and all the cheap foods that the poor have to eat in order to get everyone fed and see what it does to someone who is stressed to the max, past her shapely prime, and don't have enough energy to worry about the small plate of food that all had for dinner in her house and see where you are in a month. To all of you people who look at only the surface...it's why you're ignorant! I am not on welfare and am not the poorest of the poor, but where I live has been so devastated by the loss of textile, furniture, and tobacco jobs that you cannot even get full time at McDonald's and Walmart! Then, I suppose, you would all complain when the poor woman isn't at home watching her kids because she has to go to a second job...and all because the first job knocked out her food stamps even though it wasn't full time! People in this country need to get their heads out of their behinds! It doesn't matter how or why the poor are poor. But it DOES matter how we treat the least of our citizens. You think we're a great nation? Other countries laugh at us because we don't take care of our own! I have friends all over the world who ask me all the time why it's like this in the great "America". I simply don't have an answer! They think we are the most ridiculous country on the planet. The only ones who want to come here are those even more poor than our poor! And guess what? THEY get treated better than our own! This country is a disgrace and we should all be ashamed. I have always been told to never judge someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes. So I strongly recommend that if you cannot, at the very least, live the equal amount of pain that our poor does, then you should just keep your darned mouth shut!

      September 20, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Junk food is cheaper.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Mel

      To all you self righteous judging the poor to be low lives. The article is written from the point of view of a child. Children have no say in what their parents do or the choices they make. They just have to live with it good or bad. The article is it make us stop and think. And to get a glimpse into another person's world. No one knows where life my lead them. So stop acting like it can't happen to you.

      September 21, 2012 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
  21. sandr88

    I remember one day loosing everything, and finding out suddenly I had to fund my own university education, and everything my parents saved was taken by the banks including our house, bank accounts. Suddenly I learned I could live off $5 of grocieries a week.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  22. schoolsub

    Being poor also means receiving refundable tax credits, such as earned income credit and additional child tax credit, INSTEAD of paying in taxes. It means receiving free medical insurance (Medicaid). It means Women, Infants, and Children (
    WIC) benefits. It means free preschool (Head Start). It means free school lunch. Thank all of the 53% of Americans who DO pay taxes for all of these.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denver_mike

      I'm sure they would trade places, just ask one

      September 20, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
      • yc

        if one dropped out of high school, he won't be able to trade places with one who didn't. if one had a baby at 17, she won't be able to trade places with someone who did. a lot of people who are not poor today used to be poor. when I was in law school, once I stared at a poster I really liked in a goodwill store for 10 minutes, and finally decided to pay the $15 cost by skipping lunch for a week.

        September 20, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • RT THADWIN

        I'm too am sure they would trade places. They would love to get the fruit of my labor for free. That's the mentality that's keeping them down.

        September 20, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • schoolsub

      I forgot about food stamps, much of which ends up paying for cigarettes, liquor, and lottery ticket, since the USDA has gone to a cash card system.

      September 20, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
      • Susan Powers

        Get your facts correct. Cigs, liquor and lottery tickets cannot be purchase with food stamps and if a store is doing that they are doing it illegally. Now having said that, I guess you are not one of the po folks and my question to you is, would you like to trade places? I doubt it!

        September 20, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
      • schoolsub

        They pay for their groceries with the food stamp card and take some cash, too. Then they turn around and spend the cash on whatever they want. I've been in line at the check out and have seen the cash actually go from the clerk to the customer.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dee

        Absolutely NONE of the items you mentioned are paid for on the food stamp program. I really get sick of all you nuts who keep making this stuff up!

        September 20, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      schoolsub, when someone is at poverty level, does it really bother you that they get tax credits when they barely make any money to survive? Believe me, these impoverished families are never taking their kids on trips to Disneyworld when they receive their tax refund – they are using those funds to pay for the necessities in life, not luxuries. I'm a taxpayer, and it's pathetic that you have no empathy towards others. Bet you didn't grow up impoverished either or know what it's like to wonder where or when your next meal will come from. Pathetic.

      September 20, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
      • schoolsub

        Kim, I DID grow up impoverished. I lived in a "basement house" (that's a basement with no house on top). We had no bathroom (unless you count the privy on the back fence line). Mom bought the cheap food: pork liver, beef tongue, heart, etc.) Supper was often toasted bread, broken up and covered with milk. Breakfast was, well I developed a taste for coffee while I was in grade school. I did get a college education, but what my total of $800 in scholarships didn't pay, I paid for MYSELF, working during high school and during the four summers before each of my four years in a state college. I did NOT borrow any money from any source. If I wanted something but did not have the money to spare, well I just continued to want it because I did not buy it. Don't tell me I don't know about poverty. My family was impoverished but they NEVER got any welfare (food stamps, WIC, Medicaid, food bank donations, etc.). They (and I) simply worked our tails off.

