Stop… Hey…

..what is going down?

The Census Bureau recently told us that in 2009 were 43.6 million people in the U.S. living at or below the poverty level. 43,600,000. And that figure was up from 39.8 million the year before. We don’t know yet for 2010… any guesses which direction the number will go? $22,505 for a family of four, by the way, is what ‘defines’ poverty.  (22,050 divided by 4 = $5513/person/per year).

Before speculating on which direction the number will go, I decided to just check out the figures themselves and after searching down a half dozen reports and sites I landed on an analysis that suits my purpose here… David DeGraw’s blog at AmpedStatus  and while I haven’t validated all of his figures, he makes the point — actually the points:

  • A study done by the National Academy of Sciences found that in 2008 the number of people in the US living in poverty was 47.4 million, ~8 million more than the Census Bureau’s figure
  • An analysis of the difference between the two agency’s figures puts the 2009 figure at more like 52 million
  • In 2009, >20 million people were on unemployment benefits which, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (which conducts research and analysis to help shape public debates over proposed budget and tax policies)  temporarily kept 3.3 million people out of poverty
  • About 2.5 million people in prison were also not included in the census figure
  • So the figure of 43.6 million may really be 60 million.

Could it be even higher?  More people are moving in with family members.  More people are seeing their liabilities seriously exceed their assets.  More people describe themselves as living paycheck to paycheck with all the stresses that accompany that.

And, by the way, DeGraw points out… apparently a study done by Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and Capgemini found that ‘one percent of Americans are hoarding $13 trillion in ‘investible wealth.”

What does this all have to do with graduate education?  I’m asking myself what graduate education has to do with — and for – all this.

And I need a lot of help answering the question because it’s just not very clear…

M Fiddler

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