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Hunger in America!

  1. Nov 24, 2005 #1

    Astronuc

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    I could put this in a number of threads concerning the US economy/employment or capitalism, but it's worth its own thread.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5023829

    38 million is roughly 13% of the total population. Clearly, the US economy is not working well for everyone.
     
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  3. Nov 24, 2005 #2

    ranger

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    38 million, I had no idea. Thats a really big number.
     
  4. Nov 24, 2005 #3
    Is it mostly frictional unemployment, or cyclical unemployment?
     
  5. Nov 24, 2005 #4

    Astronuc

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    Well, at about 5% unemployment, that would be about 7.5 million people unemployed. Some of the 38 million would include dependents of those 7.5 million who are unemployed, but it also includes many who are working, but still cannot afford all the necessities - e.g. food, housing, clothing, utilities (heating, electricity, telephone, . . .), medicine.

    Chronically unemployed are not counted as unemployed. After a certain period, these people are considered discouraged workers, and are simply not counted as unemployed, but are considered 'out of the workforce'.

    Of the US population, there are about 140 million people who are not considered part of the workforce. In addition to chronically unemployed, this would also include full time students, children who are not eligible to work, people on disability or too ill to work, and those who are in the penal system.

    See - http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm
     
  6. Nov 25, 2005 #5
    I think the problem is poor families that have to many kids. I see poor families all the time with like six children. I know it's almost impossible for an adult to starve in America. I mean most hobos can make more than minimum wage just standing on the corner asking for money.
     
  7. Nov 25, 2005 #6

    Pengwuino

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    You know, that definition pulls in a tremendous number of people that really wouldn't be considered poor families otherwise. My friends family "at some point during the year" didn't have enough money for food but of course at christmas where did the parents and the 9 kids go? Disneyland. Are they poor? yah right....
     
  8. Nov 25, 2005 #7

    russ_watters

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    I think the fact that we have a demgraphic called "food insecure" is a testament to how great the US (and the west, in general) is. Most other countries call that demographic "starved to death last year".
     
  9. Nov 25, 2005 #8

    Moonbear

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    Sadly, the first thing that ran through my mind was, "I wonder how many of them had money for beer and cigarettes." It does seem likely to overestimate hunger/poverty since it is a self-report. I'd like to see some data that backed it up showing these people were actually malnourished, and how many really had too little income to provide even the basic necessities and nutritional requirements for their family, versus how many simply budgeted their funds poorly and wasted the money on non-essentials. I'd also like to see it accompanied by a list of the food items they were able to purchase...there are people who would respond to the poll that they had to cut back on food purchases when they really mean they cut back on the junk foods like candy bars and potato chips but still could afford basic food necessities like bread, milk, eggs, vegetables, and some inexpensive meats.

    On the other hand, your example isn't necessarily a good one. The premise set up in the OP is that this is a revolving population...the term "insecure" instead of "deprived" or "hungry" or something like that indicates a degree of uncertainty, but not prolonged hunger. For example, someone loses their job in March, lives off their savings until July, still hasn't found work, or maybe has settled for something minimum wage just to bring in something, it gets tough to put food on the table off the dwindling savings or minimal income, and there's a lot of uncertainty of when they will be able to find the next job. Then, come September, they finally land a new job that pays well, and after such a rough year, they treat the family to a visit to Disney.

    But, I'm not sure it's much of an indicator of the economy since it doesn't indicate how long these families were in this situation, or how frequently it happens. Afterall, I went through a period like that as a young child when my dad first started up his own business...as with anyone starting up a business, there are some very lean years with low profits and sometimes losses in the first few years until you establish a decent client base and your name gets out as reputable. It wasn't a sign of a bad economy, it was a sign of something good, that he was able to start up a new business. But, there were times when they wouldn't have been able to put food on the table if it weren't for my grandparents helping out at times.

    What I actually found most interesting out of those statistics is that a group of people were surveyed at a food bank, and of those going to a food bank for assistance, only 15% of them reported having children go hungry because of lack of food. This tells me that even in lean times, when a family can't afford to buy food, there is assistance available through the generosity of others who donate food so that they aren't truly going hungry. This doesn't mean there aren't poor people who are going hungry in the US, but it means we're doing fairly well at providing a lot of assistance to get people past those rough spots.

