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According to a new Heritage Foundation paper, people living below the poverty line have air-conditioning and cable television, and therefore the United States should spend less on aid such as food stamps. This sort of argument surfaces pretty regularly—it's likely that 20 years after fire was discovered, prehistoric rich people were sitting in caves going "those people outside in the rain have it easy, because fire!"

The point being, the amenities generally considered basics of life change over time. In 2011, it's not reasonable to speak in shocked tones of someone having cable, as if it's the rough equivalent of a yacht.

Let's look at poverty, for real. There are multiple ways of measuring the poverty line or threshold, but basically it's around $11,000 for an individual or $22,000 for a family of four. In 2009, 14.3 percent of Americans were living in poverty, and 6.3 percent were living in "deep poverty," below half the poverty line. In 2009, 14.7 percent of households experienced food insecurity for at least part of the year. According to Raj Patel, food insecurity is the difference between spending $200 per person per month on food and spending $55 less and means failing to meet basic nutrition needs.

Meanwhile, multifamily households are becoming more and more common as people struggle to get by.

Poverty is real and it's really no fun. If you, like the Heritage Foundation staff currently assailing poor people for having cable, are not poor, it can seem like an easy intellectual exercise to live below the poverty line. I'll just get a cheap apartment, you think, looking on Craigslist and not realizing that the apartments you're pointing to as options are either scams or virtually unlivable. I'll eat cheap, you think; I know a lot of ways to cook dried beans. But Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) could tell you that's harder than you might think, having accepted a challenge to eat for a week on a food stamp budget. No cable for me, I'll expand my horizons by reading for free—but what if you don't live near a library, or your kids come home from school every damn day sad because they're left out of the conversations their classmates are having about television shows and video games? Even the computer game version of the intellectual exercise turns out not to be so easy.

Poverty is awful. Trying to downplay it in order to justify cuts to the fragile safety net in place for poor people is worse.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 09:54 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos Labor and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I've known several college professors (41+ / 0-)

    who set their students the challenge to eat on a food stamp budget for a week or so, or to create, just on paper, a budget for living under the poverty line or at minimum wage or the like. The students on the food stamp budget either eat nutritious food and are hungry all the time, or they eat crappy foods in order to avoid hunger. The students who try to make the budgets...they have some real trouble, and the one apartment on Craigslist that's half the price of all the others tends to feature prominently without a whole lot of thought about why it's so cheap (or that everyone can't have that one same apartment).

    •  morgan spurlock has a doc on this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lightbulb, Oh Mary Oh

      where he and his gf tried to live on minimum wage

    •  You can do it (0+ / 0-)

      Its pretty hard, but you can get by on $133 per month. You just have to eat a lot more vegetables and less meet to get by. Cereal/Milk for breakfast, sandwhich(which lettuce and tomatos) for lunch and Pasta with tomato sauce for dinner.

      •  could diabetic (0+ / 0-)

        or someone with special metabolic  dis-function, or immune system disorders get by on that diet?

        Republicans it seems are trying to finish off an economy that is already gravely wounded. ~ Ted Rall

        by anyname on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 05:52:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, thats another problem (0+ / 0-)

          Thats another problem altogether. Most people on food stamps don't have either of those. $133 is counting for the average person. People with disabilities have other accommodations in another category from Uncle Sam.

          •  not sure I know what you mean (0+ / 0-)

            as far as I know whatever any states top rate of food stamp supplement is on a formula and there is no exception for people with metabolic dysfunction; and my impression is that illness drives down income and lots of people who are chronically ill or recently ill end up on food stamps to try to get by;

            Republicans it seems are trying to finish off an economy that is already gravely wounded. ~ Ted Rall

            by anyname on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 06:30:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Medical conditions are in the field of medicaid (0+ / 0-)

              Things like medical conditions fall into medicaid(medical assistance for the poor) and not food stamps. Food stamps are just for food.

              •  of course but what (0+ / 0-)

                I'm saying does SNAP recognize verified metabolic disease chronic illness and adjusts UP from the formula so folk using SNAP supplement can afford special diet - they are always more expensive; rice, beans, bread, cheap meat, no vegetables ( too expensive ) no fruit ( too expensive ) would DO-IN a diabetic' or ulcerative colitis patient, or kidney dysfunction patient, empty calories make an ill person sicker;

                for instance going from an un-heart healthy diet to better choices might be possible on $4-5 dollars a day if there were not other DEBILITATING chronic illness involved;

                but anyone with debilitating disease has to have one kind or another special diet;

                when I was younger didn't think about food, luved mono diets and simple menus, steamed vegetables, fruits, yogurt was a vegetarian for over twenty years; food was inexpensive enough to be a vegetarian; but when I became chronically ill three different doctors told me I had to put meat and fish into my diet; I waited 2-3 years before I finally did; and at the time food was still AFFORDABLE;

                I'm not a vegetarian  ( don't eat red meat ) but if I had to I couldn't really afford to be a vegetarian at today's food prices - no matter how I budget and work on reducing costs - the price of food has jumped too high; the cost of real,clean un-pesticide fruit and vegetables is way too high; even un-organic produce costs way too much;

                I'm adaptive and make good menus but food stamps comes down to either $4-5 dollars a day; without buying empty calories and whatever is always the least expensive I don't see how anyone with chronic medical problems could make a healthy menu on that amount of funds;

                for instance I can't have peanut butter ( or almond butter all of that stuff is out ) raisins or most breads.... that's just one example; those foods make me ill; I have to have other sources of protein ( almond milk, low glycemic bread) no soys, no cheeses etc etc etc....  only more expensive alternatives;

                basically I make appetizers a meal; have to control amount of in-take ex. flatbread or crackers, dab of fish . that's an example of a meal; when I do cook I divide it up and freeze;  can afford good fruit ( small range can tolerate these days )  only if I buy frozen fruit - they are not ( or either less ) sprayed with pesticides and can have very small amount of fruit in one meal or in one day; I've got too many/so many restrictions and modifications from a regular diet it's too much to go into it but you get the idea;

                $-4 - $5 dollars day at today's prices for certain ill folk with debilitating chronic conditions would be next to impossible;

                Republicans it seems are trying to finish off an economy that is already gravely wounded. ~ Ted Rall

                by anyname on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 04:02:51 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Poverty, AC, and cable TV (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peptabysmal, chrismorgan

      The Heritage Foundation is missing a point -- just because a household has an air conditioning unit in it doesn't mean that they can actually afford to run it.

