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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?

Wrong.

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. jb

    What an over blown bunch of BS. While the ACTUAL statistics would be enough to stand on their own, this guy uses inflated numbers and liberal scare tactics. FACT: We can't continue to borrow money because the entire country will suffer from debt inducted poverty. FACT: If we don't stop reform and stop robbing Social Security and Medicare those systems will no longer exist. FACT: Those in a condition of real poverty are being robbed by those that grossly abuse the system. FACT: If you are producing a new welfare baby every years, just to get the tax breaks and welfare service, you need to be sterilized. You screwed for 'em, you feed 'em.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  2. 30something

    I have an ingenius solution to keeping children out of poverty: Stop having children you cannot afford. It's so simple it's scary.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • yeahalright

      And that helps the ones that are here how? You can't shove em back in.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • steve

      So who is working with that 19yo mother to help her make the right decisions so that she can get out of the situation she is in and become a productive part of society or make better decisions? Nobody, they are just giving her a check and saying, if you have more kids, we will give you a bigger check. Im going back to my http://www.scrabblecheat.com game.
      Banks did it to us.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • 30something

      yeahright....it doesn't help the ones already here, it prevents future ones. Poverty is a cycle. A cycle will continue endlessly until one generation actually learns something from the previous generation.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  3. terryh

    I emigrated from Europe to the US. I never saw such abject poverty in my life as existed in Florida. My family visited me from the UK and they too were astonished. The unfortunate reality is that many Americans do not travel overseas nor do they speak other languages. Television is a poor communicator of world reality. Overall even the middle class over here, seem to have so little compared to British, French and Germans. Personally I have been the recipient of good fortune. I often feel a little guilty.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Edward

      I have lived in Florida for 30 years and have never seen abject poverty anywhere in this State. There are tons of social programs like anywhere else – maybe too many. There are more Brits and other Europians buying homes in Florida every year – strange they would want to live in the abject poverty. Get real.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Reality

      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 Form 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 23, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • jb

      Maybe the British should give us a little foreign aid.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • terryh

      Look at the grim inner city of Tallahassee, Jefferson county, Gadsden county, Jacksonville. my mother said one would have to North Africa to see such economic depression and failure of society. Try getting off the wrong exit in any American city and if you do not see poverty, perhaps an eye check up is in order. The reason we Europeans buy your houses is because people here have so little money.
      PS I too have lived for decades in Fl.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  4. Ronald Coleman

    I receive social security and pay taxes on it. Just read the IRS income tax form instructions. Not a very trustworthy article. How many more incorrect statements?

    September 23, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Edward

      Because you are considered rich and Obama wants you to pay your fair share. Somebody has to pay for those 50% that pay no FEDERAL INCOME TAX. To Obama you should consider that an honor.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • jb

      I don't mind helping the truly needy. But when you wear a new pair of Air Jordan sneakers to pick up your food stamps, then I say starve you free loader.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  5. D

    Demand is what drives an economy, not giving free money to one side of the equation. Again, no free money for the rich and no free money for the middle and poor. Any government money spent in stimulus needs to be in the middle of bringing buyers and sellers together. Programs like "Cash for Clunkers", "$8k new home buyer's credit", "rebates for buying clean energy items", "credits for hiring workers", etc. This is money that both the businesses and people benefit from. Free money to corps does not guarantee jobs and free money to individuals does not guarantee spending. If it's credits and rebates that motivates people to spend or hire, then THAT is a real stimulus.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  6. Melissa

    So tired of fear mongering ignorance promoting lying religious people. You are part of the problem, NOT part of the solution.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • some jane

      why are you even here reading this stuff?

      September 23, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • DAISHI

      lol. Seriously? Didn't even read the article.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  7. grandma

    It is no skin off of my nose to be generous. If I am warm and have enough to eat, then someone who has less can have what is left over.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Please adopt me.

      I will pray for you when you are gone, and I will buy a ferrari.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Edward

      Then be generous with all your money and no need for the government to take it away to give it to someone else. It is up to people to provide charity – it should never be a function of government.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Ph.D. from M.I.T.

