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. sonofgadfly

    I make a lot more than the figures given in this article, and I'm still struggling. I grew up poor, but I honestly don't know how poor people make it at all today. I'm not about to complain about them not paying taxes. I'm not about to complain about SNAP or Medicaid or any other programs to help them. People who do complain about such things need to learn some humility, and if you're one of them, just wait - you'll get your lesson.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Andrew

      I am total agreement with you. I think it is much better to have some safety net that 'teach a person to fish' and also sometimes just provide some temporary relief, than to have absolutely nothing and then allow all of those falling on hard times to just fall into some kind of feral existence. Can you imagine the cost of that! Not being able to do basic stuff for the fear of being attacked by starving people. Living with bars on your doors and windows. I'm sure there is a lot of anxiety that must come from living your life amongst a great deal of people who are living in desperation.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  2. dan

    'Alleviating poverty' is not a power enumerated to the Federal Government, nor is it a function even suited to a distant, impersonal, anonymous, bureaucratic apparatus. It requires personal empathy and local accountability or it just ends up facilitating the sort of cultural habits which exacerbate and multiply the problem. Being against federally directed poverty efforts does not mean a person is uncaring or callous. You lazy bleeding-heart sermonizers who propose to 'help' the poor via avocation of some abstract federal solution which leaves you and your conscience personally assuaged–while leaving the poor ever-more engulfed in the resultant pathologies these policies precipitate–why don't you try doing something personally, directly, and based on voluntaryism rather than authoritarianism and a presumed remote omniscience. Your 'vicarious' charity is not moral superiority; it's an abdication of your self-stated duty, and a representative of a dictatorial mindset willing to loot and coerce in order to impose your values on others.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Lenny

      Governments don't help the poor because they are 'bleeding hearts' they do it for more practical reasons. Most governments recognize that poverty is not caused exclusively by a person's actions or lack of actions. Most governments also recognize that people who can't find enough to eat are not so concerned with things like 'laws'. Helping the poor is a self preservation action for most governments.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Andrew

      As Corwin stated because of our necessary societal relationships, affording people assistance in their moment of desperation could fall into the "greater good" category. This is because most Americans, wealthy and poor, do not want to be victims of the byproducts of having a large mass of people living in degradation. Nor do they want to be victims of any presumed backlash by that aforementioned poverty stricken and desperate mob of people.

      I'm glad you feel so strongly about volunteering your time and personal assets to help others, as MANY others do also. But I don't think that endows you with the right to make the contention that others who support social programs are devoid of 'true morality' or that you can pretend to know whether their intentions were practical or moral to begin with.

      September 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  3. Barry G.

    When researchers learned that teen pregnancy was the (main) root cause of juvenile delinquency, as well as a host of other social problems, they turned their attention to addressing (correcting) this problem.

    Every solution to prevent teen pregnancy was considered, but each one was ruled out, because it violated the families’ values or the families found the solutions proposed objectionable—that is except for one: education.

    Researchers found that a teen who became pregnant, tended to drop out of school, become dependent on social programs, and have more children throughout the rest of their child-bearing years.

    They found that , if they required the pregnant teen to return to school, she tended not to have subsequent pregnancies and not to become dependent upon social support programs.

    The key is education–that is, academic instruction.

    This, of course, requires that we have schools that are able to manage the needs (and serious challenges), which such populations present.

    We all know the current condition of our education system, due to powerfully politically connected unions and inadequate funding.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  4. Relictus

    The actual numbers for poverty are about 20%.
    Reference: http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileglance.jsp?rgn=1

    Also, the biggest threat to American welfare is Medicare and Medicaid, not food stamps. Health costs are rising about 7% per year, and those two programs currently consume $1.2 Trillion dollars of the federal budget. We spend more on health care than national defense (minus the wars, of course). In less than seven years, those programs will bankrupt America. Being from America will mean being poor in 2018.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • MustReason

      Did they not teach you the concept of "rhetorical question" in your high school?