      It's not uncommon to read a news story locally where someone was hospitalized (or died) from heat related illness -- and the article will mention that they had an AC unit that was kept off because they couldn't afford the electric bills.

      As for cable (or satellite) TV -- that's one thing that I've never understood.  I'm good enough at math to figure how difficult it would be for a single person to live on $11,000/year, and I frankly don't get how anyone at that financial level would be able to pay a monthly cable bill.  Apparently, many do manage to do it -- but they're surely giving up something more important in return.

      The bottom line is that anyone who thinks that a single person can live a remotely comfortable life on $11,000/year (or a family on $22,000) is flat-out crazy. And cherry picking a few "luxuries" does little to back up the claim, considering how cheap many of these items really are.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 07:01:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's just the beginning (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Their next article will be titled "Are the Halt Really Halt and the Lame Really Lame?".

        Wall Street: Too big to fail and too big to jail.

        by dotsright on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 07:24:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Does having heat in the winter also count as a (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        'luxury' ?
        I live on just over 12,000 a year,and have my AC on as I type this.Guess what ,assholes @ Heritage -I haven't turned on
        my heat once all last winter so I could run my AC in the
        summer if needed,and I live in Wisconsin.The only way I can do
        this is my apt is in the 'middle' I can utilize the 'ambient heat' concept.It still gets cold but it has to be done.
        It's medically necessary for me to avoid excessive heat.
        My food budget is about 120.00 a month-up from 85 a '09 due to dramatic rise in prices.
        Yes,I also have cable-and internet.Basic w/landline phone bundle,and will cut the cable TV this year end .I shop resale,never eat out or go to a movie,also quit
        smoking several yrs ago, cut my own hair, beans peas,and
        cheese as basic protein,pay down 2 medical bills.
        I have worked for years and through a confluence of unfortunate events now am on SSDI since my mid 50's,and am grateful that program exists,I also know others have it much worse.
        I defy any one of those smug bass-turds @ Heritage to do
        as much w/so little.

      •  I'm probably one of the few people here who (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TexasTom, runswithscissors

        actually lived for decades on less than $15k a year. Until just the past three years, I never had a job that paid more than $8.50 an hour.

        Any time the rich fucks at Heritage Foundation want to try it and see how they like it, they're entirely welcome. I'm willing to bet they don't like it very much.

        As per your question, I never ran the AC--I opened every window and had a fan to circulate air.  In the winter, I used a single electric space heater, and moved it from room to room wherever I happened to be. Sometimes I had cable and sometimes I did not--it depended on the particular job I had at the time. My cars were all less than $500--I drove them till they died, then bought another one. (Eventually I gave up cars completely and took the bus everywhere I went.)

        One advantage that I had was that I am not at all a materialistic person and I don't need or want a lot of things. In the past three years my income has quadrupled, but my lifestyle hasn't really changed all that much.

        But there is a big difference between CHOOSING to lead a simple lifestyle, and being FORCED to.

    •  This is what I think! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      What kind of fucking hubris, what kind of fucking ignorance, what kind of fucking heartlessness, spawns people like the two motherfuckers who wrote that shit?  Go and take a look at the two smug motherfuckers who, in self-satisfied, air-conditioned comfort, are sucking away at the Heritage Foundation’s wingnut-welfare tit.  Just imagine how proud of themselves and puffed up they are.


      An idea, to be suggestive, must come to the individual with the force of revelation. William James

      by agincour on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 03:37:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cue Rush and Fox News in 3...2...1... (3+ / 0-)

    Coupled with the newest O'Keefe pukefest, watch the attacks on SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid elimination begin.  All in the name of "cutting spending".

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 10:03:48 AM PDT

  •  The wealthiest individuals in the U.S., (6+ / 0-)

    such as those who fund The Heritage Foundation and other right-wing think tanks, have seven-figure, eight-figure, even nine-figures in the bank... while many Americans are struggling to get enough food on the table to avoid starvation... and they want to take away their food stamps?  In my view this is a crime against humanity... I can't fathom a level of heartlessness that low.

    Barack Obama in the Oval Office: There's a black man who knows his place.

    by Greasy Grant on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 10:06:20 AM PDT

    •  hey so long as people are malnourished (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lightbulb, Oh Mary Oh

      and not starving everything is OK or so we are told in our rush to the bottom

    •  American Exceptionalism Only Applies to Rich (0+ / 0-)

      In a previous diary on this report, I collected some analogous findings comparing the US Rich to the global rich:

      We'd rather dream the American Dream than fight to live it or to give it to our kids. What a shame. What an awful, awful shame.

      by Into The Woods on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 05:55:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  have you been paying attention? (5+ / 0-)

      There's no bottom to their heartlessness. (And I can't believe they had the choots-pah to say this during a life-threatening heat wave!)

      Cheap apartment? No public transportation nearby, no jobs nearby, no grocery store nearby, no decent school nearby, etc.

      No cable TV?  These days, that pretty much means no TV at all, especially if you're in an apartment building. No TV? No access to educational shows on PBS, including the ones for your kids that could help them start learning early. No cartoons that might help them laugh even when their empty bellies are hurting. No Fox News to help everyone learn about the evil Democrat party!

