Poverty in America Essay

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Poverty in America Essay
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  • University/College:
    University of Arkansas System

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  • Words: 1957

  • Pages: 8

Poverty in America

Poverty is an epidemic that has swept the American nation many times over. Whether it be quietly lingering under the surface, or blatantly staring us in the face as it is in this current recession, it affects people across America on individual, community and national levels alike. While there are many causes and effects of poverty, it is important to view the issue of poverty and its causes from all angles when one seeks to tackle the problem. These factors include socio-economic status, mental illness, family values and work ethics, to name a few. In this essay, I will be examining these factors as they are discussed in the book, The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (referred to as Glass Castle throughout essay), as well as in the article Poverty in America from the Congressional Digest, December 2010 (referred to as Census throughout the essay).

When children are born into poverty, it is the only life they know. They often grow up to either see life from the viewpoint of, “that’s just the way it is,” or become determined to better their status when they are old enough to do so. Children don’t often realize they live in poverty until they are told by their peers, such as when they are called poor and see people taking pity on them or make fun of them. They may also realize they are different when they are exposed to what other people have and realize that they have much less. As noted in Poverty in America, poverty level, in itself, is merely based on an income deficit, whereas one’s household receives less money than another; it also relates to the standard of living (Census, pg. 300). When one has less income, less things are afforded, however living within those means will often create or hide the barrier that is poverty.

While one family may learn to utilize their resources effectively and appropriate funds where they belong, another will attempt to make fast money such as through crime or gambling. As in the story of the Glass Castle, the father spends the money the family has on gambling, sometimes paying off and spending the money on lavish dinners out and treats; other times they are deeper in poverty since gambling funds are not the most stable income (Glass Castle, p. Living in Las Vegas).

Addictions and mental illness have impacted the nation and led many families into poverty. While not directly discussed in the article, it may be presumed that these issues play a role in keeping people from holding jobs, working full time and gain the skills necessary to find gainful employment. The article cites work experience and less-than-full-time workers as being affected by increased poverty rates, especially in this recent economic downturn. Additionally, whereas it was normal for a single mother to stay home and care for her children in the 1950’s when the poverty census was first started, it is expected now for single parents to work and better their economic status for the well-being of their family. With the costs of daycare and living skyrocketing since the 50’s, women sometimes seek easier means of making money and still staying at home, including prostitution and drug dealing. Many of these women were also sexually abused and preyed upon because of their economic status and other issues affecting their childhood, which may lead to substance abuse in adolescence and early adulthood.

Sexual abuse was a prominent theme in the Glass Castle, as the parents were very hands-off and flighty, leaving the children exposed to predators and even victim to family members. While Jeanette’s parents felt that the children will only become stronger by facing hardship, these factors will often cause self-esteem, trauma, depression and anxiety in children who grow up into alcohol and drug abusing adults; this may also begin the poverty cycle for generations to come.

The cycle of poverty being exacerbated by drug and alcohol use is first noted in the Glass Castle with insight into Rex’s drinking problems. While he has attempts at periods of sobriety, he always returns to the bottle. It is apparent that he has dreams of grandeur, always telling the children that they will one day live in a glass castle, going so far as to build blueprints. He is a self-proclaimed inventor and thinks very highly of his skills and self, but is constantly losing jobs and sweeping the family away to avoid the law. While he has the emotional support of his family, he is battling his own demons of feeling like a failure, leading him to steal his wife’s money, gamble profusely and even takes steps toward selling his own daughter for a quick buck (Glass Castle, pg. rex takes to bar to play pool, win money back). He also seeks the comfort of a prostitute, probably to have the company of someone who makes him feel better about himself (Glass Castle, pg.

Brian tells Jeanette about reading comic while Rex/Ginger were in hotel). It’s also interesting to examine the impact of the sexual abuse Rex may have been exposed to as a child by his mother, which could have been the start to his cycle of living in a dream-world, using alcohol and low self-esteem (pg. when they tell Rex Erma tried to molest Brian and wonder if he was abused).

Beyond addiction issues, mental health problems were also a focus of the Glass Castle, as it appears that Mary was, deep inside, a solid person with a good family upbringing, an education and was probably capable of being a good mother. Unfortunately, she was an “excitement addict” (Glass Castle, pg. inherited house in phoenix) and even gave up her teaching job to be an artist (Glass Castle, p. Mary returns from Bluefield), even though her children were starving. She also followed her husband through all of these adventures, partaking in all the excitement and neglect/abuse of the children, seemingly oblivious to any wrongdoing. Following the periods of excitement addiction, she would have depressed moods, staying in bed and complaining of the burden of raising a family and missing out on her chance to be an artist (Glass Castle, p. when they find diamond ring).