        September 20, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kim

        guess you weren't too poor then. If you could afford that standard of living, you weren't impoverished. So you had to go to the bathroom outside. Boo hoo. How terrible. Sounds like your mom had a lot of food to put on the table. Impoverished? I think not. You have no idea. How privileged that your family never had to go to a food pantry or apply for welfare or QUALIFY for free lunches. No, my family was never lazy, so don't insinuate that those who are on welfare or WIC or otherwise are all lazy people. You don't get it because you've never lived it. Sounds like a feast at your dinner table, by the way.

        September 20, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
      • schoolsub

        Kim, my parents (may they rest in peace) were too proud to take "hand outs". That was just not acceptable.

        September 20, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kim

        Too proud to take handouts? Sounds like they didn't need to. You could afford meals. That's not poverty.

        My mother didn't drink coffee. She couldn't afford it. We didn't eat breakfast either.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
      • schoolsub

        Kim: What bothers me is that the current system offers no incentive for pulling oneself up by his bootstraps and finding ANY type of job. Sometimes people can live better on the dole that working.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • WasOncePoor

        I was poor, I thought I had the American dream until a medical issue filled pregnancy wiped that out. We have hung onto our house, but we did have WIC, Food Stamps, and Medicaid while trying to get back on our feet. There are programs out there for a reason. I never wanted to see my kids go hungry even though I did for years while I put MYSELF through college and then after. Luckily, thankfully we no longer need those programs because I went back to school and found a different career path to help my family. My husband has always worked crazy hours to help support us, but sometimes it was not enough. We need social programs to help people get through the tough times. It was extrememly hard for me to accept help, but I knew it would benefit my children. Now I have two healthy beautiul kids and a pretty good job. We cook everything from scratch because it is so much cheaper than buying prepackadged food not to mention healthier, we do not have cable tv or even a converter box, we don't drink, don't smoke (I mean who can really afford it these days anyway), and I regulary have yard sales to get extra cash. I do whatever I can to pay the bills even if it means selling all of my belongings, because that is just stuff. We have each other and that is what matters. Again I am thankful for those programs that helped me get through, but I am even happier I do not need them anymore.

        September 21, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Shut Up

      Shut up.

      September 20, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |

      I have a friend who is on WIC. Has been for as long as i've known her. She will not marry the man living with her because she will lose benefits (he makes too much money). So she teaches her kids a moral lesson about marriage (screw it. lets shack up and live off of the neighbors) while the rest of us pay for it. She brags about it.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      I am retired now and still pay taxes but having been in the poorhouse myself, I have NO problem with my money being used to help children have food, a roof over their head and medical care. After all, we are supposed to be CIVILIZED!

      September 20, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • Bluefeather

        May God bless you for your kind heart.

        September 21, 2012 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
  23. Kim

    This is what being poor meant to me as a child and means to me as an adult:

    I recall my mother heating our home with a gas stove because our heat was shut off – we couldn't afford to pay the bill

    My shoes were hand me downs, too small and I have bunyuns on my feet as a result.

    Going to bed hungry

    my mother suffered from obvious depression

    my mother made me school "folders" out of album covers – because we couldn't afford school supplies. Kids ridiculed me, of course.

    Having clothes that never fit right. I'd wear safety pins on my pants just to keep them from falling down and hoping nobody would ever notice.

    Dreading getting on the school bus in the morning because I knew the moment I walked on I'd be ridiculed by all the kids on the bus for "living in a barn".

    Remembering the children into my adulthood who were NOT mean to me

    Not being able to participate in extra curricular activities because we didn't have the money

    appreciating that my mother saved up any penny she could to make sure that we always had Christmas gifts – for that I am grateful for ALL of her sacrifices

    Made me a stronger more independent person – a woman who never had to depend on a man or otherwise to take care of me. Everything I have I worked for myself.

    Feeling sorry for people who complain about trivial things in life and those who want things handed to them on a silver platter – you miss out on the true meaning in life and what's really important, and you waste your breath complaining that things aren't "perfect". It's a joke to me that your parents never taught you to appreciate the things you have.

    Being grateful for the things I have and not dwelling on what I don't have, but knowing that I could lose it all tomorrow and the only thing that will matter if I do is that I have my health, happiness and loved ones near by.

    Learning not to judge others. For I have spent my entire childhood being judged and ridiculed by others, and I know full well what it means to be on the receiving end and having no control over the situation you are in. That applies to any person's situation – not just children.

    Money does not make people happy.

    You have to play the hand you were dealt.

