Why Do Some Americans Stay Poor

There is one aspect of American society that confuses many people especially those in other countries…..American poverty.

Many sociologists, economist and other social scientists have tried to explain this situation….few succeed.  This blogger tried to answer the question of Why Poverty 10 years ago….as I said….tried.


It is a nagging question.  There are many myths to go with the question….the biggest of these is the answer that these poor people are freeloaders that do not want to work and all they do is take from the taxpayer.

It is a simple explanation that fits the narrative from the Reagan conserv years.  It was a myth then and it remains a myth today.  So why do some Americans stay poor?

In his State of the Union address, President Trump said “there has never been a better time to start living the American Dream.” But the new 2018 Prosperity Now Scorecard and its accompanying report says that isn’t so for low-income Americans.

“The system is, by just about all measures, stacked against those with low incomes and low wealth for the benefit of the wealthiest,” says the report from the nonpartisan but left-leaning Prosperity Now nonprofit, which provides research and recommendations regarding Americans with limited incomes.

One example: low-income people are ineligible for federal programs such as SNAP (food stamps) and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) if they amass “even modest savings,” the report noted. Prosperity Now calls policies like this “a roadblock on the path to saving.


There is a considerable controversy about poverty and its relationship within inequality. From one point of view, any society with inequality is bound to have poverty. In other words, poverty is more likely to occur in a society which accepts inequality. Sociologists who adopt a relative definition of poverty accept that for the eradication of poverty, it is necessary to first abolish all inequality in income.

Now we know that the abolition of inequality in this country is never going to occur under this governmental standard.  Not too damn many Americans are poor because they want to be so…the system is the problem and a system change is not very damn likely.  Ergo the poor will remain poor and the wealthy will just continue to be exploitative and wealthier.

54 thoughts on “Why Do Some Americans Stay Poor

  1. Reason ? Job exploitation: no health insurance, no sick leave, no paid vacation, no job security, no pension, no emergency leave, too few hours to make it , too many hours demanded leaving family unattended, $9 an hour. Take it or leave it. Most people on welfare are the working poor. The people Jesse Jackson called the people that take the bus to work.

  2. They have to stay poor so that those billionaires who don’t need any more money can have even more that they will never live long enough to spend. God forbid that anyone would want them to live on a decent and respectful salary.
    Best wishes, Pete.

      1. Yeah. And these days, practically everybody..even the poorest…have a full needle (stupid-phone) in their hand 24/7. It allows them to inject anywhere, anytime. Not one single moment has to be spent on anything else.

        This is especially bad when you don’t have a job. You’ve got 24 hours a day full of temptation and pushers pushing their smack…on credit. Because these dealers don’t require actual money.

  3. In a country alleged to have streets paved with gold and the freedom to be all you can be.. where anyone can be president (we’ve proven that for sure).. we fail to consider the variety of the human species. Just being in a place like America does NOT assure you are going to have a “good” job or are even entitled to a job. You are free to try and get rich.. or free to just make it day to day. At the end of the day the absolute one thing America’s freedom cannot guarantee is your own personal drive; the knowledge you acquire, the application of the knowledge you have acquired to better yourself; your medical maladies that might get in the way of success, your personal social bias’s, your religious preferences that might get in the way of success. Being American just places you in contention for success and many people are simply unable to compete.,, or they are trying to compete in an area outside their abilitities. The only thing any American is entitled to is a chance to try in an environment that will assist you to focus your talents.
    You don’t like your salary then do something about it… and if you can’t, or you have tried unsuccessfully and lost, then maybe you need to measure “success” using a different criteria.

  4. The inherent problem with capitalism is that it favours those with capital…and punishes those without.

    Every single economic action is easier for a Rich than a Poor. For example, if you’re a Rich, loans (you’re less likely to need) come at a lower Interest rate. “Personal investments” like education & healthcare also are far easier for The Riches to purchase.

