My Take: Five misconceptions about poverty in America
Bread for the World President David Beckmann explores five poverty myths.
September 23rd, 2011
12:29 PM ET

My Take: Five misconceptions about poverty in America

Editor's Note: Rev. David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World and the Alliance to End Hunger. He is the 2010 World Food Prize laureate.

By David Beckmann, Special to CNN

(CNN) - In the midst of a ballooning deficit, an unbalanced federal budget and the upcoming presidential election, Congress doesn’t need to be worried about poverty in America, right?


Poverty is an all-too-familiar struggle for many Americans, and they have a stake in how these issues play out over the next months.

I believe God is calling us to change the politics that render our friends, neighbors and co-workers hungry and poor. To do so, we have to first tackle some common misconceptions about poverty.

1. “Poverty doesn’t exist in the United States.”

Although poverty often appears less extreme in the United States than in other countries, it is nonetheless real. There are 46.2 million Americans living in poverty, according to data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The poverty rate increased to 15.1% in 2010, from 14.3% in 2009. That's nearly one out of every six Americans — the highest rate since the Census began tracking poverty data in 1959.

Children and multicultural groups were hit hardest. The poverty rate increased for those under 18, from 20.7% in 2009 to 22% in 2010. Among Hispanics, the rate went to 26.6% in 2010 from 25.3% in 2009. And for African-Americans, the rate soared to 27.4% in 2010 from 25.8% in 2009.

2. “There is no such thing as extreme poverty in America.”

If you don’t believe poverty exists in this country, you’ll be hard-pressed to understand that there are people in America living in “deep poverty.”

Deep poverty means living below 50% of the poverty line, which would be an income of $11,157 for a family of four and $5,672 for a non-elderly person living alone.

Many think this level of poverty is exclusive to people living in developing countries, but the number of people in America living in extreme poverty has reached a record high: 20.5 million in 2010.

3. “If you live above the federal poverty line, you’re doing just fine.”

$23,000 a year is too little for most two-person households to live comfortably in America, let alone a family of four. Most people don’t understand that having a job doesn’t mean you’ve made it out of poverty.

In fact, working full-time at minimum wage earns you only $14,000 a year. But there are also millions of Americans living above the federal poverty line who are struggling to make ends meet.

Why is it so easy for us to overlook poverty in the United States? Because to a certain extent, it is being managed by federally funded safety-net programs that help families make ends meet when times are tough.

4. “These so-called safety-net programs cost American taxpayers money when we need to be focused on balancing our budget.”

Neither SNAP benefits (what used to be called food stamps) nor refundable tax credits such as the earned income tax credit is accounted for in the census poverty figures.

If these benefits were included, they would show that SNAP lifted 3.9 million people above the poverty line in 2010, and the tax credit lifted 5.4 million people above the poverty line in 2010.

Programs like these can mean the difference between getting by and going hungry.

For example, despite increases in poverty, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recently released hunger data shows that the percentage of families struggling to put food on the table remained unchanged for the third consecutive year.

This means that nutrition programs such as SNAP and school meals are keeping hunger at bay.

5. “Fifty percent of all Americans do not pay taxes.”

This is a powerful point that some members of Congress like to argue, without providing any context.

By context, I mean that many Americans do not earn enough to pay taxes. For those who do, when payroll taxes are taken into account, really only about 15% of Americans did not pay taxes in 2010 (excluding Social Security recipients, who do not pay taxes on their Social Security benefits), and this still fails to account for state and local taxes.

Everyone pays taxes in some way or another.

At the end of the day, Matthew 25 teaches us that what we do unto the “least of these,” we do unto God.

It is clear that the needs of hungry and poor people are at the center of the congressional budget debates, whether we want to acknowledge them or not.

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has until November 23 to identify $1.2 trillion in funds to reduce our nation’s deficit. We pray that the needs of hungry and poor people are at the center of their decisions.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Food • Politics

soundoff (902 Responses)
  1. AllenS

    This is the heart of the whole issue... Minimum wage puts you well below poverty level. Shouldn't the "Minimum" wage, at the very least, not place you into a position deemed unfit for proper support? I know that small business can't afford to pay 20 dollars an hour to everyone they employ... but that just further shows how our system is broken. Until that is fixed, we will always be out of balance.