    For this, I believe I have grown into an empathetic, kind hearted, respectful and appreciative human being who does my best not to take life for granted.

    Live for today, not for tomorrow.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      oh yeah, and the free lunches at school

      September 20, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
      • Larry L

        Thank you. Sometimes, but rarely, I hear things that make me feel better about humanity. I wish everybody could appreciate the depth of your comments.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • another kim

      I grew up in Canada. You described my childhood, too. Except that there was no free lunch – I hid in the bathroom so nobody would see I didn't have a lunch at all. I'd steal candy from the dishes at the secretary's desk in the office – to this day I can't suck on a peppermint without gagging. My teachers ignored the fact that fell asleep all the time in class. Had trouble associating things properly in class. Inappropriate reactions to events that made the other kids see me as weird – I was weird.

      My parents were both teachers – my dad at a university. He left our family because he was "disillusioned" and threatened that he'd get a judgement to garnishee mom's wages if she tried to get child support. At 13, 11 and 10 we were "old enough to earn our own dinners" (we baby sat for $1.25/hr. Did you know you can buy one can of off-brand soda for 11 cents and the fizz fills you up? That was in the early 80s).

      Mom was great – she stayed with us. And she drank Vodka like a fish. What's with this depression stuff, right? SHe'd go on 3-hour screaming rants and scare the living daylights out of us. Every penny of her money not in the bottle, cigarettes, or coffee (come on, we didn't have milk but she had coffee?) went to paying the mortgage so we wouldn't be out on the street.

      No school lunches. Teachers covering for each other. In Commie Canada. Don't tell me the US doesn't have it better. Cheaper clothes than we could ever afford in Canada.

      Yeah, I'm stronger for it. I'm blazing bulletproof. And when I've been unemployed, it was because I felt like writing a book and I've never taken a penny of pogie.

      I'm a Republican and I believe the wealthy, who now include me, should keep their money because they spend it more wisely than those who didn't EARN it.

      But please, people, keep an eye on your neighbors. The kids stealing your berries may need 'em.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kim

        I'm a republican too.

        Sounds like a psychotherapist would be beneficial to assist with your emotional disturbance, whatever that may be that harbors your psyche from your childhood – I can only imagine what a self absorbed mother who denied you what you should have been provided has done to you. For me, fortunately, my mother wasn't selfish, and therefore, I've learned to SHARE with the needy, not punish them for my childhood misfortunes.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
      • Larry L

        A different Kim – and a much different person resulting from hardship. I too had a tough story and have learned that the strongest people don't get mean and cynical, that's just for those of us too weak to develop kindness and compassion in the face of adversity. I include myself because I'm a work in progress – not trying to gain more wealth but more true character.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
      • another kim

        Who am I punishing by keeping the money that I earn?
        And what do I choose to do with it? Well it happens, I own a business that employs young mothers, two of whom have used the proceeds of their WORK to EARN a certificate. They used their on-the-job EXPERIENCE to move on to higher-paying jobs (I gave them glowing references. Health care field. Nothing sordid, nothing whatsoever to do with s3x). There's a third working her way up, now. The money I put into that business (and I also work full time) means that I don't take the vacations, wear the clothes, or drive the car you'd expect. "Rich people" of that sort are mostly just spending themselves into being poor people. Truly rich people – those who are rich in family, love and joy – already know that.
        No, I really don't know how you thought I might be "punishing" someone else by keeping the money I earned, but as a matter of fact, it's not just the state of enjoying my earnings – my doing so really does result in trickle down. No joke, no lie.

        September 21, 2012 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
      • alfred

        WOW!! I stole those berries??? lol. my life in USA. only worse.

        September 21, 2012 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
    • schoolsub

      Kim, I think that you do have to admit that neither of us had it very well growing up but I guess we both did alright. See, we both have these nice computers that we can use to debate "but I was really poorer than you."

      September 20, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  24. unodude

    i get so sick of hearing about poor people with 5 kids living off welfare.. the one thing i never hear about is the reason for most of this. these women need to keep their legs closed. in other words, teach birth control.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • schoolsub

      Also, besides "keeping their legs crossed", we need to teach our men what it is to be a responsible husband and father. It means COMMITMENT TO YOUR FAMILY. Stick with your mate and offspring, through good times and bad.

      September 20, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Faxon

    What, exactly, am I supposed to learn from this article? Life has no guarantees. None. How about an article about what it's like to have a terminal illness? To be an amputee? To not have the latest iPhone? Sheesh.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Charlie

    Ha! These silly income classes- and the fake commercialism, capitalism, politics, immediate gratification and glorious and endless perversions. Glad all those worthless excuses for actors on CNN have something to exploit.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  27. EKIA

    Obama has failed. More people live in poverty than ever before. It's time to turn the country over to someone with a proven track record of creating jobs and fixing ailing companies.

