Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Poverty USA

I have long believed that one of the major barriers to wealthy people helping the poor in America is the question, "Why don't they just get a job?" or "With all the programs that exist, aren't they just lazy if they can't make it?" Although I know some people will ask these questions out loud, many more of us ask them in our heads.

I think this video is worth watching. It's only 3 and a half minutes and I think it very clearly shows that getting a job and utilizing welfare programs is not enough to break people out of the prison of poverty. It clearly shows budgeting decisions that a family of 4 living below the poverty line has to make. Remember that to make $19,000 in a year (the poverty line), one adult has to work full-time for $9.15 an hour. New minimum wage standards go into effect today, which makes minimum wage in Illinois $7.50 and the federal minimum is $5.85. Although there are graduated increases scheduled for the next 3 years, Illinois will only go up to $8.25 and federal will still only be $7.25. Having a second wage-earner in the family helps, but it costs an estimated $13,000 a year for childcare for 2 kids. Single-parent families and immigrant families that aren't eligible for minimum wage get hit even harder.

Watch the video. What does it make you think about?

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