150 Million Americans are in Poverty

Tavis Smiley and Cornel West discuss their new book on Democracy Now!:

The latest census data shows nearly one in two Americans, or 150 million people, have fallen into poverty — or could be classified as low income. We’re joined by Dr. Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, who continue their efforts to spark a national dialog on the poverty crisis with the new book, The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto.

33 Comments on "150 Million Americans are in Poverty"

  1. We still call ourselves the richest country in the world.

  2. StillAtMyMoms | Apr 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm |

    Thanks to fucking usury!  Was my pointless liberal arts degree really worth 30k + interest?

    • Jin The Ninja | Apr 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm |

      student loans/debt is a scam of epic proportions. free education = free and open democracy.

      • superloser | Apr 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm |

        Least interest free student loans, I think I would have actually been able to have paid them.  Never seeing the balance move then 9/11 just made me want to give up 🙁   

    • Eric_D_Read | Apr 22, 2012 at 10:44 pm |

      If only you had asked yourself that question before taking on the debt.

      • StillAtMyMoms | Apr 22, 2012 at 11:31 pm |

         And what?  Be at entry level the rest of my life?  Asshole.

        • liberal arts is for entry level, unless you ummm produce some art and profit from it. high school diploma is entry level and high school drop out is poop collector.

        • and your screen name is fucking lame. change that shit you troll. didnt they teach you some good taste and creativity in your liberal arts courses? no wonder you are out of work being such a sad sack. get over yourself

          • Jin The Ninja | Apr 23, 2012 at 5:59 am |

            humanities and social sciences are the foundations of civilization (and the understanding of them, historically and contemporaneosly). much of our current hard science was based on theoretical science that was considered very radical for its time. you need all 3 to complete the picture. without ideas there is no civilization. 

        • mannyfurious | Apr 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm |

          No, I owe $30,000 in student loan debt (which really isn’t bad for having a Masters). I come from an impoverished background (was homeless for awhile, slept on a couch in the “living room” the rest of my childhood/adolescence), and kept “my eye on the prize” stayed away from all the gangs and nonsense that I grew up around. A college degree was going to liberate me and turn me into a success. I have a decent job, but it only pays me $36,000/yr with an M.A. I’m happy with that, because it’s more than a lot of people make and I’m not greedy (I live quite comfortably and with my wife working part time we can support our kids, pay for the necessities and take the occasional road trip). 

          However, I could’ve gone to an 18-month nursing program and be making twice that right now, with none of the student loan debt. The same is true for various occupations–police officer, firefighter, welder, various health positions (x-ray tech, etc.). Those positions generally pay more than I make and they’re all 18-24 month programs at your local community college. Hell I’d be making near as much as an Addictions Counselor or EMT–again, programs that I could’ve completed in a fraction of the time and without the student loan hassle. Shit, I’ve got buddies who, in the time it took me to go to college for 7 years, rose up the ranks at Wal-Mart and McDonald’s and are now managers making the same amount as I am… without the student loan debt. 

          Of course, the argument goes that I should’ve picked degrees that had more earning potential, but the fact is, those degrees would’ve cost more money, so I’d be even more in debt. And besides, I know more unemployed MBAs and Architects than I do unemployed drug addicts. The fact is, you never know what your degree is worth. Lawyers are suing their own alma maters because they can’t make any money. If these smart-ass motherfuckers can’t even figure it out, what hope was there for some chump like me from my background? The 4-year University/College institution in this country is a scam of the worst kind, because it’s a scam that screws you both ways. You’re damned if you go to college and damned if you don’t… unless you go to nursing school. Damnit! I should’ve gone to nursing school….

        • Eric_D_Read | Apr 23, 2012 at 7:38 pm |

          I may be an asshole; but I’m a debt-free asshole who doesn’t still live with mommy.

  3. Aram Jahn | Apr 22, 2012 at 5:04 pm |

    Massive collective denial too. Most Americans would say they’re “middle class,” a mantra to be repeated to elicit opiate-like states. 

    How did Americans get so clueless? Uber-social engineering/PR/brainwashing programs? 

    • StillAtMyMoms | Apr 22, 2012 at 5:06 pm |

       They got clueless by credit and subprime mortgages.  The illusion of the middle class was supplemented by massive amounts of debt.  So next time, don’t get jealous.  More than likely Mr. and Mrs. Status are probably living a miserable life to keep their appearance up.

      • discusthrower | Apr 23, 2012 at 12:31 am |

         appearances are enough for some people… anybody who doesn’t uphold the appearances has to be able to resist the compulsion, or I have to resist the compulsion, to think it is good as I make it look to myself… or to not think of any separation… reminds me of the bible… or a bubble. 

