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The ‘Hunger in America’ Hoax

Written on Sunday, October 16, 2011 by


Twenty years ago, hysteria swept through the media over “hunger in America.” Dan Rather opened a CBS Evening News broadcast in 1991 declaring, “one in eight American children is going hungry tonight.” Newsweek, the Associated Press and the Boston Globe repeated this statistic, and many others joined the media chorus, with or without that unsubstantiated statistic. When the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Agriculture examined people from a variety of income levels, however, they found no evidence of malnutrition among those in the lowest income brackets. Nor was there any significant difference in the intake of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from one income level to another. That should have been the end of that hysteria. But the same “hunger in America” theme reappeared years later, when Senator John Edwards was running for Vice President. And others have resurrected that same claim, right up to the present day. Ironically, the one demonstrable nutritional difference between the poor and others is that low-income women tend to be overweight more often than others. That may not seem like much to make a political issue, but politicians and the media have created hysteria over less. The political left has turned obesity among low-income individuals into an argument that low-income people cannot afford nutritious food, and so have to resort to burgers and fries, pizzas and the like, which are more fattening and less healthful. But this attempt to salvage something from the “hunger in America” hoax collapses like a house of cards when you stop and think about it. Burgers, pizzas and the like cost more than food that you can buy at a store and cook yourself. If you can afford junk food, you can certainly afford healthier food. An article in the New York Times of September 25th by Mark Bittman showed that you can cook a meal for four at half the cost of a meal from a burger restaurant. So far, so good. But then Mr. Bittman says that the problem is “to get people to see cooking as a joy.” For this, he says, “we need action both cultural and political.” In other words, the nanny state to the rescue! Since when are adult human beings supposed to do only those things that are a joy? I don’t find any particular joy in putting on my shoes. But I do it rather than go barefoot. I don’t always find it a joy to drive a car, especially in bad weather, but I have to get from here to there. An arrogant elite’s condescension toward the people — treating them as children who have to be jollied along — is one of the poisonous problems of our time. It is at the heart of the nanny state and the promotion of a debilitating dependency that wins votes for politicians while weakening a society. Those who see social problems as requiring high-minded people like themselves to come down from their Olympian heights to impose their superior wisdom on the rest of us, down in the valley, are behind such things as the hunger hoax, which is part of the larger poverty hoax. We have now reached the point where the great majority of the people living below the official poverty level have such things as air-conditioning, microwave ovens, either videocassette recorders or DVD players, and own either a car or a truck. Why are such people called “poor”? Because they meet the arbitrary criteria established by Washington bureaucrats. Depending on what criteria are used, you can have as much official poverty as you want, regardless of whether it bears any relationship to reality. Those who believe in an expansive, nanny state government need a large number of people in “poverty” to justify their programs. They also need a large number of people dependent on government to provide the votes needed to keep the big nanny state going. Politicians, welfare state bureaucrats and others have incentives to create or perpetuate hoaxes, whether about poverty in general or hunger in particular. The high cost to taxpayers is exceeded by the even higher cost of lost opportunities for fulfillment in their lives by those who succumb to the lure of a stagnant life of dependency. To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM

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  • The Enemy

    It is, indeed, a hoax, just like all the rest of the contrived crises the government CREATES! They invent phony crises and then swoop-in to “save us” by creating new bureaucracies or expanding existing ones. This enlarges the scope of the central government and gives them more power over the people. Back in the 1970’s, when I recognized what was happening, I coined this phrase: “The government is protecting us to death”. It has been going-on for decades.

    • Show Me

      That is the most ignorant remark I’ve ever heard. Why don’t you tell that to the kids that go to bed hungry, especially on weekends, when there is no school breakfast & lunch for them. Or to the old folks who are trying to live on SS and buy cat food to eat. Our government and corporate greed is the root of a lot of problems, but just because they are, is no reason you can just say its a hoax and be done with it. & no, I didn’t vote for that idiot in the white house who keeps putting his feet up on OUR priceless antique furniture in OUR White House!!

    • paul

      There are NO seniors eating cat food, stop the crap. If someone can afford catfood they can afford people food. What a stupid remark. The gov says crap like that for political gain, nothing else. These losers in gov that say crap like that can give a rip about people, they just care about there power. They need to be fired!

    • alex

      it would take four cans of cat food to equal one can of salmon but one can of cat food cost as much as one can of salmon and as the artical says junk food from mcdonalds cost more than real food from the store

    • lester james boheler

      that is what i was thinking I am a senior 70 in less than a year,often stores have people food 2-3 or more cans , for a $1 lots cheeper than most cat food then a lot of us do small gardens helps out a bunch we do not get any help nor want any,

    • Texan living abroad until Texas secedes

      That’s the irony here. The articles don’t look at WHY some poor people are poor.