      September 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Andrew

      The article uses federal poverty guidelines... Also, I agree with you, it will be great once the new healthcare bill and other provisions are in place to reduce spending and waste on health costs. The digitization of medical transactions and information has already caught a great deal of healthcare fraud and they are still hiring programmers and analysts to expand the system.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  5. af090391

    To everyone who thinks we should not be able to have a say in where our taxes go, explain to me this.

    Where did the phrase "taxation without representation" come from? And what was its meaning?

    September 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Relictus

      I learned about where our taxes go in school sometime before high school. You might want to go back for your GED, so that you know stuff like this.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • TeaPartyIsForLittleGirls

      "Taxation without representation" came from the fact that people living in Washington DC pay federal taxes, but do not have any senator or representative in Congress. Does that make sense?

      September 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Andrew

      You have a "say" where all of your taxes go... unless you live in the District of Colombia or a US territory (in which case your representative is not allowed to vote, so you would not have a "say" in the allocation of your federal taxes).

      The United States is a representative republic. We vote for people to represent us on different levels, then they carry out our will (that is the idea).

      I think what America needs even in these hard economic times is a longer school day and more focus on education, otherwise people just wallow in this "common sense" ignorance. I hope your posting this from your middle school computer lab computer, because it is a shame that an adult native of the US doesn't understand the concepts of democracy and representation.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  6. Richie

    This article is somewhat insulting to the intelligence of America. We are all aware of poverty, the classifications of it and who gets exempt from paying taxes because of it. This should be required reading for entering high school students to get a grasp on the socio-political reality of our nation. Sorry, but I didn't gain anything insightful from this.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • munchma cuchi

      Wish I was as smart as you Richie.

      September 25, 2011 at 12:54 am |
  7. Markymarc

    I just purchased a $5000 watch last week, now I feel poor until next week!

    September 23, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Relictus

      Oh man ... you were robbed! A good watch like a "Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph" costs about $44,000. At $5,000, you would have been better off stopping by Target or JC Penney's for something under $150.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  8. MustReason

    There are many things wrong with this newest CNN left wing propaganda piece; however, the most egregious is the fraudulent argument related to payroll taxes. Yes, some people that owe no taxes at the end of the year temporarily have tax withheld from their paychecks, BUT they get it all back at the end of year in the form of a tax refund! If this is called "paying taxes", then I would like to pay all my taxes in this manner. This is not an intellectually honest argument.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • csdavis

      If you look at your payroll statements, you'll see there's a portion taken out for social security among other things, that aren't part of the amount that's withheld. So even if you "get it all back" at the end of the year, there's still a part that doesn't get returned.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • TeaPartyIsForLittleGirls

      Really? You can get payroll taxes back? My accountant never told me that

      September 23, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Brandon

      Your reasoning is off. Our income tax system is designed to avoid taxing people on the income they need to pay for basic necessities. These people getting a refund is built into the system and is not a case of people gaming the system.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • eva68

      II get a refund on my federal tax. But yes, afraid I do have taxes to pay. I pay local tax no matter how poor I was. If I made $400.00 last year I would still be required to pay $4.00 of it the local municipality. There are NO tax breaks of credit for this local tax. You need to understand ALL taxes before making such a blanket statement.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • MustReason

      Yes, I am a tax attorney, so I understand. When people say 45% of Americans do not pay taxes, they mean federal income tax. That is what the discussion is about. The other payroll payments to government are to support your own retirement with social security and medicare.. you pay in, they pay out when you reach a certain age. We should not be grouping these apples and orange for rhetorical purposes.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • gyrogearloose

      Actually, the article seems to include FICA payments as taxes. I don't think you can get a refund on FICA as you can on income tax paid. But on the other hand, theoretically FICA isn't a tax since it's intended to be a contribution to one's future social security benefits.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • TAllin

      No, Social Security and Medicare taxes are NOT refunded at the end of the year. And, they are very, very regressive taxes, since they are only levied on the first 106,800.of income. So the poor person making minimum wage pays it on ALL of their income – the CEO millionaire on only the first 106,800!