    Another problem is that your future largely rests upon the amount of capital the family you “chose” to be born into has. Both capital & debt accumulate and is inter-generational. Great Grampa ensured you start with enough to win at life, even if you’re a fuckup. (See: Bush family) But for the middling classes, all it takes is one out of control addict, one shopaholic, or one Internet ponzi-scheme…and “poof”..the next generation starts with no capital.

    And why does America not like to talk about poverty? Because to do so draws attention to the fact that the capitalist system don’t work well for people without capital. Even more than Democracy, it is the primary premise of America. It’s what the Cold War was all about. To talk about capitalism negatively is disloyal.

    1. As an American I wish I could disagree but I cannot….you are spot on…..we believe the hype even though we know damn well that it would take a miracle for most of us to reach the level of wealth that we think we deserve….chuq

      1. Capitalism is also tied up with slavery. Human beings were turned into capital. (“Human Resources”, as they say today.) So, the topic of poverty also brings up the inter-generational side-effects of America’s dark “past” and how it is allowed to continue. Yet America still clings to that system.

        Wealth is easy to talk about. (Merit, glamour, fun, etc) Poverty is messy, uncomfortable & depressing. The cameras only go into the winning team’s locker room.

      2. Doug…Hold onto your shorts, but Soylent Green actually IS an option now.

        Like damn near every sci-fi dystopian flick, it’s either come true, or is right around the corner. Even worse, America is cheering it on. Actual brand/corporate names from these dystopian stories are now being used…intentionally and non-ironically.

        Most famously, Big Brother is no longer a nightmare (Yes, it is.) but a popular Reality TV Show that’s inexplicably been on the air for over 15 years. Nobody thinks twice anymore about Big Brother watching our every move. “It’s fun! We want more!”

        But there are lesser known examples. Take a gander at Soylent. They make “alternative”, food-like, products made of…who-the-fuck-knows-what.

        Not only is Soylent real, so is the product from Huxley’s nightmare, Brave New World. Approved by the FDA, SOMA is an addictive sedative, muscle-relaxant and anti-anxiety “medication”…designed to turn you into a vacuous, perma-happy, unquestioning, imbecile who thinks everything is great.

        And then there’s a Terminator double shot.

        First, the company that started all the madness, Cyberdyne, is now a real robotics company! https://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/theres-a-real-robotics-company-called-cyberdyne-and-now-1679979930

        Second…SKYNET, the Artificial Intelligence in Terminator that destroys mankind is now real. As part of the Snowden leaks, it was discovered that the US military/NSA decided to name one of its secret spy programs SKYNET. Oh, no. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that kind of thinking!

        Sadly, I’m sure these aren’t the only examples. I’d say it’s all a pretty good Spoiler Alert!!!, if you ask me!

      3. Yep.. I agree, SM. I’ve been worried about Skynet for years.
        But consider this one.. if you saw an earlier reply I made to chuq… companies located overseas (and even domestic companies) are vulnerable (or can even be made complicit) in inserting hardware/software into our various electronics products that when activated by a foreign source can identify and keep track of us either for marketing purposes, clandestine operations, or even to “break” the products forcing us to buy new ones (programmed obsolescence). Case in point.. Apple’s recent admission to sending software to mess with cell phone battery charging rates… and two cell phone companies with data collecting chips imbedded.

        The end is near.

      4. Doug, I actually have heard about foreign governments/corporations inserting software to spy/gain control over exported computers for such nefarious purposes. I’ll bet the NSA installs it on domestic computers too. (Hmm is that I drone I hear overhead?) I seem to recall another programmed use, the “on/off switch malfunction”. Can you imagine the mass underwear-soiling if nothing more than just the computers sent to east coast Wal China Marts alone refused to boot-up on on the same day? (Too many eggs in one basket!) People would be wishing Hurricane Sandy was back.

