The Poor Get Poorer

It is clear that income disparity between the rich and poor is widening. Of course the President claimed that he would accomplish the opposite. Sadly, the lessons of Jesus to help the poor are going unheeded in aggregate. The recession has hit middle-income and poor families hardest. ITMH presses forward to help wherever our limited resources allow. Thank God for the loyal servants in the field helping in whatever way possible.

I wish that the burden of the poor was not a work that people felt the government should do. I find it hard to rely on them to do this properly. However, 75% of American adults say the “current economic climate” has affected their charitable giving and one in three is giving less to charities. Most polled say faith-based organizations (67%) and non- profit foundations (63%) should bear responsibility for helping the world’s poor.

This belief in the nonprofit sector’s role in charitable giving sharply contrasts to the fact that 85% of all nonprofits fail within five years of formation. Added to the deep cuts in nonprofit giving, the plight of the poor has worsened. ITMH tries to provide necessary resources to the nonprofit sector, but the situation has steadily deteriorated for nonprofits, particularly faith based organizations.

The wealthiest 10 percent of Americans make more than $138,000, according to newly released census figures. It is important for them to realize that it is more difficult to drive a camel through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the gates of heaven. Let’s pray that the churches they attend are doing their part to reach out in massive force to the needy now.

Household income declined across all groups, but at sharper percentage levels for middle-income and poor Americans. Median income fell last year from $52,163 to $50,303, wiping out a decade’s worth of gains to hit the lowest level since 1997. I know that so many of these people have lost homes to foreclosure, seen their retirements wiped out and fallen victim to the inflation that the government swears is not really there.

Poverty jumped sharply to 13.2 percent, an 11-year high. What was that I said, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”?

Analysts attributed the widening gap to the wave of layoffs in the economic downturn that have devastated household budgets. They said that while the richest Americans may be seeing reductions in executive pay, those at the bottom of the income ladder are often unemployed and struggling to get by. Certainly, unemployment (almost hitting 10% officially) is a tell tale sign. Experts believe that the real unemployment is close to 20%.

It is up to the rich to care for the poor. I can bemoan the culprits, but it is just so sad to see how the powerless are consistently abused by those with power. It is precisely when times are bad that the needy suffer the greatest. Where is the compassion of individuals and the churches?

Large cities such as Atlanta, Washington, New York, San Francisco, Miami and Chicago had the most inequality, due largely to years of middle-class flight to the suburbs. Declining industrial cities with pockets of well-off neighborhoods, such as Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo, also had sharp disparities. Well, yes, we have exported our manufacturing jobs overseas. Gee, was this really a surprise?

Up-and-coming cities with growing middle-class populations, such as Mesa, Ariz., Riverside, Calif., Arlington, Texas, and Henderson, Nev., were among the areas showing the least income differences between rich and poor.

Yet, we assist ministries in Arlington, TX, so if that is a good city, oh heaven help those cities worse off.

Among other findings:
• Income at the top 5 percent of households — those making $180,000 or more — was 3.58 times the median income, the highest since 2006.
• Between 2007 and 2008, income at the 50th percentile (median) and the 10th percentile fell by 3.6 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively, compared with a 2.1 percent decline at the 90th percentile. Between 1999 and 2008, income at the 50th and 10th percentiles decreased 4.3 percent and 9.0 percent, respectively, while income at the 90th percentile was statistically unchanged.
• Plano, Texas, a Dallas suburb, had the highest median income among larger cities, earning $85,003. Cleveland ranked at the bottom, at $26,731.

President Barack Obama also typically cites the need for higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for health care overhaul and other measures, arguing that the wealthy have disproportionately benefited from tax cuts during the Bush administration. Is it all talk and no action? So far, it is; and that is obvious from these statistics.

There was a time when people took care of their neighbors without intervention from outside. A place was found for everyone willing to pitch in. The current system is deeply flawed, and the results of it are tearing away at America.

The 2008 figures come from the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey, which gathers information from 3 million households. Prior figures come mainly from the census bureau. The government first began tracking household income in 1967.

Frankly, it feels worse to me than the numbers show. Let’s hope this is not another case of “figures lie, and liars figure.” Let’s all do our part to be like Jesus and help the poor even more in this great time of need. We realize the sacrifice necessary, and we pray for improvement for donors and recipients.

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