Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:
Dennis Byrne of the Chicago Tribune attempts to dismiss poverty in America and criticize the Occupy movement by calling poverty an “overstated” problem. Using the typical conservative demon of welfare and government subsidies via research from the right wing Heritage Foundation, Byrne argues that the 46.2 million Americans the government defines as impoverished don’t have it rough enough, thanks to government aid. He asks “Do the numbers accurately reflect the perception most Americans have of an impoverished family living, if not on the streets, like starving squatters in rat-infested hovels?”
Well Dennis, sorry to burst your bubble, but poverty isn’t always rat infested hovels or bloated bellies that appear in commercials in late night television. Is that what the “great society” should truly use to measure how it cares for its vulnerable citizens? If two people in a household of four lose their jobs, go underwater on their mortgage after spending more than a year or two desperately trying to find a job that pays enough to keep their home and put food on the table, does that not count as poor? If a single mother with two children working two minimum wage jobs just to pay rent gets her power shut off because of constant cost increases, but no wage increase, is she just not poor enough? If an elderly man living in subsidized housing is spending the bulk of his income — even with medicaid — on prescription drugs to keep healthy, is his situation “overstated?”
Byrne gives credit that at least 4 percent of Americans that are from homeless or hungry households, saying “to them, destitution is real, not a statistic to be batted around or used for political purposes.” Unfortunately for the rest of struggling Americans, their situation just doesn’t measure up to what appears to be a longing for a new network of Hoovervilles. The idea that the majority of Americans classified as poor aren’t because they receive a form of government aid is one of the most overused conservative talking points during election season. The irony of Byrne’s statement seems to be lost on him.
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