Poverty — the story of us all

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 45.6 million Americans are classified as poor. But that figure hardly tells the story of poverty in the U.S. The Census Bureau’s official poverty threshold is $23,492 for a family of four, while the average household income is $52,762. On Long Island, however, a family of four needs $94,567 a year to meet its basic necessities, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank in Washington. Thus, a family’s poverty threshold here is closer to $50,000, meaning there are likely many more poor people out there.

The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey says that Nassau County’s median household income is $93,214. One long-term illness or job loss can easily send a middle-class family into poverty, particularly because our social safety net is, in many ways, being steadily dismantled. I only wish that our elected leaders could feel the daily anxiety that the poor and middle class experience, if only for a short time. Or perhaps they might look to their own roots. Then, maybe, they might choose a different path.

Scott Brinton is senior editor of the Bellmore and Merrick Heralds and an adjunct professor at the Hofstra University Graduate Journalism Program. Comments? SBrinton@liherald.com or (516) 569-4000 ext. 203. Brinton’s profile and posts can be found at facebook.com/scottabrinton.

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