US Poverty Rate Rises to 15.1 Percent

The US Census has published its report Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010.

Here is the historical chart:


Interesting highlights from the report:

  • The official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent—up from 14.3 percent in 2009. This was the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate. Since 2007, the poverty rate has increased by 2.6 percentage points, from 12.5 percent
    to 15.1 percent
  • In 2010, 46.2 million people were in poverty, up from 43.6 million in 2009—the fourth consecutive annual increase in the number of people in poverty.
  • The poverty rate in 2010 (15.1 percent) was the highest poverty rate since 1993 but was 7.3 percentage points lower than the poverty rate in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available.

I also found it interesting that by age group the poverty rate is lowest (9%) for people 65 years and older, the only age range for whom the poverty rate has fallen almost consistently since 1959:


For more historical and economical context see US Poverty Rate – How the Great Society Programs Reversed its Decline

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How the Depression is Changing Families – More Families in Shelters; More Children Living With Grandparents

The NYT points out the tragedy that The Number of Families in Shelters Rises:

…from 2007 through 2009, the number of families in homeless shelters — households with at least one adult and one minor child — leapt to 170,000 from 131,000, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

With long-term unemployment ballooning, those numbers could easily climb this year. Late in 2009, however, states began distributing $1.5 billion that has been made available over three years by the federal government as part of the stimulus package for the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, which provides financial assistance to keep people in their homes or get them back in one quickly if they lose them.

More than 550,000 people have received aid, including more than 1,800 in Rhode Island, with just over a quarter of the money for the program spent so far nationally, state and federal officials said.

Even so, it remains to be seen whether the program is keeping pace with the continuing economic hardship.

Don’t hold your breath from these government programs to affect any change in this grim trend. Rather expect it to fuel and cement the problems at hand. As we all know, the government is inherently incapable of and uninterested in fighting poverty. Bureaucrats do, on the other hand, have every incentive in the world to maintain and keep in place a permanent underclass of dependent and poor people to justify programs such as the ones that are mentioned in the NYT article, the funds of which of course mostly, as always, end up in the hands of bureaucrats and other politically connected groups, rather than poor people who will of course receive a mere pittance so they keep quiet.

On another related note (I guess), More Children Being Raised by Grandparents:

The number of American children being raised by their grandparents rose after the recession began, according to a report from Pew Social Research.

The report, based on an analysis of Census data, found that the number and share of children who lived with their grandparents had been slowly rising over the last decade but increased sharply from 2007 to 2008:


The sharpest increase in the number of children who had a grandparent as a primary caregiver was among white children, though in general this family set-up is more common in black and Hispanic families.

Not all of these children live alone with their grandparents; in fact, only 43 percent of these children have no parent in the household. Nearly half (49 percent) of children being raised by grandparents also live with a single parent, and 8 percent live with both parents in the household in addition to the caregiver grandparent.

… these changes in family lifestyles, habits, and child raising are the all to expectable side effects of The Great Depression 2.0 and its corollary, the end of consumerism. One thing is for sure: These children are learning lessons they will never ever forget.

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Is Government Needed to Fight Poverty??

The common and unfortunately rather unimaginative and uninformed objection to the stateless society is that without a government nobody would care about the poor and we’d all go down in a selfish orgy of mass impoverishment, with a few evil rich bastards left at the top, laughing and cheering as they feast upon the plight of the masses.

It is very important to understand that when people say such things they do so because it’s what they’ve been told and what they want to be true. They have obviously not gone out and done their strenuous and deep research in order to test their theory. Nor are you going to find any curiosity in these people. They are not feverishly trying to analyze and question these things out of a natural drive for truth and discovering reality.

But this need hardly impress those who in fact do aspire to understand reality and truth.

One simple reason why I personally know such a notion is completely unfounded and pulled out of nowhere is that 99.99% of the people whom I introduce for the first time to the idea of a stateless society will shout out with an impressively quick and almost pre-trained reflexive reaction something like “But what about the poor?!”.

That is, in my opinion, a pretty decent ratio of people who do seem to care about the poor. But then, maybe there’s just something awesome about me personally that naturally draws in all the good, virtuous, and caring people in society, who knows?

Fortunately we have other more objective means to put to rest such glaring and unfounded nonsense.

How much are individuals currently willing to give to charity on a completely voluntary basis?

On Charity Navigator we can find charity statistics for 2008:

Few people realize how large charities have become, how many vital services they provide, and how much funding flows through them each year. Without charities and non-profits, America would simply not be able to operate. Their operations are so big that during 2008, in the midst of a recession, total giving was still more than $300 billion.

How big is the sector?

Total giving to charitable organizations was $307.65 billion in 2008 (about 2% of GDP). This is a decrease of 2% from 2007.

OK, so we know that private individuals and corporations were willing to give $307.65 billion to charitable organizations on a completely voluntary basis.

How much of this money actually ends up in the hands of the needy? According to reputable charitable auditing and rating websites, such as Razoo this number seems to be around 80-85% on average.

So around $246 billion ended up in the hands of poor people as a result of completely voluntary charity donations in the US.

What about our dear, benevolent,and ferociously poverty fighting heroes from the government?

According to official government budgets, approximately $486 billion tax dollars were budgeted in that same year.

Based on multiple sources about 70% of all government programs and grants goes toward administrative expenses, meaning bureaucrats’ salaries, to anybody who has ever worked in, with, or for the government, certainly a realistic estimate:

Mary Ruwart writes:

Of course, public welfare gives over 2/3 of every tax dollar we give them to overhead (e.g., salaries of the bureaucrats who administer the program). Private charities, however, give 2/3 of every dollar to those who need help. By switching to private distribution, we’d cut overhead in half. In other words, we’d double the dollars available to the needy once again. By switching from public to private charity, we’d quadruple our help to the disadvantaged–virtually overnight!

Cato writes:

Today, 70 cents of every dollar goes, not to poor people, but to government bureaucrats and others who serve the poor. Few private charities have the bureaucratic overhead and inefficiency of government programs.

So US federal, state, and local governments together in 2008 contributed about 146 billion dollars that ended up in the hands of the poor.

In total, this means that in 2008 US citizens voluntarily or involuntarily gave about $392 billion to the poor out of which 62% (!!) was contributed by the rugged, selfish, and evil private sector while around 38% was coughed up by the virtuous, heroic and selfless government bureaucrats.

So you tell me, is the government really needed to “fight poverty” … ?

Please keep in mind that I am focusing in the above solely on existing numbers. I am not even delving into the fact that the government is the very cause of poverty, simply due to things like wars, drug policies, import quotas, the granting of monopolies to corporations and unions, the funding of foreign dictatorships, unemployment due to minimum wages and taxes, inflation through money printing, credit expansions and business cycles, the direction of capital from useful to useless needs, deliberately limiting the supply of health care products and services, etc. etc.

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