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And yet, according to the University of California-Davis, 43.1 million Americans were living in poverty in 2016. This total excludes a few specific demographic groups such as a segment of members of the Military, incarcerated populations, and the homeless. Of the counted 43.1 million Americans, 45.6 percent, or 18.5 million Americans are living in “Deep Poverty”. Deep poverty refers to household income 50 percent or less of the official poverty line.

For perspective, those living below the poverty line per the 2016 threshold made up 12.7 percent of the total 2016 population. The supplemental poverty rate for 2016 places it at 14 percent. The percentage of Americans living in deep poverty make up 5.8 percent of the total population. Poverty thresholds vary according to the size of a household as well as age of head of household and household members.

For 2016 the poverty threshold ranged between $12,228 for a single adult under 65 to $46,400 for a household of 8 or more. $12,228 divided across 12 months comes out to $1019 per month or $254.75 per week. For a single person living in deep poverty, this would be a maximum of $509.50 a month, or $127.37 a week, and these  totals may or may not include Federal, state, city or municipality, and property taxes if applicable.

These statistics can be found here:

https://poverty.ucdavis.edu/faq/what-current-poverty-rate-united-states

https://poverty.ucdavis.edu/faq/what-are-poverty-thresholds-today

Poverty is expensive and not just to individuals living in poverty. Childhood poverty is linked to the development of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes in adulthood. Socioeconomic factors in childhood affect adult coping behaviors; children from impoverished backgrounds grow up to be adults with health problems regardless of lifestyle.

Adults who grew up impoverished are more likely to adopt poor coping behaviors such as smoking, alcohol, drug use, inadequate exercise and poor eating habits. They are more likely to have difficulty obtaining higher education opportunities and financially stable occupational opportunities.  They are more likely to live in impoverished communities that lack resources, have higher crime rates and lack employer organizations of merit.

In addition to childhood poverty causing a predisposition for obesity,  heart disease, and diabetes in adulthood; poor coping behaviors cause further health problems such a liver disease, cancer, and stroke, and heart disease and diabetes also contribute to kidney disease and renal failure. Impoverished children tend to grow up to be impoverished adults, and if unable to obtain a higher socioeconomic status, stay impoverished adults.

Poverty correlates with negative physical and mental health outcomes; with Adverse Childhood Experiences, with domestic violence in the home and crime-related violence in communities. Poverty is expensive for individuals. Poverty is expensive for communities. Poverty is expensive for employers. Poverty is expensive for taxpayers. Poverty is expensive for the healthcare system. Poverty is expensive for Governments.

Poverty is a cause, a contributor, and a result, of failure from a microcosmic level to the macrocosmic level. Poverty is a threat to personal well-being, to community resilience and stability, and to National Security. Poverty is a cause, a contributor, and a result of systemic failure. Blaming the individual for their poverty and thus, their failure is tantamount to smoke and mirrors misdirection. It is victim blaming at its finest.

Further reading:

http://www.epi.org/publication/the-state-of-american-wages-2017-wages-have-finally-recovered-from-the-blow-of-the-great-recession-but-are-still-growing-too-slowly-and-unequally/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23280880

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5016025/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4269852/

http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/thestar/doc/438518006.html?FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&type=current&date=Oct+11%2C+2002&author=Raphael%2C+Dennis&pub=Toronto+Star&edition=&startpage=F.01&desc=Poor+choice+or+no+choice%3F+%3B+Even+more+evidence+links+low+income+with+disease%2C+so+why+keep+blaming+lifestyle+choices+like+fries%3F