      Choosing to eat more expensive food that is worse for their bodies is one “path to poverty”. They will be less productive, have less dollars to invest, and generally fast food eaters are more lazy (can’t be bothered to cook a better tasting meal at home).

      Our poor are generally uninformed and are poor because, as a saw as a teen growing up, they will sometimes take the cash from their paycheck as soon as they get it and blow it on something stupid like a gold watch, while forgetting to go grocery shopping.

      That’s why I believe food stamps are the liberal’s way of “getting their backs” since they can’t be used to buy stuff they shouldn’t be buying.

      But be warned people, there is a push to make food stamps work for fast food. This is bad bad bad. We’re already paying enough for the poor’s health bills.

    • Redd Frogg

      Anyone who buys pet food knows it is expensive as compared to regular human food. Therefor, no one is eating cat or dog food to get by! Here in my hometown, there is a place where anyone can go to get a meal for any reason. No questions asked! There are also free food pantries where food can be obtained. There are churches that feed the homeless. Anyone who is starving has only theirself to blame. If they need help getting the free food out there, then all they need do is speak up and ask for help!

    • Jerry

      Show me… please don’t be a willing idiot. If you are indeed truthful… which I doubt… the only people I see that are hungry in this country are those who choose to be. And I am out everyday day looking at the people who walk the streets.

    • el_loco_jp

      There are NO “kids that go to bed hungry”! Anybody who “needs” it gets welfare, food stamps, free school lunches and all the other “freebie” programs that gov’t offers. Are you ignorant, stupid, insane, lying or just criminally naive (or all these)?

    • alex

      all the above plus they use their food stamps at the cacinos

    • Nellie CA

      I live in an area where there are lots of seniors. I know seniors who can’t pay their space rent, they are on S.S very low income, Our church as a food bank, These people do get food boxes from state or county. Some is federal food! When I got hurt my friend took over the hauling of the day old bread from stores. This is offered on Tuesday. Lots of people laid off, the ones with kids can get Welfare but the young people are not getting anything.
      Our government in CA has given the illegals grants for education but not the Amereican people that are working. The fed gov can bring in Refugees and give them Welfare an S.S benefits, The S.S benefits they have never paid into.,
      We need to say “NO MORE REFUGEES OR ILLEGALS”.
      The school programs, I have been in the schools when the food that is served is put in the trash. Welfare people need to manage their money better and fix their kids breakfast, lunch and dinner. They can life on Welfare and the spouse or boyfriend working for cash.
      I am deaf, lost my hearing when my kids were in high school, job went down the drain. Government had so rehab for older deaf people. I started my own business and we never were on Welfare or did I lose anything. WHERE THEIR IS A WILL THEIR IS A WAY. GOD BLESS OUR COUNTRY.

    • ARMYOF69

      Hi Nellie, telling the truth nowadays does into even make it to the governments ears.
      WE the Christians and all those who share our ideology, need to support the local RED CROSS , and , or the local churches . That way there will always be a way for hose who do need food to get some. The government has placed so many laws in our paths , that WE THE PEOPLE NEED a lawyer to find out if what we want to do to help is at least legal.
      ALL GOVERNMENT ENTITIES FROM ALL LEVELS HAVE FAR TOO MUCH POWER. Time to trim them down , and get back to reality, WE THE PEOPLE ARE their masters, not their slaves.

    • nax777

      Some problems like this one are real but all government social programs create more problems.
      Show me is not the only one easily fooled. Mass legal and illegal immigration brought down the towers.

      Be honest now, wars in the Middle East and check points in the US was doable, affordable and sensible but ending all immigration and deportations were not and won’t provide security. The Japanese military attacked the US once not the Japanese immigrants. Islam’s war on everything not Muslim instructs fertility and immigration as the only sure way to conquer the enemies.

      My mother found bread and butter topped with sugar cheaper than cat food. This was better than nothing and I would have gone to bed without dinner than eat cat food. Went without many times so my younger siblings could enjoy what was left. Did encourage me to look for work which infuriated me to discover people feared government. Government was protecting me from working at age ten.

      Ten million, 20 million, 30 million, 40 million… Hello Sharia flag, for English please press 2!
      P.S. Did you vote this week at “you cut”?

    • Joyce

      I for one would NEVER give to the Red Cross. Salvation Army yes, but no way Red Cross. There have been too many articles about the Red Cross keeping 90% of the money people donate. When my husband was in the service a buddy of his BOUGHT a sweater someone had knit for $5 when the donor had specified that it should be DONATED to someone. I myself worked on a door-to-door campaign for them and when I turned in the money at 1:30 PM found the leader of the campaign still in her nightgown. The Red Cross should either be eliminated altogether or at least watched over with a very careful eye. They’re nothing but crooks like the majority of the do-gooder organizations in America today. Everybody’s out to steal all they can, from the politicians to the welfare cheats, and the public be damned.