      @Edward – you are either and idiot or greedy or both. You drive on the roads the government paid for, you rely on the police and fire departments the government paid for, you rely on the FDA to make sure your food and drugs are safe, etc., etc., etc. How societies treat their old, poor, and sick shows how civilized they are. You want to live in am every-man-for-himself society, them there are plenty of 3rd world counties that fit that description. I want an America by and for THE PEOPLE – not corporations and super rich super greedy millionaires and billionaires.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  8. Jay

    WRONG! almost 50% of Americans don't pay taxes – that is a proven fact. The millions of Americans who get Earned Income Tax Credits end up getting back money more money than what they pay into the system. This bozo who wrote this article can say all he wants from a religious rightenous point of view but the fact is I pay more in taxes as a Single Professional EMPLOYED person than a lot of Americans make in a given year and I am tired of always paying. I am for helping others – however, America should be about the old non-biblical adage of "teach a man to fish and feed him for life as opposed to giving him a fish and feeding him today" There are way too many Americans who have spent their entire lifes on the system. I know a man who never had a job until he was 40 years old when he finally decided to get off his butt and stop taking handouts. I know because when he was 40 I taught him about a checking account and how to use one. I also was recently at a cookout and a young lady was there complaining about the welfare system and how it wasn't fair. Now this young lady of 22 had 5 children – no job – but has a roof over her head, food in her & her children's bellys – heat, etc all furnished by my taxdollars and she was wearing $150 pair of sneakers while I on the other hand who make $ 250,000+ was wearing $ 50 sneakers – yes I could go buy the $ 150 pair but the point is I don't blow money but since $ 120,000 of my income went to taxes and I paid for my own health insurance and co-pays – paid my mortgage payments and funded my own retirement – the welfare queens of this world shouldn't be wearing $ 150 sneakers. The system is messed up! Poverty exists but those that exist in it can choose to pull themselves out and work like the rest of us but the majority are too lazy to do that and the majority are all to eager to sit back and reap the benefits of my tax dollars with ZERO effort on their part!

    September 23, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Norps

      Just because you call something proven doesn't mean it is. You are wrong. You are proven to be a liar, and a shill for the republicans. See. Any person can go around and say anything. You haven't backed any of your crap up, and until you have walked 10 feet the the soleless shoes of the poverty stricken you should sit down and be thankful to our savior that you have been more fortunate in life than other people.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Edward

      50% don't pay Federal Income Taxes. Yes some of that 50% pay social security, state sales tax. etc. – but they don't pay Federal Income tax which is what supports this Nation. The other 50% has to carry the load of the Federal government by paying Federal income tax and Obama wants that load to increase even more.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • she

      invest in education. And additional government spending that creates jobs..

      September 23, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Jen in NC

      AGREE !!!!

      September 23, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • shootmyownfood

      Yes, the unemployed should all find jobs and get off the dole – because minimum wage (for those who are undereducated or intellectually challenged) will make all the difference. What really happens: someone on welfare goes out and finds a part-time, minimum wage job that puts them over the limit for receipt of any "hand-outs" and then is forced to try to make ends meet with less than they had before. Yeah, that's gonna work! Until employers pay enough for people to live on, this will always be a problem. You obviously don't believe in the "working poor." I've been one – making ends meet on minimum wage is well nigh impossible. Sure, you could call this a starting place, but there are some people who will never rise above this level because they are not mentally capable of doing so.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Will

      The "50% don't pay taxes" is a political talking point that some staffer came up with. It is functionally untrue.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Norps

      Edward...the half that doesn't make enough money to pay any income tax lives for an entire year off of what the super wealthy spend on ONE private flight. Sure raise my taxes, I made 13,000 last year. 10% is $1300. I'm already living in a gang infested hovel. What would i need an extra 1300 for? I mean the gov't could get the same amount from ONE private flight ONCE a year, but nah, just take it form the guy making 13000, why burden the wealthy?

      September 23, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  9. WDinDallas

    Anytime you see Matthew 25 stated you know you are dealing with Liberation Theology.....aka. Christians for Marxism.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Norps

      So the bible is the literal word of God , or you are one of those cafeteria Christians who pick and choose the teachings they would like to follow?

      September 23, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  10. MightyMoo

    Put these people to work fixing and maintaining our infrastructure. The more they work the more they earn the more they buy and encourage growth in the private sector even in a government job.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Edward

      Why should they work when the government gives them handouts to live? When you give people money to do nothing they will alwys do nothing as long as the money is coming in. Sell some drugs on the side, do some prositution, work off the books – life is just fine without a "job".