    Romney/Ryan 2012!!!!!!

    September 20, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • William1956

      His track record of creating jobs, is from the jobs he created overseas. And and fixing ailing companies, the company he fixed was the SLC Olympics and the Olympics is not a company.

      September 20, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • Blake Leighton


        Sent from my iPhone

        September 20, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denver_mike

      Mittins had created a bunch of jobs, in china. His company ended american jobs and have them to foreigners.

      September 20, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • kthln3

      Sweetie, if you think "Obama has failed" just wait till you get a dose of 4 years of Romney.

      That is, if he had a chance to win. He won't. There are too many working poor in America like myself & my husband, whose world was turned upside when we lost lucrative jobs we'd had for over 20 years when the economy started falling apart in 2008. Throw in two catastrophic illnesses (my husband, my elderly parents) and BOOM, suddenly your upper-middle class life has vaporized. But I don't blame Obama: he walked into a hornet's nest that the REPUBLICANS created and it can't be solved in 4 years. Especially with a Congress that would not work with him.

      God help us all if elitist Romney wins. But I am certain that he won't.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  28. sameeker

    Being poor is:

    Not having a family life because both parents have to work minimum wage jobs just to survive.

    Having to work a minimum wage job because you don't dare risk asking for anything better because you need the money.

    Having to pay to cash you paycheck because you can't afford a bank account.

    Having to pay more for things like insurance because you have to pay by the month instead of writing out a check for several hundred dollars.

    Getting kicked around by business, the police and other powers that be because you don't have the money to fight them.

    Having to buy junk at Walmart because you cant afford quality stores.

    Being the one hardest hit when gas prices skyrocket because you barely make enough to get back and forth to work as it is.

    Having to put up with tyrannical bosses and coworkers because there are 1,000 people who will take your job.

    And lastly, not having a say in your government because you don't have a ton of cash to pay to be heard.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • sameeker

      Part 2:

      Being blamed for you predicimate because you didn't inherit money or you don't make enough to buy stock and start a business because you don't even earn enough to survive.

      Having to work mandatory overtime every weekend while the top people at the company are vacationing in the Bahamas.

      Doing all the work while some rich investor takes all of the profits.

      working 50 – 60 hours a eek and still having to accept food stamps because the company is too cheap to pay a living wage.

      September 20, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  29. William1956

    I can remember when they started serving breakfast at school so I went to the lunch room to get breakfast and I got my breakfast and when I got to the end of the line their was a woman and a cash register and she said that will be 50 cents please so I dug deep into my pockets and found 35 cents and handed it to her and she said that is not enough so i walked away hungry and never went back.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • candymann

      I am a nurse and with paying for college and kids and having serious health issues. I feel for you, u are not alone, stay strong.

      September 21, 2012 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
  30. Memories

    That list was heartbreaking. Yup, felt some of it, though not as severe. It frees me from feeling sorry for myself as
    an aged guy in the "poor category" adult because the kids feel the sting of it 10 times over. I do keep it a secret
    I'm on food stamps from friends who don't know how far I fell. I also try not to look at the posts that attach a great
    shame and failure stigma to it, they'll never know how an ailment of your body can make you drop like a stone, financially.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Questions401

      Yes! thank you for saying that. People take good health for granted.

      September 20, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  31. liberalcat

    this is not a good photo for this story. i only see fat and lazy.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  32. jean

    This article brought back memories. One of the most humiliating experiences of my childhood occurred in elementary school. This was 1960's Iowa, prior to the federal school lunch program. My father had been laid off from work and a local agency provided sack lunches for the children that needed them, for which I'm grateful. However, the children that received the free sack lunches were not allowed to sit at the tables, but were made to sit on the floor, against the wall, and next to the lunchroom door. For me, it was the wall of shame.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Duckens

    Poor is "not middle class."

    Middle class once meant needing only one income to::
    Own a home.
    Have health insurance.
    Send one's children to college.

    iphones and tvs and cars (20yo, duct tape to hold one door one, a window that doesn't roll up) are a distraction. Either you have access to the three things listed as Middle Class, or you are below Middle Class:


    Most families I know have two incomes, and they still can't attain ALL three things listed above. These are people who did all the right things: no or low college debt, no credit card debt, no crazy trips to Disneyland or Hawaii, no expensive weddings or divorces. They work hard, don't smoke or use drugs (other than an occasional bottle of wine for Thanksgiving), don't buy lottery tickets or gamble, and buy secondhand clothes, cars, and appliances.