    • Glo

      Support the Salvation Army instead. Also, check out the many church food banks.

    • Neal

      To imagine that those who push this agenda lack all human emapaty and must believe JESUS was wrong, is the height of obsurdity. To lie in such a way is a discusting act of morbid disreguard for humanity. To beleave these lies is the height of brain-dead ignorance.
      Here is a site more worth reading about the truth of hunger than the crap this article is trying to feed you. To imagine that those who push this agenda lack all emapaty and must believe JESUS was wrong is the hieght of obsurdity.

      37 million people (12.6%) were in poverty

      12.9 million (17.8%) children under the age of 18 were in poverty

      20.5 million (11.3%) of people aged 18-64 were in poverty

      3.6 million (10.1%) seniors 65 and older were in poverty, an increase from 3.5 million in 2004

    • patriot

      Canned cat food is more expensive than noodle romin and mac and cheese, so you are full of it. People on food stamps might eat better than you do!

    • Uncleroy1

      Went out to one of our local buffet places to eat, I was stunned, nay appauled at the number of obese people eating at the buffet. I was embarassed by their demeanor, attitude and appearance…. my gawd people, show some respect for yourself.

    • Obamavitch

      Uncle roid………….. perhaps you should just G_F_Y

    • 820 RED HORSE

      Call 911 this idiot has overdosed on the commie kool-aid!!!!!!

    • skptriot, MI

      Don’t forget Ralph Nader

    • http://msn Mike Stone Sr

      @ the enemy—–I coined the phrase, Government is the enemy of free men! I am a normal Texan who has never taken a dime from anyone! I no longer owe any allegiance to our unamerican federal government! I love this country and the most hated man on Earth, I am a militant nationalist, hated by one world progressives! I refuse to fly the American flag until our government returns to a government of the people and for the people!

    • Johnnygard

      Mike, Don’t take it out on the flag. The flag represents our country and its history, not the government. Government is the problem. You will look a lot less like a liberal if you fly the flag, ’cause these commie liberals sure don’t fly the flag.

    • Donald DeHoff

      There are many stupid comments concerning this article, but yours was right on point–well said. All too many confuse “cause, effect and solutions. Keep in mind this food problem is analagous to any “one-of-a-kind” event. It may be similiar to the great depression, but the causes are very different. The jobs just are not here, they are in China, Mexico and other off-shore locations. And, yes there are many who do not enough to eat.

    • T Lady

      The Nanny State on steroids.

  • Furious in TX

    Thomas Sowell for president!!!!

    • vietnamvet

      I WOULDS vote for that!

    • vietnamvet

      …Oops! I was so excited I hit two keys …

  • Mutantone

    they just investigate the crack heads and meth users

  • JVB

    Well, if it was embraced and enriched by liberal media…why would any sane, independent -thinking person believe it was true?

  • Jerry

    I read this article about two weeks ago! The msm is at it again! Walter Cronkite used to give “unnecessary” and unheard of stats about this and that…. Who wants to know what those lame-brained liberals are touting!

  • stephen russell

    what Hunger in America, its bogus: with Food Banks, take home from dining out, frozen, produce markets alone, NO one should be hungary , Its BS.

  • Luigi

    When I was growing up as a child in the 50’s and 60’s and my father was making no more than six thousand dollars a year raising 3 children and a stay at home mom we would have been considered middle class. Today , under the same criteria under which we lived we would be considered living under abject poverty…….Yes there is a major problem in government and society. We lived in a 13 hundres square foot home, one bath, one black and white tv, one black 10 lb phone ( rotary dial) and one ten year old automobile, no insurance……How did we survive. Oh by the way all three of us have college degrees, no help from parents, no loans. Just worked our buts off….Disgusting isn’t it…….

    • Valerie Terzi

      And milk was .50 a gallon, bread was .25 and gas was .35/gal. Today the oil companies are making record profits while most people can barely afford gas to get to their jobs, if indeed they have a job since NOBODY is hiring.

    • Uncleroy1

      VT you are 100% right. Let’s punish the oil companies for furnishing us: gasoline, plastic, heating oil, nylons, jobs, drilling, construction, oil, lubricants….
      NOT! You’re an idiot for thinking like that.

