Americans are too poor to survive whether or not they're working

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I assume that the United Way study excluded United Way executives and managers, as they are doing quite well, thank you very much. That’s why a high percentage (I don’t have the exact number) of the money people contribute goes to “overhead” rather than the needy people the donors imagine that they are helping.


16%, versus American Red Cross, which takes 11%; Doctors Without Borders, 11%; and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, which takes 28%.


There is a good argument that a charity acting effectively with a high overhead can do more good than a charity with a low overhead acting ineffectually.


“asset limited, income constrained, employed” (ALICE)

I don’t get the warm & fuzzies off that, at all.


I bothered to look it up. They spend about 93% of program expenses, 4 cents of every dollar goes to admin costs, and 2 cents of every dollar is spent on fundraising. A nonprofit can be considered efficient if they spend less than 35% on admin and fundraising, so United Way does do rather well.

I get paid well (by nonprofit standards), and I brought in $1 million dollars so far this year that my organization didn’t have in the past. That money is going to scholarships in the community - and surprise! - the money doesn’t just magically go to students. It requires a little more overhead for distribution to those with needs.


And unlike poor people in countries like Pakistan or Nigeria, American poor people live in a country where things like childcare, medicine, rent and food are very, very expensive. American poor people are poorer than the poor people in poor countries.

A good counterpoint to that favourite demand of “free”-market fundies that Americans stop complaining because “if you make $32k/year you’re in the global top 1%”. Local cost of living is yet another concept that seems to evade the comprehension of Libertarian business geniuses in their eagerness to score a “gotcha” on liberals and progressives (see also “you’re not poor if you have a mobile phone”).

if you work hard all your life and die with no assets, no savings, and debt, that’s not employment, it’s serfdom.

If someone wants to die broke because you can’t take it with you, that’s one thing. The direction that the country is headed in now, children will be expected to pay off their deceased parents’ debts from their own pockets (or go further into debt themselves if, as is likely, they have no spare cash).


Lends yet another sinister meaning to “Go ask Alice”


I appreciate this lens. My immediate reaction was that it’s like living under a protection racket. Somehow a lender is entitled to a cut of your life.


See also…


After that I don’t know whether to eat the rich, or a dollar grilled cheese sandwich.

It’s only Monday, isn’t it? Sigh.

I was just talking with my oldest, socialist, daughter about the pointlessness of my career and existence. Now I have this to really pull it into focus. Why try to be financially responsible at the cost of your happiness when no matter what you do – if you aren’t among the favored and monied – the system is designed to chew you up and spit you out?

I need to really figure out what I want to do for the final years of my life. All I know right now is that it’s not what I’m doing (or more specifically avoiding doing) right now.


I would really like it if comparable stats were compiled on other developed nations.


I’ve figured out the only way to amass any kind of savings is to stop paying rent, or find some insanely cheap place that is borderline illegal to live in like a storage locker or office space. I fantasize about the underground spot Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor had in the first Superman film-- forgotten and abandoned train station under Manhattan.


It would be difficult to compare the overall picture, since factoring in the various single-payer universal health insurance programmes present in those other countries immediately throws the U.S. into outlier territory no matter what.


Poverty of the plebs is less important.


Wow. Thank you for that. What a performance. What a woman.


Yeah I’m not sure I totally accept the assertion that dying broke = serfdom. If you take it to the other extreme, dying rich means hereditary aristocracy. Is that what we want?

So that they don’t find me, I think I’d prefer Gene Hackman’s Faraday Cage from The Conversation, or maybe Enemy of the State.


The machine of extraction takes its toll as long as people allow it to. Meanwhile, the continuing drop in birth rate threatens the future profits of the powerful few. Forcing women to have more babies is the traditional way to “fix” this problem that the 1% has. Anti-abortion laws and restricting birth control are the cheap way to force a higher birth rate, but it doesn’t work in the long run. The effective way to raise birth rate cuts into profits.


i listened to a piece on the radio a few years back, it might have been on “this american life” about a public relations expert who was hired by a charity to increase their visibility and improve the amount of donations. he was a professional who expected to get, and did get, paid his standard fees for the work his company did. over the next year the charity, with this guy’s help, increased the funds raised by millions of dollars, something like 10 times the amount of donations they had ever gotten.

despite the enormous increase in income, the vast majority of which went to the targets of the charity, because they had increased their administrative and pr overhead by more than 100% from year’s previous, the charity was slagged by charity rating groups. the charity fired the pr firm and within a couple of years the organization was down to fundraising levels equivalent to what they were getting before they hired the firm in the first place.

most of the conversation on the piece was focused on how do the rating groups expect charities to raise and administer funds if they aren’t allowed to pay a market rate for the services rendered. it’s actually not a bad question.