It would appear to me that, while Mary has her times of trying to do what’s best for her family, she may be suffering from a mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, making choices that are mostly selfish to fulfill her fun and excitement; she also makes very poor financial choices for her family, such as not selling the million-dollar property to feed her family (Glass Castle, pg. Mary wants to borrow money from Eric to buy adjacent land) and not using money from work to stick with a budget so that food and indoor plumbing and coal can be bought (Glass Castle, pg. Mary is teaching and Lori and Jeanette make a budget and ask to hold money). In addition, mental illness is often thought to be genetic, with some syndromes passing through generations. While most of the children in the Walls family eventually become successful adults with seemingly normal lives, Maureen adapts some of the characteristics of her parents, ultimately ending up living a bizarre life of chasing cults and getting locked up in a state hospital (Glass Castle, p. Maureen stabs Mary).

Family values play a large role in bringing, and keeping, people in poverty;
especially families. Although there have been separate social classes throughout history, values and work ethics are two factors that can change over time and create a different outcome of values and ethics. Through the article, the reader learns that recessions have caused disparities at different levels since the census began recording this material in 1959 (Census, p. 298). While each recession has differed slightly, the length and severity of increased poverty has happened in different extents, leading one to believe that the values/ethics of the time may be affecting how people handle changes in their economic situations; how families handle ongoing poverty over generations will also determine the overall success of that family coming out of poverty or remaining in it.

The work ethics and values were definitely confused throughout the Glass Castle, with Rex having a history of serving in the Air Force and Mary being educated in teaching and falling back on that from time to time, barely keeping the metaphoric family head above water. There is also question about the values that are being taught to the children; where one parent proclaims to be a devout catholic that doesn’t attend church or follow the commandments and another parent despises and puts down the religion. Other family values that the children are exposed to include shoplifting (Glass Castle, p. where they steal dresses and get caught) and stealing from the bank (Glass Castle, p. where dad and mom are stealing money), as well as stealing lunches at school and dumpster diving; all of this yet Mary refuses to even consider government aid when the idea is mentioned, presenting herself as better than that. Also, family traditions that the children see other people participating are often ruined (Glass Castle, p. where dad lights tree on fire) and the family learns to deal with it by just understanding there is nothing they can do.

Hope still remains for those in poverty. We know that, economically, everything that goes up must come down, and when it comes to the economy, the opposite is likely to occur as well. As the Census shows us on p. 298, while poverty levels have dropped and risen over the past five decades, they do resume along with the economy and each person in poverty still has a chance at changing their situation if they work hard enough. The coping skills that people learn when they live a life of poverty to effectively live within their means prioritize can make or break the future options they have before them.

As the Walls children show us, one can change their future when they put their mind to it. The children lived through so many experiences of suffering and neglect, and were always trying to help their parents get it together so they could have a better life. While the children learned to cope with their parent’s ways, they also were intelligent and ambitious, and having been taught to dream, they were able to imagine a better future and a higher standard of living. While poverty has been an ongoing issue, there are many causes and facto s associated with this social construct, and many ways to overcome it. In this essay, which combined poverty information from the 2010 Census and the book, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, the effects of mental illness, addiction, family values and work ethics on poverty were discussed and examined. The overall conclusion of this writer would be that poverty can be overcome as long as individuals are willing to help themselves and their dependents and overcome the obstacles that they face in order to create a better outcome.

References
1.Congressional Digest (December, 2010). Poverty in America: Census Population Report. Retrieved April 1, 2011 from www.congressionaldigestdebates.com. 2.Walls, J. (2005) The Glass Castle: A Memoir. New York, Simon & Schuster.

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Poverty in America Essay

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Poverty in America Essay
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  • University/College:
    University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 2476

  • Pages: 10

Poverty in America

Poverty has always been with us from beggars outside the gates of Jerusalem to the mentally ill homeless woman in the park. America is known for our huge difference in culture and class. This is due partly to the dynamics behind the political decisions of this country. The president himself admits that America is more unequal than it’s been since the great depression and many of his own supporters say he has failed. America now has, by many standards, the lowest social mobility of all of the high-end countries, meaning that a child born into poverty is likely to grow up as a poor adult. This is surprising for a country that not only prides itself as being a middle class society, but as the society where anyone can make it and where social mobility is so high. In some places now, it is hard to believe that America is an economic giant. “One in four young children lives in poverty in the richest nation on earth.” (Kindle, 2012) This is a fact that goes unnoticed by most Americans. Poverty in America has become a circular phenomenon and it has been shown to affect certain communities while it breezes by others.