        The secrete intelligence of supposedly soulless animales…  here we are not even appreciating the imbalance being caused by the phallo-centrism…

        I almost think that the intellectual poverty is worse than the real suffering.  At our disposal are so many incredible gifts whose current fashion is to disregarded.

        I heard that the brain is keen on saving energy.  So how do we get to where we do in order to affect change?  It’s collective I guess. 

        By the power vested in me, “lightning bolt! lightning bolt!  lightning bolt!”

        • i don’t get it

        • mannyfurious | Apr 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm |

          This is also a good point. The only reason why so many of us are in “poverty” is because we believe that material possessions will bring us out of “poverty.” We’re the ones buying into the illusion at all times. If we stopped pretending that money and “appearances” would bring us happiness, none of us would be poor at all.

      • economics and finance are hard subjects.

    •  > How did Americans get so clueless? Uber-social engineering/PR/brainwashing programs?

      It starts in school and the programming is reinforced by TV.
      Not merely the content, but the technology itself in mind numbing.
      Now that TV is digital, most of the programing technology is now “smart” and ubiquitous.

      Most Americans serve as hosts for the parasitic Military-Industrial-Bankster Complex.
      It takes a lot of mind F’ing to pull that off,
      while at the same time convincing them that they are free.

      Many Americans have broken free of this system,
      but they tend to keep a low profile and out of the media’s snooping eye.
      They know how to grow food, build shelters, live without money
      and know how to live in less the “civilized” conditions.

      •  You forgot the facts that over 80% of Americans don’t use a budget and don’t balance their checkbooks.

        • Thanks
          I was waiting for the programed response.

          Cambodia huh?
          I’ve spent a lot of time there.
          Eating breakfast at the FCC in Phnom Penh was always a treat
          what with so many CIA assets filling the place.

      • mannyfurious | Apr 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm |

        This is pretty much it. 

        The more TV I watch, the more worthless shit I think I need, and the more depressed I am that I have none of it. The scary thing is that I know TV is sending these signals, I can see these signals coming, I recognize them, I know they’re wrong… and, yet, if I don’t temper my TV-time, I always fall into a funk. 

  4. Pac, said it best;
    “We ain’t here to survival/it’s a set up/keep your head up!”

  5. (a) You lost me at “Cornel West”.

    (b) Americans who live in “poverty” have one of the highest standards of living in world history. The bulk of Americans in “poverty” have adequate food, cars, televisions, smart phones, air conditioning, etc. Most of those in “poverty” are the beneficiaries of wealth distribution, ie, the top 20% of earners pay about 80% of all income tax, and about 50% of all households pay no income tax (and many of these get free money in the form of “earned income tax credits”).

    • mysophobe | Apr 22, 2012 at 10:07 pm |

      a) You forgot to mention refrigerators. People in poverty also have refrigerators. You lost me when you forgot to mention the refrigerators.

      b) You don’t really understand the tax code, do you?

    • Jin The Ninja | Apr 22, 2012 at 10:08 pm |

      (a). neither i nor i’m sure cornel are very concerned.

      (b). bullshit.

    • For a person who’s obviously never left the US you can’t really compare the poor of America being wealthier than other nation at any time in history? Not when you have the worst educational system in the developed world, the worst health care system in the developed world, the highest number of people in prisons than any other country in the world full stop.

      You also have no idea how beneficiaries work either do you?

      • mannyfurious | Apr 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm |

        In 21st-century America, it is no longer a goal to be the greatest, most enlightened nation on the planet. It is only good enough that our poor are marginally better than the poor in 3rd-world nations. That’s what makes this country great, Goddammit!

        • KeepItToYourself | Apr 23, 2012 at 6:14 pm |

           I can see the new tourism campaign now.

          “The U.S…. hey at least were not Sudan!”

  6. Dietrich Von Bacon | Apr 23, 2012 at 2:59 am |

    Lesson learned. Dreams are made in liberal arts degrees and then smashed by the world a few years later. Do something worthwhile and get a degree that everyone thinks is too hard. 

  7. Cornell West recently gave a positive review to a book written by religious con-man and prosperity gospel TV preacher T.D. Jakes.   West has to know the poor are more religious then the middle and upper class.  Poverty and Religion go hand in hand.
    Want to help the poor, tell them to stop going to church, stop giving 10% or more of their income to church, and throw out the bible and other religious books and pick up a science book instead.

  8. Saw the pic Cornel West skimming the site. Thought it was Dr. Steve Brule. 

  9. Focus on the family. | Apr 25, 2012 at 12:58 am |

    I would like to see a break down of the figures. How many have dropped out of high school, how many have kids and are not married. I bet family structure has a lot to do with it. If you are poor stop having kids

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