    October 22, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  2. Pam Toll

    You never grow up and go thru college , work hard and expect to be poor. You expect to make it. Living on both sides of the fence, Previously earning around $50,000 a year, to living on now under$15,000 a year, you see where the injustice lies.
    Youre too rich for many of the govt benefits, and housing benefits, and too poor to rent or buy on your own. I am not starving, but I know, and have met people who are. One thing is for sure, that America does not take care of its own. And it should.
    Its nice when you can pay the mortagage, but when you cant.. Nobody cares, notices and theres really no fall back for the middle class american to save themselves. I have been touched by the kindness of strangers, and if it werent for people who reached out to me at a certain time of my life, Id be living on a curb, cause there isnt anyplace in all of IL that would house me. This is true.. give your money to religious organizations and do not give your money to NOT FOR PROFITS in expensive, luxurious office spaces for example, like UNITED WAY.. that money never reaches people in need.

    October 20, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  3. Doris Bradley

    50% of the people do not pay Federal Income Tax! That is where the Federal Government gets its money!

    October 2, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  4. pj

    yeah, article looks like a bunch of government created numbers to me. stop taxing the poor so much, and the wealthy a lot more. or have them actually try to live the way me, my fiance, and our 8 month old do, and they'll see whats really wrong around this flippin country. VOTE FOR REVOLUTION.

    September 27, 2011 at 5:33 am |
  5. Colin


    September 26, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  6. Kris

    Funny how Christians want laws that will reflec their values on abortion and gay marriage, but not the poor but both the OT and NT make it clear how they should be treated.

    ". . .From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded." Luke 1248

    September 25, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • Joseph

      Funny, I didn't realize all Christians were Republicans. Somebody needs to learn the difference from RELIGIOUS and POLITICAL beliefs.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:17 am |
    • OneTwenty

      You know what's even funnier? That Kris could make such sweeping generalizations about Christians and what they believe on a political/social plane. Using Kris's line of reasoning one could say that all Muslims are suicide bombers and all Jewish people are rich.

      Just because the author quotes the Bible doesn't mean he's pro-life or against gay marriage. You don't even know if he's Protestant or Catholic! Way to detract from the real issue addressed in the article. So what if this guy happens to be religious, he doesn't say anything along the lines of what you suggest, yet you decide to inject a broad generalization into an issue that is completely humanitarian and detract from the real issue at hand. Well done.

      September 26, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Amy

      It seems this article is here to provide a counterweight to what you describe, so...gee, thanks for putting the pigeon back squarely in the hole.

      October 12, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  7. RightTurnClyde

    The hard cold facts of life are this - there are not enough people employed (and paying taxes) to support the numbers of people who are consuming taxes. The government is not getting enough money to pay the bills. So they are reducing social security and Medicare and welfare and yet it is not enough. States too and cites as well. They got into the habit of spending money they do not have. Europe too (Greece, Spain, Ireland, England, France) .. most of the socialist countries are broke. Mr. O is just now figuring this out, but since he does not like private sector he is stifling ti (and that gives him LESS money to spend). So they borrow but the credit rating fell and now it costs more (and they cannot afford the minimum payments). So the government is not a good tap anymore (and the depression presses on). Look at what I said about Private Placements (a few paragraphs ago) and try to see how it will work for you. Most of the jobless will need to make it without a job.

    September 25, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • Sheila Brandon

      the jobless will have to do what poor people have had to do since the beginning of time. Create your own cottage industry and work from home using the talents that God gave you. Buy made in America websites are being created as a avenue for those without jobs to create useful products not crafty cutsy things but usable items that Americans buy every day by the thousands. Learn to sew a seam on a cheap Wal-mart sewing machine and make tablecloths , placemates, dogbeds etc. America produces very few items For American companies that have American made materials check out Amazon's Made in America catagory and you can find fabric suppliers like Sunbrella Fabrics in NC. wood products metals etc to create you a Cottage industry.. Check out the search engines for the online stores and shops that are selling only Made in America products and go to work for less than $100 investment.