The Poverty Line

“Some 46 million Americans live in poverty. That is the third highest poverty rate among developed nations, ahead only of Turkey and Mexico.” (Kindle, 2012) We might then ask, what is poverty? Where is the poverty line? For 63% of Americans, ages 16 and over, working is a necessity. From working entry level jobs in retail and fast food, jobs in manufacturing and farming, to banking and health care. These similarities, however, end there. This becomes quite apparent especially when it comes to hours worked and their compensation. For example, the average entry level wage in New Mexico is $8.02 an hour or $16,673 a year, before taxes. As opposed to an experienced worker or a college educated one, $22.93 an hour or $47,692 a year. This is lower than the national level of $17,867 annual for an entry level job and $66,248 for the experienced and educated. Unfortunately there are some that work as many hours and are paid less. Since 1938, there has been a federal law requiring employers to pay their employees a minimum wage. It was 25 cents. (Williamson, 1980) In 1938, the gap between nominal wages and real wages was quite wide compared to now where they are fairly close to each other and it is predicted they will mirror each other in the near future. Currently in California, the state minimum is $8.00, which is not a lot considering the rising cost of food, housing, and energy.

According to 2008 Federal Poverty Guidelines, a family of 4 making $21,200 before taxes is considered to be poor. (Iceland, 2012) There are social programs that are set up to help people in this predicament; however, it does not help them get out of the circumstance. “The average food stamp benefit is $21 per week.” (Kindle, 2012) This is not nearly enough to support your average American. The aid programs are set up to get the poor by on a day to day basis and are not set up to improve their social mobility. There should be money spent on programs that allow those in poverty to improve their education and careers. What makes people poor? Is it lack of opportunities? Is it lack of education and skills training? Is racism and sexism? There are a wide variety of opinions on why people are poor. There is a sense of ignorance when bringing to attention the issue to those unaffected. Those that are unaffected could help but they do not know which way will help not only with the poor today but to decrease the poverty in the future. What is surprising is that a lack of education opportunities is often mentioned as reasons for poverty.

According to the US department of education, 9.3% of the 37 million students ages 16-24 are high school drop outs. This is ironic considering that public high school is available to all. It seems creating jobs is the consensus and it makes sense especially when you look at the unemployment rate. Nationally the unemployment rate is 6.1%. What is the reason for this number? The loss of non government jobs, mainly in the manufacturing sector. This had a domino effect to other businesses like retail and construction. In the past years, we’ve heard how the economy is on the verge of collapse and this is the worst since the great depression of the 1930s. (Ross, 1967) We have a long way before we are in a depression. In 1935 the unemployment rate was the highest at 24.9% in 1959 it was 5.5% the highest since that time was at 1982 at 10.8% We are not close to another depression but we do have extreme poverty amongst us.

Poverty in America has been rapidly growing in the past decade because of poor political decisions. There is an extreme divide between the social classes in America. Most people belong to the 99%. The 1% is some of the richest people in the word and has cornered the market. They own 1/3 of US net worth. The US has over 400 billionaires, which is the most in the world. (GAO, 2007) Lack of money is not the reason for the extreme poverty rates in America, greed is. There is definitely enough money to go around the US multiple times but no one wants to help those in need. There is this sense of survival of the fittest that is an ongoing theme when looking into poverty here.

Race and Class Segregation

America is deeply divided. We can agree that poverty is more pervasive among minorities, children, female-headed families and people with less education. It has been shown through true statistics that there is a definite inequality between race and class when dealing with poverty in America. But why is American poverty still colored in the twenty-fifth century? Neighborhoods that are organized around work where significant percentage of the adults is working are significantly different from neighborhoods that are jobless, which are neighborhoods that include a significant percentage of people that are not working. Jobless neighborhoods are a lot more dangerous because they create and breed other problems like crime, gang formation, and drug trafficking. (Iceland, 2012) This leads back to the continuing issue with America’s lack of social mobility. It seems that once one person is in poverty, it becomes a vicious cycle and no one is willing to do anything to help. That’s why poverty is passed down to the same races and the same classes because they get stuck in that predicament. There are 50 million Americans without health insurance. (Iceland, 2012) This does not help our problem with poverty. America is a country that deals with problems as they come and never with preventing them. Those that are born into a poor family almost always end up the head of a poor family. This fact has shaped America and has almost made it impossible for those that are born into less fortunate homes.

