Monday, March 02, 2015

The Right-Wing Is Lying To Us About Poverty

(The cartoon image above is by Natalie Dee at

I like this cartoon because it sums up perfectly what the right-wing in this country seems to think about poor people -- that they are just lazy and worthless, and get in the way of their betters (rich people). It is because of this attitude that those on the right feel no shame in cutting the few programs that help the poor keep their heads above water -- just so they can throw even more money to the rich and the corporations. And they are perfectly willing to lie to you and I to get what they want.

Mother Jones magazine has compiled a list of the 10 biggest myths (lies) about poverty in the United States -- myths that the right want us to believe, so they can justify their naked greed. The list is by Erika Eichelberger:

1. Single moms are the problem. Only 9 percent of low-income, urban moms have been single throughout their child's first five years. Thirty-five percent were married to, or in a relationship with, the child's father for that entire time.*
2. Absent dads are the problem. Sixty percent of low-income dads see at least one of their children daily. Another 16 percent see their children weekly.*
3. Black dads are the problem. Among men who don't live with their children, black fathers are more likely than white or Hispanic dads to have a daily presence in their kids' lives.
4. Poor people are lazy. In 2004, there was at least one adult with a job in 60 percent of families on food stamps that had both kids and a nondisabled, working-age adult.
5. If you're not officially poor, you're doing okay. The federal poverty line for a family of two parents and two children in 2012 was $23,283. Basic needs cost at least twice that in 615 of America's cities and regions.
6. Go to college, get out of poverty. In 2012, about 1.1 million people who made less than $25,000 a year, worked full time, and were heads of household had a bachelor's degree.**
7. We're winning the war on poverty. The number of households with children living on less than $2 a day per person has grown 160 percent since 1996, to 1.65 million families in 2011.
8. The days of old ladies eating cat food are over. The share of elderly single women living in extreme poverty jumped 31 percent from 2011 to 2012.
9. The homeless are drunk street people. One in 45 kids in the United States experiences homelessness each year. In New York City alone, 22,000 children are homeless.
10. Handouts are bankrupting us. In 2012, total welfare funding was 0.47 percent of the federal budget.
*Source: Analysis by Dr. Laura Tach at Cornell University.
**Source: Census
I would add two more myths -- that most of the poor people are minorities., and that poverty is a problem only in the urban areas. Neither is even close to the truth. Most of the poor are white, and poverty is growing the fastest in suburban and rural areas. The poor are our neighbors. Don't believe the right-wing lies. It is time for us to wake up and take care of our own citizens who need help. Remember, a country is judged by how it treats its less fortunate citizens (and not by how much it gives to the rich).

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