      September 26, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  8. PRISM 1234

    It is a true tragedy the way people are being in this country looked at , and ones worth, even their character is being evaluated/measured i by their social status, mainly by their banking accounts. I have lived overseas, and have seen injustice, but not such injustice like here.... but what makes it so ironic, this country thinks of herself as greatest among others, but it's not! But I believe, and am of strong conviction at this, that this country is provoking the judgment of God on itself, by treating it's poor, under-privileged and those who fall through the cracks as a burden, and as a nuisance that is only in the way of it's "at all cost " coveted image of "greatness", instead of giving a hard and honest look WHY is it the way it is in this country?

    I believe the PROPAGNDA is one reason for this curse we have here, becaue it is usually those who have the unlimited amount of $$$$$ that have their voices pushed through the every means of Media, which also depends on their $$$$$.

    But what is the most alarming thing, is that those who call themselves the followers of Christ are playing right into the hands of those clever politicians who, for purpose of gaining what they want, have learned to talk the talk, to lure them for their votes.
    This country would have never gotten in such shape if the Church did not take it's eyes of the Lord whom they are supposed to follow, and instead following the clever tongued present day Pharisees, who equal and display the same characteristics of the long robed pharisees of Jesus' time, of whom He spoke as the whitewashed tombstones, full of dead bones...That pretty much describes the present day "Moral" party.....
    They oppose, they say, the "Big Government" , rallying for small govt. involvement, and don't want government to run our affairs, but they don't' mind that the Corporate power in this country is becoming more like Organized Crime Mafia, and they turn the blind eye to their lawlessness and the injustice done, and heavy burdens that are being loaded on the ordinary people by those in power...
    That's why we have the poor, and ever- increasingly – becoming- poor working class. One can work all their life and never be a wasteful person with their resources, but only one tragedy can ruin the family, and rob them of everything they ever worked for.
    Yes, there are lazy people here, they are in every society, and with some effort their freeloading could be weeded out. BUT, to stigmatize all those who are poor and pretend that if they are poor and have fallen thru the cracks, is their own fault and the consequences of their own doing or lack of providing for themselves, , is the SIN that this country will not shake of, it is a dark spot on this country's conscience, and it will not go without dire consequences.... Because the sighs of those who have been trashed, and instead of support and help needed , they are pushed down even lower, receiving further insults to their injuries... their cries and sighs are reaching the throne of Almighty God and this country allowed it in it midst, will NOT go without paying consequences...You can mark this Word, it WILL happen!

    Christians in this country need to totally abandon the two corrupt parties we have, because those who are seated in the seats of making decisions will NEVER abandon their practices, for their love of power and the love of BRIBE that comes abundantly to them from those who have means to give it, in order to receive favors in form of making our country's laws and policies to further allow them to do their self serving practice, disregarding those which they hurt by them.
    So long we have any of those two corrupt parties in leadership, nothing will change. To be a Christian, and vote for any of those, for me it would mean to take part of their deeds. It is a sad shape this country is in, but it is of no surprise, really! This plague that we hav among us, is not something that came overnight. It was LONG TIME in the making, and now we see the weeds comming up and choking the life out of this country's very existence. There is the principle that came to reality: whatsoever a man sows he shall also reap. So it goes for a country, and society... And ours is clearly demonstrating it.

    September 25, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • cnnfan


      September 25, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
  9. cnnfan

    Patb, it is so typical of a snobby person response. You don't know what I teach my kids. You probably have house cleaners, go on nice vacations, drive a nice car and have never ever had to live poor. My kids go without many things and they know what a want versus a need is. However they should not have to be denied the privilege of activities just because they are poor. We don't ask people to fund our child. They work hard to earn their funds for activitie. They work a lot and are some of the hardest working kids out there, but there lives will be much harder because of the greed of a lot of people at the top. My feeling is that you lack empathy like most.

    September 25, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • patb

      cnnfan ~ as it turns out, I clean my own house, drive cars until they no longer run and take camping vacations. We are not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. The difference is the fact that I do not resent anybody who has more than my family does. I do not "deserve" anybody else's money, nor do my children.

      I would never dream of sending my children out to beg, sell or fund-raise (whatever you wish to sugar-coat the concept as) for other's to pay for their activities. Nobody (including my children) "deserves" to participate in activities they cannot pay for just because all of the wealthy kids are able to participate. If we cannot pay for something by working a real job, we don't participate. It is certainly hard telling kids "no" sometimes. But again, I will never feel bitter toward people having more than me.

