« “Growing trees for the long haul”: Benji Jones on the problems with mass tree-planting campaigns around the world | Main | Billionaires in space: Lucianne Walkowicz on making space exploration more accessible »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Nicole Council-Brown

When it comes to the poverty discussion even the lower class doesn't believe themselves to be poor, they see it as struggling. A lot of people from the lower class considered to poverty levels believe that if they have what they need to survive than they're not poor but struggling. “I’m fine,” Chase told me. “I don’t consider myself poor … I guess I would say I am struggling a little bit. For me, people who don’t have food are poor. Or someone who can’t feed their kids, or you might not have running water or even electricity. You don’t have the right things you need to even survive.”

Tara Earl

I can agree with Pascal's points about the federal poverty line of $12,760 being unreasonable and outdated as a realistic number to set the measure of poverty by. The lower class doesn't believe they are struggling, but I believe in part this is due to things like the need for multiple jobs being common enough now that nobody believes this is a problem, it is just how things are and how things have been, and common for so many people that it's 'normal' to need to work multiple jobs.


I agree with Pascal about how the those that are "struggling" do not identify as poor. I think that this distinction is important because it shows a much larger issue at hand that these people cannot identify what change needs to be made. Leaving low-wage work can be caused by the lack of jobs being available that pay more and the fact that working multiple low wage jobs is all they know. They simply do not acknowledge that it is a problem. After viewing the data, I am very shocked that 26% of low wage workers are 40-54 years old. That age range should feel as though they are financially comfortable but many are not.

Taigen Ruff

It’s hard to find a distinction between “poor” and the “struggling class.” It’s hard to label yourself as one or the other because you’ll always think someone has it worse than you. You might think you have it hard, but someone has to have it harder right? If you’re able to purchase food and you have running water/electricity, you must not be poor, you must just be struggling. The poverty line is such a fine line and everyone’s perspective on “being poor” is different. A big reason that most people struggle to get out of low-wage work is because of debt. These people don’t make enough to pay rent or buy food so they take out a loan. It’s hard to pay of these loans when working in a low-wage job. It ends up just being an endless cycle of debt. Another reason is that most of these people work a ton of hours and might not have time for another job or to find another job while working, and they can’t afford to quit and look for another job. It’s hard to save up while not making a lot of money since most, if not all of it goes towards necessities. One thing I found while exploring the data on the UC Berkeley Labor Center’s website was that most low-wage workers are adults, not teens. Where I live, a lot of the low-wage workers are teens, since they don’t have bills or rent to pay, and it’s mostly just “fun” money.

Faith Miller

I like how Pascale used the quotes from Chase because it helped to round the viewpoint of poverty. It shows that there is more than one way to look at and define poverty, as well as showing what it may look like to another person. I think the idea of "struggling" is also supported in a way through his quotes because it shows how other people can define the words "struggle" or "poor" compared to others.

Kerissa Stroud

I think Pascale did a great job using the quotes from Chase to help everyone see how in todays day and age poverty is much more common and many struggle wit just getting by. The way he says that he does not believe he's poor, he's simply struggling goes to show the way many Americans feel. Pascale uses this quote to show the true line of poverty and the way we choose to face it.


I think Pascale got the point across by using quotes from Chase to proceed with showing how one can look at poor or struggling and can show compassion for another thinking they have it worse then ourselves.

Briana Blackshear

I agree with Pascal's point about the struggling poverty not referring to themselves as poor in today's society. many people are working industry jobs but no one thinks of themselves as poor. Chase explains that people who are considered poor are people who can't provide food for their kids, have no running water, and electricity. Pascal introduces the economic self sufficiency which helps meet the needs for housing, transportation, child care and other assistance. in Pascal's blog he explains that self sufficiency would help families in need with their financial needs.

Luis Morales

Pascale did a great job getting someone’s opinion first-hand who is “struggling” but still considers himself not poor. Chase explained how he doesn’t consider himself poor but rather struggling because being poor means not having food, water, or electricity to survive. I believe millions of Americans across the country feel the same way but that this mentality stems from pride and feel like it is the norm to work multiple jobs just to get by. The federal measure of poverty is outdated therefore, I agree with Pascale that there should be a focus on measures of self-sufficiency. Life comes with trials and tribulations therefore, just having the bare minimum doesn’t guarantee stability for tomorrow. If these job salaries were not stagnant and increased as the cost of living increases, not as many Americans would be struggling as they are today. This is very problematic as this is what contributes to generational poverty which leads to spikes in the crime rate and families falling apart. This needs to change for there to be a promising future!

