American Winter – what poverty looks like (a reprise from 2013)

Please take 5 minutes to read Keith’s timely reminder about those less fortunate than many of us. We cannot simply ignore the fact that there are many working poor and homeless people who only need a helping hand from us. Thank you, Keith!


The following post was written eight years ago, but unfortunately still applies today. Our situation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, where too many small employers had to close their doors. Some of the observations come from my volunteer work to help homeless working families.If you only have a minute, read the next to last two paragraphs, which speak volumes of why we should help.

There is an excellent documentary on HBO called “American Winter” by Joe Gantz which trackseight Portland families who are struggling in this economy. Please check it out This documentary puts a face on poverty and shows what these families are dealing with during the economic crisis. Since Ivolunteer with an agency that helps homeless families, I can assure you the problems portrayed in Portland arein evidence inNorth Carolina and elsewhere in the United States. For example, the median family income…

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12 thoughts on “American Winter – what poverty looks like (a reprise from 2013)

  1. This is all a result of excessive capitalism. Whereby it’s not capitalism itself, but unabashed greed. Here in Bavaria, the current Prime Minister had sold social housing to private housing groups, a few years ago. What happened? Nothing! He was even elected prime minister and now he almost became a candidate for chancellor. I don’t know, but people can be so stupid.

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    • You’re right. Capitalism, within certain constraints, is not necessarily a bad thing, but … human greed leads to corruption and the breakdown of what was meant to be a free market economy where everyone would benefit. Instead, only the already-wealthy benefit, and the other 99% of people struggle to put food on the table. Yes, sometimes people can be so stupid … ignorant, at any rate. They do not understand, but rather believe what they are told by the politicians and the media. Sigh.

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    • Oh yeah, ‘rags’ as I call him, posts on my blog periodically with his entitled b.s., but I have blocked his comments. He’s just trying to get a rise, get someone to argue with him, and frankly I don’t have time for him and his drivel. I hadn’t seen him comment on Jeff’s posts … poor Jeff doesn’t need that b.s. right now, either!

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  2. At this rate there will soon be jobs for all since half the population will have starved to death. An increase to the minimum wage is a necessity as is either free or affordable healthcare. People living in cars and tents is not acceptable in a wealthy society and nor is having the police harass them to move on from public spaces and car parks. The wealthy must bear much of the blame for keeping wages low and rents high but the Government must also take some blame as they should legislate against this. In America the Government cannot expect to be treated as the leaders of the Free World at the same time ass watching themselves turn into a third world country. Of course people must help where they can but they must not allow their elected officials turn a blind eye to such a problem.

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    • You are right on all counts. Isn’t it amazing that those who live a life of luxury think giving their labourers, the ones who enable them to live that lifestyle, are the scum of the earth when they simply ask to earn a living wage? More and more, there is no ‘middle class’, there are only a handful of uber-wealthy, and the 99% of us who live from paycheck to paycheck, if we are lucky enough to even have a paycheck. You’re right, the wealthy are to blame for their greed — not even willing to pay taxes to ensure people can afford food — and government is to blame for catering to the wealthy and ignoring the needs of the rest of us, particularly those who struggle just to survive. We long since gave up our aspirations of being a leader of the free world, and more so today when our own governments are trying to stifle our voices. Rather than the ‘leader’ of the free world, we are the example of Capitalism run amok, of profit over people. As a small child, I was told that ‘America’ was the land of opportunity, that anybody could rise to be president. As an adult … nay, a senior citizen who’s been around the block a few times … I now know this is all a lie. Greed and arrogance went to the heads of those who had wealth, and they live to ensure that the rest of us will remain under their thumbs. Sorry … in a mood tonight.

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      • David, Jill, good points. The US cannot turn a blind eye to the fact too many kids go to sleep hungry and call itself a leader. It cannot see its economic class mobility decline to lower comparative levels to that in other countries and call itself a leader. It cannot turn a blind eye to people who are homeless and call itself a leader. The US is just another country with a huge military, when it does. Keith

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        • Thanks, Keith. We, as a nation, have missed many opportunities to help people in need, both here and elsewhere. Helping people just doesn’t seem important to a bloated government intent on pleasing only those who can give them power and wealth.


          • Jill, there is a lot of good discussion here in your comments. The US economy is a blend of fettered capitalism with socialistic underpinnings. The discussion to have is what is the right mix and how should it be funded and offered. Example – is it better to have the same slate of welfare progams or do what Andrew Yang suggests and everyone have a stipend of monthly income? Maybe the latter could come with some required community service? I am not necessarily saying to do one or the other, but this frames the kind of argument we need to have.

            Greed is a motivator for the “haves” as we have some elements of the Robber Baron period creeping back in. To many during that time and today are not getting a “square deal” as Teddy Roosevelt called it. What got lost beneath the distractions of the last president is how much private investment and encroachment was occurring on public lands. The same thing happened when Bush was president under the guidance of VP Dick Cheney. Opportunities were given without much public scrutiny and that is not right.

            These arguments to help are avoided as it is framed as an either/ or issue with intent. It is not an either/ or it is what is the right mix? Keith

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            • As always, yours is the voice of reason, my friend. There is a mix, a compromise, but regardless of where the right mix is, we simply cannot turn our backs on the poor in this nation. The vast majority of the poor and homeless are in this situation through NO fault of their own, and yet a certain party in our system declares that they are simply too lazy to get a job. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. When we put corporate greed ahead of the lives of people, then we can no longer claim to be a democratic republic, but rather a plutocracy. I don’t claim to know all the answers, but I do know that in today’s political climate, no answers can be found because there is no opportunity for conversation … only fighting, and fighting never accomplished anything. The arguments and differences must be set aside before anything meaningful can come about.


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