    Those in charge are doing a good job of dividing us.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      well said

      September 20, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  34. cajolumael

    Being poor is watching your kids play outside with the neighborhood kids because the houses are small and without much electronics.
    Being poor is being out chatting with your neighbors because everyone is trying to cut down on AC or does not have an AC.
    Being poor is learning who your friends really are. Specially if you were not poor before.
    Being poor is about finding your real value because the only thing you have left is you.
    Being poor is re-learning to enjoy the really simple things in life. A fresh autum day after a summer without AC.
    Was pretty wealthy, am pretty poor. I am sure in time I will come out of poverty but I will forever be grateful for many of the things I have learnt while poor.
    And while, by western standards, I am poor. By third world standars I am pretty rich. Go figure.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      Thank you for putting a positive spin on this. Its easy to think of all the negative things as I grew up a child in poverty. But you are SO right. It also afforded me life experiences that have shaped me into the person and mother I am today. Thanks!

      September 20, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Puckles

    I love how almost all of these "poor" people in the photo are OVERWEIGHT! What a JOKE. Send them to Africa for a day. Then they will know what poverty really is. I guess that is why everyone wants to live in the U.S. because even the "poor" people here are fat!

    September 20, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • William1956

      Some of the Russians were giving 50 million a year in aid to are fat. 🙂

      September 20, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • debi jackson

      That's because the cheapest food is the most fattening; high-carbs- – bread, potatoes, pasta. You have never been poor, or you would realize this.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
      • Just_realistic

        Beans are some of the highest sources of protein and are among the cheapest meal to make. The lazy and ignorant feast excessively on high carb, low nutrition items because they taste good and are easy to fix.

        September 20, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
      • Karen

        I agree with you debi jackson. Thats why most of the overweight people is the food they can afford. Everyone should zip it and remember that people have feeling...they don't want to be that way. I have a tyroid problem and my company took our insurance away from us and now I can't afford to go to the doctor or afford the medicine.

        September 20, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • domynoe

      Healthy food, fresh food, is too damn expensive for those in poverty. They have to live off of cheap -prepackaged foods that have nothing but calories, usually can't get fresh fruit and veggies, and are lucky to be able to buy more than chicken, hamburger, and canned tuna.

      More than that, weight is more then food: it's heredity, stress (and poverty inflicts a lot of that), have the time and energy to exercise (which you usually don't have when poor), and other factors. Obesity doesn't mean someone is eating more food. Obesity doesn't mean someone is eating HEALTHY food. Obesity means a bad/poor diet combined with heredity, lack of exercise, and a whole lot of other factors, many of which are out of our control.

      Educate yourself and get rid of the stereotypes.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
      • pete

        Actually if you eat too much healthy food you can still be obese. Calorie intake is a big component in addition to eating healty food.

        Beans, apples, corn, fresh spinach,whole wheat bread is not that expensive

        September 20, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
      • XD

        @Pete. Spinach, apples, and other fresh, healthy foods are very expensive in comparison to foods like ramen, cheap pasta, and twinkies. You also get more calories with the processed cheap foods–which is what some people are trying to maximize with little regard to other nutrients.

        September 20, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
      • melrob

        Also, with being poor or not knowing where you next meal is coming from your body does a little strange thing, It goes into survivor mode. What that means is that any food eaten will be turned into fat for later use by the body when food is not available. Hence that is why a lot of poor people or people who do not eat regular meals have a tendency to be obese.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ellen

      Many poor people are fat because they have no car & no nearby markets that sell fresh, healthy food.

      September 21, 2012 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  36. William1956

    Its a shame that billion airs don't pay tax's, but they expect everyone else to.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • CheckYourFacts

      Billionaires don't pay taxes? The top 1% of tax payers pay over 40% of all income taxes; the bottom 95% of taxpayers pay less (in total) than 40% of income taxes.

      September 20, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
      • Larry L

        When the poor pay taxes they give up food, shelter, medicine, clothing and security. When billionaires pay taxes they simply give up the right to own fewer outrageously expensive luxury items. It's the reason a progressive tax system makes societies work and a regressive system results in revolution.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • msuwebmanager

        You're talking about INCOME tax, which is the only tax the GOP thinks worth talking about. We poor pay every other tax – sales tax, gas tax, property tax, school tax, library tax, city tax, water tax, sanitation tax, et al. And all these are at the exact same rate as a billionaire pays. But when you consider the percentage of available dollars, the poor pay a massively higher percentage than the rich. It's hard to pull yourself up by the bootstraps when you can't afford boots.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  37. mahdeealoo

    Being poor for me was:
    Wearing hand me downs. Always too big or too small.
    Wearing shoes so small that my toes curled under. Painful to walk to and from school.
    Having one can of Spam between 4 people for dinner.
    Going to my great aunts house and hoping she would send home an old butchered hen or rooster.
    Having one winter coat and having to wear it until the sleeves came up to my elbows.
    Walking everywhere. No taxi, no bus.
    Waking up to thick ice on the bedroom windows because the heater was 3 rooms away.
    Being teased for being the 2nd poorest family in my school.
    Loving the summer garden which gave us fresh vegetables and not canned peas.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Flamingo Kid

      You weren't "poor." You just weren't privileged. There are FAR worse cases in the world than yours. You should be thankful for the abundance you did have and stop whining.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • Questions401

        The definition of poor in the dictionary is lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society… mahdeealoo's experience seems to describe that, so you saying he was not poor is sort of erroneous.