      No cell phone?  No way to get a call from the after-care at your kid's school when she falls on the playground and you're schlepping boxes in a Walmart storeroom.

      No AC? Tonight when it's almost 9:00 PM and the DC metro area is still almost 90 degrees outside, I bless Mr. Carrier and his life-saving invention. Would the Heritage Foundation prefer that we have 5000 people die during this heat wave as happened in Paris during the 2003 European heat wave?  (Dumb question!)

      These assholes can't even comprehend what it would be like to live on $11,000 a month, let alone trying to make that last a whole year. They do what they want, buy what they want, live as they choose.

      But God forbid anyone who's poor gets some cold air on a hot night.

    •  These are the same people crying how hard it is to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Get by on $250,000 a year, and how that is not rich.

  •  I am now on disability and I am NOT (6+ / 0-)

    eligible for food stamps.  Energy Assistance.   Or any other social program, because I make $14 a month too much. I have to pay my own dental and vision insurance payments because if they took them out of my SSDI, I would be $36 under instead of $14 over. making me eligible for $56 a month in food stamps.  

    I obviously have a computer.  It is 6 years old, slow and still XP but here I am blogging.  And once I pay my bills, I have 300 left over for the month.  Now I get over $1000 a week in medical bills, so still sort of unbalanced.  Oh and my prescriptions cost $456 a month.

    I was a 6 figure income person, so going from that to this is difficult at best.  I had great benefits, my same prescriptions used to cost me 40 a month.  I hardly ever got a Dr bill, Medicare pays so little compared to private insurance.

    I prepared for this too, live in a cheap rent location.  Bought a trailer that was gutted, put an addition on it and built it like brand new. So my bills are cheap, lower than most, and still it is hard to get by.  They do not even equal my old mortgage.  I planned out a budget for being disabled.  What I did not plan on, was my husband not finding work.

    Eat a week on food stamp budget, BS try eating without one.

    A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by one pissed off democrat on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 10:11:30 AM PDT

    •  We've had people at the site (5+ / 0-)

      who could only visit by going to their local library and using the computers, for that matter.

      But yeah, actually, medical bills were one of the things I meant to address and then dropped out because it would've been a sort of complicated extra thing. But the Heritage people say how most people have access to medical care. Ok...through the emergency room, with medical bankruptcy as a plausible outcome...

    •  SSDI angers Republicans like no other program (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eXtina, nchristine, Abelia, Oh Mary Oh

      I have conservative friends who've ranted about programs like SSDI and SSI. I always hear from them about "how easy it is to get SSDI or SSI". They tell me the stories of "people on disability" supposedly going water skiing and running.

      Yet I have actually known people who've applied to get SSDI or SSI. And these were people with severe disabilities and other medical problems. They weren't "able-bodied people trying to take advantage of the system". But they were all denied the first time and had to hire attorneys to finally qualify for benefits. The way the eligibility rules are set up you could literally be in a wheelchair, hooked up to machines, and clearly unable to work--but still not receive benefits.

    •  welcome to the club (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh

      but in my case, SS claims I can still work a 12 hour day with no problem.  Problem is it takes planning to make it to the bathroom and going down a single aisle in the grocery store leaves me gasping for breath and bathed down in sweat

  •  The only time I've eaten on a week budget of $30 (3+ / 0-)

    was when I ran out of money in my account towards the end of the month back in 2006.

    I got rice, salsa verde, pasta, tomato sauce, chicken, eggs, milk, parmesan cheese, mexican cheese, frozen mixed vegetables, wheat bread and baking potatoes for under $30.

    I made mexican cheesy chicken with salsa and rice. That lasted me for about two leftovers. I did pasta, which usually does four leftovers for me. I did baked potatoes, which does four leftovers for me. I did a rice pilaf with a fried egg, which made a meal for me. I did eggs in a nest twice that week. That's how I survived that week back in 2006.

    I work with B2B PAC, and all views and opinions in this account are my own.

    by slinkerwink on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 10:16:14 AM PDT

    •  $30 per capita is high for a food budget (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh

      for many families; $10 is more realistic.  If they were real about cutting food stamps they would teach poor families to garden and to raise urban livestock like rabbits and chickens but if you did that, they might become independent so livestock and gardening are outlawed  

      •  It could work. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Abelia, Oh Mary Oh

        If you live in rural Indiana, or any major/minor city where the houses have backyards.

        Inner city Chicago, not so much.

        I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - M Angelou

        by Lightbulb on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 11:31:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  or frontyard if you use edible landscaping (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lightbulb, Oh Mary Oh

          but a woman faces jail for doing exactly this while lawn owners with dandelions in their Kentucky bluegrass face no sanctions for having edibles in their lawns

        •  I have a garden in a city-sized lot (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lightbulb, Oh Mary Oh

          in a one-growing-season climate. I can verify that you can't grow enough food in the space to make a sizable impact on a family's food budget. I support urban gardening anyway - lots of good reasons to grow your own food as much as you can - but realistically, you can't get enough calories to make a real contribution to a family's diet without a much more comprehensive system of community gardens. You just need more land.

        •  And that touches on another facet (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SwedishJewfish, ScottDog

          of poverty that makes us liberals uncomfortable, but which probably shouldn't. Is poverty made worse when large numbers of poor people live together in cities? Was the late Luther Allison right when he wrote "you got to move from the hood?"

          Let's be honest here, folks... I've been poor. I grew up poor. I was homeless at 17, lived in a 23 foot travel trailer for a year, doing odd jobs and maybe making 5 grand. I know from poor. And you know what?

          Places with lots of poor people tend to suck.