      I am uncertain how my response made me seem snobby or why you felt the need to imply that I am snobby. As for you mocking what you perceive as my lack of empathy, one of my biggest concerns is children going hungry. I spend countless hours volunteering for food collection/food pantry activities. I funnel a significant amount of money toward those endeavors.

      Who I don't have empathy for is people like you who whine about the things that they feel they "deserve" just because others have it. If you want it, work for it and pay for it yourself instead of bemoaning the fact that nobody is giving you a hand-out. Food is a basic necessity. Playing sports on an elite team is not. Why is it horrible that people enjoy the fruits of their hard work? And why should they have to share just because somebody else wants what they have?

      September 26, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  10. cnnfan

    My experience with the wealthy. We moved to an area with lots of wealthy people because of a job transfer. It has not been fun, being a poorer person in this community. I have observed over and over again, they don't associate with poorer people, they teach their kids not to associate or date or hang out with them. They can afford to put their kids in every sport, activity and spend tons of money on their kids to POSITION themselves to continue on the CYCLE of wealth in their families. It is a CYCLE and you are lucky if you can break out of your cycle of being poor. They can get ahead because they pay to play. They fund their kids non-profits to ensure their kids get the best treatment. They pay lots of money for private tutors so their kids get good grades, good SAT scores, good college admissions so they continue to associate with the rich. Meanwhile the poor kids get depressed, turn to other means to make them feel better, because they see the popular and wealthy getting all the perks in life. I sit on a board for a sports team and a very good one. I am a poor parent on the team and am disgusted on how they look at those without money. Very little sympathy by MOST of the board members. Then the question is why is america losing talent in this sport against the rest of the world. THE ANSWER is because the POOR can't play and their talents will never be uncovered. My message is that the most wealthy people will never associate or be friends with poor people, unless they can get something out of them for their own personal gain. That is right, their own personal gain!!! I see this daily with a carpool ride. They will only associate with us for a carpool, but will never ever let us in their circle of friendship. They will dish out thousands to make their children the best in everything. I was appalled at how they mentioned how they gave lots of money to their child's activity foundation and they had a discussion with the directors on how that money should be distributed. I could only wonder if they wanted to make sure it didn't go to the talented who deserved it and also needed it. The WEALTHY control everything... how much everything costs, how much we get paid, how much raises we will get... meanwhile their bank accounts grow and grow and grow....they will NEVER understand until they themselves will live a life of being poor, not a day, not a week a long time.... and see how that feels. Oh and most of them are unhappy, unless EVERYTHING goes their way! Oh and when we raised money for my child to attend something that only the wealthy could afford, most of our richest so called friends didn't contribute, because they think that we shouldn't even allow our child to participate if we "can't afford it". Only if you can afford something, should you be able to participate. They don't like a poor child advancing. I know that doesn't reflect all wealthy. I respect only the wealthy that have a TRUE heart for the poor. There aren't that many.

    September 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • patb

      You seem very bitter about your situation. I feel bad for you and your children because it must really be depressing to be so envious of others.

      We are not wealthy. There are some things my kids do not participate in because I find it distasteful to ask my friends to fund my kid's activities. If we cannot afford it, the kids learn a valuable life lesson that we do not get everything we want. I will never teach my children to resent people who work hard for their money.

      September 25, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • *frank*

      The path to true financial security for a woman in the U.S. quite often entails getting breast implants and selling herself to the man with a 6-series bmw or s-class benz, then divorcing him and taking his money. It's a jungle out there.
      In the 19th century, the same principle applied, but they didn't have silicone balloons, so they used corsets for a similar effect.
      This is called "progress."

      September 25, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  11. Reality

    And yet again:

    It is always interesting to see what the directors/founders of "non-profits" pay themselves. For example, the Rev. Beckman president of the Bread for the World, the Bread for the World Insti-tute and the Alliance to End Hunger as per IRS Forms 990 (www.guidestar.org) pulls in $263,802/yr. To say the least, he has not taken a vow of poverty. Please do not contribute to his groups. There are groups serving the poor with significantly lower overheads to include local, state and federal government agencies......................................................

    September 25, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Thia

      I worked for a non-profit briefly and the waste was extreme. I just did a quick google search and the director of that non profit makes $614K. That money should be spent for the intended charity and not the director!