    If this sort of survey is going to used as some sort of economic indicator, then there would need to be a comparison to prior years. Are these numbers higher or lower than in the 70s, 80s or 90s?
     
  10. Nov 25, 2005 #9

    Pengwuino

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    haha sorry moonbear, it was nothing like that. Complete opposite to be exact... the dad was unemployed at the time of the lil disneyland thing. Even my friend couldn't really believe they were going to disneyland with their finances...
     
  11. Nov 25, 2005 #10

    Moonbear

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    Nonetheless, such anectdotal evidence doesn't discount the statistics entirely, and not at all if such families are not surveyed. As I mentioned above, one can think of a number of scenarios that would indicate these statistics are going to be overestimates, but it doesn't mean there aren't truly hungry people. I still would have liked to have seen some more objective measures of hunger than just reporting that they didn't have money for food at some point, because I do suspect there are at least a percentage (how much, I don't know) of those responding whose problem was poor budgeting of their money rather than that they really didn't have enough money for basic necessities for survival.
     
  12. Nov 25, 2005 #11

    russ_watters

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    Well that's just it - those stats don't say anything at all about nourishment, just economic difficulty. The numbers of malnourished (not mis-nourished) in the US are so small I doubt it's even possible to make useful statistics except, possibly, as related to child abuse.
     
  13. Nov 25, 2005 #12

    Gokul43201

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    I don't mean to put down the intent of this thread, but in my opinion, from a global (statistical) perpective, the idea of "hunger in America" is a non-issue. There's at least two countries where the number of people living in starvation (they probably get as many calories in a year as a typical food insecure American likely gets in a month) is of the order of several tens of millions.
     
  14. Nov 25, 2005 #13

    Astronuc

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    Perhaps there should be a separate thread on Hunger in the World. There certainly have been programs for as long as I can remember, but for one reason or another, the world still has chronic food shortages, and millions starving. We also have chronic warfare. :rolleyes:

    Anyway - interestingly - Niger Rejects U.N. Food Crisis Claims
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051125/ap_on_re_af/niger_hunger

    Obviously there are problems with leaders/leadership of countries of countries which face consistent food shortages.

    Meanwhile the US is contributing a fair amount of aid
    http://www.usaid.gov/press/releases/

    But I wonder where this aid really goes - to foreign governments? to middle men? Besides the chronically hungry, who else benefits?
     
  15. Nov 25, 2005 #14
    I have read that the world is taking the wrong approach to solving world hunger. Many suggest that we should devote more resources to the agricultural education of Africa than we have been; in other words, "helping them help themselves." Those who believe in this strategy say it would cost less money and solve the problem in the long run. They cite instances where, due to food shortages, African communities have eaten the seed for the next growing season, continuing the vicious cycle of hunger and famine.

    I do not have a strong opinion on the matter, because I have no expertise in this field, but I do think that the discussion on ending world hunger could benefit from "new" ideas such as the one above.
     
  16. Nov 25, 2005 #15

    Art

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    This is not a 'new' idea. The vast majority of aid for the past 20 years has been geared to helping impoverished nations to help themselves.

    From time to time circumstances require that an emergency injection of actual food aid be made available to prevent an imminent disaster.

    These emergencies typically stem from either natural disasters or as a result of conflict
     
  17. Nov 25, 2005 #16
    This report on poverty in America was very interesting.
    http://www.heritage.org/Research/Welfare/bg1796.cfm
    Here's what it has to say about malnutrition
    and about "poverty" in general:
    it seems that most of the people technically living in poverty in america aren't really doing too badly for themselves.
     
  18. Nov 25, 2005 #17

    Pengwuino

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    Well the main point I was trying to bring up was that with that definition, people like my friend's family would be counted yet it shows absolutely nothing about the economy or the real hunger in America. It's just a bad gauge, that's all. A somewhat better gauge would be say "For a majority of the last 12 months, did you have to cut out at least 1 meal a day (or maybe 4 or 5 a week) due to financial constraints" for example. It filters all the instances such as the one I gave.
     
  19. Nov 26, 2005 #18
    I wonder what this rate is for other countries.
     
  20. Nov 28, 2005 #19
    The global rate is high. 850 million people worldwide are undernourished and don't have access to food networks.
     
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