          I think liberals need to rethink their approach to poverty. The liberal response to welfare reform, even though everybody realized that AFDC was an apocalyptic goat fuck that did more more harm than good, especially to the people it was designed to help, illustrates this point well, I think.

          Rather than acknowledging the reality that AFDC needed to be completely replaced, because it was a dismal swamp of suck, and following that up with a well-thought out replacement, we bravely and with great conviction stormed up the wrong hill. We were outraged that a program we didn't even like was being changed.

          Was anybody saying in the early 1990s, "hey, AFDC is too broken to be fixed. But we've got all the potholes, and the trails and campgrounds in our parks are falling apart, so why don't we have welfare recipients do the needed unskilled work?"

          We're already paying people. If we were getting some direct benefit from those dollars, that'd be a good thing. Not to mention that the only way for poor people to not be poor anymore is through work. Typically hard work, and they're never gonna be rich, but they won't be poor, and their kids will do better than they did.

          Working is itself a skill, and one that cannot be taught.


          "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
          "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

          by Leftie Gunner on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 06:10:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think (0+ / 0-)

            I think it's a bit of a chasm between those of us who have grown up or lived in poverty, and those who only know about it in theory. Chris Hedges wrote about the liberals he knew in the Ivy Leagues who "like the poor, but don't like the smell of the poor". I know quite a few people who fall into that category. They mean well, and genuinely do care, but tackling poverty is a hands on thing- you can't do it from a distance. You need to be in those communities, working every day to make them better, and not stopping until they are a place you would be comfortable to call home.

            I have  see a lot of promising urban renassaince movements cropping up where you would least expect it though- Detroit, for example.  I hope it catches on. Cities can be amazing vehicles for social progress and mobility if they are stewarded in the right way. If as progressives we are serious about effecting positive change and turning our country around, I can think of no better place to start.

            Will work for food
            Will die for oil
            Will kill for power and to us the spoils
            The billionaires get to pay less tax
            The working poor get to fall through the cracks
            -James McMurty


            by SwedishJewfish on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 07:41:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  the cost of food since (0+ / 0-)

      2006 has gone way up in N. CA

      Republicans it seems are trying to finish off an economy that is already gravely wounded. ~ Ted Rall

      by anyname on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 05:53:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  BTW there is no recommend/hide (0+ / 0-)

      button on your comment;  other comments have same dysfunction; noticed this type of glitch sometime after 5PM PDT

      Republicans it seems are trying to finish off an economy that is already gravely wounded. ~ Ted Rall

      by anyname on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 06:24:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  my food budget for most of my life was $25/week (0+ / 0-)

      I lived almost entirely on budget $1 frozen dinners, cheap bologna sandwiches, and McDonalds cheeseburgers.

      Three meals a day was impossible--two meals a day sufficed.

  •  This is a Very Old Argument From the Right (4+ / 0-)

    During the War on Poverty they'd point to Appalachian hollers where floors were dirt but there were some TV's around.

    And we only needed to finance one immoral unwinnable 3rd world war at that time.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 10:38:39 AM PDT

  •  That is an interesting link to WP (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    Love that those Congressional Reps tried to follow the food stamp budget. Rep Ryan was supposed to keep a blog of his experiences; I followed the link which led to his main page, but couldn't find anything. He probably didn't last long. The Heritage bums should talk to these people to hear their experiences; obviously, they didn't bother speaking to any real people actually in poverty.

  •  Indeed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    And as much as I hate her, Barbara Ehrenreich made great points in "Nickel and Dimed in America".

  •  lots of cable is "stolen" or improperly (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    obtained or else is an on/off again proposition or else the reward from several people contributing, like a PO Box at the post office.  I remember one that had more than 20 people receiving mail in the box
    Wait til these think tank types discover the underground economy  

  •  Well this diary title totally crossed me up (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Abelia, Oh Mary Oh

    You start off a diary title with "Heritage Foundation questions whether poor people are really" and I expect the final word to be "people."

    In my avatar, the blue bars show how many want Reps who COMPROMISE; the aqua bars show who wants Reps who STAND FAST no matter what. (Left=Overall; Center=Democrats; Right=Republicans.) And there's the problem!

    by Seneca Doane on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 11:04:05 AM PDT

  •  according to the standards of the heritage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    foundation, 90% of the people i encountered while living in laos are not poor -

    i can still visualize them in their opulence, lounging in front of a FAN while the temperature tops 105

    Kick a "job creator" in the balls today!

    by memofromturner on Tue Jul 19, 2011 at 11:16:14 AM PDT

  •  Food insecurity and Poverty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    The problem with that figure is that it only goes back to 1995, making any kind of historical comparison next to meaningless.

    Also, the statistic is so generous that really only the 1-2% percent of population that is severely food insecure should be counted as having real hunger problems.

    It's no coincidence that using absolute poverty measurements, a tiny (Less than 2%) of the US population is considered to live in poverty, and if it wasn't for the continuing addition of factors (Access to information and credit) essentially no one in the United States would be considered to be impoverished.

    Even using the US poverty limit, few other countries have lower percentages of their population in poverty. Poverty Map here.

  •  thanks, Heritage assholes (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CatM, TampaCPA, agincour

    sorry, that was rude, but....

  •  Heritage Foundation only questions ONE thing ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    They divide the question up to make it look like they're doing more, but don't be fooled. They question reality and reality alone. Did you see the Heritage dolt on Fox questioning whether or not the News Corp. scandal was a scandal at all (he decided it wasn't)? These people know they're lying, they're paid to lie and, frankly, they can all go to hell (sadly, they're taking the world along with them).

