The Census Bureau  has reported that one out of six Americans lives in poverty. A shocking figure. But it’s actually much worse. Inequality is spreading like a shadowy disease through our country, infecting more and more households, and leaving a shrinking number of financially secure families to maintain the charade of prosperity.
1. Almost half of Americans had NO assets in 2009
2. It’s Even Worse 3 Years Later
Since the recession, the disparities have continued to grow. An OECD report  states that “inequality has increased by more over the past three years to the end of 2010 than in the previous twelve,” with the U.S. experiencing one of the widest gaps among OECD countries. The 30-year decline in wages  has worsened since the recession, as low-wage jobs have replaced  formerly secure middle-income positions.
3. Based on wage figures, over half of Americans are now IN poverty.
According to IRS data, the average household in the bottom 50% brings in about $18,000  per year. That’s less than the poverty line  for a family of three ($19,000) or a family of four ($23,000).
Census  income figures are about 25% higher, because they include  unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, public assistance, veterans’ payments, and various other monetary sources. Based on this supplemental income, the average household in the bottom 50% brings in about $25,000, which is just above the $23,000 poverty line for a family of four.
4. Based on wage figures, 75% of Americans are NEAR poverty.
According to IRS data, the average household in the bottom 75% earns about $31,000  per year. To be eligible for food assistance, a family can earn up to 130%  of the federal poverty line, or about $30,000 for a family of four.
Incredibly, Congress is trying to cut  food assistance. Republican Congressman Stephen Fincher of Tennesseereferred  to food stamps as “stealing.” He added a Biblical quote: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” A recent jobs hearing  in Washington was attended by one Congressman.
5. Putting it in Perspective
Inequality is at its ugliest for the hungriest people. While food support was being targeted for cuts, just 20 rich Americans  made as much from their 2012 investments as the entire 2012 SNAP  (food assistance) budget, which serves 47 million people.
And as Congress continues to cut life-sustaining programs, its members should note that their 400 friends on theForbes list  made more from their stock market gains last year than the total amount of the food , housing , andeducation  budgets combined.
Mr. Fincher should think about the tax breaks that allow this to happen, and then tell us who’s stealing from whom.
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