      September 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • CJinCA

      Since when does the government give refund on Social Security, Medicare, unemployment, and all those other withholding from paychecks? they only give refund on income tax if you end up having paid more than you owed. Please tell me how to apply for a refund on sales tax too! I'd like some of that back.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Corwin7

      Yes and the good lord willing you will soon find yourself running a cash register at the local Walmart store and earning less than
      $14,000 a year and barely making ends meet and you WILL qualify for all your money back too. Then you see how you feel about some one making over a million dollars and year and with deductions and shelters also pays NO TAXES on the majority of thier income.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Tania

      As an accountant for over thirty years, I say that you sir are NO tax attorney. If you are then you are a very misinformed one. ONLY income tax is refunded, and that is according to income – if you have VERY low income you will pay no income tax. Social security and medicare are NOT refunded – and are very regressive. They are only levied on the first 106,800 of income, so if you make 10 million a year – just taxed on the first .01068 of income. If you make $10,000 a year, it is on 100% of your income. I sure hope you aren't a tax attorney!

      September 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  9. jonathan

    This article is not too good. Although I believe safety nets have helped many not go hungry, I would ask the author the following questions:
    -How would you define poverty other then comparing household income?
    -How does the so called US "poverty" rate compare with the rest of the world?
    -How many people die of hunger in the US?
    -How many people unwillingly sleep in the streets because of their "poverty"?

    September 23, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  10. Dan

    Just because people don't think it's the government's responsibility to take care of the poor doesn't mean that they're ignoring Matthew 25. In Jesus' time, the government didn't provide assistance to the poor, so to suggest that this is how Jesus wanted it done is incorrect. I don't think it's necessarily a bad idea to have the government participate in poverty relief, but I don't think throwing in Matthew 25 is really fair. Some are passionate about taking care of the poor, yet given that our government is inefficient in pretty much everything, believe that private organizations should lead the way in poverty relief.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Ed Keller

      Dan – – I was going to add just such a comment but you beat me to it. Good input.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • TeaPartyIsForLittleGirls

      you mean like Fedex, which charges 10 times more compared to USPS to deliver the same letter to same address?

      September 23, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  11. Rita C. Kidd

    If I read this article correctly, I believe it says that social security recipients do not pay taxes on their social security payments. If you read the Social Security website http://www.ssa.gov/planners/taxes.htm you'll find that a 2 person beneficiary household may pay taxes on 50% to 85%. My husband and I do pay federal taxes on our social security benefits.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  12. Mattand

    Well thought out article. One suggsestion: instead of praying that the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction doesn't ignore the poor, do something that will actually make a difference: call or write to their offices and make your opinion known.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  13. Dawn

    FU Republican Richard, I pay taxes and I'm Democrat Dawn.....Children who suffer from poverty, that's their fault? Nobody CHOOSES to be born!

    September 23, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  14. cevans

    " The democracy will cease to exist when it takes from those who are willing to work and gives to those who are not. " – Thomas Jefferson

    September 23, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Mattand

      @ cevans:

      Jefferson never said this: http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/democracy-will-cease-to-exist-quotation

      I've noticed lately that Republicans, libertarians and tea partiers have been throwing around quotes they claim Jefferson made. Not that you guys are that big on facts, but you should check out http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/spurious-quotations the next ime you get the urge.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Lynn

      Jefferson owned slaves..therefore he took from those that had nothing, not even freedom, and gave to......himself I guess.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  15. Russ Byars

    Everyone argues politics like their party is right and the other is wrong, that is what they are doing to the country. Bad policy if it is from thier party is better than good policy if it is coming from the other party. Both parties have had chances and we are in a mess. I'm a republican but do think I blame all this on our president, he has handed quite a mess, and I realize that.
    I am open minded enough to know that to do this type of damage to a great nation took both parties acting in the interest of "not the people". Quit blaming and hold people responsible.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Spikemanlou

      Finally Russ, someone with a clue and not just pointing fingers at the other parties. I for one am a registered Democrat but consider myself an Independent as a I vote for whomever I feel is the best candidate. Unfortunately, what we now have is a government that does not care about the needs or the wants of the American people, by this I mean from the top all the way down. We need to clean house in 2012 and vote for officials who care about the American people and not so much for whatever corporation or fat cat is contributing their election/reelection campaign.

      September 23, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  16. Ben

    So, is it the responsibility of the government to take care of the poor....or is it the responsibility of the people to individually do so? I believe that Jesus taught us to do it the second way.