      September 23, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  11. richard A. Baker

    The author of this articled has done no research. Social security benefits are taxed by the feds and by the state of vermont I live in as normal income. Not capital gains or investment income. The payroll tax is taken on gross income. This amounts to that money being taxed twice. It would place more money in the checkbooks of old people who spend money on job creating items if it were not taxed. You can't survive living on SS alone. That supplemental income then makes your SS pension a target for taxation.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Edward

      it was never the original intent for anyone to live off Social Security alone. It is when folks became totally dependent on the government in their own minds that they expected to live just of Social Security and the morons that were elected went along with that perception. That's the problem when government gets invovled – everybody expects everything for nothing.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  12. D

    10 of the reddest states in America have the highest levels of poverty. Look it up for yourself. How can the GOP point the finger at liberals (who actually care about helping people) as causing the increased poverty in the US? It's a constant fight to keep the GOP from abandoning the middle and lower class and instead of focusing solely on the well-being of corporations.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • William Demuth

      I know.

      We keep giving em food stamps, and they keep giving the money they should have been able to save to their churches.

      There are millions of these patsies around. Been conned by old liars into starving!

      September 23, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Sean

      So what you are saying is that those people in the RED states that take in most of the welfare are also voting so that the government will give them even less? That sounds pretty noble to me.. It sounds like they would be willing to sacrifice a bit for themselves for the good of the country.. They all those people on welfare in the BLUE states just vote for more and more welfare.. That seems kind of selfish to me..

      September 23, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Sean

      Once you indoctrinate someone they will do as they are told.

      I seem to recall some pretty self destructive behavior by the Red Necks in the civil war.

      Why would you think anything has changed?

      September 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  13. Lance

    Calling what we have here poverty is so disingenuous it's disgusting. There is no doubt we have people in need and we as a society need to provide safety nets for them but to call their living conditions poverty when they would be considered wealthy in many parts of the world does nothing to advance this argument.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Denvercherub

      Tell that to the people standing on the corner with signs and living in parks. Poverty is real and it's time you open your eyes to it...

      September 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Lance

      I've seen real poverty working with orphanages in Haiti and can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that "real" poverty doesn't exist in America. Doesn't mean we don't have people in great need but the problems the less fortunate have here pale in comparison to the "real" poverty that exists in the world.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Yumi

      Weak, argument. poverty is poverty. try living on 30 bucks a week for groceries, try juggling your bills month to month to keep your lights on, you can't make comparisons to the poverty in less developed countries. It's an apples to oranges fallacy. Try to limit yourself to spending only 30 dollars a week on food, cut your monthly budget down to less then 1200 bucks a month and then try to argue your point.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Lance

      Poverty is poverty? I agree but as someone who's seen it first hand I can tell you there is nothing that even resembles true poverty in this country.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • shootmyownfood

      Perhaps you should try visiting the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, or one of the native communities on the North Slope in Alaska. You have obviously not been everwhere in the US, so please don't make blanket statements. It just makes you look less than well informed.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Lance

      Real poverty is trying to live on a dollar a day to provide for all your and your families needs. Real poverty is living in a house that has no lights as there is no power of running water. Real poverty is only being able to feed your children once every 3 days and knowing that few will ever survive to adulthood. You're correct in that you can't compare the two but the real reason is because poverty doesn't even exist here.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Lance

      Try leaving the comforts of the U.S. for a little while and spend some time in the 3rd world and then get back to me about the supposed poverty in America. We have poor, we have people in need but the comparisons to actual are poverty are ridiculous.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Ph.D. from M.I.T.

      @lance – so are you saying that because these people don't live in what you call "real" poverty it is OK? Even though they live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world? Even with the 400 wealthiest families in america holding obscene amounts of wealth that they have gotten by manipulating the political and legal process via their wealth? So might makes right? Is that your argument? No need for justice or equality or fairness. There is no right or wrong or marality – just every person for themselves and screw everyone else. That is what you are advocating. And I disagree. Let the poor die and lower the over population – right! Thank you Ebenezer.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  14. abby

    my husband and I live off of about $20,000/yr – way too old to work if we could find a job – we keep cutting back on everything. a.c. set at 85, heat at 65; buy less food every month; don't go anywhere that we don't have to go; don't buy new anything; don't buy anything we absolutely don't need; our biggest luxury – internet access and tv. we aren't alone. a lot of seniors in our situation. we remember the Great Depression and feel that unlike during the time of FDR our gov't doesn't give a #### about us or anyone without huge $$$$ to donate to their campaigns. our gov't is all about serving the rich, the corporations. the rest of us can suck eggs, if we can afford one. America, gov't of, by, and for the rich. aka United States of Corporations.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Lance

      I feel for your financial hardships but what is it you believe the government should do? I ask because your post sounds as though you feel the government owes you something?

