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Surprisingly, this is the first time this article was submitted to HN.

It's quite interesting. Some of these things happen in all developed nations, but quite a significant number of them only happen in the US. For example, it did not realize just how fucked up health care is in the US prior to reading this article.

I'm pretty sure he is not talking about the US.

Being poor is knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere.

This is definitely not the US. Most of our poor don't work at all (and are not trying to work), and about 90% don't work full time.


Being poor is not enough space for everyone who lives with you.

In the US, 67% of poor households have 2 rooms per person (compared to 70.2% of non-poor households).


Being poor is stealing meat from the store, frying it up before your mom gets home and then telling her she doesn’t have make dinner tonight because you’re not hungry anyway.

In the US, being poor is eating the meat, the potato chips, the bacon and the ice cream. But it might be a quart of Krasdale rather than a pint of Ben & Jerry's.

[Edit: I'm speculating that the poor get fat off a broad sampling of typical American fatty foods. I could be getting specific food items wrong. Thanks krschultz for pointing out that my comment was unclear.]


I really don't know what part of the world he is talking about.

[edit: changed secondary source to original source on obesity. ]

You've performed some artful misrepresentations there; the labor statistics you cite, for example, don't actually agree with your characterization, since the definition of "working" used by the BoL is at least 27 weeks in the labor force in a given year. So apparently, to you, someone who works 26 weeks (half the year) and gets laid off "doesn't work at all"...

The housing data is a similar problem. That "2 rooms per person" statistic is correct, but is the wrong statistic, since the Census Bureau defines the statistic by saying:

Rooms counted include whole rooms used for living purposes, such as bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, recreation rooms, permanently enclosed porches that are suitable for year-round use, lodger’s rooms, and other finished rooms. Also included are rooms used for offices by a person living in the unit.

Thus a four-person family in a one-bedroom house is "luxuriously" enjoying two rooms per person...

So how about you try again and get the numbers and methodology right this time?

27 weeks includes both time spent employed and time spent unemployed. If the person you describe looked for work even once, they are counted as "working poor" (having spent 1 week unemployed). Try reading the article.

A one bedroom house with 8 rooms? That works out to what, a kitchen, a bathroom, a living room, a home office, an enclosed porch, a recreation room, a dining room and one bedroom?

I recently found out how much money WIC pays out for "supplemental" nutrition.

$50 a MONTH. In vouchers. For only certain foods. Ice cream would definitely not be one of them. White bread is not one of them. Soda is not one of them.

Get your facts straight.

Could you remind me where I claimed the poor were getting fat off WIC supplemental nutrition, rather than other sources of food?

I've edited my comment to reflect the fact that I'm only speculating about specific food items making the poor fat. But make no mistake, the poor are fat - their average BMI is 29, only one point short of obesity. If you ever live in a poor neighborhood, all you need to do is open your eyes to see that everyone has plenty to eat.

I work in your neighborhood. Walk a few blocks off the NYU campus and you'll find plenty of people who are not exactly overeating due to their financial situation.

Ever seen footage from a famine in Africa? All the people appear to have huge bellies, but that is because they don't get a specific vitamin, not because they are fat.

Maybe something like that is the case here?

No. Clearly you aren't American. The situation we have in the US is so ridiculous, it needs to be seen to be believed.

Early on during the recession, NPR, an American radio station did a report on people going hungry as a result of the recesssion. Go look at the picture. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9259254...

No starving person in Africa or anywhere else had a BMI of 29.

My state offers food stamps as well. Several of my friends have been on them, and they have more money to spend on food than they can eat. I want to say it's something like $50 per week, but I'm not positive. And I used to work at a grocery store, so I know for sure that you can buy any food (even soda) with it, as long as it's not pre-prepared (rotisserie chicken, salad bar, etc.).

Well I'm going on, my girlfriend is a consultant for the WIC program and she has both the numbers and the diet plan in front of her at this very moment, not speculation. And the requirements are federally mandated.


The only vouchers are for "Juice (without extra sugar), Milk, Cereal, Cheese, Eggs, Fruits and Vegetables, Whole Wheat Bread, Fish, Canned Vegetables, and Peanut Butter".

I wasn't disputing you... as I said, I worked in a grocery store; I know exactly what you're talking about. The poor in my state get WIC and the Ohio card. WIC is a federal supplement (for Women, Infants, and Children) to any state programs (income-based for all) that exist.

WIC is different from SNAP (food stamps).

Or the couple of mentions about poor people having shitty cars.

Where I'm from poor people take the bus, as they could afford neither a car nor the gas.

Not all places in the US are reachable by bus, especially smaller towns.

The geographical disadvantage of the US is probably to blame for this. I don't think that there's a substantial number of rural poor in western Europe.

I don't think that there is any town in Germany that is not reachable by bus, and our inner cities have at least adequate public transit.

Apart from free health care, good public transit could turn some things in the US.

Agreed; I'm originally from the Netherlands myself, and the situation there is the same as in Germany. Over here in the US, it's a different story. If you live in a rural area (like I do) you really need a car, because there is no public transportation anywhere around.

In most industrialized cities, the bus service is good enough to use as a primary transportation mode.

Depends on the city and the job imo. Many cities have very bad late-night bus services (often non-existent), which is a problem if you're a janitor or fast-food worker who gets off at 2am. And many of the better-paying jobs available to the poor are in wealthy suburban areas with bad bus services as well, so with no car you're cutting out a bunch of employment options, like cleaning houses or waiting tables in upscale suburbs. Atlanta has interesting rush-hour traffic along those lines, with a large group of poor people from southern Atlanta driving to jobs in the suburban/exurban counties to the north.

Surprisingly, this is the first time this article was submitted to HN.

It was already discussed here before (with many comments), but it was submitted as a comment:


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