Today is Blog Action Day 2008. Thousands of bloggers have joined forces to help bring awareness of poverty in the world, what it means to you, and what actions we as individuals can take to help those in need.
I’ve worked in Social Services in California for over 16 years. For Blog action day I’ve chose to write about what I have observed regarding United States progams to help the poor.
Poverty in United States?
One of my clients – I’ll call him Jim was in my office a few weeks ago. He makes about $1200. /month – which may sound like a lot of money to some people, is struggling to make it.
As a single disabled man he does not qualify for most government programs – including Food-Stamps. His income puts him above the current poverty level of a single person household – which is approximately $900. /month.
Jim pays $600. /month rent, which leaves him $600. For all of his personal needs, groceries, utilities, Medicare co-payments, upkeep on his vehicle and gasoline.
Jim was struggling to get money so he could see a specialist 200 miles from his home. Now this is a 400 mile round trip and with the current gas prices in our area would cost about $100.
Unfortunately, I was not able to help him as there are no programs that help with gas or transportation to and from hospitals or doctor appointments. As I was empathizing with his situation…
“That’s all right, I consider myself a very wealthy man.”
This remark took me totally off guard. I looked at him and asked “What do you mean?”
Jim replied “I have a lot to be thankful for. I live in a country that gives me freedom. I have a nice little home and a television that I can watch. I have a comfortable bed to sleep in each night. I have the ability to drive to the grocery store, buy food, come home and eat while watching my TV…
“Do you know how many people in other countries that would love to have my lifestyle? In their minds I live like a king!”
WOW! I had never heard a response like this. It really got me thinking – especially about poverty in United States. Jim’s response really got me thinking…
So many Americans fail to believe the way Jim does. He has the unique ability to be truly grateful for what he has, as he knows that he is blessed to live our nation.
- Half of the worlds population lives on less than $2.50 a day
- 80% of the world lives on less than $10.00 a day – That’s only $300. /month.
- 30% of children are underweight
- 30,000 children die of poverty each year
Compare that to United States and we are truly a wealthy country.
We do have homeless and hungry people here – however I think the number of trully impoversihed is a lot less than statistics would have us believe.
The large majority of the impoverished in United Sates receive government assistance which enables them to live in a house, have food and some luxuries in life such as televisions, cell phones and even computers.
A majority of recipients are very grateful for the help they receive in their time of need and eventually become self-sufficient if they are not disabled.
The minority learn the system. They find every single government program that can give them something and apply for it. Unfortunately there is no cross and checks of these various programs. People that learn about these programs can really take advantage of it. Though on the “books” they are considered poor – living below the poverty level – they have far greater Spendable Money than a lot of working families – thus they really aren’t living in poverty….
The dictionary states poverty is “The state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor”
The United States really does a good job of helping our poor families – maybe too good of a job. For instance:
You have a mother & 3 children receiving welfare, her rent is paid for by a government program, she gets ridiculously low or free utilities, She gets about $800./month in Food-Stamps, Free medical assistance and $500. In welfare money – You do the math….
Unfortunately the United States has really dropped the ball where our single adults are concerned. Single adults (such as Jim) are rarely eligible for medical assistance – they must rely on county programs. It’s also difficult for them to get Food-Stamps, free housing etc.
We are always told to count our blessings – but how many of are able to count them to the extent that Jim has. For the most part the poorest of Americans are far wealthier than many people in other countries.
Regardless of your current financial situation, it’s important to remember it could be worse and there’s always room for improvement.
Regardless of your monetary situation – You can also do something to help. Go to Change.org for ideas on how you can help others.