Companies That Could Eliminate Poverty in America

It would seem like an impossible proposition.. but is it?

Written by Carly Hallman

How much would it cost to end poverty in America? Experts have estimated anywhere from $1.74 trillion to a few billion for specific programs. But it’s incredibly challenging to visualize how much that is — it always sounds like an exorbitant sum, no matter how you slice it.

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Companies That Could Eliminate Poverty in America Transcript

A Comparison of Company Revenues and Proposed Poverty Assistance Programs

$22.57 Billion $20 Billion
Net Income of JP Morgan Chase Estimated Cost for HUD to Effectively Eradicate U.S. Homelessness2
$10,000 $31,000 $36,000
Average Cost for Giving a Homeless Person a Bed and a Caseworker3 Average Cost to Taxpayers per Homeless Person Not Given a Bed3 How Much Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Makes per Minute on Average4
$6.61 Billion $5.9 Billion
Net Income of CVS Health Corp. What the Federal Government Spends on WIC (Woman, Infants, and Children Food Grants)5
$48.35 Billion $68 Billion $167.5 Billion
Net Income of Apple What the Federal Government Spends on SNAP6 The Calculated Economic Losses Caused by Hunger in the U.S. per Year7
$25 Billion $44.94 Billion $81 Billion
How Much Charity Groups Have Claimed We Need to End Hunger in America8,9 Net Income of Berkshire Hathaway Estimated Net Worth of Warren Buffet10
$1.3 Billion $11 Billion
Net Income of Johnson & Johnson The Estimated Cost of a Federal Paid Maternity Leave Program (Four Months of Leave)11
$9.75 Billion
Net Income of Proctor and Gamble
$7.6 Billion $3.49 Billion $348 Million $6.95 Billion
Net Income of Ford Motor Company Net Income of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Net Income of General Motors Cost of the Los Angeles Public Transportation Program (Regional Connector and Purple Line Phases 1-2) 12
$19.71 Billion $1.7 Billion
Net Income of Exxon Mobile Amount of Federal Funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)13
$267 Billion (per Year)
How Much the U.N. Says it Would Need to End World Hunger14
$22.18 Billion $18.23 Billion $22.71 Billion $9.86 Billion
Net Income of Wells Fargo & Co. Net Income of Bank of America Net Income of Comcast Net Income of Walmart
10.56 Billion $44.94 Billion $2.68 Billion $10.21 Billion
Net Income of UnitedHealth Group Inc. Net Income of Berkshire Hathaway Net Income of Costco Wholesale Corp. Net Income of Altria Group
$16.57 Billion $12.66 Billion $8.98 Billion $3.03 Billion
Net Income of Microsoft Net Income of Google Net Income of Walt Disney Company Net Income of Amazon

Sources:

To make it easier, we’ve compared different aspects of current U.S. spending on poverty and proposed programs with the annual net incomes of major companies like Walmart, Apple, and Berkshire Hathaway. The facts may be surprising and even upsetting.

JP Morgan Chase alone has made enough net income in one year to end homelessness in American cities.

Ending homelessness seems like an impossible goal, right? The secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been quoted as saying that $20 billion is the amount of financial aid needed for the government to effectively eliminate homelessness. JP Morgan Chase’s net income, or bottom line, for the year (what’s left after their costs and taxes), is enough to cover it. If one of the banks that was almost “too big to fail” in 2009 was feeling charitable this year, they could singlehandedly wipe out the most extreme form of poverty left in America.

But let’s not throw one company under the bus: so could Comcast ($22.71 billion), Wells Fargo & Co. ($22.18 billion), and, if they saved a little, Bank of America ($18.23 billion). If a cross-corporate alliance was formed to battle homelessness and only the top ten most profitable companies for the year had to toss $2 billion into the pot, it would be hardly a drop in the bucket for their profits.

Warren Buffet’s net worth alone is enough to end American hunger three times over.

How much would it cost to end hunger in America? While hunger cost estimates vary a great deal, some groups estimate that extreme hunger still not covered by federal programs could be solved with $25 billion, which sounds like a huge chunk of change until you compare it to one man’s net worth. It’s also only about half of the one-year net income of Apple.

Meanwhile, the costs to the American economy of poverty have been estimated to hover near $167.5 billion. Not only is it possible, but ending extreme poverty here may be in these companies’ best interest.

But why focus on just America? What’s the cost to end world hunger? The World Economic Forum has already quoted us a bill of about $267 billion. Pooling the net worth of the top companies in America alone would put a huge dent in that.

If the top 500 billionaires in the world pooled the increase in their net worth from one year, they could eliminate extreme poverty seven times over.

How much would it take to eradicate poverty in the U.S.? The answer is a large sum, but it’s also not outside of the limits of reality.


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