I didn't know what poor was until I went out of the US. I think anyone who has been abroad for anything other than a vacation knows what I am talking about.
Now that I am in Wyoming, I can say I NEVER see anyone who is truly destitute. Actually what I see is mothers with kids from three different men getting housing, food stamps, medical care and assistance with their utilities from the Wyoming government. What I see is people quitting their second job so their income is low enough to have government housing.
In contrast, in Egypt I saw the porter in the building I was in making somewhere around 100 pounds a month to support his entire family. Here was a guy hauling trash, washing cars, carrying bags for people, and really WORKING... And he couldn't afford the basic necessities. I thought to myself that family is on the edge between survival and being on the streets. If that man lost an arm, became paralyzed, had a heart problem... His income would be gone and so would the housing his work provides. I don't think I have ever seen anything like that here in the US.
I am not saying that the US is superior, or that other governments should do more to help their people; because I don't think that. Egypt for example has government hospitals and Drs who work out of clinics at Islamic centers for nominal fees. In ways Egypt is succeeding in a way that we are not in that area. What I am saying is that America is unusual in this respect. In a way we are spoiled. We don't even worry about the level of poverty that exists in other countries because we know the government will be there if we are ever that poor.
But, contrary to that being good thing I wonder if this mentality isn't hurting us in the long run. How many of the mothers here in Wyoming are ready to go away from getting everything from the state and work to pay the same bills? Why are young healthy people living off the state when they can work (and though the jobs aren't all glamorous they are there)? I guess I just see this increasing reliance on the government among people my age and younger... And this weird mentality that they will be paying it all back sooner or later when they get a "real job" and pay taxes. What happened to the self reliance that people in the US exhibited in the past? When did that get replaced with a grab what you can approach to government services? How much longer can the government keep up with the increasing demands?
These are the things that go through my mind when I am in Egypt and I get stuck in traffic and I see the vegetable cart being tended by an entire family complete with naked toddlers running dangerously close to the traffic. You are looking at their entire fortune there in front of you. Alhamdulilah, I guess I just never knew poor growing up here in the US.