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Life below the Self-Sufficiency Standard Level

So how do people get by when their income is below the Self-Sufficiency Standard? The official poverty rate is about 13%. How do those 13% get by?

And perhaps twice as many of us live below the SSS level. How? What compromises are involved?

  1. Childcare:
    1. Husband and wife work different shifts, so as not to have any childcare costs;
    2. They rely on a non-working grandparent to provide childcare for free;
    3. They rely on a neighbor to provide childcare for a reduced price;
    4. They rely on unlicensed childcare, or childcare with low staff to children ratios
    5. They rely on a young child to take care of himself after school and during the summers;
    6. They rely on siblings to provide childcare.
    7. They rely on unreliable childcare, without built-in back-up systems for sick children or sick childcare providers, endangering their own job security (See "One Sick Child Away From Being Fired: When 'Opting Out' is not an Option")
  2. Rent
    1. They live with grandparents in a paid-for home
    2. They live with other relatives, sharing kitchens and bathrooms
    3. They subdivide an apartment, renting rooms to strangers
    4. They crowd a 4-person family into a single bedroom apartment
    5. A single mother shares a bedroom with her child or children
    6. They live in towns or neighborhoods whose schools are acknowledged to be inferior
    7. They live in neighborhoods with noxious fumes or noise, at a lower price
    8. They live further from public transportation
    9. They commute further from home to work to find housing they can afford, spending money and time on commuting
    10. They get on the waiting lists for Section 8 subsidies or public housing, if those waiting lists are accepting new applications
  3. Food
    1. They get food stamps, if they are available
    2. They visit food pantries, particularly just before payday.
    3. They utilize soup kitchens and other charitable offerings.
    4. They rely on school-lunches and breakfasts to stretch their food dollars
    5. They eat less healthy food.
  4. Healthcare
    1. If the cash isn't available for the deductible or the co-pay, they do without, or hope for charity.
  5. Transportation
    1. If the public transportation only runs infrequently they're stuck with it.
    2. If the car breaks down, there may simply not be money to pay for repairs.
    3. If the car is in an accident, there may simply not be money to pay for a new one (the SSS doesn't assume collision insurance).
  6. Miscellaneous

See the Income-to-Poverty Ratio and the Self-Sufficiency Standard summaries to get a sense of what percentage of us are in the situation of having to make these choices.

Is this acceptable for your grandchildren? Should we as a society accept this for any of our children and grandchildren? What would it take to change it, to leave our children and grandchildren a society in which few — or none — of us must struggle to meet our basic needs?

 

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... because democracy alone hasn't yet led to a society in which all can prosper