Dealing with Poverty

The facts are as stands; if a person was to walk down the streets in any which neighborhood in America, 1 out of every 6 people passed could be living in poverty. This issue is rarely talked about for these outstanding numbers. Each year the number of poverty in America goes up. The new poor are the former middle class, and the middle class is disintegrating. There are becoming only two classes; a lower class and a higher class. Bottom line; America needs to reverse the cycle. Through education and assistance programs, America will be able to close the gap between the two classes. Recent unemployment rates have dropped slightly and the economy is showing some signs of growth but only some Americans are gaining from it. Almost a million American children sometimes go hungry and tent cities are springing up across the country. The world’s economic power house has a sickness. While both sides blame each other, America cannot fully admit their poverty, and are certainly not dealing with it.

Annotated Bibliography

Iceland, JohnPoverty in America: A Handbook, with a 2012 Preface. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2012. This book allowed me to understand better poverty in America. It focuses on early views of poverty in America and where the poverty in America originated. This book also describes the causes and characteristics of poverty as well as why poverty remains high in America. I chose this book so that I would have a timeline of poverty from the beginning as well as poverty now. I would be able to compare and contrast the social and economical times between then and now. I will compare the different ethnicities in America and compare the different ways that they have been affected by poverty over the years.

Kindle, Peter A. “Book Review of So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America by Peter Edelman Edelman, Peter. 2012. So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America. New York: The New Press. $24.95, 208 Pp., Hardcover. ISBN: 978-1-59558-785-5.” Poverty & Public Policy 4.4 (2012): 241-43. Print. This is a journal that gave me facts about poverty in America. I was able to link the problems with true statistics and use them in my paper. I found this journal to be very helpful when deliberating what should be in my paper and not. It was easier to read than the books and really got me interested in the topic.

Ross, Arthur M., and Herbert Hill. Employment, Race, and Poverty. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1967. Print. This book talks about the employment, race, and poverty in America and gives me statistics that are quotable for my paper. It is important to figure out how all these three aspect tie together and it allows me to relate race to poverty in America. This books also paints a picture of what it is like to be unemployed, a minority, and in poverty in America throughout many decades. I will use this source to also explain the unemployment issue and how the unemployed got to where they are and how it affects their families. I will talk about the vicious cycle of the unemployed and how it will almost always be passed down to their children and what other types of issues (jail time, drug dealing, etc) are caused because of the unemployment of certain classes.

“The Other America, 2012: Confronting the Poverty Epidemic | The Nation.” The Other America, 2012: Confronting the Poverty Epidemic | The Nation. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2014. This site helped me to form my conclusion. It allowed me to formulate my thoughts and wrap up my ideas. I was able to see how other people looked at poverty and what their stance was on the issue. I also used this site to add some facts to my paper and get more of an emotional effect with my word play.

United States. Government Accountability Office. Poverty in America: Economic Research Shows Adverse Impacts on Health Status and Other Social Conditions as Well as the Economic Growth Rate: Report to Congressional Requesters. [Washington, D.C.]: U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2007. Economic research suggests that people living in poverty face an increased risk of adverse outcomes, such as poor health and criminal activity, both of which may lead to reduced participation in the labor market. It also shows that limited access to health care as well as a greater exposure to environmental hazards affects the heath of those living in poverty. I will use this book to examine the effects that poverty has on issues like health, social conditions, and growth rate. The previous book allowed me to examine exactly what poverty is and this book will allow me to see the affects the poverty has had over time. I would like to go over the economic growth rate and see what ethnicities have suffered the most and which have substantially improved, if any.

Williamson, Jeffrey G., and Peter H. Lindert. American Inequality: A Macroeconomic History. New York: Academic, 1980. Print. This book solely focuses on the history of the inequality of class and race in America. The information found in this book will start my paper off with facts about how the poverty came to be what it is today. American inequality is highlighted in this book and we are able to see where the inequality started and how it is currently affecting America. It is important to explain the macroeconomic history of America for the readers to get an idea of how the inequality in America originally started

Revision Plan

I. Thesis: I changed the focus of my thesis to relate more to the lack of social mobility in my paper. I felt that it was the basis of my paper and what I was most interested in. My thesis originally was not very powerful but after using Pearson’s writing guide I was able to change my words around and create more of a strong stance.

