Poverty in the United States
Poverty is a serious issue not only in third world countries but also here in the United States. Discussing the nature of poverty in the United States is important because through understanding we will find solutions. Gaining insights into the issue of poverty can be used to understand the complexity of the subject. Poverty has been defined as a state of deprivation of goods and services that essential to the maintenance of an adequate standard of living in a given society. Although the concept of poverty is considered relative, it cannot be denied that it magnifies the problem concerning inequality in a particular society (Levitan). The struggle of poverty impacts people’s day-to-day life. It is easy to hide some things in life but, poverty is not one of them. There are 633,782 homeless people in cities throughout the United States (St. Francis). Poor people have no place to live and are being exposed to nature’s elements, bacteria, and harmful illness can cause threat to the health of these individuals. The environment is being impacted as well, because there is nowhere to put waste or garbage other than on the ground.
This is why it is important to gain insight and understand poverty so that we can help these people and the earth. When a person is living in poverty it is humiliating and weighs on an individual’s self-esteem as well as their families and is very difficult to overcome. Poverty is not always a choice, but it is a situation that can be prevented. If people everywhere take something from every book, article or essays that has been written and are willing to recognize and do something about it then it is a problem that can be fixed. There is not a perfect plan or a perfect solution to the poverty problem but, the aim is to decrease the number of individuals and families living in poverty drastically. There are many families living in poverty and there are an equal amount of thoughts and opinions on why people live in poverty such as drug and alcohol use, domestic violence and foreclosure just to name a few. Individuals have a difficult time taking care of themselves can you imagine having to try to provide for a family on next to nothing every day. Without a street address these families do not qualify to get welfare assistance such as food stamps, Medicaid, or housing assistance.
Without housing assistance people are forced to stay in shelters and if they don’t make to a shelter by a certain time they go without a warm place to sleep and without food that night. Some people wait in long lines all day for a spot at the shelter only to be turned away because there is just not enough space for everyone. A good way to alleviate or even eliminate this problem is to build more shelters or use some of the abandoned buildings in poverty stricken neighborhoods for the poor people to sleep in. Have stipulations in these shelters that individuals and their families are guaranteed more than one night as long as they abide by guidelines provided, kind of like a contract. So they are not just getting help they are in a sense helping their selves. Different situations have different solutions, there is a difference between a person living in poverty because you’re a war veteran and just having a hard time and living in poverty because you are and addict and everything you have is spent on drugs and alcohol. In these newly built or refurbished shelters with these stipulations, programs can be offered to help transition into a better way of living. Yes, then there is the issue of money and where will it come from.
Nobody has money lying around just to give away so charity events, fundraisers, donations, volunteers and maybe even some help from government agencies would help. The children of these families living in poverty suffer most. Research shows that poverty in the first five years of a child’s life changes the life of a child compared to if they were to live in poverty later in life. This is because poverty is associated with poor nutrition; poor nutrition leads to lower intelligence, bad physical development, and poor immune systems. “Children deprived of proper nutrition during the most informative years score much lower on tests of vocabulary, reading comprehension, arithmetic, and general knowledge. The more severe the poverty a child faces, the lower his or her nutritional level is likely to be (Brown&Pollitt).” Many children that are labeled bad kids with behavioral problems are really just lacking nutritional value. A child that is hungry is more likely to act out and have greater difficulty focusing than a well fed child.
There are government programs that offer assistance with nutrition such as W.I.C and Healthy Schools but the guidelines are very strict and fall short in making sure that every child living in poverty has adequate nutrition. So, this problem can be solved by changing the guidelines and making it easier for a family living in poverty to feed our future. People might say this is not my problem, I’m not living in poverty so what does this have to do with me? Truth be told everyone is affected by poverty. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society, with a large segment of people in that society, who feel they have no stake in it; who feel they have nothing to lose. People, who have stake in their society, protect that society, but when they don’t have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it (Dr.MartinLutherKingJr.).”
According to the history of our nation, the safety and equality of the people of our society relies on everyone individually and as a whole nation as one. If that’s the way the world is meant to be then why are people living in poverty treated so differently? Upper class doesn’t make you better than a person living in poverty, money doesn’t make you bad or good and the same goes for poverty. The founders of our nation fought hard for a country where everyone is treated as a person equally but, that is not the case when thousands of people still live in poverty every day. “Anybody that has ever spent a morning at the Department of Motor Vehicles or stood in the line at the Post Office should understand that simply because the government is handling the problem, doesn’t mean it’s being handled properly (St. Francis)”.
The next time you see someone a little down and out stop to give them a minute and see if you can help them in any way, remember that poverty does not make them any less a human than you. I believe the proposed solutions will work because if its believable than its achievable and our system has proven in other situations to be reliable so let use it for the good of the people of our country that could use a hand up not a hand out. For people to be sick on the street, forced to sleep on cardboard or dirt, and have to beg other people to help them is not humane or the American way and should not be tolerated any longer.
Brown&Pollitt. “Malnutrition, Poverty and Intellectual Development.” Pollitt, L. Brown & E. n.d. Dr.MartinLutherKingJr. “”Letter From Birmingham Jail”.” April 1963. Levitan, Sar A. “”Poverty” In the Lexicon Universal Encyclopedia.” 1990: pages 478-480 Vol. 15. St. Francis, Nancy. “Homelessness in America 2013.” 2013.