        I hadn’t heard about that Apple customer abuse before. The only phone I own has a rotating dial. (I’m not joking.) But I have heard all the whiny little bitches whining about how their pathetic “life” is constantly interrupted because their phone can’t hold a charge for an entire day. (Try not using it so fucking much…or try getting a real life!) But it makes perfect sense to me:

        1) It ensures every fucking iDiot is in line for a new phone on the 1st day it’s for sale…which creates a Black-Friday style “event” that gets covered by the “news”, which generates a feedback loop of iDiots throwing their money away on shit they can do without.

        2) It enhances the addiction. I’m no smoker, but I’ve seen what happens to smokers when they accidentally go without. They buy a friggin carton the 1st chance they get and cancel their plans to try to quit. (Phones are the new cigarettes.)

        And there’s a reason (probably many) they’re hyping this face-scanning nonsense. It sure makes for one HELL of a lucrative database, eh? For example, Minority Report, where the walls see you and craft ads that target your personal weaknesses…and companies started experimenting with targeted billboards about 10 years ago, so any time now.

        The Future’s absolute best case scenario is not having a millisecond to yourself without some aggressive intrusion, or manipulation. The ain’t near. The end is here! Where’s the fucking Rapture when you need it?

      5. Maybe global warming, especially the unusually high winter temps currently at the North Pole, will thaw out some long buried aliens, dinosaurs, or more likely… some prehistoric bacteria let loose onto mankind.

  5. I’ve got this one! I knew a scruffy, unwashed bearded idiot doper and drunk once who bragged that as long as he lived he would never punch a time clock. He lives on social security disability based on his alcoholism as the reason that he is unfit and unable to hold a job. I think this guy defines the problem very clearly.

      1. I am not talking about a “Stereotype” here — I am talking about a known doper and drunk with a vicious temperament who is known to have scammed the system, who made the statement, “I will never punch a time clock” and who eventually became a personal threat to me — a threat that I had to call the police to have them deal with “Pro-actively” — which they did. No stereotype here! Just an honest description of a piece of welfare scum!

      2. Let’s just talk about the millions out there who are freeloaders and who never get caught because the Liberals are far too willing to certify their social deviances as incapacitating. Find them, identify them and either put them to work for their benefits or kick them off the system!

      3. Okay then let’s talk about the millions that have used it and moved on……what about the sick….put them to work or throw them off?

      4. a committee of specially-appointed physicians (Much the same as a draft board) could review each case and make the decision.

      5. Then NO not a good idea……if they cannot separate politics from medicine then they are not needed just like judges the same thing.

      6. They do not have to be “Needed.” Dictators and tyrants are not needed but they serve the greater agendas of their puppet masters. “Need” is not an operative word here.

      7. I disagree if they are that weak minded then they are not wanted since you have a problem with the word “need”

      8. Because of my well-known and universally-accepted superior level of genius at most everything I tackle …. I do not have “Problems.” “They” are very useful to their Liberalist masters who are, themselves, for the most part, weak minded twits who are forced to wear four-inch-thick glasses in order to find their own rear ends in a mirror. LOL (Present company excepted.)

      9. Exactly because, as you might have already guessed, “The Hair” plays a bigger role in this administration than most people recognize or able to admit and … it is a beautiful thing!

      10. Bone spurs can be corrected and sooner or later the Liberals will be in power again and I am sure they will create a program that requires the otherwise able bodied to fulfill an 8-year military obligation and will provide the necessary remedial measures to correct any physical deficiencies in the people they will be draftings. Call it one of the “Perks” of a Liberal Big Brother Government. By the way, sedate me, I would love it if you could see your way to come over to my blog once in awhile and give me a little Hell once in awhile.

      11. Bone spurs was a cop out during Vietnam it was how wealthy sons got to play the “victim” card…a cowards way out….chuq

      12. I’m a man in demand, yessireee! Take a number and I’ll service you after I get through the bigly line of all them horny womenfolk.

  6. Romney called for revival entrepreneurship to rise from poverty and improve economic stature. Yes, the big E drives success but what he does not get is that most people are “mere” wage earners and for “mere” wage earners just a step above or at poverty level and no way up the ladder.

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