II. Organization: My paper was completely unorganized. It is hard for me to organize my thoughts and to better blend my ideas. I had to make index cards and organize them that way in order to figure out the best order of my ideas.

III. Support and Development of Ideas: Adding quotes helped better support my ideas. It added facts to what I already had and also helped with smoothing out my ideas.

IV. Style: I changed the style of my paper from MLA to APA. I had never done a paper in APA but it made sense to use this format because we were told to include an abstract and an author’s note which followed the guidelines of an APA style paper. It was different but it turned out to look a lot cleaner than the MLA. V. Mechanics: Using the Pearson writing components really helped develop my paper. I knew what to focus on and what was unimportant in the process. I tried to make the issue clear by painting a picture with my words to help better understand the points I was trying to make.

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Poverty in America Essay

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Poverty in America Essay
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  • University/College:
    University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 2529

  • Pages: 10

Poverty in America

Poverty is a disturbing but significant global concern. Just as it is for millions of other people all over the globe, poverty is occurring in America. Over the past decades, income disparity is ascending, in addition to the number of communities that failed to keep up with the national economic standard. Although poverty is present everywhere, it is more serious in developing countries, wherein one in every five person lives on not more than $1 for each day, which is the threshold being applied by the World Bank to classify poverty.

The unrelenting problem of poverty is a multifaceted one that embraces individuals and communities who, without their fault, find themselves powerless to manage in this information-intensive and constantly developing world. For the majority Americans, poverty implies destitution, or the lack of ability to provide the family with reasonable shelter, clothing, and nutritious food. Despite the fact that material destitution does exist in America, it is relatively confined in severity and scope. To be aware of poverty in America, it is necessary to observe several statistics, as well as to observe the actual living conditions of the persons that are considered poor by the government.

Overview of Poverty in America

A large numbers of the country’s population live at or below the threshold of poverty, which means payment of bills every month and financing for the essentials, consisting of shelter, clothing, and food, not counting access to health care and a number of simple comforts is a constant struggle. According to estimates in 2003, roughly 25 percent of counties in the United States had low rates of workforce participation, soaring rates of unemployment, high reliance on government transfer expenditures, and incomes that is lower than one-half of the national average or less for each person.

The Census Bureau classifies poverty as a family of three earning not more than $14,680, and not more than $9,393 for a worker without any dependent (Blanco, 2004). According to the 2003 statistics of the Census Bureau, almost 36 million Americans lived in poverty, which is 1.3 million more in 2002. Since 2000, the country has experienced an increase of 4.4 million people who lives in poverty (Blanco, 2004). According to a survey, the present American families are experiencing worse living conditions than they have in the previous years, as 10 percent of all families or approximately 7.6 million families in 2003 lived in poverty, which is an enormous ascend from the previous years (Blanco, 2004).

In 2005, the registration of the United States Census Bureau of poor individuals in the country totaled to approximately 37 million poor Americans (Rector & Johnson, 2004). Therefore, there is one in every eight Americans that is struggling with inconceivable poverty. These millions of Americans are asserted to be deficient of the necessary clothing, shelter, and enough money for the food, as well as being forced to live in unpleasant conditions (Rector & Johnson, 2004).

Common Factors of Poverty

In the concluding half of the 20th century, the three factors that are generally offered to explain movements of poverty in the United States are changes in family structure, economic inequality, and income growth. If the average per-capita incomes are increased, such as increasing wages and employment, then it is expected that poverty will generally decline. Nevertheless, economic inequality can take the edge off the overall constructive impact of income growth if lower-income workforce and unemployed citizens do not benefit from the fruits of such development. On the other hand, changes in the family structure, primarily the ever-increasing number of families headed by female may be linked with higher rates of poverty for the reason that such families are more expected to be poor and are more economically vulnerable.

I. Economic Equality

Certainly, the country has made several enhancements over the intervening decades in terms of the overall minimum living standard as measured through material conditions. Yet the living conditions of the poor individuals are severely different from that of families and individuals who take advantage of various degree of economic security as measured through income levels that provide unstressed and comfortable situations. The escalation in the number of poor individuals and families in the country ought to provide the government various apprehension, but even more upsetting is the increasing difference between the underprivileged and wealthy in America.

