Americans Struggle as Poverty Rises

Friday, September 17, 2010

homeless, poverty, san francisco, night (Dustin Diaz/flickr)

The U.S. Census Bureau released a report yesterday showing that in 2009, more than 14 percent of the population was living in poverty: It's a rate that hasn't been seen in the U.S. since the early '90s. Looking ahead into 2010's statistics, economists fear poverty will soon be higher than at any time since the 1960s, before President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the War on Poverty, as part of his Great Society initiative.  We discuss what can be done to fight poverty in America and how the government defines being poor. 

Joining us is Senior Fellow of Economic Studies at the Brookings Institute, Ron Haskins, to discuss the Census Bureau data. To give us a comparison between American poverty and that in in developing countries is Jacqueline Novograzt, founder and CEO of The Acumen Fund, (a non-profit venture capital firm) and author of The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World.

With one in seven Americans are now living in poverty, we're looking at what it means to be poor in America, and what it means to be rich. Is it more than just income or material goods? Is it how you compare yourself to other people? Read what Takeaway listeners have been saying and weigh in.


Ron Haskins and Jacqueline Novorgratz

Produced by:

Kal Elsebai

Comments [6]

Much thanks to Caleb. Very clear and informative.

Sep. 17 2010 10:31 AM
Clifton Middleton from Homestead, FL

Free Market Hemp is the answer to what can we do to create a new, industrial resource on a very large scale, enough to replace foriegn oil and become the foundation of a green economy. All the government has to do is get out of the way and abolish the prohibition on hemp production.
We the people will create millions on new jobs, using hemp just like our forefathers did in the beginning. The Tea Party is for Free Market Hemp and join with George Washington in declaring, 'Plant It Everywhere'

Sep. 17 2010 10:29 AM

Much thanks to Caleb. Very clear and informative.

Sep. 17 2010 10:19 AM
Caleb from Somerville, MA

Rather than attempting to identify what is "rich" or "wealthy," it would behoove us to define what is "poor". Robert Owen's golden compromise for the worker - 8 hours work, 8 hours leisure, 8 hours rest - was a revolutionary dictum in his own time that became, with the New Deal, the norm through decades of labor's blood and struggle. We must ask, can the 40 hour work week deliver what is necessary for the worker to have enough food, clothing, shelter and access to health care and some degree of education? If not, such a worker is poor. In 1968, the real value of the min. wage was $9.82, now the real value of min. wage is less than $7.25. Almost nowhere in the US does that wage provide for the individual worker - let alone the one with dependents - to meet the material requirements that would evade poverty, so defined. We must raise wages and provide universal health care and education, or see our buying power and demand fall, causing markets to contract, job losses increase, wealth further stratify and social development decline.

Sep. 17 2010 09:30 AM
tom wrobel from Stoughton, ma

For some strange reason our President has identified 200K as the definition of rich. Maybe 30 years ago it was but today its two people with good jobs.

Sep. 17 2010 09:25 AM
Becca from SC

I have a brother who is terminally ill. Looking at his wife, his daughter, dealing with this short time table makes me feel so rich to have my health.

Sep. 17 2010 09:17 AM

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