      September 23, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  15. MD

    Open your eyes people, we are in a depression! During the last great depression 80% of the homeless & Hobo"s were young adults, 16 t0 26 yrs old. My children are in that age range & still live at home. The majority of their friends come from middle class families & they are either living 4 to 6 in an apartment or in tents, cars or shelters. They live communally sharing a car, food etc. They have children out of wedlock like over 50% of the youth today, with no access to birth control, education in schools, plus Planned Parenthoods closing down everywhere. Most can only find part time work if lucky or work several different jobs w/ no benefits. When applying for jobs they are competing against hundreds of skilled labors w/ more experience. A lot of them have no drive or hope for the future. No one care about our youth in America any more & they know it! Have any of U ever been to a Food Bank? First off U have to have a car or bus fare to get there (if U can find public transportation), second U only get one small box food for a month. It usually contains a few cans of food, rice or pasta, (no protein) if U don't have a stove U eat it all raw. Lots of people on food stamps are fat cause of all the cheap starches like Top Ramon, they have little knowledge of proper nutrition. Do u really want to compare America to Africa? If we keep on the path we are on the comparisons will be shockingly easy. Some day we could even join all the other third world nations in deplorable Human Right status. Where are all the youth job programs that help put me threw Cosmetology School in the 70's? From what I can tell the rich, self centered Yuppy/ Me generation is still comfortable w/ all their toys to even notice whats going on in their own back yards, even their own children. If we as a country don't educate & train our youth, keep our industry here on our soil, America the great will no longer be the land of opportunity! Instead of food stamps & job training should we spend our taxes building more prisons to lock up our children?Cause it seems to me that the new American value is "Out of site out of mind." & "Look out for numero UNO." Family & community are going to be things read about in history books.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Dyler Turden

      You lost me at "they have children out of wedlock". You say it like it's the most natural thing in the world. If you can't afford to feed yourself, at least learn to clamp your legs shut so you don't increase the burden you place on the rest of us. No sympathy here for their plight.

      Stupid should hurt...

      September 23, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  16. morgan

    I'm a wellfare worker in texas and 95% of the people on snap and medicare are illegal immigrants

    September 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • Theodore

      Then you are really bad a t your job if your one of the people screening applicants since it is illegal for them to get those benefits.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Hey.

      You elected Perry, we didn't!

      September 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • abby

      heifer dust – IF you live in Tx – you know what that means – I live in Tx – I know you're wrong because I worked in social work. have friends who still do. Go peddle your faux news elsewhere - on faux.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Hey Morgan, you are a bold faced liar.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • erich2112x

      certainly if you really did have that job you'd know that there is no truth at all to your accusation.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • she

      they need to fix that

      September 23, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Yumi

      Post a link to the data that proves this.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • llmb

      You are lying and you know it.

      September 23, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  17. Jasper Ilkway

    Huh, I guess this is from a liberals point of view. Deny deny deny......but Obama has put half America into poverty. No surprises here.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Seriously?

      With a name like Jasper, I bet you have seen PLENTY of broke red necks!

      Some of y'all been on the government dime since Eisenhower!

      September 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Tom

      I think we have different understandings of what the word 'half' means. I think of it as being equivalent to 50% not 16%. I also find it interesting when people keep insisting that everyone is responsible for their own situation can be put in poverty by someone else.

      So I guess I have two questions for you:

      Is 'half' 16% or 50%?

      Since you believe half of Americans are in poverty because of Obama and not their own decisions would you think it reasonable that the government that placed them in poverty help them out of it?

      September 23, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • yeahalright

      So in under 3 years one person has managed to put 150 plus million people in poverty? This in addition to those who were in poverty before he took office? Are you willfully ignorant or a liar?