    • Teyha

      VT – Let’s see, at $6,000 a year that equals $500 a month or approximately $125 per week or assuming he worked a 40 week equals $3.13 per hour. So what’s your point that milk was .50 gal, bread was .25 and gas was .35 gal. Mmmm, I drove when gas was .25 gal in the late 60’s early 70’s. So do not complain about what they paid back then. Also we did not have all the regulations that are now in place on businesses, including the oil companies. Maybe if Congress and the government would get off their butts and allow drilling not only would it lower unemployment but would also lower the cost of gas. Canada opened up drilling and now has unemployment lower than the pre 2009 recession. They want to run a gas line down to the gulf states to supply us some of our gas but idiots are trying to stop it. So much for the government trying to stop unemployment. If you’d like to work for $3.13 go right ahead. If not then shut up about what our parents did. Guess our parents truly knew what work was and didn’t expect hand outs like today’s generation. Also bet the parents of back then went through the Great Depression and knew what true hunger and unemployment was like. Get a life and quit complaining. Learn to be thrifty like that generation.

    • ticktockoma

      The Green Thing
      Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

      The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.”

      The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

      She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

      Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

      We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

      Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right. We didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

      Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right. We didn’t have the green thing back then.

      We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

      Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

      But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

      Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smartass young person.

      Remember: Don’t make old people mad.

      We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off.

    • Tom T

      Dead on! Brilliant.

    • Corsica

      Absolutely, positively the best post I’ve read yet.

    • LittleFox

      @ticktockoma I love this. My Grandmother saved butcher paper, she re-used wrapping paper, recycled clothes into new clothes, and so much more. To this day, I can’t just throw away the cotton from an aspirin bottle because of her. My Mom and Dad lived and raised us the way you describe. We had a rotary mower and a milk box. Your lesson is a good one, and a blessing.

    • another old man

      Bravo ticktockoma It made me chuckle and the games we played, “kick the can, “ringalevio”
      , ” buck buck” When we got hurt, alittle Iodine and back to the games. Also our one phone was a party line with three other familys

    • T Lady

      I salute you. And I also remember my late grandmother taking care of me, washing out the cloth diapers, and rinsing out the plastic and glass bottles and such.

      Although I do enjoy the conveniences and technologies of today, I do respect and appreciate all the hard work and effort of the Greatest Generation.

    • 820 RED HORSE

      Your post is ….A thing of beauty..and it’s all true!! Thanks for a quick and simple history lesson. I think even the Wall Street protesters understand it! But they choose not too I’m certain of that.

    • http://HELP Believer

      SOUNDS like my childhood. No cell phones, no dishwasher, no automatic washer or dryer, no air conditioning,one tv, one phone, no self defrosting refrigerator, no computer, no i-pod, no cd, no dvd, no game systems, no permanent press clothes, one automobile, 2 pair of shoes,school and sunday, no fast food,I just don’t know how we survived! This GENERATION would NEVER SURVIVE! There were no WALL STREET PROTESTERS.Every parent had a belt and wasn’t afraid to use it.Maybe we’ve come too far in this MODERN LIFESTYLE!

  • Jonathan Gartner

    Just another diversion(and its a repeat from several weeks ago) Obama is getting desparate and it shows now he is runnning out of Ideas I can hard wait for the side show Occupy Wall Street to turn violent be linked to him and his “friends” and even the Independents will have nothing to do with him. At that point he should be jailed sedition against the United States deport him to either Kenya or Indonesia. There is more than enough food to get lets see: food pantries, food stamps, churchs that give out food or money or assistance free hot food given out both at lunch and diner ect. Whats the complaint?? oh I am sorry just another liberal lie

  • Idylewylde

    I support my local food bank that distributes to families in need. Granted, it gets abused a lot by people who are not in need, but I never let that get in the way of my contributions.

    The moment of irony finally arrived.

    One of my neighbors, an elderly woman, came back from the food bank. She was not happy. They gave her a vegetarian pizza.

    Please .. all of you health freak yuppie leftists need to keep your donations going to the NEA and leave the food bank alone. You’re really miffing Granny.

  • mari

    I am a retired teacher (a difficult field for a conservative)and have seen many children getting free breakfast and lunch who’s family dressed much better than I did and who drove cars better than mine. The word poverty has become a very subjective word.

    • Janice

      I,too, am a retired teacher and saw how the “free breakfast/lunch kids” went on trips to Disney World, had name brand clothes and the most expensive gym shoes and VCRs, camcorders and computers before I did! This year they served free breakfast and lunch all summer long! These same kids were the ones that complained about the “crap” they had to eat. The kids who paid never complained but brought their lunch when they didn’t like what was on the menu and ate breakfast at home. Gee, what a novel idea.

    • skptriot, MI

      Isn’t “Poverty Level” in schools now $37K? They bumped up the free lunch program so those who are really in need don’t feel alienated.

    • ronnie

      How many were American/white? …just curious

    • Valerie Terzi

      They may be getting clothes from a relative, you don’t know. Sure, there are people that take advantage, but you can’t judge by how they are dressed.