Ivy Pan

Many people in our society find it hard to label themselves as poor or struggling. You will always think that someone else has it worse than you. Pascale validated this statement by including quotes from Chase, a man who works multiple jobs and is considered “struggling”. Chase believes that if you can afford to pay the bills and feed yourself, you are not considered poor. Some people work paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet, which makes it hard to just quit and find another job. When money is tight they might take out a loan, and it is difficult to pay off when you work a low-paying job. It is so common for Americans to work more than one job that they believe it is the norm. To help people in poverty, the government needs to understand how much people spend on everyday necessities and establish safety nets.

Jorge Leon

Economic self-sufficiency can be defined as the ability to reliably meet basic needs. When calculating self-sufficiency, basic living expenses such as, such as food, housing, transportation, childcare, and other necessities are the necessities that should be included. The difference between the federal poverty line and the measure of economic self-sufficiency is that the federal poverty line of $12,760 for a single person is outdated and unreasonable to set a number to measure poverty by in comparison to the current living standards with the current rise of inflation. In contrast to the measure of self-sufficiency it is case by case scenario depending on where the person lives, annual income and living expenses. This makes it easier for policy makers to create effective safety nets and identify the levels of economic needs to create a more accurate poverty line.

Lilian Yanes

I agree with the author Marie-Pascale that self-sufficiency is not perfect but more accurate nowadays. This is because referring to the poverty line is not any better only because it is outdated. They need to rethink where the poverty line begins. Many people under the poverty line are able to provide money for their basic needs and do not see themselves as poor. As mentioned in the article, government officials should rethink the poverty line versus the basic needs of a family because the amount of money that they make versus the amount of money they need for self-sufficiency might be more than what the government is providing to these families. Self-sufficiency is how well individuals are able to get through life on their own being able to provide for their basic needs. The poverty line has been seen to be considered $25,701 for a family of four in 2020 however their expenditures for self sufficiency is considered to be $148,440. As a result, I've concluded that self sufficiency funds would establish effective safety nets rather than the government poverty line. Because of the gap between the poverty line and self sufficiency expenditure, the government should more accurately estimate how much money a family actually needs.

Brittaney Cooper

I really like Taigen’s point that the difficulty of distinguishing between “poor” and “the struggling class” can be contributed to the view that “someone has it worse than you”. I’ll add that this is a view often echoed into the younger generation’s ears by those older generations who survived America’s depressed economic times. Additionally, American media often displays the living conditions in third world countries, solidifying the ideation that others have it worse. As Taigen suggests, loans can result in a vicious cycle of debt. Many “struggling class” individuals will contend that they’re not poor, they just need to repay loans. However, loans often tend to be a continuing cycle of borrowing money from yourself to make ends meet. Not only are these individuals lacking current income to make ends meet, but they are solidifying this insufficient income for the future. This results from future income being claimed by accumulated debt; thusly, the vicious cycle of debt is explained. So far we have discussed the distinction between “poor” and “the struggling class” as well as debt but isn’t one of the bigger issues the cost of living versus minimum wage? The cost of living continues to climb as the working class struggles to balance their income against increasing inflation. Minimum wage doesn’t climb as steadily or increase enough to meet the demands for higher costs of living. Many job seekers will agree, that most higher paying jobs that can meet these demands require costly degrees. Most individuals will either rack up large student loan debt or find it impossible to financially support the costs of a degree. Once again “the struggling class” is faced with the difficulties derived from a vicious loan cycle brought on by student loans or face a continued struggle in making ends meet with mediocre paying jobs. At some point, something has to give. In a country that boasts of it’s opportunity for all, the poor often than not, resentfully find opportunity to be lacking.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

About They Say / I Blog

  • New readings posted monthly, on the same issues that are covered in “They Say / I Say” with Readings—and with a space where readers can comment, and join the conversation.

Follow us on Twitter to get updates about new posts and more! @NortonWrite

Become a Fan