    I will not touch Medicare, Social Security or Medicaid - Barack Obama

    by sloopydrew on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 05:35:30 PM PDT

  •  Do any of these mo-fos (0+ / 0-)

    make minimum wage?  Have they ever (and had to support a family)?  What is the origin of the cruelty evinced by the 'thinkers' - Heritage is a think tank, right - that  has manifested itself in the last few years?  They have always been greedy bastards, but this desire to murder the unforturnate is recent.

  •  The price of electronic junk has gone DOWN (3+ / 0-)

    dramatically in the past 30 years and this fact is being used to conceal how far behind the average person has fallen economically.

     You want to see where people are really at, see how much cash it takes to buy a new house or a new car. In the 1970s a laborer with only his own income could do either.

    I support torturous regimes! Also, I kick puppies.

    by eataTREE on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 05:40:25 PM PDT

    •  Yep, the Hertiage Foundation is notorious for (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eataTREE, Keori

      defining poverty in terms of the possession of consumer electronics. But not only have consumer electronics gotten cheaper to buy, they also rapidly lose their value. Most of the consumer electronics a poor family owns  a) are second-or-third-hand (often just given to them by family or friends when they bought a new model) and b) have essentially zero resale value (most pawn shops won't even take a TV that's 5 years old). So such families neither spent more than a trivial amount of money to acquire their gadgets nor could they raise more than a trivial amount of money by selling them off and doing without.

      As far as poor people with cell phones: if you're working a low-paying retail or food-service job, you're very unlikely to have regular hours; instead your employer determines how many people they need for a given shift at the last minute, and calls workers to see who's available. No answer, someone else gets your slot. So if you don't have a cell phone, you're stuck at home waiting for a call that might or might not come. You can't go out grocery shopping, taking the kids somewhere, etc. A cell phone is a necessity under those circumstances.

      "We recommend, as a precautionary measure, that people with respiratory infections should be advised not to blow their vuvuzela in enclosed spaces and where there is a risk of infecting others."

      by ebohlman on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 06:49:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  single people below poverty (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OLinda, Brooke In Seattle

    don't get low income health care benefits like families with children.(not that those are great) they  pay full rent or double, triple or quadruple up. also factor in transportation, if you are urban you might have public transportation IF it goes where you need , when you need. if you are rural , the cost of  of gas has become a major monthly expense for getting supplies or going to work.  singles below poverty line often just pay for everything and hope to hell they don't get injured. i wonder where they got their statistics and i wonder how many in poverty never show up in the statistics because they are not users of services.

  •  They simply want others to own less (4+ / 0-)

    It's how they measure their own self-worth: do I have more than others?  If someone in poverty happens to manage to cling to a cable line for their only news and entertainment source, well, that's something conservatives deem as theirs, too.

    Essentially, they seem to feel that people in poverty don't deserve to have something which far-rightists superficially deem as a criteria for measuring material success.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 05:41:38 PM PDT

  •  not getting by (0+ / 0-)

    Nickel and Dimed On (Not) Getting By in America

    by author Barbara Ehrenreich

    Republicans it seems are trying to finish off an economy that is already gravely wounded. ~ Ted Rall

    by anyname on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 05:42:30 PM PDT

  •  I have AC (4+ / 0-)

    in my trailer. It came with the trailer, for which I paid a grand total of $2,000, all appliances included. We're poor, so we found the cheapest way possible to provide a decent home for our kids--should we be begrudged using the AC that was already installed, when the temp in Michigan hit 102 degrees today? Or, since we're trailer trash to so many (not here, I hasten to add), should we just sit in our metal box and melt?

    "The term 'serious actor' is kind of an oxymoron, isn't it? Like 'Republican party' or 'airplane food'." - Johnny Depp

    by Stucko on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 05:43:19 PM PDT

    •  What! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brooke In Seattle

      I'm sure you aren't really poor because you have a computer and internet access. At least, that's what the Heritage Foundation would say.

      How dumb can they be? It's like they don't understand that people could become poor after already buying an air conditioner, for example, or people can't be given a gift.

      What good is a refrigerator if you don't have enough food to put it in it to feed your family?

      Growing up, I had a refrigerator, and we had an air conditioner. The air conditioner was 12 years old, and my grandfather gave it to my dad before I was born, when he was living on his own. And the refrigerator came with the apartment. And we did buy a $15 black and white TV at a garage sale once and I got a pair of designer jeans at a used clothing store, so I guess I wasn't really poor.

      Never mind that when I broke my collarbone, my parents waited 2 weeks to take me to the doctor, hoping it was just a "sprain" because we didn't have access to healthcare.

      I really hope your situation gets better for you and your family. I know that many of us are just a paycheck away from a similar situation, and it is very tough.

      We Won't Let Republicans Replace Medicare with GOP Vouchercare!

      by CatM on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 06:00:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What exactly is the Heritage Foundation? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Into The Woods

    My husband and I went to the mall in Mesa - Superstition Springs - since it's been too hot and humid to walk, so we walked the mall, both levels 4 times.

    On the lower level was a museum type deal, and inside was an old war plane and other old war artifacts, and it was closed, so we couldn't get in.

    But on the door was painted that it was 'Heritage Foundation' and that was that for an explanation.

    I told my husband that the Heritage Foundation is a right-wing thing and evil, but why would they have that type thing in the mall?

    I love Pootie Diaries

    by arizonablue on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 05:43:57 PM PDT

  •  Poverty is all relative (2+ / 0-)

    Heritage foundation forgets that poverty is all relative. Its true that our poor would be middle class in a country like China or Upper-Middle in a poorer country but your always measured against others around you. Thats what really makes them poor.

  •  $11,000 year??!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for a single person. LOL. I am betting that person does not have cable.

    America is so not like her hype.

    by OLinda on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 05:46:58 PM PDT

  •  No Shit... (0+ / 0-)

    No shit poor people have cable and air conditioning, but they have it because of credit. You know, where rich guys put poor people in a cycle of debt so that they can make money off people's desire to be like everyone else.