        September 20, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
      • Equestrian Citizen

        I should say something what Flamingo Kid said sounds like MIttens Romney

        September 21, 2012 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
    • LizardKing

      Not poor but thrifty. I bet you are a far better person having know the bottom,right.

      September 21, 2012 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
  38. Puckles

    I love how almost all of these "poor" people in the photo are OVERWEIGHT! What a JOKE. Send them to Africa for a day. Then they will know what poverty really is.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • GOGO

      Poverty and Starvation are different right? Which degree of poverty is acceptable?

      September 20, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Kay

    Some of you repeat everything that Obama says without question. No one is wanting to give rich people a tax cut. What Republicans believe is that NO Americans should have their taxes RAISED. Extending the present tax rate is exactly was it says. It's extending what is already happening. We give the Government enough money. If we raise the taxes on anyone, do you really think the Government won't waste it? Of course they will. If we stand strong and so NO raise in taxes on anyone it will force the Goverment to live within means, like we have to.

    The Liberal Media, Obama and his campaign gang want us to turn on each other based on financial class. I would think we are smarter than that, but by some of the comments I read, I'm not sure. A country divided is a country easily conquered. We become so consumed in our greed and envy, that we take our eye off the real enemies.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Questions401

      umm actually you should read their tax plans before speaking about it

      September 20, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kay

        I was commenting on people saying Romney wants to give rich people at tax cut. That is not true. They want to keep the existing tax rate. There is a difference.

        September 20, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
      • Questions401

        please, just read their plan... please

        September 20, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kay

        I read the tax plan off Romney's site. If you read it off a Media site it's different, of course. I don't see anything that I object to. What is it you don't like?

        September 20, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jules

      Um, Romney is the one that said he doesn't care about 1/2 of the population of this country including elderly people. He also considers people that work full time at minimum wage to be lazy and just looking for a handout. I want a president that wants to lead the entire country. Not just the people that "count".

      September 20, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Danno

    Clearly these victims just aren't taking responsibility for their lives. ;\

    September 20, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Working Poor

    Back in the day: Yes we had a car & a TV – but no cable. The kids didn't really know we were poor. We were frugal. Hand-Me-Downs and thrift shops were the norm and nothing to be ashamed of! We always managed to keep a roof over our heads. We didn't have beef on the table much but thanks to generous friends and neighbors we had our fill of free range organic venison that I learned to butcher myself. Even now: Keeping up is almost impossible, never mind getting ahead – and that is with no lack of trying! It's tough out there and yes – eating healthy is more expensive than eating cheap!

    September 20, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Beam48

    That brought back some sad memories for sure for me. At the same time though many (not all) of the poor live better here then those in other countries. I don't have to walk 20 miles and for a jug of dirty water that might kill my children...:/ Still we DO have people dying in this country for lack of medical care..and we do have kids going hungry that shouldn't be...at least so far no child has starved to death here that wasn't at the hands of their care givers.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  43. ImWEBSPY

    I think the GOP is doing a social experiment, Accidently go to war on bad advice and kill and injure100 thousand needlessly. Take our money, jobs, homes, cars, give them to the banks and their friends on the way out of town.

    Then when were really good and poor get us to vote for a millionaire Mormon who calls us all a bunch of losers to win!

    Sounds about right!

    September 20, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  44. ROE

    Give it a rest

    September 20, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Brian

    As American citizens, our collective heart should ache for the growing number of poor and hungry in our land—especially the increasing number of children who fall into this segment. As a wealthy country, it is shameful to watch as little or no action is taken to alleviate the situation. Stop the blame. Do not condemn or pass judgement on some of our countrymen who are less-fortunate. Let's not grow weary in doing good. Have some compassion and help those in need.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Questions401

      you are a good person

      September 20, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
      • Working Poor

        I concur. Be nice! To the rest: how blessed you have been to never know hardship, worry or despair! On one hand I pray you never know it – on the other I hope you know it with vengence – if only for a minute to give you humility and care for humankind.