In the previous decades, compensation for more affluent Americans has considerably ascended, stimulated by increase in stock options, bonuses, salaries and other rewards. However, the compensation provided for millions of lower-wage workforces dropped off; and in fact, a number of them have even lost their jobs (Blanco, 2004). Therefore, this factor has prevented the advantages of economic growth from being equally drawn out.

Moreover, in 2005, non-Hispanic white men, not less than 25 years of age, holding only high-school qualification have $35,679 median income; whereas women within the same age group, need a degree in college in order to obtain a comparable median income (Spriggs, 2007). The outcome is that the households headed by female are harmed by the major earnings gap, which has a poverty rate of 31.1 percent in contrast to their male-headed household counterparts, which only had a 13.4 percent poverty rate (Spriggs, 2007). In 2005, poverty for women is excessively elevated than men, which is14.1 percent in contrast to 11.1 (Spriggs, 2007). The disparity reflects unrelenting gaps in earnings between male and female workers.

At the same time, since 1959 the median income of white males with a family of five has been higher than the poverty line, but for women with a family of three, it was only in 1990 that their median income broke beyond the poverty line (Spriggs, 2007). Further, notwithstanding the progressive structure of benefit procedure in Social Security benefits, the constant gap is best reflected in disparities in poverty among the elderly, where the lifetime earnings of women suggest they have lower assets than men.

II. Family Structure

Higher rates of poverty among women have generally been contributed to the changes in family structure. The percentage of families headed by single female with children rapidly rose over the previous decades of the 20th century, which reached 26.5 percent in 1995 from only 11.5 percent of all families with children in 1970; with higher rates for Hispanics and blacks. At the start of year 2003, roughly 26.1 percent of the entire families with children in the country were headed by single woman. A number of such families do not obtain any or adequate child support from the absent fathers of the children. It is suggested in one study that if fathers married the destitute mothers of their children, approximately three-quarters of the single-parents would instantly be elevated outside poverty status (Rector & Johnson, 2004).

Obviously, two parents in a household generally earn more than single-parent. The burden of receiving enough income to raise dependent children outside poverty additionally confronts women who are the single head of the family, as well as getting and paying for child care concurrently with their work and management of the household without help. Since this hazard confronted by women of serving non-working dependents as well as their efforts in looking after their elderly parents is not distributed by society, women who head such families are expected to obtain lower levels of education, therefore, resulting to their lower earnings. Aside from the fact that women are more expected to earn significantly less than men with similar qualifications, mothers have a tendency to accumulate less experience than other workers.

III. Income Growth

Poverty is associated with the lack of sufficient income, so the core problem therefore is the compensation for the workers. Among the poor, only 11.4 percent or 2.9 million jobs around the clock is available for the whole year (Spriggs, 2007). This sector of the population is further directly impaired by minimum-wage laws that have hindered costs of living. This setback is particularly severe for poverty stricken American-Hispanics and American-Asians, where 18 percent of them worked year-round for full time (Spriggs, 2007).

There are several reasons why numerous people lack the income to overcome poverty. For instance, people do not work or if they work, they do not earn sufficient amount of money. Whether in good or bad economic times, the ordinary poor family with children exerts only 800 hours of work throughout a year or 16 hours of work for each week (Rector & Johnson, 2004). Evidently, almost 75 percent of poor children would be lifted outside certified poverty status if work is provided in every family, that would increase the work hours to 2,000 for every year or comparable to 40 hours for each week all through the year (Rector & Johnson, 2004).

In 2005, approximately 61 percent underprivileged families have no less than one worker; and of twice-poor families, 71 percent have no less than one worker. In view of the 1990s record job creation, the number of poor but working people declined to 8.5 million in 2000 from 10.1 million in 1993. In short, America is capable of dealing with poverty. But there have been vast stubborn concerns that have lodged the face of poverty. Mounting disparity in the labor market has increased the share of the working age poor citizens, and the unsympathetic federal minimum-wage laws that have amplified the numbers of poor people working year-round for full-time.

In a country with a per capita Gross Domestic Product is exceeding the poverty line for a family of four, it is atrocious that there are still more than 12 million poverty stricken American children, and nearly 3 million people work around the clock, for one whole year who are still finding it hard to make ends meet.

