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Thursday, September 12, 2013

War and Want: U.S. politicians’ million-dollar net worth, America’s expanding poverty

Unspeakable cruelty
Callous indifference
Editing, brief comment by
Carolyn Bennett

U.S. Poverty in 2009 approached 1960s U.S. poverty

About 1 percent of all Americans are millionaires.

In Congress, that number regularly hovers between 40 percent and 50 percent.

This means that elected leaders generally need not worry about the economic pressures many Americans face – from securing gainful employment to grappling with keeping a family financially afloat. [Center for Responsive Politics] 

Add caption
Christian Science Monitor reports suburban poor

“By official measures, poverty has risen dramatically in the United States. Between 2000 and 2011, the nation’s poor increased from 33.9 million to 46.2 million. As of 2010, 55 percent of the poor in major metropolitan areas were living in the suburbs. Among the ‘near poor’ – those with incomes as much as twice the poverty level – 63 percent were living in the suburbs.

“The rise in suburban poverty reflects long-term demographic shifts – America is more than ever a suburban nation.” Economic changes have widened the gap between rich and poor and have made it more difficult for families to secure a place in the middle class. The rise in suburban poverty is also happening as city centers across the country “attract the young, wealthy, and well educated” and in some cases push out poorer residents.

U.S. Poverty
The Great Depression
Stranded and trapped
The greatest difficulty of poor people in the suburbs is transportation but also work inadequacy and impermanence.

“Suburbs are built for cars yet a car is beyond the means of many poor and low-income residents.” They “catch rides with friends, ride bikes, or use suburban bus lines with limited service.” The head of the United Way of DuPage/West Cook in the western Chicago suburbs told the Monitor, “If you don’t have a car, it’s very hard to get a job or to keep a job. … It is also hard to access services.” Poverty becomes harder to escape.  
Inadequate living wage

Suburbs abound in low-paying jobs in retail sales and in services like landscaping and restaurants but these jobs typically pay too little to enable workers to rise from poverty.

Many low-wage jobs available through temporary employment agencies may offer a string of positions but such jobs provide no benefits nor guarantee steady employment. Where a manufacturing base exits, suburban employers prefer temporary labor, thus making it difficult for poor and low-income workers to earn a living, let alone rise from poverty.


Poor families moving from city to suburb or shifting between suburbs are far more likely to settle in poorer areas than in wealthier enclaves. As a result, suburban poverty begins to look a lot like urban poverty, with pockets of increasingly concentrated poor. Poor suburbs are getting poorer.

This is not survival of the "fittest"
This is deliberate
Unspeakable cruelty
Callous indifference
The executive director of the Chicago Area Metropolitan Tenants Organization observed that poverty is pushed from city to suburbs and like Europe’s poor, America’s poor people cluster on the edge of cities.

Poverty nationwide 2011
Approximately 100,000 household survey

According to the U.S. Census, where reported and sampled, the official poverty rate in 2011 was 15.0 percent: 46.2 million people in the United States were in poverty.

he poverty rate in 2011 for children under age 18 was 21.9 percent. The poverty rate for people aged 18 to 64 was 13.7 percent, while the rate for people aged 65 and older was 8.7 percent. None of the rates for these age groups were statistically different from 2010 estimates.

After 3 consecutive years of increases, neither the official poverty rate nor the number of people in poverty [where sampled and reported] were statistically different from 2010 estimates

The number of people in poverty rose for 4 consecutive years.

Since unrelated individuals under the age of 15 are excluded from the poverty universe, there are 371,000 fewer children in the poverty universe than in the total civilian non-institutional population.

Between 2010 and 2011, poverty rates (numbers) increased for naturalized citizens.

Poverty in the United States as Wikipedia reported

2009 January estimate: 643,000 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people nationwide.

Almost two-thirds stayed in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program; the other third “lived” on the streets, in abandoned buildings or other places not meant for human habitation.

