Our Eyes Were Opened


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Myth Busters

Compiled by Beth Templeton, 3.30.18

Based on Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, Mariner Books, imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015

  1. Not having money has nothing to do with having hope.
  • The absence of cash can equal the absence of hope.
  1. The poverty level is dropping. Our community and economy is growing. The upward trend will continue.
  • In the fifteen years prior to 2011, the number of households living on income of no more than $2 a day doubled to 1.5 million households. (1 out of every 5 children)
  • Unless Greenville does something about its housing crisis for lower income households and transportation needs for everyone, the community will strangle itself.
  • 12% of children under 18 in SC lived in extreme poverty in 2016. Extreme poverty is defined as 50% or less of the poverty guideline. (Family of four poverty guideline in $24,600)
  1. Most people who live on $2 a day or less are people of color and/or single.
  • Almost half are white.
  • Almost one-third are headed by married couples.
  • In SC almost one half of babies born are born to single mothers.
  1. People don’t have to be poor because they receive government benefits.
  • One way the poor pay for benefits is with their time. (Poverty Simulation responses.)
  • The EITC requires that a person worked at least part of the year.
  • Supports such as SNAP (food stamps) are not cash and cannot pay the bills.
  • Only about 25% of income-eligible families get any kind of rental subsidy.
  1. The changes of the 1990s when welfare was “killed” resulted in fewer people living in poverty.
  • There are indeed fewer numbers of people using welfare but that does not mean they are not living in poverty. The number of homeless children in schools increased from 656,000 (2004-2005) to 1.3 million (2013-2014).
  1. People who live on $2-a-day or less do not work.
  • 70% of children who experienced this level of poverty lived with an adult who held a job at some point during the year (2012).
  1. If “they’d just get a job” then everything would be okay.
  • Less than 10% of the jobs in the US are in manufacturing (12 million in 2012). Compare that with 15 million in retail and 14 million in the leisure and hospitality industry.
  • Low wage earners feel they need at a minimum: 1) Full time hours. 2) Predictable schedules.  3) $12-$13 an hour. $15 would be fabulous. NOTE: The average renter wage in Greenville County is $12.23. The hourly self-sufficiency wage for a household of one adult, one preschooler, and one school age child in 2016 was $18.32). 4) Safe working conditions.
  • Full time work would provide such “extras” as health insurance, vacation days, sick/personal days.
  1. People who are poor just don’t have any motivation. They choose to be poor.
  • Ways people get by: doing hair, babysitting, selling meals, cleaning homes, fencing stolen goods, selling plasma, selling drugs or sex, private charities, under-the-table income-generating scheme, selling SNAP, using public spaces. NOTE the use of multiple “jobs.”
  • Network for Southern Economic Mobility discovered that a child in Greenville County has a nearly 70% chance of staying in the lowest two quintiles of the economic ladder.
  • “To put it simply, not having cash basically ensures that you have to break the law and expose yourself to humiliation in order to survive…The line between good and bad blurs even further, especially in the eyes of a child. “ (page 154)
  1. Solving poverty is a personal, not governmental problem.
  • The authors suggest that ending $2-a-day poverty requires: 1) all deserve the opportunity to work 2) parents should be able to raise their children in a place of their own 3)not every parent will be able to work, or work all the time, but parents’ well-being, and the well-being of their children, should nonetheless be insured. (p 159)
  • Equality of Opportunity Project reports that the 5 factors keeping people stuck in Greenville County are: residential segregation, income inequality, local school quality, family structure, and social capital. Other factors are structural racism, public policies, cultural messages and media, institutional policies, transportation, and the criminal justice system.
  1. People who live in poverty do not adhere to our American values.
  • David Ellwood in Poor Support claims the basic values are: 1) autonomy of the individual 2) virtue of work  3)primacy of the family  4) desire for and sense of community.  People who live in poverty adhere more or less to these same values.

 

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