    • Janice

      They were not getting hand me downs. The kids would tell me on the first of the month that they went shopping when their parents got their checks and were so proud of their purchases.
      Furthermore, the kids were taken out of school for the trips to Disney World.It’s less crowded at that time of year and their parents didn’t work, so they could go anytime. I DO feel sorry for the really poor, but many people are using the system and these children are learning to do the same thing so the dependency will continue. When asking these same kids what they wanted to be when they grow up, they replied, “Why should I work? My parents don’t and we have everything we want.” These aren’t isolated incidents, either, many of my fellow teachers heard the same thing. For those kids who really needed help, I would do anything for them.

    • LesPaul

      Nothing is Free it’s just another word the Libs in government use that means you don’t have to pay for it the TAX PAYING CITIZEN WILL! In America somebody always pays NOTHING IS FREE! START TEACHING OUR CHILDREN RIGHT!

  • Valerie Terzi

    “people living below the official poverty level have such things as air-conditioning, microwave ovens, either videocassette recorders or DVD players, and own either a car or a truck. Why are such people called “poor”?”
    Most of the people getting money for food are women with children. To assume that by having an air conditioner and a DVD player shows proof that they aren’t poor is just ludicrous. You try living off 100.00 a month for groceries and see what “nutritional” food you would be able to buy. You and those like you should stop judging other people and realize that in this rich country,surely we can afford to feed our poor. We certainly seem to find the money for wars based on lies. It’s people like Sowell who’s main solution to poverty would most likely be abortion. Why does feeding the poor bother this writer so much that he would make others assume it was all a lie, they can afford nutritional food, nevermind that the cost of food is outrageous, let’s just blame the poor. Go back under the rock from which you came.

    • Teyha

      VT – when did having air conditioning, a dvd player, nice car become a necessity. I know some on welfare that have cable. If they are so poor that they can’t feed their family but can spend money on non necessary items then maybe it’s time to re look at the welfare system. From being a Head Start teacher and being required to make home visits, it was appalling to see moms and sometimes dads lounging around smoking, drinking and some doing drugs while the kids suffered. Now if they have enough money for smokes, alcohol,drugs and even pop then they have enough for healthy food. My friend is poor but too “rich” to get help and she spends less than $100/month on food for 4 people. She is extremely frugal and watches for whats on sale. Her husband is diabetic, so not much pasta. She can not eat pasta as she can’t digest it. So please don’t tell me that a parent can not give nutrition on little money. I’m gluten and lactose intolerant, try living on a diet that consists of mainly fruits and vegetables. Yes, there are gluten free products out there but they are 10 times more expensive. While I can buy my husband a loaf of bread for $1.50 mine costs around $5. One grocery store does have 10% off on Wednesdays so that is when I shop for my stuff.
      You are the one who needs to come out from under the rock and wake up. There are community gardens, they could “work” at raising their own vegetables, there are food vouchers for the farmers market under the wick program (program for mothers and their children), canned fruit and vegetable are not as maybe nutritious as fresh but they are not that expensive if you watch the sales. I picked some up for .38 a can for green beans, corn and peas. So please do not insult peoples intelligence with your comments. Go and really look at how you spend your grocery money and the amount. Yes it takes work to spend only $100 a month but it can be done with effort. Try making your own soups, pizza, lasagna, and other dishes. Cooking is a very easy way to save money vs prepared food. It does mean kool-aid vs pop, homemade cookies instead of boughten and other similar sacrifices. At the end of the month if there is money left over buy the kids a treat.

    • Glo

      I have known too many who “complained” about not being able to buy their children milk, but I noticed it didn’t stop them from their cigarettes.

  • jerry1944

    there isnt a food shortage but it sure has gone up part due to fedral regulations and fuel cost and all i know. But it has gone way up oo yea and we must make some of it for fuel and pay more to eat. i help 3 familys with my small check but its the ones i want to help not the goverment taking more to give to dopers

  • John

    Poverty, liiike wealth, is a relative thing. ” Poor ” people in the U.S. have the world by the short hairs for the most part.
    What the U.S. government’s own facts and figures really say about poverty in the United States. The results might surprise you, especially if your view of poverty is the conventional one, perpetuated by the media–namely, destitute conditions of homelessness and hunger. In reality, though, the living conditions of those defined as poor by the government are much different than that popular image. The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau:

    • 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning

    • Nearly three-fourths have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks

    • Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television

    • Two-thirds have at least one DVD player and 70 percent have a VCR

    • Half have a personal computer, and one in seven have two or more computers

    • More than half of poor families with children have a video game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation

    • 43 percent have Internet access

    • One-third have a wide-screen plasma or LCD television

    • One-fourth have a digital video recorder system, such as a TiVo

    As for hunger and homelessness, Rector and Sheffield point to 2009 statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture showing that 96 percent of poor parents stated that their children were never hungry at any time during the year because they could not afford food, 83 percent of poor families reported having enough food to eat, and over the course of a year, only 4 percent of poor persons become temporarily homeless, with 42 percent of poor households actually owning their own homes. Want an international comparison? The average poor American has more living space than the average Swede or German. You can read even more of those facts in their report, “Understanding Poverty in the United States.”