October 1, 2008-September 30, 2009: about 1.56 million people (about 0.5 percent of the U.S. population) used an emergency shelter or a transitional housing program

2011 estimate, double 1996 levels: 1.2 percent (1.5 million households including 2.8 million children) of the U.S. population (presuming a mean household size of 2.55 people) were in extreme poverty (i.e., households living on less than $2 per day before government benefits),
Child poverty reached record high levels, with 16.7 million children living in food insecure households, about 35 percent more than 2007 levels.

In 2009 the number of people who were in poverty was approaching 1960s levels that led to the national War on Poverty.

November 2012 (U.S. Census Bureau report): more than 16 percent of the population lived in poverty in the United States, including almost 20 percent of American children ─
…up from 14.3 percent (approximately 43.6 million) in 2009; and

…to its highest level since 1993

In 2008, 13.2 percent (39.8 million) Americans lived in poverty. 

“Poverty is
a state of privation or a lack of the usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions.” 

The U.S. government’s definition of poverty, an official threshold adjusted for inflation using the consumer price index, is based on total income received: poverty level for 2012 was set at $23,050 (total yearly income) for a family of four. “Most Americans (58.5 percent) will spend at least one year below the poverty line at some point between ages 25 and 75. Poverty rates are persistently higher in rural and inner city parts of the country as compared to suburban areas.”

“About 1 percent of all Americans are millionaires

In Congress, that number regularly hovers between 40 percent and 50 percent, meaning elected leaders generally need not worry about the economic pressures many Americans face – from securing gainful employment to grappling with keeping a family financially afloat.”

Consider whether millionaire leaders in legislative and executive branches of government ─ also bent on making war, chaos and crises and funding conflicts across the world ─ concern themselves with basic needs of the states, cities, communities and people of the United States of America.

enter for responsive Politics (Open Secrets) Reports
Head of state/legislator millionaires

Compare: Median net worth (latest Census Data) of the “typical” American household is $66,740.

U.S. President’s net worth

Net Worth of U.S. President Barack Obama (D) 2011
Net Worth: From $2,566,014 to $8,265,000
Rank: 8th in Executive Branch Members 
Assets:  9 totaling $2,566,014 to $8,265,000 

Net Worth of U.S. Congress
Median net worth of the 94 incoming U.S. lawmakers (according to data collected from personal financial disclosure forms) at the end of 2011 was $1,066,515.

The median net worth for Democratic members is $990,508, compared to a median net worth for Republicans of $907,014.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, where the median net worth is estimated to be $856,009, Democrats are wealthier than Republicans:

Democratic members’ median estimated net worth $910,505

Republicans members’ median estimated net worth $789,008

In the U.S. Senate, where the median estimated net worth for all members is $2.5 million, the Republicans have the edge over their Democratic colleagues:

Republicans $2.56 million
Democrats $2.47 million

 The total median estimated value of all investments by Party Members virtually the same

Democrats $2.2 billion
Republicans $2.3 billion

Richest Members of Congress of United States


Michael McCaul (R-Texas)

Darrell Issa (R-Calif)

Mark Warner (D-Va)

Jared Polis (D-Colo)

John K. Delaney (D-Md)

Jay Rockefeller (D-WVa)

Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn)

Vernon Buchanan (R-Fla)

Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif)

Chellie Pingree (D-Maine)

Minimum Net Worth




















Maximum Net Worth











Sources and notes

“Face of U.S. poverty: These days, more poor live in suburbs than in cities: The rise in suburban poverty reflects long-term demographic shifts – America is more than ever a suburban nation – as well as economic changes” by Richard Mertens, Correspondent / September 11, 2013, http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2013/0911/Face-of-US-poverty-These-days-more-poor-live-in-suburbs-than-in-cities/(page)/1

U.S. Census: Poverty Highlights

The data presented here are from the Current Population Survey (CPS), 2012 Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC), the source of official poverty estimates. The CPS ASEC is a sample survey of approximately 100,000 household nationwide. These data reflect conditions in calendar year 2011.  http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/about/overview/index.html

Poverty in the United States, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_the_United_States

Office holders’ financial data Center for Responsive Politics

“Personal Finances, Why does it matter?” http://www.opensecrets.org/pfds/why.php


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