Monday, August 27, 2007

Hmmm... I don't FEEL poor...

There's been a lot of talk about the two Americas, health care for the poor, etc.

So today I looked up the federal poverty line for a family of 5 (since babies in utero count..)

Our taxable income puts us right on the line... (Our health insurance is 10,000 a year, but it comes out before taxes, so from a federal perspective that money doesn't really exist....)

So we're the poor? We have a house (a small one, but we're saving up to afford a bigger one), a minivan, a computer and Internet!

We never have to cut corners to pay the bills. We get the EIC, but we save it for emergencies (new hot water heater, etc.)

If it wasn't for our massive student loan debt (comes out after taxes) of close to $500 a month, we'd be living high on the hog! (definition: not shopping at Aldis except when we wanted to-- of course, technically we could meet the same goal by buying a big freezer and stocking up when Meijers had sales.... but we don't have room for a freezer.)

We have plenty to eat, our house is fairly warm in the winter (even the wealthy people in town have this problem-- 100 year old houses are poorly insulated...) I get to stay home with the kids, and my husband has a 40-hour work week with a month of vacation every year!

And we're poor... (just barely, but still...)

We have too many clothes and WAYYYYY too many toys. (And too many books, but we don't talk about that...)

But we also pay next to nothing in taxes. So a number of our "non-poor" friends actually have a HARDER time making ends meet than we do. Because their tax burden is so high, they actually have LESS DISPOSABLE INCOME than we do! And they work more hours. And have less vacation....

Which is why I tend to look askance at all the"two Americas" talk. Why would I vote for someone who wants to increase taxes and make it harder for my friends and family to get by just to give me a life that's even easier than the one I have now?

(I mean, sure, we only get to eat out 3-4 times a year - but eating at home is healthier anyway, and restaurants are often a bit of a let down. And we never go to the movies... but that's mostly a function of a house full of small children. "the rich" young families I know don't get out much either.....
And we don't have cable. But we wouldn't anyway--we prefer DVDs.. the TV only gets used for Sesame Street and Caillou and severe thunderstorms... And we live walking distance from my husband's job and use cloth diapers and make our own bread and breastfeed-- But again, even if we were RICH we'd do all those things..... It's not just the money...)

And, we don't plan to stay "poor" forever.... so why would I vote for someone who wants to raise taxes on my future self?

Americans defined as poor don't vote against their own self-interest -- it's just that many politicians have never bothered to meet us and find out what our self-interest actually IS.

Anyway, enough political ranting for the day.... But really, if we REALLY want to help the poor, shouldn't we be helping the folks who have malaria and dysentery and regularly have to watch formerly healthy babies waste away and die before their eyes? But wait... those people aren't American so we don't care about them.....

(And yes, I know the US has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Do you know why? Because babies who would be stillborn in most places actually get born here. And some of them are too sick to live very long... But our HEALTHY infant mortality rates are great......)

Anyway, I'll stop now. But I thought this article was pretty interesting: Poor Politics

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