My parents divorced when I was 10. I felt loved by both parents, they just didn’t love each other. Financially the divorce was difficult on both sides. I spent the impressionable years of my life pretty poor in a town in upstate New York. My mother lived in an apartment in the projects. My father in an apartment on the other side of town. I had what was necessary but never had name brand clothes. I was never hungry (but I know my mother went hungry some nights) and I received free or reduced lunches at school.

I started working at 11 or 12 years old. Just so I had some money in my pocket. Menial tasks at a grocery store owned by my uncle. I was one of the lucky ones. Many kids in the projects didn’t have anything to do to make any money and nothing to do when they weren’t in school. Bored kids get into trouble. Trouble with drugs, trouble with petty crimes. I am grateful for the job and for the gymnastics program at the local YMCA as well as the youth ice hockey program. Things which kept me busy and out of trouble.

I was an average student. I did well on tests but was often late with assignments or had not fully completed my homework. It wasn’t for lack of effort or that I had an issue with the work. I was busy. My parents were busy. When they got home from work after a long day, the last thing they wanted to do was to go over my homework and check up on me. They wanted to spend some family time. Some of the projects required extra material which we needed to buy. I am sure my parents would have figured out a way to buy what I needed. I didn’t want to stress them out so I often just never brought it up. I remember one assignment from 6th or 7th grade. I needed to cut out the political cartoon from the newspaper a few times each week and write an explanation on it. The end project was creating our own cartoon. I remember the embarrassment of not having this fully completed. We didn’t get a newspaper at my house. I was too respectful to cut one out of the library’s paper. I could afford to buy the paper myself maybe one time per week. My final project was a pencil sketch on a piece of loos leaf notebook paper. Others had pasteboard done with colored markers or pencils. I was so embarrassed turning mine in.

Why didn’t I ask for help? I WAS A KID!! Maybe 12 years old! Is this the fault of the teacher? No way- the class had maybe 25 students in it. I was one of maybe 5 or 6 classes she taught each day. I wasn’t a trouble maker. I flew below the radar.

The USA is the richest country on earth and probably the richest country in history. We have accumulated wealth at an unprecedented level. But that money is not evenly distributed.

Poverty is the defined as a “lack of access to basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter.” The term can also apply to those whose conditions prevent them from acquiring education, medical help, or stable employment due to a lack of money. In the United States, the government sets poverty thresholds and guidelines each year to indicate the income a person or family needs to cover their basic needs. These measures are based on the Consumer Price Index, which measures the costs of goods and services. The U.S. poverty guidelines fail to consider regional differences in cost of living. Thus, the experience of poverty may vary widely from state to state.

In 2022, the poverty guideline for a single-member household is $13,590 a year. An individual earning at or below this amount is considered to be living in poverty. The threshold increases by $4,720 for each additional household member, making the poverty guideline for a two-person household $18,310 a year and $27,750 for a family of four. To put that into perspective, a minimum-wage worker earning $7.50 an hour earns $15,000 a year working full-time, putting them below the poverty threshold for a family of two. The seacoast of New Hampshire where I live, I find it hard to believe that a SINGLE person making less than $25-30,000 would be able to make it.

Unfortunately, poverty is also associated with worse health outcomes, lower living expectancies, substandard housing and homelessness, and poor educational opportunities. In 2020, the U.S. poverty rate was 11.4%, up a percentage point from the previous year. The rate varies widely from state to state, with most wealthy states having a poverty rate below 9%. In contrast, the nation’s poorest state has a poverty rate twice that. Nationwide, more than thirty-seven million Americans fell below the poverty line in 2020. Of these, 17.9 million fell below half the poverty line – with an income of $13,123 for a family of four.

The Republican Party wants you to believe that they are the party of fiscal responsibility. That a vote for them will help put money in your pocket. The truth is far from that. The current debt ceiling fight shows once again they are more concerned with the top 1% than the rest of us.

Here are the 10 states with the lowest household income:

  1. Mississippi – $65,156
  2. West Virginia – $65,332
  3. Arkansas – $69,357
  4. New Mexico – $70,241
  5. Alabama – $71,964
  6. Kentucky – $72,318
  7. Louisiana – $73,759
  8. Oklahoma – $74,195
  9. South Carolina – $76,390
  10. Montana – $76,834

8 of the 10 states with the highest poverty rate are controlled by the Republican Party with the GOP controlling both the governors seat as well as the legislature. If the Republican Party was really the party of fiscal responsibility and the party that will put more money on your pocket wouldn’t they be doing a better job?!

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