Real Poverty

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Which of the following statements is (or are) true when it comes to poverty? (Multiple choice, and you can choose more than one answer):

  1. Poverty affects less than 1 in 3 Americans.
  2. The poor are impoverished for years at a time.
  3. Too much welfare assistance is provided to the poor.
  4. Poverty is a result of not working hard enough.
  5. Half of all those in poverty live in poor, urban neighborhoods.
  6. Most poor people are non-white, and that percentage is increasing.

Go ahead. Write down your guess(es) before reading below.

Poverty: Myths vs Facts

If you said All of the Above, you would be . . . wrong. Completely wrong.

The correct answer is that none of those statements are true. Is that what you thought?

This idea — of contrasting the myths versus the facts of poverty — was captured by Mark Rank, in Poverty in America Is Mainstream.

Here are some quotes from this article:

“Put simply, poverty is a mainstream event experienced by a majority of Americans. For most of us, the question is not whether we will experience poverty, but when.”

“The behaviors and attitudes of those in poverty basically mirror those of mainstream America. Likewise, a vast majority of the poor have worked extensively and will do so again.”

“The solutions to poverty are to be found in what is important for the health of any family — having a job that pays a decent wage, having the support of good health and child care and having access to a first-rate education.”

I encourage you read the full article. And then let me know in the comments: Did any of the claims in the article surprise you?

If there is one thing that I have learned over the last three years of living in Allendale, it’s that the real face of poverty is not what I always thought it was.

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