      September 23, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Hawaiikaos

      There has always been poverty in America. The article should have also cited statistics from before the recession as well. According to the National Academy of Sciences, the poverty rate in 2008 was 14.3%, the same as 2009. The poverty rate in 1999 was 11.9%. So clearly, Obama (like you can blame something like this on one individual, but whatever) could not possibly have put 'half of America' into poverty. In the late fifties, the time when so many white people celebrate as being some sort of golden age, poverty rates were in the 20-25% range, then rapidly dropped during the civil rights era. Soooo, yup, blame the liberals for poverty, because that makes so much sense.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  18. Gary

    How many people in the US die of starvation every year? Honest question.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Does Guantanamo bay count.

      What about the Karen Carpenter types?

      I am not sure, but I think the girl on with Regis probably will by Christmas

      September 23, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • Keith

      Too many.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • klheitz

      I'd like to know too. Does anyone have advice on how to attain this data? – thanks

      September 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • boogietime

      I suspect it is between 0 and 50.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • abby

      death by hunger doesn't always the way you think – people with malnutrition cannot fight off serious illnesses or have a life cut short by chronic illnesses – lack of proper nutrition also leads to poorer school and work performance.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Robert

      Last study on it I read put it at a mid range four figure number every year. The study said it was probably a vast under estimate because low nutrition can cause death by secondary causes (disease, accidents, weather).

      September 23, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Yumi

      http://www.everydaycitizen.com/2009/05/hunger_in_america_35_million_u.html

      September 23, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  19. shawbrooke

    I'm all for giving money to real people, such as tax credits, SNAP and increasing what Medicare covers. But most of the budget is money given to the government that goes into the bureaucracy and funds "programs". That feeds and helps no one. Democrats need to distinguish between cash given directly to people and other money going who knows where.

    September 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Dude

      Don't mess with the programs.

      In my life I have sold those programs enough computers that each starving person could have his very own server.

      Programs aren't to feed people, they are to give people jobs and me buisness.

      I mean granted, everyone else still starves, BUT I DON'T

      September 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • CJA

      You are wrong. The one biggest cost item for the fed. government is medical care for old people. Then after then social security payments and then the military. Some gets sucked up as "overhead" but by far must of the money goes the medical care providers. Simply Google "USA Budget" and there are numbers for current a past years

      September 23, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  20. boogietime

    Dude if you want to help the poor, I applaud you, but don't force me to help them just because you feel guilty. I pay taxes, I am not wealthy, but why should I have to pay for my bread, and the bread of that 19 year old single mother with 3 kids who makes poor decisions?

    September 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      My feelings exactly!

      September 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • William Demuth

      boogietime

      Hey. You FEED em, and I'll BREED em!

      September 23, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Denvercherub

      You have to because the children suffer. It is NOT their fault and if their mother cannot feed them someone should. Children should not suffer ever

      September 23, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • christianbrother

      You would support that mother for a few reasons. #1 Most of the world isn't as lucky as you. Most people aren't born with access to decent education, positive role-models, pro-active social support support networks, etc. You may think she is making bad decisions but she is making the best decisions she knows to make. #2 Ignoring the problem doesn't make it go away. Those kids are going to grow up and they can grow up ignorant and desperate or they can grow up with the same opportunities you had as a child. Kids growing up ignorant and desperate are more likely to mug you on a street corner or make even more babies at a young age, further compounding the problem. #3 You think you have independently earned "your bread" but you are wrong. You are a citizen of a nation and a member of a cultural group. The actions of those before you have allowed you access to education, access to jobs, informed your moral sensibilities, etc. The people that gave you what you have today didn't abandon you out of self-interest. They believed in building something sustainable for all that shared their dream.

      I don't advocate willy nilly handouts but I do advocate a rational and moral approach to these problems. Your unthinking intuitive responses will only lead to further decay.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Are the court systems and prisons they'll end up in free to operate? Why should I have to pay for those when it would cost so much less to fix now? Pay now or pay later, but you're paying regardless.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • W247

      So who is working with that 19yo mother to help her make the right decisions so that she can get out of the situation she is in and become a productive part of society or make better decisions?

      September 23, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • boogietime

      Nobody, they are just giving her a check and saying, if you have more kids, we will give you a bigger check.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
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About this blog

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.