      September 25, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • .........

      spam alert repeat copy paste posting hit report abuse on all reality posts

      September 25, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • FYI

      All of these numerous "........" posts are made by a frightened weasel named herbert, who can't stand realism. Ignore him.

      September 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  12. Help one's self

    The government could go a long ways to put something in place for all the folks with low integrity that suck off the system. I am the first in line to step up to the plate to help someone in need ( a friend told me about a homeless man living under bridge in a small town of 1500...everyone knew he was there ;police, mayor and other community members, though NO one did a thing, I personaly went bought a sleeping bag and 100.00 worth of food,storage bags and toiletries and whatever I thought he may need and this is the first time brought up.) How can you NOT be move to step up is beyond me. I called the man out from under the bridge and gave him these things and a GOD bless you...he remarked"HE already did"! That nearly brought me to tears. and I was hyumbled!
    I have no judgement against this man...he was gracious and very thankful...now there are MANY others in this community that are on disablitiy that run around to yard sales and the like gathering whatever, log wood and work under the table that are as healthy as you or I but are sucking off the system. Why does the goivernment have someone that can investigate these people. I have no problem helping someone in need but I am tired of watching people with food stamps medicare and other government help programs that just don't meet the requirements. Food stamps that are use at local convienyent stores.where prices are inflated even more.their freezers are filled with rib eye , shrimp, fried clams.....now I don't think because your poor you shouldn't have a nice meal...but do it like we do.(that are working 2 jobs each.) that fits our WALLET we don't eat out often ..bad choices and they keep breeding. Education and policing of these programs would help cut out so much waste. I am tired of owning a business that the only customers that you see are folks looking for donations...benefits and causes..I closed my doors they never patrionized my buisness or had ever been in my store...but had no problem asking me to support theirs...see ya there are places that I can do good in the community but supporting LAZY fakes is not one of them!! Government hire investigaters or set up a hot-line...
    My sister-in law- is on medicade has been to the hospital more than 200 times in the last 3-4 years...days and sometimes weeks at at time...who is paying that friggin bill we are. She has an illness that she can't eat meat protien and you'll hear well I just couldn't help myself I had to try a piece then off to the hospital at our expense racking up literally millions in hospital bills over the last few years...what the Bleep! They have new vehicles and eat pretty good on our dime I didn't have health care because the small business community is DEAD here and didn't quafily for any of those programs, why is the working person penalized for WORKING!!! We can not carrry the world! I can help my brother but after so many years you get sick of seeing them go on vacation while you scrimp to help them out...

    September 25, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • zosBid

      Given how small the amount of money food stamps actually come to, the stories of families buying steak, or rib eye as you put it, are fairly preposterous. If I made nothing, i.e. I did not have a job or unemployment, I would get less then $200 a month towards food (I think the actual # is about $160). That comes to about $40 dollars a week to eat off of. If you are living off of food stamps lentils and rice, and cheap pasta on special occasions is really all you can afford. The whole people eat better on food stamps probably comes up because a lot of people on them sell them to wealthier neighbors in order to pay for things like doctors appointments, transit to get to their minimum wage job (or interviews), or too keep the lights on/pay rent. It is illegal, but honestly if I was on food stamps and had a choice between not being able to get to my McJob (that barely pays rent) and breaking the law (and going hungry half the month, but keeping a roof over my head) I would break the law, and you would see some guy buying expensive food for himself, while I, the actual recipient, stretch the bag of lentils from last month as far as I can.

      October 8, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • zosBid

      Actually at least in PA, studies have shown that hunting down the few cases of fraud (a very small percent) is actually more costly then ignoring it, and would hit the people who actually need it more then the 0.5-1% who may be committing fraud. So the choices are (not actual numbers, I could look them up but for CNN it is not worth it, this article touches on the problem though http://taxdollars.ocregister.com/2009/11/10/state-stumbles-on-anti-fraud-efforts-for-food-stamps-welfare-to-work/42497/) let a few thousand people defraud one or two million a year, or spend five or six million, put several thousand innocent people through the ringer, and maybe catch a few people who may have committed fraud. That sounds like a waste from my perspective, yet that is basically what the new governor of PA is pushing for

