Poverty Imperils the Middle Class


“For all the talk of economic recovery in the U.S.,
the 48.5 million Americans living at or below the poverty line
tells us we are not recuperated. Equally distressing,
the 100 million Americans–the one out of every three of us–
who are living either below or just above the poverty line.”
Joy Reid, Guest Host on Melissa Harris Perry

A lab technician with a college degree is unemployed. She runs out of money and, seated in the kitchen, her teenage son discovers her crying “because she just doesn’t know what she is gonna do for food for the next couple of weeks.” Her son hugs her. He tells her, “everything is going to be okay.”

But everything is not okay.

Surviving this crisis, Deidre finds a job–but it pays minimum wage. With pain near the surface, Deidre states, “Minimum wage is not a living wage.” Indeed, she sells metal for scrap on the weekend and must donate plasma to pay her bills. Still, she is unable to save money.

This predicament is unexpected. Deidre thought that, with her specialized training and skills, she would never be stuck in poverty. The American Dream, she says, “is not my reality.”

American Winter is a 90-minute HBO documentary featuring eight Oregon families who, like Deidre, find themselves in dire situations despite their hard work.

“The truth is that the American dream is slipping away for half this country,” states Joe Gantz, the film’s Director and Producer.

Producer Harry Gantz speaks passionately about congressional budget negotiations: “So when these politicians are talking about policy, or talking about dollars, it affects these people. These are the only people in this game of the budget battle who have no lobbyists.” He concludes, “This is not a give-and-take situation. It is an investment in our country’s future.”

My take: It’s time for every person working full time to earn a living wage.

Rev. Rix welcomes comments at quoflections@gmail.com. © 2013 Harry Rix. All rights reserved.

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