What does it mean to be poor?

If it means living at or below the poverty line, then 15 percent of Americans — some 46 million people — qualify. But if it means living with a decent income and hardly any savings — so that one piece of bad luck, one major financial blow, could land you in serious, lasting trouble — then it’s a much larger number. In fact, it’s almost half the country.

“The resources that people have — they are using up those resources,” said Jennifer Brooks, director of state and local policy at the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group. “They’re living off their savings. They’re at the end of their rope.”

The group issued a report today examining so-called liquid asset poverty households — the people who aren’t living below the poverty line, but don’t have enough money saved to weather a significant emergency.

According to the report, 43 percent of households in America — some 127.5 million people — are liquid-asset poor. If one of these households experiences a sudden loss of income, caused, for example, by a layoff or a medical emergency, it will fall below the poverty line within three months. People in these households simply don’t have enough cash to make it for very long in a crisis.

The findings underscore the struggles of many Americans during what has often seemed like an economic recovery in name only. While the Great Recession officially ended more than two years ago, unemployment remains high and wages have barely budged for most workers. For more people, whether they draw a paycheck or not, a life free of deprivation and financial anxiety seems perpetually out of reach.

That’s not to say that everyone who is liquid-asset poor spends all their time fretting. On the contrary, because many have regular paychecks coming in, they may not grasp the precariousness of their situation.

“They don’t necessarily realize how close people can be to one interruption to income or one interruption to health benefits,” said David Rothstein, the project director for asset building at the non-profit Policy Matters Ohio. “They’re one paycheck away from being in debt.”

Rothstein, who also serves on a steering committee at the Corporation for Enterprise Development, told The Huffington Post that payday lenders — who loan money to desperate borrowers at high interest rates, drawing people into hard-to-escape cycles of debt — are “a huge problem” in Ohio, as in many other states. People often turn to payday lenders to cover one-time, unexpected expenses, but can end up in a long and costly relationship.

“People say things like, it’s just one mechanical problem with their car,” said Rothstein. Before they know it, he said, “every other week, they’re back at the payday lending shop.”

The Corporation for Enterprise Development findings echo other recent studies showing that many Americans are ill-prepared for financial emergencies. Analysts said the reasons include flat wages, the high cost of medical treatment and the nationwide drop in housing values leaving homeowners with less wealth than they believed they had.

Andrea Levere, the president of Corporation for Enterprise Development, told HuffPost that greater financial literacy might have helped prevent the current situation.

People can “graduate high school and not know how to write a check,” Levere said, adding that an increased emphasis on personal responsibility for budgeting and spending should be an important part of any step forward.

At the same time, Corporation for Enterprise Development officials were quick to argue that public policy needs to address the scope of the problem. Levere cited the example of asset limits in public benefit programs, which restrict services like food assistance and public health insurance to households with few or no assets — a policy that critics say denies help to many people in need.

“In some cases,” said Levere, “it means they can’t even own a car that is in good enough shape to get them to work.”

Brooks agreed. “A family that loses its job, that was maybe solidly middle class, in a state where they have restrictive asset tests, is going to have to liquidate all their assets, all their savings for the future” in order to qualify for benefits.

The report maintains that there are a number of measures that could alleviate liquid asset poverty, from strengthening consumer protections against payday lenders to making greater assistance available to first-time homebuyers. Levere said even minor policy adjustments could have “revolutionary implications.”

“There’s a lot of ways forward. It doesn’t mean it’s not tough,” Levere said. “I’m a great believer in one step at a time.”

From Huffington post


Who’s Telling The Truth?

Posted: February 14, 2012 in Talk about


Trying to figure out which one of these plastic faces is telling the truth is like trying to discover the secrets of the universe. How can it be that three Americans living in the same country with the same culture and history can be so far apart in describing the exact same current events and issues so differently? I think I have an idea why. One or more of them are liars! Hows that for an explanation. Take any issue; say the recent contraception debate and marvel and the completely different views of the very same event. Talk about the theory of relativity! It is harder than ever to discover the actual truth on any matter. The issues of the day are far more complex that in past years. Nothing is black and white anymore. Everything is in shade of grey. How then can a voter and concerned citizen discern the truth? separate fact from fiction, reality from fantasy?

You can do as i do and bookmark all of the major news agencies and try to figure out the truth by reading between the lines of the various news sites. Or you can study like you are in graduate school each topic until you have a PHD in the subject; that is if you have the time and inclination. You can forget about the blogs. The are by-in-large, the biggest collection of crazies and cooks you’ll ever meet. this is not an easy task but I put it to you as a request for help. I have not found a solution but there are good folks out there who I am sure have found solutions. So lets find the formula for truth and share it with the masses!


Posted: September 24, 2011 in Talk about

Mellow greetings and a hearty welcome to the new talkwars blog page.  It is a pleasure and an honor to have you as our guest on the worlds only true nonpartisan point-counterpoint blog on the web.  The free flow of ideas and opinions have been the core strength of the American political system and a beacon for the world to follow. Boisterous and disorganized, the political discourse moves us forward to ever greater heights of social and political achievement. This is the essence of democracy and freedom. To offer your words to others in the great dialogues of our day in the hopes of finding solutions and winning allies in efforts to reach our ultimate goals.

They say that Americans have an opinion about everything; they suggest that we try to provide solutions for the entire world through our political and economic apparatus.  Perhaps.  But in the end, Americans will continue to express their ideas and opinions as it is our nature to do so.  Here at Talkwars, we cherish that nature and appreciate its true value.  The talkwars team hopes you will enjoy your stay and provide your valued input, ideas and solutions to todays growing social and political challenges.
Lets get ready to ruuummmbbblle!!!