      October 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  13. Daniel

    What keeps the poor, poor?
    A number of things...
    1. Greedy corporations that lobby to keep minimum wage pathetically low.
    2. Very low exemption amounts for debtors drug through Debtor's Exam (an often overlooked poverty barrier in State law). No doubt banks lobby to keep their debtors paying them as much as possible.
    3. Private insurance companies that have a strangle hold on the Medical industry getting between doctor and patient and running off with most of the money. They have thus caused Medical costs to go sky high burying in debt anyone not a part of their system, ultimately sending them to Medicaid and food stamps, after watching them get striped in Debter's Exam.
    4. Cars so complex and riged so that no one but a highly paid professional can figure out what's wrong with them let alone work on them.
    5. Banks so powerful and greedy that loans with outrageous interest rates and scandelous terms not only exhist, but they are the only type of loan even offered to the poor.
    6. Lack of legal knowledge and lack of confidence in standing up for oneself in court.
    7. Lack of desire to give to others in need. The poor man who looks for oppertunity to give to others in need , (time, talent, money, etc.) rarely has no one to help him when he is down, and often finds some willing to help him up, at least a little.

    September 25, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • minimalistmenufesto

      I agree big corporations are part of the problem and their profit enables them to continue to do bad things.
      Americans aren’t free. We’re slaves. Owned by the man in the Big house; the Big house is Big Oil, Big Auto, Big Food, and Big Banks, you know, the ones that are too Big to fail—Big Companies; the people we work for who spin our energy, creativity and sweat into gold for themselves.
      They give us a paycheck to help them milk the wealth from our land in the form of fossil fuel, minerals, raw materials and food; pay us to process it into pretty, Twinkie-packages of stuff that we ‘just can’t live without’, and then sell it back to us and others at a profit that puts them on easy street.
      Each of us needs to learn how to say, “enough”, take our power back, and teach our children a minimalist lifestyle, responsibility, simplicity and self-sufficiency.

      September 25, 2011 at 10:08 am |

    STOP giving aid/money to Israel and Muslim countries and there will be very low poverty in the U.S !! These tax payers money could be used for supporting our poor and increasing minimum wages to $10 an hour instead of $7.25 !

    September 25, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • AGuest9

      Better yet, stop police-forcing the world. Dismantle USAID.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  15. Getting educated

    How is number 4 a rebuttal to the misconception that these programs cost a lot of money when we need to be cutting spending to get the budget back in order?

    September 25, 2011 at 9:05 am |
  16. NP

    Selfish libertarian John Stossel and Murdoch's propaganda arm, Fox News, are relentless in confusing people about what poverty means, cherry picking misleading and probably highly inaccurate statistics about how many poor people "have" (not own, but "have") a refrigerator. I highly doubt these meanspirited folks traveled to Appalachia to check how many mountain people have cell phones, or to the Bayou to find out how many people own flat screen televisions–nor did they ask whether these items were bought on credit, or used, or received as gifts from more prosperous family members. The attack against the poor to drum up sympathy for white male Republicans who whine about only have $600,000 per annum after taxes is evil.

    September 25, 2011 at 8:38 am |

    I know alot of people a pay check away from being homeless and no one can help them.. America is coming a third country.

    September 25, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • nessq

      The only people starving in this country are the insane or the drug addicted. Everyone else can go to the welfare office, and that's the truth.

      September 25, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • Jax

      To say that just anyone can go get welfare is incorrect. While I make too much money for assistance of any kind, after paying the minimum in bills (mortgage (which is less than rent here), utilities, car insurance and fuel – we don't have any credit cards) I don't have enough to buy food all of the time. Every paycheck comes up a day or four short for food. And this is eating ramen!! I have worked since I was 14 years old and am now almost 40. Nothing makes me angrier than waiting in line behind someone with 5 kids that's using 3 different LoneStar cards (food stamp cards in Texas) to pay for their food, then pull out a wad of 100's to pay for their beer. And then to happen to see them get into their new Escalade makes it even worse. There are soooo many people defrauding our government and us the taxpayers that support them, but no one will do anything about it. My mother works for the welfare department in another state and when visiting her I've witnessed several people actually driving brand new vehicles with stickers on them that say "Welfare Cadillac" or "Hood Rich". It's sickening and ridiculous that nothing can be done about it. I agree that there are people with a legitimate need for public assistance. I just believe that the assistance should be temporary and not a lifetime crutch or free ride. I also agree with the person above that noted that people on disability should be investigated periodically to be sure they're not actually working for cash on the sly. I've seen it happen a few times over the years and have friends in insurance that say the problem is rampant.

