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Beverly Hills vs. Skid Row

Maher is not totally blind to the “horrible problems” hurting U.S. society. He agreed with Williamson that there’s a sizable “under-class” of people suffering in poverty and said “it’s a scandal that we can’t seem to address.”

But from a big picture perspective, he said: “I just don’t see a country where the people are just seething and unhappy when I’m out. And that has to count for something.”

Williamson responded: “You know where I was last night? I was speaking to teenagers on Skid Row."

“Do you know how many people are homeless in Los Angeles county on any given night? 78,000,” the presidential candidate added. “You say you drive around, but where do you drive around? You don’t drive too many miles.”

“Of course, why would I go to Skid Row?” a baffled Maher replied.

Several YouTube comments made similar assessments — not in Maher’s favor. One person wrote: “Bill is really floating further & further away in his bubble from the people he once spoke for.”

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The reality is that 37.9 million Americans are living in poverty, accounting for 11.6% of the total population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent data — which only goes up to January 2021. Today, that number could be considerably higher after the fallout of the pandemic, soaring inflation, 11 interest rate hikes and changes in the labor market.

Even “middle-income” Americans with a stable income are struggling to cope with the impacts of inflation and high interest ratesIf you’re in the majority feeling the pinch and living paycheck-to-paycheck, here are some steps you can take to feel more financially secure and get more out of your income.

More: Understanding the 'boots theory' of socioeconomic unfairness

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How can the average American build financial security?

How you manage your money is very important, especially when almost everything you buy is more expensive than it was even two years ago. Creating and sticking to a budget that breaks down your monthly income between necessities, wants and savings is a great way to get on top of your money.

High interest rates aren’t going anywhere anytime soon so it’s important to deal with your debt — as having things like multiple credit card balances is a burden that can easily prevent you from hitting your savings and retirement goals.

You should also analyze your monthly expenses and look for areas where you might be overspending. For instance, while you cannot influence the price of food or gas, you can [control how much you’re spending on monthly expenses like your home and auto insurance. Shopping around for a better rate can cut down your expenses, leaving you with more money in your account each month.

If you’re in a position where you have a little discretionary income left over each month, you may want to invest some of that spare cash and put it to work to help build a healthy nest egg.

Investing — whether you want to buy stocks, real estate or alternative assets is a key part of climbing the financial ladder and taking your income to the next level.

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About the Author

Bethan Moorcraft

Bethan Moorcraft


Bethan Moorcraft is a reporter for Moneywise with experience in news editing and business reporting across international markets.

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