    I expect my government to run this country. I expect myself to provide for those in need in my community. Maybe if more people were willing to donate their own time and money to helping those who are less fortunate, the government wouldn't have to make it such a primary concern.

    The problems in your world usually start in the mirror.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Tony

      I agree with a lot of what you say. There's not a single person out there that can't improve thier lives without a little extra effort. However, at what point though is immoral or wrong to demand so much of the individual just so said person can live to see another day. I'm not christian or religious by any means. But shouldn't life be more than having to work to live, and live to work?

      September 23, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  17. Randi S.

    I work in Center City Philadelphia and I see poverty everyday. I see people on the street begging for change and folks sleeping on the street. I have tried multiple times to get a response for a senator or member of the house and even the White House to this question: If we have money to spend on 2 wars, how come we can't afford to feed our citizens? How come people have to live on the street? How come we can't afford to provide health care? I always was taught that charity began at home. How come we can give charity thousands of miles away? We have many hungry, homeless citizens. It just seems to me that those in Washington who make the rules have forgotten about those who need help the most. I have a good job, I own my home. My home isn't huge, it isn't fancy but it is home. I am grateful for everything I have, but I also give back to the community. I hope some of you who sit on your high horses in Washington get to read this. Maybe my words can get you to think about those who have nothing or very little. I went shopping at the market and was astonished at how expensive foods have become, and I think how does a family earning $25K a year survive? We hear talk of our obesity problem, have you actually ever payed attention to commercials? We are being bombarded by products that can stretch the food dollar, but also add to the waist line. What do parents do? Ensure their children aren't hungry or feed them a very unbalanced diet. At a time in my life we were so poor we didn't have the quarter for the ride my son wanted to go on, we would purchase the ride tickets at the jersey shore on Easter Sunday so we got them for 1/2 price. Our son was able to enjoy the rides all summer long. I am well beyond that, I was fortunate thru hard work and student loans I returned to college and earned a degree in nursing. But I haven't forgotten going to the county office and applying for food stamps or having to eat pasta and hamburger often. demogal said it right, as a country we should be ashamed of ourselves to allow this, but those who are in the Congress should be taking a real long look and they had better forget if they are red or blue. People are hurting and you who sit in the seat of government get off your duffs and do something useful!! Stop pointing fingers like children blaming someone else!!!!

    September 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Ben

      Have you stopped by one of those people begging on the street and asked them if they would like a healthy dinner and a warm bed for the night?

      If not, then you are really in no position to criticize others.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Saboth

      @Ben. Most people that are homeless have mental health problems. Some are dangerous. Not many people would take someone like that home to sleep 1 door down from their daughters or sons.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Ben

      Didn't say it had to be your house. You could rent them a room at a hotel for the night. If you are truly that concerned for your fellow man, you would find a way to help them yourself. That's my point.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Jennifer

      Well said, Randi. Make a bunch of copies and mail them off to Washington!

      September 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Relictus

      We spend $1.2 Trillion dollars on Medicare/Medicaid, and that cost rises about 7% a year. The cost of the two wars that we are fighting is about the same, or less. So we actually DO spend more on "helping the poor" than we spend fighting foreign wars. The reason that a politician will not answer you is that the answer to your questions are quite obvious if you really wanted to know. One elected official cannot spend all of his time answering questions like these, or he would get nothing done at all! Pick up a recent history book and look at some census data – it will save everyone else a lot of time, and you will get answers.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  18. Lee, West Palm Beach, FL

    Govt surveys also show that at least two-thirds of poor households have A/C, a microwave, cable/sat TV, DVD player, a car or truck, and about half have a computer, Internet access, video game system, and a third have a big screen TV, and there's a strong correlation between "poverty" and obesity. So something is wrong with the poverty criterion. To be sure, there are people who are homeless and need food and housing. But it used to be that you had to give something back to the community for receiving assistance. Not anymore.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Maine Liberal

      Govt surveys also show that at least two-thirds of poor households have A/C, a microwave, cable/sat TV, DVD player, a car or ..... would you please care to post that survey

      food stamps provide 1.73 per each dollar received in economic benefit. tax cuts 33 cents per dollar

      The industry research firm Moody's Economy.com tracked the potential impact of each stimulus dollar, looking at tax rebates, tax incentives for business, food stamps and expanding unemployment benefits.