      September 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • MomOf3

      No, you can't just walk into a welfare office and get help! My husband lost his job and we moved in with his mother. In order to help her with expenses, we applied for food stamps. Because we owned a piece of property worth $3000 and drove a wrecked car worth $5000 we didn't qualify. Selling neither would have helped us. We sucked it up and worked extra jobs until we could work our way out. Welfare isn't always there to help.

      September 26, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  18. Rainer Braendlein

    Go on God's way!

    Someone is poor, if he has not enough to feed or to dress (including no sufficient shelter).

    Someone is not yet poor, if he cannot afford a car, a holiday trip, a nice garden or a ticket for an opera. This is not yet poverty, but a modest life.

    Some people may call a modest life a life in poverty and may call real poverty desti-tution, but that is actually wrong. I suppose, not a few people would like to own a garden. It may be quite ordinary at rural areas to own a garden. But at conurbations it is luxury. Thus, if you life in a big city without a garden, you are not poor, but you don't have reached the highest standard of living.

    Everybody, working about 40 hours per week, will have enough money to survive. There are several reasons, why someone cannot earn enough money. Maybe he suffers from a confirmed disease or he his mentally handicapped or he is a blind man or or deaf or has got any other disability. Some people may have a lack of soft skills and thus don't manage to cope with work life.

    Every Western society will care for people with clear disabilities like deafness or blindness.

    The problematic group of poor people are the people, having got a lack of soft skills.

    I suppose, the increasing lack of soft skills more and more harms the work life. Most things can solely get produced by teamwork. It is not enough, when some people have a certain gifts, they also have to cooperate, in order to produce something. Five enemies will never cooperate, but five friends.

    Private friendship depends mostly on sympathy. Nobody forms a friendship with somebody, whom he finds repulsive.

    At the workplace we find sometimes people, which are not exactly according to our taste. However, at the workplace we are supposed to cope with them. This is a very hard lesson to learn, actually that hard that we cannot succeed without God's help. We are all born enemies. Actually we often perceive our neighbours as a burden for us (we are a fallen mankind).

    God is able to give us love (for our workmates and for everybody). Maybe by the ordinary daily work God wants to educate us. It is not only about processing certain equal routines every day, but also about loving our workmates with all their weaknesses (sins).

    Of course, the ability to love somebody, independend from his natural character (capricious), is pure Christianity. The natural man is a slave of hatred and will always find a real reason for his hatred. He needs divine help to overcome his hate, for which he will always find an excuse (of course our neighbours do things, which really harm us, but God wants that we learn not to revenge ourselves).

    The Gospel:

    Jesus Christ has borne our sins on the cross. Believe it and get baptized (if you have yet received infant baptism, don't get baptized again. Just refer to your infant baptism, which is valid.). At baptism the power of Jesus death and resurrection is dedicated to you. Your old man of sin dies and you resurrect together with Jesus to a new life. God gives you righteousness as a cost-free present. Rightousness, of course, means loving God and your neigbour (also workmates) at any rate. God gives you two presents at the same time: Forgiveness and a new life in Christian love. Either you take both presents or you get nothing at all. Show the rightousness, which God gave you: Love your neighbour in God's power.

    September 25, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • Reality

      from Professor JD Crossan's book, "Who is Jesus" co-authored with Richard Watts)==========>

      "Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us."

      "Traditionally, Christians have said, 'See how Christ's passion was foretold by the prophets." Actually, it was the other way around. The Hebrew prophets did not predict the events of Jesus' last week; rather, many of those Christian stories were created to fit the ancient prophecies in order to show that Jesus, despite his execution, was still and always held in the hands of God."

      "In terms of divine consistency, I do not think that anyone, anywhere, at any time, including Jesus, brings dead people back to life."

      September 25, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • .........

      spam alert repeat garbage hit report abuse to all reality postings

      September 25, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • Stan

      Comment on all postings by Reality. That will keep his great posts from being suppressed.

      September 25, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.