    None of this is to say that the poor have it easy. Sadly, one in 25 will become temporarily homeless during the year, and one in five poor adults will experience temporary food shortages and hunger at some point in a year. But exaggerating the conditions of poverty does not do America any good, as Rector and Sheffield explain:
    The poor man who has lost his home or suffers intermittent hunger will find no consolation in the fact that his condition occurs infrequently in American society. His hardships are real and should be an important concern to policymakers. Nonetheless, anti-poverty policy needs to be based on accurate information. Gross exaggeration of the extent and severity of hardships in America will not benefit society, the taxpayers, or the poor.

    Those exaggerations about the symptoms of poverty don’t solve the root causes of the problem, either. As Rector and Sheffield write, “Among families with children, the collapse of marriage and the erosion of work ethic are the principal long-term causes of poverty.” In order to truly benefit the poor, they say, welfare policy must require able-bodied recipients to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid. And it should strengthen marriage in low-income communities, rather than ignore and penalize it.

    Poverty is a serious problem that requires serious solutions. But policymakers and the public need accurate information about what poverty in the United States really means. Only then can they implement the right policies to help those Americans who are truly in need.

  • Dan

    There sure are a load of fat bas..rds around where I live. If anything, Americans est too much.

  • am2sweet

    With all the programs in place it’s hard to think anyone would actually be hungry. I think we have done pretty much all that can be done. It wouldn’t hurt for there to be more jobs available so people can earn something. They talk about all the field work the illegals do that Americans won’t do. Frankly if I were starving and needed money for a place to live and food I think I’d be willing to pick veggies or whatever to make that money. Maybe honest labor isn’t good enough for people anymore. Maybe too many got spoiled to a good way of life, especially those that get welfare for years and don’t try to get a job. Either way now that our country is threatened to be put into a socialist state look at who’s helping that cause. Mostly those we have been supporting. They’re the only one with time enough to go sit out in the street somewhere. The rest of us are working and doing constructive things.

    • LesPaul

      I think a Social prayer not a religious prayer mind you should be said at the beginning of every school day in every school in the country
      giving thanks to every citizen taxpayer who is paying for their education. It should go something like this:
      Thank you citizen taxpayers for providing this education to us and our future generations.For without your hard work and relentless sacrifice none of what I have or will have will be possible. Amen.

  • PaulG.

    Hunger & malnutrition are two different things. You have to go hungry for quite sometime before malnutrition shows up.

    • http://HELP Believer

      HUNGER; This country doesn’t know HUNGER. Go to some third world countries you will see what hunger looks like! Americans are like.SPOILED BABIES.

    • PaulG.

      No, for centuries we cultivated the land. Built dams, irrigated fields. Domesticated animals, built housing & tall buildings, invented plumbing & sewer systems, etc. etc.
      You can teach the third world all you want, build them dams & schools. But they always wind up pissing in the same pot they cook in. Toppling one dictator after another rape & pillage, cut off arms etc. There are reasons for this I wont bother to go into. But when the liberals bring them here they don’t want to do any different than they do at home.

    • http://HELP Believer


    • PaulG.

      Perhaps but I argue that we deserve to be. On the grounds that our parents, grandparents, ancestors set it up for us little by little.
      Third world immigrants literally walked out of the woods into what’s left of a booming society. They’ve had no upbringing in it or appreciation for who made it possible.
      There are countries that have been considered “developing nations” for over 60 years. Every year our government gives billions to their leaders & they still have one room school houses, dirt roads, no plumbing or sewers & antiquated irrigation systems. How long & how much does a nation take to “develop”.
      They want to come here because it’s so much better but they have no ambition to fix their own countries. Consequentially they have no regard for our country, & don’t belong here. They add nothing positive & can only detract, forcing our society into a third world country itself.

  • Donald DeHoff

    About 80% of these comments are plain BS. Mamy, making comments need to get out among the “little people”. There are many thousands out of work, used up their unemployment and living off of $50.00 a month in food stamps. “Junk” bread costs $2.50 a loaf, whole wheat or Rye, costs almost $5.00. Milk is over $2.00 a quart. I visited three different “food banks” and their shelves were almost empty. The “farmers markets” were all having either pilfered food or scavengers picking up the over-ripe or bruised foods,(which the farmers gladly made available). The local “mission” is full and their “food line” is blocks long. I see people walking down the highway picking up loose onions and other produce that have fallen off of trucks taking produce to market. I see “flashlights” at night in the produce fields, picking up damaged and/or missed produce. I see many adult children have moved back in with their parents and/or grandparents—and Winter is coming; and we have not even broached the subects of rent, utilities, insurance, gas for the car, medical and clothing. Get real, people: laws and rules are “out the window” when people are starving or freezing.