Facts Concerning the American Poor Sector

Based on the American’s accepted definition of poverty, only a small number of the 37 million individuals fit the poor description, contrary to what the Census Bureau classified. Despite the fact that real material destitution undoubtedly does take place, it is limited in severity and scope. A number of America’s underprivileged lives in material conditions that would be considered as well-off or comfortable some generations ago.

The following are information obtained from different government reports regarding people classified as poor by the Census Bureau:

1. Roughly 46 percent of the entire poor households actually own their individual houses (Rector & Johnson, 2004). The typical house owned by persons identified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with a garage, one-and-a-half baths, with at least a patio or porch.

2. About 76 percent of underprivileged families have air conditioning in their houses (Rector & Johnson, 2004). By comparison, merely 36 percent of the entire population of the United States benefited from air conditioning 3 decades ago.

3. Only 6 percent of the underprivileged families are considered overcrowded, and not less than two-thirds of them have extra two rooms for every person (Rector & Johnson, 2004).

4. The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Athens, Vienna, London, Paris, and other cities all over Europe (Rector & Johnson, 2004).

5. Practically three-quarters of poor families own an automobile, while 30 percent own at least two automobiles (Rector & Johnson, 2004).

6. Approximately 97 percent of poor households own at least one colored television, while half of the said percentage has at least two colored televisions (Rector & Johnson, 2004).

7. Roughly 78 percent own DVD or VCR players, while 62 percent have satellite or cable television reception (Rector & Johnson, 2004).

8. Around 73 percent of the poor households have microwave ovens, one-third owns an automatic dishwasher, and over half own a stereo system (Rector & Johnson, 2004).

Further, as a group, America’s poor are far from being constantly malnourished. In fact poor children have usual protein intakes of 100 percent beyond the medically suggested levels and consume more meat than children of higher-income do (Rector & Johnson, 2004). Nevertheless, despite the fact that in general the poor are well-nourished, there are still several poor families who experience short-term distress due to food deficiencies.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, although most of the time the hunger is temporary, still 2.6 percent of poor children and 13 percent of poor families experience food shortage sometime during the year (Rector & Johnson, 2004). Approximately 89 percent of the poor account sufficient food to eat to their families, at the same time only 2 percent says they often do not have adequate food to eat (Rector & Johnson, 2004).

Conclusion / Recommendations

Following the United States government classification of poverty, the typical poor American people have a living standard far superior as compared to what the public envisions. Nevertheless, the typical poor person’s living conditions should not be taken to suggest that every poor American lives devoid of hardship. Millions of Americans are still continually struggling to hang on, making tough choices between housing, hunger and health care for their families.

Economic inequality, income growth, and changes in family structure without doubt affected poverty trends over the latter half of the 20th century. Poverty in America can be readily reduced, if parents are provided with sufficient hours of work and if fathers are at all times present with their families. Although marriage and work are unyielding ladders away from poverty, the country’s welfare system uncooperatively continues to be unsympathetic to both. Foremost programs such as Medicaid, public housing, and food stamps keep on reprimanding marriage and rewarding idleness. Therefore, if welfare could be turned around to uphold marriage and work, the remaining number of poor family would quickly decrease.

Further, as a matter of course, the United States has employed over the years job creation and economic growth to trim down poverty, but at present situation the courses are consequential only to the extent that inequality on wages is reduced. Poor people are generally not victims of themselves, but of appalling economic policies along with obstructions to opportunity. Since work generates income, it is important therefore that the government must provide a great increase in available working hours in different labor sectors for the poor. Along with the work opportunities, it is also important to eliminate economic inequalities based on gender, age, economic status, and many others in order to provide higher wages and higher incomes to the underprivileged sectors of the country. America is a nation with one of the most productive and strongest economies in the world. As such, the country must exert a continuing effort to fully utilize the abundance and therefore eliminate the country’s alarming poverty rate.

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Poverty in America Essay

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Poverty in America Essay
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  • University/College:
    University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 814

  • Pages: 3

Poverty in America

Many people want to blame the government and their short comings for the reasons that affect their upward mobility, but indigent people must fully evaluate their negative decisions, and their consequences, that have made poverty a perpetuating cycle in not only their lives, but their children’s. Chiefly, bad decisions like, teen pregnancy, lack of education and complacency keeps poverty revolving, currently, and for future generations. The government does have an obligation to help the poor and needy in America, but as individuals, people have an obligation to help themselves in their own pursuit of happiness and success.

