America and Poverty
Back in 1964 the official war on poverty was declared in America (Poltenson, 2009). Yet more than 40 years later, the battle still continues. Within this time, statistics show that hunger and poverty have increased while the wage gap between middle class workers and the rich have also increased (Littrell, 2010). I say that the link between the two is strong and the understanding to the connection is pivotal.
According to one study, it was the middle class income that has been reduced between 1967 and 2005 of 2.7% while the lowest income bracket dropped just .6% and the top tier of income actually increasing 6.6% (Littrell, 2010). These numbers can help explain why retirement planning and futures are insecure, and can also explain why 12.9 million of the people in America who live in our country live in poverty are children (Siddiq,1998). Parents now have duel incomes in the households, but find financial obligations to rent/mortgage, insurances and childcare. All important bills that must be paid in order to keep the wheel turning, but often times the quality of food and quality family time are pushed to the side.
The top income earners of our society can afford to save for their future, invest in higher educations, and send their children to better schools and private tutors. The lowest income earners of our society qualify for public assistance to guarantee enough food is available, but it’s the middle class that gets stuck in the middle.
With the ratio of income-to-living expense constantly decreasing within the last 40 years, the mindset of the culture-of-poverty thesis becomes imbedded into families that are constantly just living paycheck to paycheck. Unlike people who truly live below the poverty line, the middle class does not qualify for public assistance and while they may own cars and have running water, the ability to have healthy food on the table and future planning becomes difficult.
With the cost of living going up and income not equally increasing, it’s hard for most people to get ahead, let alone maintain an optimal lifestyle. The lower middle class is now considered to be living at or just above poverty level without the luxury to have developed any entitlement to aid by the government. How do we get the incomes of both lower and middle class to the point where they can send their children to good public schools, eat healthy and full meals and save for retirement? This question makes human rights activists and politicians run in circles as the problems are layered within out society. For example, income of college graduates decreased 5% within the years 2000 to 2004 (Littrell, 2010). People are graduating college and still feeling powerlessness for their economic futures.
I don’t have the answer as to why there is still hunger and such financial hardship in America, a place with such opportunity. I do think though, that along side of the government funded programs that are designed to help the poor maintain, there should also be more assistance for the middle class workers of our society that helps to propel them into a less stressful and healthy way of living.
Littrell, J., Brooks, F., Ivery, J. and Ohmer, M.L. (2010). Why you should care about
the threatened middle class. Journal of sociology & social welfare. Retrieved
June 14, 2010 from http://search.ebscohost.com
Poltenson, N. (2009). Hiding the cost of the war on poverty. Business journal.
Retrieved June 14, 2010 form http://web.ebscohost.com.kaplan.
Siddiqi, S. (n.d.). Statistics on poverty & wastages in America. SoundVision.
Retrieved June 14, 2010 from http://www.soundvision.com