  •  Tv (5+ / 0-)

    There was an article on not long ago that noted that people in developing countries making around a dollar a day still often had televisions, even when their diets were bordering on malnutrition.  Not because they're idiots, but because entertainment is important to life, too.  When you're poor, sometimes cable's the only entertainment you can afford.

  •  What these people need (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brooke In Seattle

    is to get out of their bubble and be forced to live on what the average person lives on.  I think every politician and their families should be required to live for 3 or 4 months on only what the average teacher, firefighter, or day laborer makes (without access to any of their own funds) and see how they do.  I bet they cry uncle after a week.  These rich know-it-alls make me sick.

  •  OT (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Just a note on the new system for front pagers. As I was reading the comments on this newly frontpaged diary, I suddenly saw I couldn't tip! I thought I had been logged out or something. Turns out the diary is 2 days old and some of the comments are old enough that the tipping ability has timed out.

    I'm glad to see the diary though. I missed it when originally published.

    America is so not like her hype.

    by OLinda on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 05:53:36 PM PDT

  •  Well, you know how it is (3+ / 0-)

    Unless you are being hospitalized for heat stroke during this heat wave or unless your children have bloated stomachs like the poor children in Somalia right now, you're not really poor.

    For some reason, it makes me think of Scrooge, when he's asked to give donations for the poor and he essentially says, aren't there enough prisons and work houses? And if they don't want to go there, then let them "hurry up and [die], and decrease the surplus population."

    Basically, the Heritage Foundation is saying if you aren't near death and 100% miserable, you are not really poor. Of course, if any of the people who wrote this report--I'm sure it did not include any poor people--found themselves in the same situation, I have a feeling they would change their tune on what "poor" means rather quickly.

    A-holes. I'm sorry, I just don't know a better word to describe them.

    We Won't Let Republicans Replace Medicare with GOP Vouchercare!

    by CatM on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 05:53:43 PM PDT

  •  Heritage Foundation paper abridged: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OLinda, bleedingheartliberal218
    The poor aren't poor enough.

    ...but we're working on it!

  •  Do Poor Use a lot of Air Conditioning? (0+ / 0-)

    I am thankfully Middle Class and always have been, and the cost of running the air conditioning has always been a concern.  When I was a child, the cost was a concern to my parents, and now that I have my own family it is a concern. Air conditioning is very costly and we don't run it all of the time. Unless it is close to 100 we generally only have it on a few hours at the end of the day to cool the house off and then use fans if it is still hot at night. Similiary we have always been conscience of the cost of heating and keep it set pretty low. I think more Americans are concerned about keeping the cost of heating and cooling down then have the ability to run it all the time with no thought to the cost.

  •  Historical equivalence is a bad argument (0+ / 0-)

    Your argument is harmed by treating this specific form of resentment and hyper-disciplining of the "have-nots" as
    a-historical, universal, or "natural." it is none of those things. Entertaining this idea (even to disavow it) weakens your argument and ignores the specificity of why this war on the poor is happening now.

  •  Trying to imagine a discussion or (0+ / 0-)

    interview with the Heritage Foundation:

    Me: In these economic times, Heritage Foundation, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute.

    Heritage Foundation: Are there no prisons?

    Me: Plenty of prisons.

    Heritage Foundation: And the union workhouses - are they still in operation?

    Me: They are. I wish I could say they were not.

    Heritage Foundation: Oh, from what you said at first I was afraid that something had happened to stop them in their useful course. I'm very glad to hear it.

    Me: I don't think you quite understand us, Heritage Foundation. A few of us are endeavoring to buy the poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth.

    Heritage Foundation: Why?

    ePluribus Media
    Collaboration is contagious!

    by m16eib on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 06:08:00 PM PDT

  •  The only way I manage to survive is because my (0+ / 0-)

    sister lets me park my trailer on her property.  I live without air conditioning, plumbing and cable.  Does that mean I'm poor?  I use my sister's house to bathe and wash clothes.

    I am the fellow citizen of every being that thinks; my country is Truth. ~Alphonse de Lamartine, "Marseillaise of Peace," 1841

    by notdarkyet on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 06:08:04 PM PDT

  •  our board game economy (0+ / 0-)

    It's like playing Monopoly IRL. You either wind up with all the money or sell all your stuff just to pay rent.

  •  What about the unexpected expenses (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marjmar, Brooke In Seattle

    that can absolutely bankrupt a family living near or below the poverty line. I'm not even talking about something catastrophic like a medical emergency, but far more mundane events like a sick child, household maintenance, car problems (esp. for those without access to public transportation) etc. Sometimes a poverty level budget can be sustainable under optimal conditions, but in reality unexpected expenses are unavoidable.

  •  That whole article is such (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    bull. I love the part where they keep referring to the housing as "good". What does that even mean? There are neighborhoods in nearly every town where I would defy anyone to describe the housing stock as good. And that is just the outside. Anyone who has ever actually looked for an apartment knows just what fresh hells can be lurking behind that vaguely rundown facade. Heritage Foundation had little credibility 20 years ago. None now.

    But here in the real world:

    It is also hard to argue that food-stamp recipients are undeserving. About half of them are children, and another 8% are elderly. Only 14% of food-stamp households have incomes above the poverty line; 41% have incomes of half that level or less, and 18% have no income at all. The average participating family has only $101 in savings or valuables. Less than a tenth of recipients also receive cash payments from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programme (TANF), the reformed version of welfare; roughly a third get at least some income from wages.