      The report found that "some provide a lot of bang for the buck to the economy. Others ... don't," said economist Mark Zandi.

      In findings echoed by other economists and studies, he said the study shows the fastest way to infuse money into the economy is through expanding the food-stamp program. For every dollar spent on that program $1.73 is generated throughout the economy, he said.

      "If someone who is literally living paycheck to paycheck gets an extra dollar, it's very likely that they will spend that dollar immediately on whatever they need – groceries, to pay the telephone bill, to pay the electric bill," he said.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Lee, West Palm Beach, FL

      WIth a little digging, the info can be found on Dept of Energy, USDA and Census Bureau web sites. Also, if you make a personal informal survey, you will see that the percentages are likely to be reasonably accurate.
      I'm not saying that providing people with money to pay for food,housing, electronics doesn't stimulate the consumer economy. Just that "poor" is not what it used to be, nor does anything seemed to be required or even expected in return for the assistance.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  19. taxed enough

    We have more people in poverty now than we did 50 years ago? What happened to the $16 TRILLION the taxpayers paid to fund the 70 income transfer programs to the poor since the mid 1960's? Was it wasted? I know the recession and its fallout has really hurt millions of people. I also know that before the recession there were 20-30 million people getting subsidized on a full time basis by the rest of us. I believe that $16 trillion spawned a huge professional welfare crowd that is now part of what is dragging down the economy. I know people (not disabled) who have been in subsidized housing for 23 years, others (also not disabled) who have been on food stamps for 25 years. At what point does it transition from "help" for the poor to "screwing" those taxpayers who are paying for it?

    September 23, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Corwin7

      I realize you believe this and I'm sorry for you that you can without the benefit of actually checking the facts anywhere but the conservative propaganda channel. I'm also sorry for your total lack of compassion since it, in my view of the world, means you lead a very empty and meaningless life. I wish someone good could have been there to help you with whatever event/experience turned you into such a cynical and spiteful human being. I hope someone or something helps you get over it so you don't have to explain it to your maker when you meet.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Cameron Poe

      Hey Corwin7,
      Why don't you respond with a true rebuttal. Tell taxed enough where his/her facts are wrong. Instead of throwing out personal attacks and showing your own character flaws, back it up with real information. I don't believe taxed enough is saying we shouldn't help the poor or those less fortunate. I believe taxed enough is making a very fair argument. At what point do we stop helping those unwilling to help themselves? As a society do we take care of an individual forever or do we put a time table on it? This is a relevant and very pertinent question. Before we can fix the poverty situation we have to ask hard questions like taxed enough has proposed. But, instead of offering some real insight or any real help in the matter you just insist on personal attacks and spouting hateful nonsense. So from your response the rest of us will assume you have nothing worthwhile to say. Next time don't waste the space and just say nothing. We could all benefit from a little less hate in the world and you seem content spreading it like wild fire. And for your meet the maker comment. He who is without sin cast the first stone. And I'm sure your "maker" will be much more impressed with someone looking for real answers than someone spreading the hate.

      September 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  20. Saboth

    It's amusing when people that have a nice job, paying 90% of their insurance, post on this issue. I'm one of them. However, I see where the country is going. Higher medical costs and stagnant wages for the middle class means even people with "good jobs" might find themselves considered "poor" at some point. I don't want to depend on the government, but what is the alternative? Forcing the rich (who came out of their recession months ago, while the middle class is struggling to come out of theirs) to pay people fair wages? What is a fair wage when you can hire a computer programmer in India for 1/20 of what one in the US makes? Even people with fantastic jobs are just one major health problem away from being bankrupt, even if you have the best insurance on the planet. What happens if you lose your job due to a permanent problem? I also take issue with the baby mamas and welfare sucking from our system, but I also realize it's not just an issue of people that work and people that don't, and I don't know what the government can do to solve the problem of unemployment and wage stagnation in our country.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:26 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.