        September 20, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • bravotron

      Are you really helping them? Our will of survival and ambition is being sapped out of our very being. I don't disagree that there are those who need these programs but the trend in the past 10 years is a growing number of people who DON'T need these programs and steal the integrity of those who do need it. I guess my point is tighter regulation or even a way to disburse actual food products instead of just giving out money that people go buy lobster and soda with

      September 20, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
      • welltemperedwriter

        "the trend in the past 10 years is a growing number of people who DON'T need these programs and steal the integrity of those who do need it"

        Prove it.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
      • bravotron

        Ya CNN removed my proof...go figure

        September 21, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  46. William1956

    People don’t seem to realize what its really like to be poor in this country. When your a kid you wear hand me down clothes and sometimes they were your sisters. You move from place to place because your parents have to move to where the jobs are. You make friends in school only to have to tell them good by when you move. One of your parents dies because he drank himself to death so you move into a much smaller place because you cant afford the place you were living in. And you keep moving. You get old enough to move out on your own and this means living in your car or living in a tent. Finally your able to get a place to rent only to worry that you will be able to pay rent the next month. The land lord does not fix anything that’s broke. You have to put up with the neighbors playing loud music till late at night. Next thing you know you get evicted and you have to pack your things and find another place to rent within 15 days. And you go hungry for half the month just so you can pay the bills.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • William1956

      Oh I forgot one thing I caught 3 mice 2 with one sticky trap.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  47. ROE

    I must be stupid or something because I am just not getting this guy.
    First off, a "car????" his poor means having a "car" to pick up other peoples trash? OK. Sorry we just did not have that.
    The roach while packing lunches...first off they apparently had bread and something else to make a sandwhich yet the free lunches at school embarrassed him?
    A "TV???"...asking for things that are on TV? I do not remember having a TV.
    Raman noodles that were 2 cents more???? Oh for the love of god...if a child (or adult) notices a 2 cent difference in Raman noodles....please.
    Living next to the freeway??? Was he living "NEXT" to the freeway or "UNDER" it? I am sure he said "NEXT" to it.
    So sad.
    A heater in one room of the house? A "house???" AND a "heater???!"
    Underware??? He had underware???
    Stop this nonsense, he needs to spend one week with "THE POOR" and stop feeling sorry for himself.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just Sayin'

      I so agree !!!

      September 20, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Questions401

      You know being poor simply means lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society, right? Just because there are people even more poor then this person does not mean this person should be written off they way you just did...

      September 20, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
      • Just Sayin'

        So poor to you means only being able to afford one Big Mac, instead 2 Big Macs and fries like the people in the picture apparently have every day.

        September 20, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
      • Questions401

        no i simply listed the dictionary definition of poor

        September 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • William1956

      Some of the rich need to spend one week with the poor.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • William1956

        Hey Mitt Romney i got a room ill rent you for a week.

        September 20, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
      • domynoe

        I've long thought that it should be a requirement to live in poverty conditions, dealing with the government "handouts" without access to any other wealth for at least a year before running for any kind of office. To represent all the people living in your area, you need to understand what they experience, and most elected official haven't a clue.

        September 20, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      I was thinking the same thing. I remember our car being repossed, no TV, ketchup sandwiches and bot my parents working at min wage, my Dad 2 jobs just to keep up. A car, TV, cell phone are not rights, if you can afford those things you shouldn't be getting free lunches.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Just Sayin'


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

    Poor kids get to see TV????

    I suspect ther are a few million people around the globe who'd love to be "poor" like this.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Questions401

      you know poor people can have friends that are less poor right?

      September 20, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
      • Just Sayin'

        Less poor...or more priviledged???

        September 20, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      I think you are being very inappropriate. Yes, we get what you are saying and yes we understand there is poor and homeless and always someone out there that is worse off BUT coming from someone who grew up "less fortunate" than a lot of other people in my neighborhood, BOTTOM LINE: kids know the difference and it hurts. Yea, we had a tv that my father felt kind enough to buy for us since he wasn't paying child support but many of days my mother was at VEAP, which was the community food shelf trying to get us food. We had our lights, gas, and water cut off numerous times. No phone, to free up that bill, after my mother felt that we were old enough to get somewhere if there was an emergency. I wore hand me downs because I was the youngest and my uncles kept us with a car because we lived in a cold state and they refused to let my mom take us around on the bus. SO, yes we did have "things" but just like the other person stated there are people worse off but there is a certain standard of living that we did not have and many other households that probably felt the same way. It hurts and is embarrassing when you are child because you don't know why or what the difference is. Yes, we now know because we are adults but there is a different perception when you are a child so he is writing from his experience.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  49. brat