To help end poverty, people should assess the issues of the generation before, so that the next generation has a better future. .To begin with, one of the major causes of poverty is a person’s decision to drop out of school. Timothy Eagan, a correspondent with the New York Times, reported in his journal article, “No Degree, and No Way Back to the Middle”, that a man in his fifties with a college degree is expected to make 81 percent more than a man without one. Years prior to it was 52 percent. Without education people are more susceptible to undesirable lifestyles then those who graduate.

Besides the dilemma of having no education, dropouts face a number of challenges that could have possibly been avoided if they had decided to finish schooling. First, the non- graduate has challenges obtaining employment, consequently, they engage in criminal activity. As a result of criminal activity, non-graduates tend to end up in the penal system, and are then stigmatized against future employment. With the job market being so scarce and work wages so low, those with no diploma or degree will have no chance of coming out of poverty.

In addition, low income people are often eligible for assistance, such as reduced cost housing, food stamps, child care and insurance. These programs are managed by the state, and the amount of assistance and how it is supplied varies according to income and family size . Though these programs are meant to help temporarily, poor people decide to become comfortable with not having to do too much. Government assistance helps, but it also allows people to make a choice to become lazy and unwilling to work. They then, find ways to scheme the system and boast about it.

The government may not offer a lot per individual, but something to be thought about is this, if more “needy” people used government assistance programs for what they were set in place for, instead of robbing it, there would be more money allocated for those needed it, instead of those who are just used to having it. An indigent person becoming complacent with what they are given keeps them right where they are. Finally, the revolving door that most perpetuates poverty is a teens decision to have a baby.

Babies having babies before they have education and experience put their children at risk of having the same hardships they’ve had to endure . Once a child has a child they are then faced with financial, emotional and physical limitations that they have not been able to yet master themselves. The fathers of these babies are often absent and in most cases too young to provide for a child, which leaves the mother looking to welfare as a means for support. When babies arrive mothers are forced to put everything, including school, on hold.

And because child care is an ongoing job, young mommies don’t make to college until later on in life, if at all. Once teen pregnancy rates are lowered, a drastic change will be noticed in the poverty rates. In the journal article, Class Matters, David Leonhardt, a correspondent for the New York Times, interviewed Any Blevins, a southwest Virginia native. Blevins stated, a decade after the fac,t that the biggest decision he regrets, was not going to college. All because he was complacent with what he had at the time.

He now has a child and a wife that he can barely support. Even with having a high school diploma and waiting to have his son, Lucas, at more appropriate age, Blevins now sees how his decisions in the past have greatly impacted his present and his family’s future. More parents need to make their children aware of how bad choices at an early age, will affect them later on in life, if their hope is for their children to do better than they did. Everyone makes mistakes, but some have such a profound impact that they effect the generations to come.

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Poverty in America Essay

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Poverty in America Essay
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  • University/College:
    University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 400

  • Pages: 2

Poverty in America

Poverty in America seems to stare at us in every town and major city. Being a culture of materialism and economic success, you would imagine that we would have enough prosperity to see that everyone has a fair share of housing, healthcare and money to fulfill their basic needs. However, as collection plates and fundraisers of our churches continue to ask more and more of us, it sometimes feels as if the need for charity will never cease. In fact, in Deuteronomy 15:11 we read that, “The needy will never be lacking in the land; that is why I command you to open your hand to your poor and needy kinsman in your country.

” With this is in mind, we as Christians can remember that charity is a work of God, not an obligation put upon us by our own personal community. Later in the New Testament we read of Jesus saying, “The poor you will always have with you; but you will not always have me. ” This statement again affirms the need for charity will always continue. And logically, as our population grows while our resources become more limited, this statement clearly makes sense.

Yet, with all of the poverty we see, we also view just as much corporate greed and needless spending. If you’ve ever watched MTV Cribs, you wonder how one movie or sports star can justify sleeping at night in a bed that cost more than a half a years rent for some families. Granted, we might not always have the celebrities here on earth, but should we give them as much reverence as Jesus, and justify their increasing expenditures? The gap existing between the financial extremes seems to be forever growing rather than diminishing.

Though the Bible admonishes that we should be giving of charity; in today’s culture this may mean taking a further step and turning away from our reverence for entertainment. Instead of buying a ticket to the football game for several hundred dollars, we may consider buying two months worth the food for the local food pantry to accomplish this goal. We may not eliminate poverty, but perhaps stop the growth of the gap between the two extremes.

Works Cited

The New American Bible For Catholics. (1986). South Bend: Greenlawn Press.

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