‘Who are you calling poor?’

There has been a lot of talk during this election season about unemployment, tax cuts and the middle class – but, as one of our callers pointed out in our 9 a.m. show Wednesday morning, there has been very little discussion about the 46 million Americans living below the poverty line.

A great new article from the Christian Science Monitor takes a close look at what it means to be poor in our country, and how we measure this contested figure.

What struck me most about the individuals profiled for this piece was the vast range of lifestyles they lived. Linda Criswell is a working woman with grown children whose full-time job at a daycare brings in $1,030 a month – not enough to pay her bills and still buy fresh food, but too much in many states to qualify for Medicaid. Another woman, Kathy Orr, makes $1,200 a month working as an organic farmer and although she is technically below the poverty line, she is incredibly resource rich – and considers herself in a stable, ideal financial position.

Professor Mark Rank at Washington University claims that 60 percent of Americans will live below the poverty line for at least one year, so why don’t we have a better way to measure poverty and get help to those who need it?

What exactly does poverty mean in our country, and what are realistic solutions for combating its effects?

–Madelyn Mahon, assistant producer