USA - How Many Poor?

Arno Froese

Over 11% of the U.S. population—about one in nine people—lived below the federal poverty line in 2021. But Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond says neither that statistic, nor the federal poverty line itself, encapsulate the full picture of economic insecurity in America. 

“Most government aid goes to families that need it the least,” Desmond says. “If you add up the amount that the government is dedicating to tax breaks—mortgage interest deduction, wealth transfer tax breaks, tax breaks we get on our retirement accounts, our health insurance, our college savings accounts—you learn that we are doing so much more to subsidize affluence than to alleviate poverty.”

If we’re homeowners and ... we deduct the interest of our mortgage from our tax bill—that’s a government benefit. And many of us say, “Well, that’s very different than a housing subsidy or food stamps.” But I disagree. Both of those things cost the government money. Both of those things drive up the deficit. And both of those things put money in our pocket. So instead of taking the mortgage interest deduction, the government could just mail you a check. That would be the savings you would take. So it’s the same difference. 

A recent study was published and it showed that if the top 1% of Americans just paid the taxes they owed, not paid more taxes, ... we as a nation could raise an additional $175 billion every year. That is just about enough to pull everyone out of poverty, every parent, every child, every grandparent. So we clearly have the resources to do this. It is not hard.

What else could we do with $175 billion? We could more than double our investment in affordable housing. We could reestablish the extended child tax credit that we rolled out during COVID. ... [That]was basically a check for middle and low-income families with kids. That’s all it was. And that simple intervention cut child poverty almost in half in six months. We could bring that back again with $175 billion and still have money left over., 21 March 2023

Arno's Commentary

What does the Bible say? Jesus’ words are applicable: “For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always” (Matthew 26:11). For that reason, poverty will not be erased under any prevailing system.

Doing research, we find that the word “poor” appears 35 times in the New Testament; in most cases, giving comfort and even blessings. The word “rich” appears 40 times, but in the majority of cases, they are disdained or rejected.

Of interest is that government handouts—whether it’s called tax breaks, mortgage interest deductions, educational and retirement account tax credits, health insurance, etc.—benefit those who have the means and not those who need it most. There is little to no doubt that the so-called capitalist system works best… But we need to call attention to the fact that giant companies in the US are tax supported through various subsidies and incentives—more than most of us know. publishes the top 100 companies receiving subsidy value. Here are the top ten:

1  Boeing $15,687,536,262
2  General Motors $10,110,054,503
3  Intel $8,136,447,382
4  Ford Motor $7,763,504,341
5  Micron Technology $6,786,881,915
6  Alcoa $5,805,477,706
7  X-Energy LLC $5,477,179,679
8  Cheniere Energy $5,431,565,870
9  Foxconn Technology Group $4,826,941,168
10 General Atomics $4,501,188,377

This leaves little to no doubt that governments are handing out immense volumes of money to those who need it least. 

The message for Christians is simple: “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Timothy 6:9).

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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