5 Myths About Poverty, Debunked

We're all about encouraging women to live their richest life, but for many, the American dream is just out of reach.

Poverty is at a 17-year high, and the fortunes of the top 1% have skyrocketed, while wages for the rest of the population have stagnated.

So what does it actually mean to be poor in American today? There are a lot of pernicious misconceptions out there about poverty in the United States, so we rounded up the five biggest myths and the real facts. Have you heard of any of these myths before?

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More From LearnVest

These myths are more relevant than ever—the U.S. poverty rate has reached a 17-year high.
Who is in the top 1%? A lot of Americans.
These wealthy New Yorkers say they feel poor. Annoyed yet?

  • http://www.couponspicy.com/ Alanc230

    The powers that be want the masses to believe that the poor are undeserving, lazy, drunk, and brought their problems on themselves. Keep speaking truth to power about this issue. 

  • Drmomljh

    I see recipients of government aid every day. Their medical care is paid for; they receive food stamps, formula for their infants,subsidized housing, and tax credits even though they pay no tax. They drive new cars, and have televisions and cell phones. How do you define poverty? I see the working poor too. They deserve admiration. And people do move out of the handouts line into self sufficiency. But a lot of people choose to work the system. They fill my husbands classes. They don’t care about their grades. They are scornful of my husband and others who work for a living. Able bodied, still they plan to get subsidized housing and produce outof wedlock children so they can be eligible for tax credits. They get free day care. They sell food stamps for cash. They sell drugs they get free through their free health care. The rest of us carry this burden and it is adrag on our economy.

    • BunnymlaIrd

      I 100% agree with you. A neighbor of my friend is on medicaid and 6 months ago got a tummy tuck, and 2 months ago had the fat removed from under her arm pit area. This lady probally weighs about 250 ib and is over weight. What kind of medical emergency is that! We are paying for her fat to be removed, while my family with real medical issues where denied medicaid. My husband was let go from his job after 20 years because of a workmans comp injury that with in the last year he had missed alot of work due to the injuries and I was layed off. Together we both made about 75,000 a year. We have a mortgage for over 20 tears, lots of medical bills and thank god no credit cards. We lived pay check to pay check, andnot above our means. Our income dropped to 2,400.00 dollars a month on the max unemployment pays in our state and thats prior to taxes. We where denied any kind of assistance with medical care throught the state. They also included my 21 year old daughters part time job, even though she was a full time student, what do they think she pays the bills? I guess we need to loose our house, cars and live on the streets before we could get help. Know I have even more medical bills and pay at least 300.00 dollars or more just in percriptions a month. I too taught adult classes and they received every kind of assistance inmaginible. Instead of teaching them, I should have had them teach me the SYSTEM.

      • Heather

        You can not have any cosmetic surgery on medicaid, or welfare. This person obviously had other help in doing so. There is No State that does this. She either borrowed the money, or she got a loan. Which is Not illegal. It is America and she can do what she pleases. You may not agree with her decision but she didn’t use the resources of our Government to have these procedures done.

  • http://twitter.com/iDaleesaDoHair Daleesa Weary

    A relative of mine specifically told me she was going to get pregnant again to get more money from the welfare system. So, I disagree with the last one, some people are STUPID enough to think they are getting ahead. Really stupid! 

    • JR

       Your anecdote doesn’t validate your disagreement with the last point. It says “Welfare encourages women to have more children.” Just because your friend is misinformed about the system does not mean that she was actually encouraged to have more children. As you put it, “some people are STUPID enough to think they are getting ahead.”

      • JKB

        Actually the last point is dependant upon whether or not you actually care for the children or see them only as checks.
        As to the whole list I can see both sides here. I teach in Juvenile detention and have had occassion to examine this subject. There certainly is abuse and the “long term” or cycling roll comes up to 55%; I have students who come to my math class and when we do budgets they PLAN to live on assistance sop they can make thier money in cash (often illegally) and keep it all for themselves. This is a product not so much of poverty or laziness but of conditioning and “getting used to your environment”, many of my children consider middle class neighborhoods boring, have Xboxe 360′s and PS3s and the HD TVs to play them on and see no need to work for any more, they are content.
        However, this is not a necessary product and a good many people are siply on hard times and using the system as intended. Some WANT out but simply cannot find the motication or figure out a plan that works for them and other do work themselves out of the system and hence the pverty roll is not thye same list of people over long periods of time (ie 20 years) this includes the non-welfare working poor who are more likely to move up in that time period. Rember that even Roosevelt warned about the addictive dangers of assistance.
        But the issue is not so much about people gaming the system as it is about what the system does to people. You cannot be dependant on someone without being controlled by them. Again its operant conditioning. A single percentage increase in Welfare spending to GDP has shown to lead a 3 – 4% increase in unemployment (Ding 2012) and this is relevant to one of the slides pointing to the low US input, remember that 1% of our GDP is much more money than in most nations even per capita. Moreover, the data in the US debt clock suggests a different perspective on the portion of our budget that entitelments and the nondiscretionary budget represent. The issue is that when I or the Government pays for your food we get to choose what you eat, whenhn I or the Government pay for your home we get to choose where you live etc, and people are conditioned to vote their interests and support those expanding or maintaining the system, what type of freedom is that?

  • Dennis The Wise

    How in the world does it cost $12000/year to raise a child? We have twins and we it hasn’t increased our household expenses by more than $300/month for food and clothing.

  • John

    u guys are fuckin assholes man not all of us use drugs so dont just go with the stereotypes i find this offensive and now you are getting sued

    • george

      shut up john