    • Ray

      Donald, who do we have to thank for our situation? Dems have been running this crap down our throats for generations and no light at the end of the tunnel? as long as people can get free stuff they will not work..remember buy a person a fish, feed for a day, teach them to fish feed them for you get it? the government has made ast least 3 generations of “poor” folks, they “work” the system which is in place to make sure the political machine keeps grinding.

  • Corsica

    I’ve been to the supermarket on days when the “poor” have their welfare accounts replenished and they eat better than I do. The best steaks, chops, ribs, and shrimp. Snacks, sodas, cookies and other goodies. And they’re fat, dumb and happy. (Well, maybe not so dumb). The “poor” are a very small minority in this country, usually in rural areas. The “poor” in the cities have cell phones, the latest urban clothes etc etc.

  • Ken Broadwater

    PLEASE just leave us alone. If those folks were made…. or allowed to be responsible for themselves. Eat, get fat or buy food at the store, don’t eat, no one cares. Make them be responsible.

    • Obamavitch

      I agree, Ken. If a person is needy thru no fault of their own, they deserve a helping hand, but not permanent welfare. If they are able bodied, effem, let them take away one of the jobs held by the illegals. Some where north of 12 million mexicans all have a job they go to every day. None of them are hungry.

  • Ferrarello

    If you have food, some cloths and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75 % of the world. If you have money in your pocket as well, you are amongst the top 8% of the “wealthy”.

  • paul7836

    6 Our orders—backed up by the Master, Jesus—are to refuse to have anything to do with those among you who are lazy and refuse to work the way we taught you. Don’t permit them to freeload on the rest. We showed you how to pull your weight when we were with you, so get on with it. We didn’t sit around on our hands expecting others to take care of us. In fact, we worked our fingers to the bone, up half the night moonlighting so you wouldn’t be burdened with taking care of us. And it wasn’t because we didn’t have a right to your support; we did. We simply wanted to provide an example of diligence, hoping it would prove contagious.

    10-13Don’t you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” And now we’re getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately—no excuses, no arguments—and earn their own keep. Friends, don’t slack off in doing your duty.

    14-15If anyone refuses to obey our clear command written in this letter, don’t let him get by with it. Point out such a person and refuse to subsidize his freeloading. Maybe then he’ll think twice. But don’t treat him as an enemy. Sit him down and talk about the problem as someone who cares.

    2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 ESV

  • John Hardman

    Iv’e been around since the “Great Depression”
    that started in 1929 and lasted until the Second World War started in 1941. In all that time I have never seen any Headlines of any National News Paper stating any one starving to death in this country. There may have been some really weird situations like Bolemia at girls Colleges or murder by abandonment of a hapless helpless individual by a deranged deviant perpetrator.The USA can actually boast that we are the only Nation on this planet that has large population of poor people that are clinicly obese.
    Nasty Pelosi and Harry(the mortician)Reid like to use exaggeration and gross hyperbole to stir emotions of the uninformed or just plain gullible.

    • Lindy

      Sorry John, but my mother grew up during the great depression and spoke many times about eating sugar on bread or ketchup on bread because that was all they had. She also told stories of the Goodfellows bringing peanut butter which was greatly appreciated. My father on the other hand, was more fortunate because his father had a job and supplied his family well with all the necessities. So yes John, there were hungry kids then and there are hungry kids now. I’m a conservative and not defending those on the left but hunger does exist.

    • Johnnygard

      Lindy, all John said was people didn’t starve to DEATH.

  • Howard-the Banger Club

    Stop the welfare programs, NO money, just food. People with food stamps buy items that I can’t afford. Impose more restriction on stores who accept food stamps. If the food stamp user tries to buy anything other than food the stoor should have the government authority to take away. I worked for “BROWN BAG” and we gave away tons of food. This seems to work for the poor so increase the BROWN BAG program and place more restrictions on free school lunches. Stop these give away programs where money is involved. Pray for our Nation.

  • Lindy

    There are many kids going to bed hungry. Millions of people are unemployed, unable to qualify for food stamps because the system is overloaded. The new poverty level is approximately 12,000. So those who are receiving the max on unemployment are crap out of luck. They don’t qualify for Medicaid either. So what you have people doing is deciding whether to pay their rent, or buy food, or clothe themselves. Food banks are overwhelmed and asking for donations from those more fortunate. We can thank our government once again for promoting and providing incentives for business to move overseas. No jobs, no hope.