    Btw,because I volunteer helping low income folks with life skills,I thought it would behoove me to actually live on a SNAP budget. We did it for several months.Because I can cook,have all the time in the world,ample storage/freezer space,transportation,good health and all necessary equipment,it was doable. So what I got out of the experience was a clear understanding that if everyone on SNAP had all that,maybe they could too.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 06:13:47 PM PDT

  •  In a day or two Obama will be parroting (0+ / 0-)

    These talking points

  •  It just amazes and disgusts me that people (4+ / 0-)

    living high on the hog can complain about people having cable so they can connect to the world outside just a little bit, and having air conditioning so at least they don't get heat stroke in the summer.

    I suppose unless people are living in garbage dumps like in Nigeria, they just aren't poor enough for the people in the Heritage Foundation.

  •  I'm on food stamps right now, and it's not enough. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The Heritage Foundation can kiss my was. I get a lousy 47 bucks a month, and it gets me ten days of food.  I can say maybe half of what I can buy on that is actually nutritious, and the other half is processed garbage, but if I bought all healthy, I get a week's worth only. The other 20 days comes out of pocket, and being on unemployment, that really fucking hurts.

    My roommates aren't doing much better and they got rejected for food stamps. One finally got promoted at his restaurant, so he's doing better, but the other only eats one meal a day sometimes for lack of money.  This is America, and it's the land of the haves and have-nots, and how fucking dare the heritage foundation stand there and tell us having air-conditioning during a deadly heatwave is a luxury.  If one of them said that to my face, I'd punch them square in their mealy mouth.

    I will respect the Republican Party the day they decide to start respecting all Americans....therefore, I will never respect the Republican Party.

    by wolverinethad on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 06:32:08 PM PDT

  •  Okay, while I agree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OLinda, ScottDog

    that if a poor person can afford cable they certainly have a right to have it, I don't think this argument will take you very far with most people:

    ...or your kids come home from school every damn day sad because they're left out of the conversations their classmates are having about television shows and video games?

    Well boo hoo.  The kids will get over it, or perhaps they will find other things to talk about with their friends.

    Every human being on earth grew up with no television before 1950 so you can hardly argue it is a requirement of life.

    Still enjoying my stimulus package.

    by Kevvboy on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 06:34:08 PM PDT

  •  People do live on very little, I know (0+ / 0-)

    and with practice one can eat for little, but that doesn't make it a thing to shrug ones shoulders at. Or to assume people choose to be poor. The greatest single thing I'd point to to raise people out of poverty would be to make the minimum wage what a person could support a family of 4 for one year, 22K, or ten dollars an hour.

    And health care.

    And public education.

    With those three things all else would be possible.

    "Don't fall or we both go." Derek Hersey 1957-1993

    by ban nock on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 06:46:25 PM PDT

  •  You're not miserable enough. What a bunch of (0+ / 0-)


  •  How do they no how poor people live? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I can't believe The Heritage Foundation knows anything about how poor people survive or live for that matter. This foundation only consorts with rich republicans.   This reminds me of Ronald Reagan's stories about the welfare queen who drove a cadillac.  It was ultimately proved to be untrue.

    The Heritage Foundation sounds like a purely evil operation.  They can on the one hand support massive government handouts and subsidies for the rich, who not only have cable in several homes but also very expensive homes, cars, planes and what have you...but a poor person shouldn't get a thing...even though its those same people who support their wars with their sweat and blood.  

    Many Republicans are truly despicable and definitely aren't christian...what a bunch of phonies.

    Oracle2021: The purpose of life is a life of purpose."

    by Oracle2021 on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 07:07:09 PM PDT

    •  with respect, I doubt most of us here know either (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      DKos, as a group, tends to be in the upper half of the income pyramid. For most of us, our knowledge of poor people and how they live is entirely theoretical and comes from books and magazine articles.

      That is why back during the HCR "debate", few of us really understood that the bill had virtually no actual impact on poor people, that the subsidized high-deductible shit insurance we're mandated to buy helps no poor person see a doctor, and that talk about how HCR would save people from losing their houses or retirement savings due to medical catastrophe was mere empty chattering to all of us who have no houses or retirement savings.

  •  It is a cruel irony in the age of NAFTA (0+ / 0-)

    that as we see our own wages drop, we are increasingly able to buy cheap goods that we never would have been able to afford otherwise.

    I'm sure there is probobly no mention of that in the Heritage report. Nor of the fact that we have just gone through a decade where credit was so cheap that you could literally walk into a bank with no identification, proof of income, or down payment, and walk out with a mortgage. Predatory lending is a lucrative industry, and has further perpetuated the cycle of poverty by making people slaves to debt they could never dream of paying back.

    But that is missing the point a bit...

    If you have a stove or a TV or a ceiling fan, that is a small consolation if your community is falling apart, your schools are failing and your neighborhoods are unsafe. Your kid might have a PSP, but that doesn't mean you can afford to send him to college. You might have an air conditioning, but that doesn't mean you can afford to pay the electric bills to keep it running.

    What the Heritage Foundation, and the tea baggers, or even some well meaning liberals who care about the poor in theory but don't offer any solutions beyond throwing money at the problem, will never understand is that poverty is not defined merely by material depravation. It is defined by lack of access- to opportunity, education, safety, stability, and hope. But pretending otherwise makes it that much easier to wash your hands of the responsibilty, and it is a convenient justification for the cruel indifference that has become a hallmark of our culture.

    Will work for food
    Will die for oil
    Will kill for power and to us the spoils
    The billionaires get to pay less tax
    The working poor get to fall through the cracks
    -James McMurty


    by SwedishJewfish on Thu Jul 21, 2011 at 07:28:25 PM PDT

  •  I am finishing a second tour of duty as an... (0+ / 0-)

    AmeriCorps VISTA, basically a domestic Peace Corps to fight poverty in the United States.

    If an individual makes less then 1600$ a month they are entitled to the benefit rate of 200 in TANF. Needless to say you are better off as an individual then you are as a "family" in the calculation of these figures.