    46.2 every day there are more people added to that list and it sucks because they work for crooks who think there mercedies payments for that month are more important. there are people out there who couldnt care less about any thing but them selves it horrible here in this state of indiana! onlgy two classes here poor and rich!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 20, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  50. timmothy green

    ..... people are fat?!?!?!?!!!!!!!!!!! (not surprising at all)

    September 20, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  51. PG

    The reason that poor people are often fat is that most unhealthy food is cheaper. Compare the Chinese buffet where you can get in line and heap your plate with fried goodies three times for 10.95 to the elegant bistro that serves 5 ounces of prime protein on an abstract design composed of three sauces and garnished with four pencil thin asparagus spears for forty bucks. Speaking as a serial dieter, shopping for real food is always way more expensive than the processed crap like instant mac & cheese or ramen noodles. Also, good nutrition requires time and education as well as money. If you barely made it out of high school and you're working two or three part-time jobs to get by, you aren't going to have a lot of time to devote to exercise or label reading.

    Oh, that's right, real poor people aren't allowed to eat out. They're not poor unless they're living in a shanty town out at the landfill and their children are dying of starvation and disease. Is this what you people really want for this country? You're not poor unless you're 100 times poorer than the wealthiest people in the country? Wow. Just wow.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • ES

      Even if they eat unhealthy , if they eat less they won't be fat. It is a fact. I grew up on potatoes, milk and bread. I enver could put enough of that stuff down, not that tasty. And I am not overweight. They must be eating something besides the boring basics to be that fat.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Questions401

    wow all these people spouting off hate for the poor, you know what? I work 70 hours a week doing jobs no other American will do, washing dishes waiting tables and flipping burgers! I was born here, and I've worked three jobs just to run out of money before graduating collage because tuition has gone to crazy levels... I tell you as a poor person there is no longer any way for the poor to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and quite frankly blaming programs that help the poor for this problem is stupid! The blame is rightfully placed on sending manufacturing jobs over seas to Chinese slaves... Right the barbwire around that Chinese factory isn't to keep those workers in at all, no it just couldn't be...

    September 20, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  53. William1956

    What concerns me is the Republican and Democrat presidential candidates are well educated about foreign affairs but they know nothing about domestic affairs.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Terry

    Glenda, I am barely making it. I am a Christian. God bless L and others like him and how DARE you make the suggestion that they don't help others out. Just because they don't give everything they have to those who don't does not make them bad, nor does it mean they are going to Hell. That isn't how you get there anyway. Your comment should be very offensive to all Christians reading this, and a joke to all athiests. Good job.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  55. stylistkathi

    unfortunately the cheapest foods are the most fattening. We see it every day at the food pantry where I volunteer. Mac and cheese. can of spaghetti sauce and spaghetti, beans and weiners. bread it is cheap and hopefully will fill the kids bellies before the go to sleep at night.

    September 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just Sayin'

      Don't agree...the laziest foods are the most fattening. When I was tight for money I always found that fresh vegetables were the smallest cost in comparison to any "fast" foods like canned or frozen foods. If you're willing to put the time into food preparation, costs for quality food is pretty low. And seriously...how long does it take to boil a few fresh vegetables?

      September 20, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
      • A poor person

        Finally, someone saying some sense. If people would just take time to cook and not stuff themselves and their children with fast food, it would cost less and be way healthier. "Healthy foods are expensive" is a myth perpetrated by lazy people. Sure, feeding the family at McD will cost less than taking them all to a ritzy restaurant. But going to a grocery store and buying some meats and veggies would cost about the same as fast food or even less. I guarantee it as a poor person who eats healthy.
        Also, people need to learn how to budget and stop letting the consumerist society to tell them they are poor just because they don't throw away their iPhone4 as soon as 5 came out.

        September 20, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • prairieghost

        It's wonderful that you were able to eat a healthy diet even with your situation was less than ideal. You are very fortunate in that regard. However, your lack of perspective is disheartening. When you were dealing with financial problems, were you also caring for a family? Did you have kids to take to school, elderly parents to care for, 16 hour workdays? Cooking meals from scratch IS a time-consuming process, especially if you are cooking for a whole family and not just yourself, and knowing WHAT to buy is not as simple as you seem to think. If you didn't grow up in a family that regularly prepared healthy meals from scratch, you probably don't know how to do it, either. Expecting people to magically know how to do something that has not been a norm in our society for over fifty years is like expecting a modern-day high schooler to know how to operate a rotary telephone.

        I worked as a cashier for several years, and I agree that we as a culture have become too dependent on convenience, but calling someone lazy just because they don't have the time, energy, or know-how to make their own steamed asparagus is just plain arrogant. Count your blessings that you were prepared to endure a bad situation, and stop being so judgmental of people who don't fit your ideals.

        September 20, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
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