Being poor in America is no laughing business. Being poor anywhere is no laughing business, but the American case stands distinct among all developed countries of the North because of uniquely made-in-America imbalances in the distribution of national income.
America’s laissez-faire system may be a paradise for business, but it is quite unforgiving toward those who may fall by the wayside because of a million different reasons, which are usually not of their own making.
Americans in general aren’t sympathetic toward “socialistic policies” which have long been mainstream in most European countries (and Canada) where social security safety nets succeed (mostly) in averting the complete disintegration of one’s life, from one day to the next, because of illness, unemployment, or, simply, changing social circumstances that cause widespread hardship across the land.
Today, even well-to-do Americans are vulnerable to adverse circumstances because of neutral, or negative, public policies toward those who face sudden hardship.
America, for example, has been traditionally reluctant to accept social policies designed to avert complete personal and/or family catastrophe because of serious illness by providing low, or no cost, health care. And, in recent years, even the once largely stable (and safe) American middle class has fallen victim to a whirlwind of economic and social disturbances and trends that have destabilized—or negated—whatever safety nets families and/or individual have built for a rainy day.
In America 2021, there are hundreds of thousands who live in their cars, even if they work full time, and millions of others who struggle every day to survive in near abject income deprivation. Poverty, as a measure of US national well-being, remains a complicated affair that continues to highlight the extremely uneven wealth distribution in the West’s most powerful country.