    I have had to utilize FOOD STAMPS or TANF to support myself, on an individual basis 200 $ a month will make a difference in eating healthy, its called bags of vegetables.

    I don't mean to sound like a jerk but those college students that couldn't stretch 200$ on food stamps need to re-examine how they shop and are more then likely the type of ass who blew it all on lobsters and then left the receipt on the hood of some contractors truck.

    I have explored public housing as an option, and depending on where the unit is located they can be quite nice and actually better then what you could afford in the "private sector" housing market. Again, going back to income levels you pay what you can afford, (math I don't have the figures for) however unlike the "private sector" where the landlord has all sorts of inclinations to jerk around his tenants, A portion the tenant's rent in a public  housing unit goes into an escrow account to eventually have that individual own their own house.  

    I opt to work as a "right to work laborer" in order to get a flat trade for housing costs with a private and generous provider. (EXTREMELY RARE.)

    The reason poor people get Air Conditioning is because they are ELDERLY or have some sort of DISEASE OR CHRONIC condition.

    I AM TECHNICALLY AN ASTHMATIC and am "entitled to this." I chose not, because I choose to take control of my health and exercise daily, however eventually the body will break down, "common sense" hence why someone should save for retirement, a virtual impossibility in the stagflation wage system of private sector jobs (Example being BOX STORES).

    Do you think it was possible that our past generations figured out how to have a smooth functioning society that didn't completely devastate someones life when a LIFE EVENT HAPPENED? I believe it to be such.

    How many people paid in to the federal systems, and never collected on it?

    When I think of 'the heritage foundation,' (it should never be capitalized as that helps legitimize its lies) the only image that comes to mind is people grossly out of balance with who they are and what their surroundings are.

  •  I lost a "friend" over this article (0+ / 0-)

     As snark,  I sent them a link to the "report"  and they responded thanks, it reinforces what I believe.  And then I went a little nuts".  They went on to say that they didn't mind helping those who helped themselves.
      So while the discussion here is about money, how much, etc.  My point is that this country does or does not have a federally funded social contract.  If some say we don't need (or can afford) one, then let's end all these contracts and everyone will be a loser.  

       Let's see how that plays out in the national media....don't like to pay into programs for low wage earners, then get the big ax, no military retirement checks, no free healthcare, no free dental work.


  •  Great diary but... (0+ / 0-)

    keep the argument on poverty.  Cable isn't a necessity so don't go off into what the kids are or are not able to do because of parents economic position.  Right will simply argue the parents will simply need to work harder if not joining tv conversations bothers Jr.  Then you're off into the patriotic Free Market scam and that's the end of your argument.
    Times have progressed to the distressing need of us having to watch how we phrase things or we don't win arguments.

    "Put on your high-heeled sneakers/it's Party time" - Steely Dan.

    by rainmanjr on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 01:00:05 AM PDT

  •  Kochroaches Brothers Own the Heritage Foundation (0+ / 0-)

    It's a prominent arm of the extremist John Birch Society which was founded by their father who built oil refineries for Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

  •  Fuck the Heritage Foundation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've been underemployed and living under the poverty line for the last year. I make $1000/month if I'm lucky. I live in rural Maine, in a one bedroom apt for $525/month. There is no public transportation, but my Marine fiance has let me drive his car for the past six months while he's away, so I don't have car payments. There is no a/c in the apt. It's getting up to 103 here today. I have doused all my cats in water and put ice in their bowls. My only escape is to walk the mile to the library and hope their a/c works. Gas is too expensive to drive anywhere unless it's necessary.

    I have internet and a cell phone because my job depends on it. I do not have cable TV. I can't remember the last time I bought new clothes. I buy consignment or Goodwill. All my appliances, linens, dishes, and furniture are Goodwill. I can't afford fresh produce; it's all canned or frozen. I'm a vegetarian so at least I don't have to pay for meat, and lentils are cheap. Meals are normally pasta with sauce and canned veggies and cheese. My idea of splurging on nutrition is a jar of multivitamins and soy milk to go with my store-brand cheerios.

    I'm single with no children and technically self-employed, so I don't qualify for SNAP. After rent, I have $450 to pay the electric, gas, phone, garbage pickup (it's privatized here) and internet, buy gasoline, do laundry at the laundromat, and get groceries. Toiletries, paper products, cat litter, and as many dry/canned goods as possible are bought at the dollar store. I only go to Hannaford's to buy frozen veggies and quality cat food for my girls. And then I have to manage to put some aside in case I have a bad month next month or one of the cats has a vet emergency. Lucky me water is included in the rent, or I'd have to pay that, too.

    Thankfully, because I make less than $29,000/year I qualify for Veterans health care. Without it, I'd have gone without my medications, immunizations, and possibly died of an infection earlier this year.

    This will not end next month when I start law school. I'm moving to Boston, and taking in a friend from the military who lost his job a year ago, whose UI has run out, and has nothing left and nowhere to go. He'll be living with me in Boston. Neither one of us will have cars since insurance is too high; thankfully there is mass transit. We'll be living in a crappy apartment in an unsafe neighborhood, but at least we'll have my GI Bill housing allowance and an extra Federal Direct Stafford loan to live on.

    This is, of course, unless the Republican terrorists run the country into the ground, the Compromiser-in-Chief caves, and VA benefits are cut. Then what? I have no answer.

    When are you going to understand that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage. - Practical Magic

    by Keori on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 08:17:40 AM PDT

  •  Smokey torches and shiny pitchforks (0+ / 0-)

    are the only thing that will get their attention.

    Just as prostitution is the world's oldest profession, religion is the world's oldest scam.

    by Agent420 on Fri Jul 22, 2011 at 10:43:26 AM PDT

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