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Please begin with an informative title:

Tombstone with three spaces for writing saying poor, also poor, and yep, poor.
You've heard the arguments before: the poor are lazy, they think something is owed to them and on and on and on. Those who blame the poor for being poor and for dragging the economy down all use the same tired arguments. The protagonist you're debating uses anecdotal evidence and personal stories of hardship and how they were able to pull through a particularly hard time without government assistance, or how they were turned down for assistance because they made too much money on unemployment or some other reason (code for they did not get assistance because they are white).

These arguments don't come from just the right side of the political spectrum; no, it comes from the left as well. Those who live in poverty make a great punching bag for anyone slightly more fortunate. Work in a minimum wage job? It's your fault you're still working in a job meant for teenagers. My personal favorite? If you can't afford kids, you shouldn't have them (this is usually pointed towards minorities). Can't get a decent job? Go back to school and get your degree. Have a kid? The father never sticks around (while it's unsaid this is often pointed at African-Americans). Homeless? You chose to be homeless—if you'd quit drinking, you could get a job. And they all just sell their SNAP cards.

Every one of those poor-bashing arguments is a myth, as you can see below the fold.

Intro

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Poor people are lazy:

The overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients who can work do so.  Among SNAP households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult, more than half work while receiving SNAP — and more than 80 percent work in the year prior to or the year after receiving SNAP.  The rates are even higher for families with children — more than 60 percent work while receiving SNAP, and almost 90 percent work in the prior or subsequent year.
Absent fathers/African-American fathers are the problem:
Sixty percent of low-income dads see at least one of their children daily. Another 16 percent see their children weekly.

Black males (pdf) who do not live with their children are more apt than white or Hispanic fathers to have a daily presence in their children's lives.

Single moms are to blame:
Only 9 percent of low-income, urban moms have been single throughout their child's first five years. Thirty-five percent were married to, or in a relationship with, the child's father for that entire time.
Minimum-wage jobs are for teenagers:
87.9 percent of those affected nationally by increasing the federal minimum wage to $9.80 are 20 years of age and older. The share of those affected who are 20 or older varies by state, from a low of 77.1 percent in Massachusetts to a high of 92.4 percent in Florida (and 93.9 percent in the District of Columbia).” Also, “more than a third (35.8 percent) are married, and over a quarter (28.0 percent) are parents.”

Notably, 49% of people making the minimum wage are adult women.

Go back to school and to get a better job:
In 2012, about 1.1 million people who made less than $25,000 a year, worked full time, and were heads of household had a bachelor's degree.
Homeless people want to be homeless:
One in 45 children experience homelessness in America each year.  That's over 1.6 million children.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development's 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report estimated that 57,849 veterans were homeless on a single night in 2013.

The poor are ripping us off:
The trafficking rate in SNAP has dropped dramatically. Due to increased oversight and improvements to program management by USDA, the trafficking rate has fallen significantly over the last two decades, from about 4 cents on the dollar in 1993 to about 1 cent in 2006-08 (most recent data available).
Every one of these arguments that are used to belittle and ostracize the poor can be disproved with minimal research. Yet these myths persist, year after year, going back to Ronald Reagan's Welfare Queen. These myths always point to a minority, often with a dog whistle, even though the percentage of whites to African-Americans on public assistance is virtually the same—whites make up 38.8% of those on public assistance and African-Americans make up 39.8%.

The United States, the richest country in the world, spends only 6.3% of the federal budget on public assistance. Fraud in the SNAP program is a single penny on the dollar. Public assistance programs are some of the most well-run, efficient programs in government. Yet we continually hear from the right and the left that these programs are a waste of our tax dollars. Instead of worrying about that $4.45 a day our less fortunate neighbors are getting as a part of their SNAP benefits, we should be more concerned with corporate welfare in which wages have been artificially depressed due to a minimum wage that has not kept pace with inflation. If we truly want to reduce the number of people on public assistance, we must raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation.

Until that happens, let's show a little compassion for those who are less fortunate. Believe it or not, they did not ask to be poor.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Aug 03, 2014 at 11:15 AM PDT.

Also republished by Hunger in America, Unemployment Chronicles, and Badger State Progressive.

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