    • ARMYOF69

      This is a perfect time , for all to realize how important it is , to stay in the good graces of your family members, and friends. When you are hungry, and there is no other way to get satiated, you need you family and friends to help you during those rough days. Forget your self importance, your religious and sexual views , and your political views. GET FRIENDLY.
      Go to a local church and find some relief with the good people there. You do not have to be religious to do this, just friendly.

    • AppraisHer

      Lindy, the “newly poor” who worked all of their lives, educated their children and paid their bills, are a creation of the POTUS, who concentrated his first 2 years on Obamacare instead of jobs and is now concentrating on re-election instead of suffering Americans. The “generational” poor were created by Lyndon Johnson in 1968 and are parasites on our economy. Their “job” is waddling to the mailbox to get their welfare check and their “raise” is to have another illegitimate kid. While all are suffering, none are starving or are living with the deprevation out seniors grew up with during the depression. Let’s make a distinction here.

    • Obamavitch

      The hungry can just cook a liberal for dinner. Not very tasty, very bitter but if stewed for a long time can be tolerated.

  • Lindy

    I respect Sowell but he hasn’t a clue on this subject. From 70,000 a year to 12,000 in unemployment makes one cut corners in excess. I make sure I have a roof over my head and pay all the bills that come with it. Lastly is food on the table. Am I hungry sometimes? Yes, but I look on the bright side, I have lost the weight I have been trying to get rid of for years.

    • Teyha

      Lindy, I’m sorry for your job loss but did you not save anything encase of emergencies? Now is the time to see at least if you can get seasonal work. I know from experience what it’s like to lose an income. My husband was injured and lost his job. Went from making over $60,000 down to about 15,000. It was hard. Tried to work with companies that we owed money to but they didn’t work with us. All or nothing. Yes we did have to declare bankruptcy and we had to move to a smaller place, but we made it. At the time we had 3 teenage boys and a toddler at home. We did not qualify for any assistance but not once did we go hungry. You just need to be creative. Those that are on welfare from job loss I do not begrudge helping but the ones who refuse to work and just want to milk the system are the ones who need to be kicked off. Drug test should be mandatory to get a welfare check. Random checks each month too. No pop, cookies, high end meats should be allowed. If normal working people can’t have them or afford them then NO to those on welfare.

  • TheMessenger/Prophet

    It’s not a hoax because the government is surreptitiously taking your tax dollars and freeze drying 10 to 20% of our food resources even as we speak. Go to Wal-mart and see on the shelves that they are mostly bare or contain ones and two’s only of items. They are stalking their Nevada Fortress along with all the secret facilities they have built for the American People once all h-ll breaks loose. They even are hiring W.S.O.S possibly to speed up the process of Civil War. Then they can declare Federal control over everyone using the Military! Wake Up Soon?

  • TheMessenger/Prophet

    They demand the Processing companies to reduce their containers of food items and forfeit this amount to them!e

  • Bud Wisa

    Hey, lets face the truth. Poor people are not good bible fearin Christians. That is why God made them poor. Wealthy people are blessed by God and are the true Americans. God bless America.

  • The Enemy

    Just another contrived crisis to get more power for the liberal government. They have been inventing these “crises” for decades. Then they swoop-in to “save the People” with a new bureaucracy or the expansion of existing bureaucracies. Their agenda is bigger government and ever-increasing power over The People. Back in the 1970’s, when I realized this was happening, I created a phrase which is ringing more true all the time: “The government is protecting us to death”

  • DockyWocky

    First, you have to ask yourself: “Would Obama stoop to outright lies to keep his royal ash in power.”

    There is no established limit to how low Obama and his handlers would go to continue their destructive agenda.

    There will be new lows in the coming months. Lows so low, that records will be broken.

  • emerson

    if there are starving children in this country it is because their welfare parents are using the money for everything BUT food. these “poor” people seem to be able to go shopping every day, get their hair and nails done, have the latest cell phones, go to the best restaurants and drive new cars. there should be some way to make sure the children get the benefit of these programs. after all that is what they were “supposedly” set up for. also there should be drug testing for welfare recipients.

    • http://HELP Believer


    • Obamavitch

      The professional welfare rats should have their means of reproduction removed.

  • Adrian Vance

    Dan Rather was a skunk for a very long time. Who are the skunks today? That is the question.

    The Two Minute Conservative at has political analysis, science and humor. Now in the top 3% on Kindle.

  • mikey

    Do kids go to bed Hungry in the USA? A very Real but qualifed Yes. Will they starve if they continue to have only as many Calories as they had that day? Only Kids on Reservations and kids being Abused through real starvation. Children in the USA daily have the opportunity to consume more Calories than they need to remain healthy that is why many think they go to bed hungry regularly.
    I have heard my own kids complain to friends that they had no desert last night and only had Fruit or Yogurt to snack on as if baked or sugary goods were a necessary part of a meal.