Quora is really killing it with weekly updates of interesting questions. Such a good frickin’ site! Here’s a recent highlight:

Someone asked: How is income inequality bad if US poor are obese, have cable TV, a car, and access to free education?

The top answer (which I will not quote in full) kind of nails it:

The poverty line for an individual is around $10,890 now [3]. That means you’re making less than $1000/month. Make a monthly budget for an individual at the upper end of this bracket:

    • Rent: $400 (usually a dump — sorry no cable)
    • Food: $200 ($7/day — mostly fast food: (B,L,D) =($1.00,$3.00, $3.00) )
    • Clothes: $50
    • Transportation: $150 (mostly gas and minor maintenance and insurance)
    • Utilities: $50 (sorry no cable or cell phone or internet)
    • Household expenses: $50

This is $900/month. No entertainment budget. No savings. No medical. No dental.

The first unexpected expense will be very painful. May be you get an abscessed tooth — there’s $500. May be you get evicted (slumlords are crooks and assholes) and need 2 month’s rent to move into a new place — there’s $800. Break an arm: $2000 in medical plus 6 weeks off work (loss of $1500 income).

Based on this definition of poverty, 16.0% of Americans in 2011 live like this – 49.1M in total, many of them children (about 50% of all poor are children and 20% of all children are poor).

It’s all fairly expected, until you get to the fact that there are 49.1 million Americans living like this. That’s not so great.