Poverty is Worth Fighting

What is the first thought that comes to mind when thinking of a strong community? A community that influences other communities through ideological principles. I’m pretty confident it’s not inequalities, hardship, or abandonment. So why do we tolerate the inequalities degrading the very nature that will lead this country to prosperity?

Inequalities are not a requirement for communities. For some reason not all people choose to see this degrading characteristic that is a downfall for American. Even with this being the case, living in America provides a luxury most other countries don’t experience. Anyone, in this country has an opportunity to become whatever he or she chooses.

Poverty. Poverty. Poverty. Poverty

Poverty is an unnecessary dilemma creating enormous inequalities eroding local, national, & global progression leading to an improved quality of life. Other issues exist, but when it comes to affecting the masses, poverty creates more obstacles than any other issue.

Poverty is major obstacle that should be a minor hurdle, setback, or speed bump. How can we live in a country with this much opportunity & have people living in poverty?

Statistically the country has rebounded since the recession, but the wealth is not being equally distributed leading to an increase in social segregation. This will only lead to future problems that will be even harder to address. Modern capitalism doesn’t require wealth inequalities to be an intrinsic part for a thriving economy.

Byproducts associated with poverty that continues the cycle:

  • Children’s life chances are affect by their environment; rich are able to invest in their child’s future, while poor face unfair barriers.
  • People in poverty tend to have worse health affects, including life expectancy.

Major hurdles exist combating the poverty cycle, but one stands above them all: ignorance in the sense of underdeveloped awareness in the causality of poverty. Policies are created without a comprehensive understanding of the how to fight poverty. Moral judgments about worth & deservedness saturate policy resolutions. Simply put, one average individuals creating policy lack the ability to fully understand the gravity of the situation. The lack of bipartisanship is also causing unnecessary obstacles on top of the existing obstacles.

Some of the more alarming comments I have heard:

  • It’s a choice.
  • Everything is free.
  • Why should I care?
  • It will be a burden to help everyone.

A few statistics to consider about poverty2:

  • 15% of the population are below the poverty threshold.
  • 5 million people are living in poverty
  • 22% of American children (below 18) are considered poor
  • Extreme poverty (income 50% below poverty line)
  • 4 million people (6.6%)

The poverty line1:

  • One person – $11,720
  • Two people – $14,937
  • Three people – $18,892

How can someone actually provide for himself or herself, let alone if they are supporting others? Government aid does exist, but does it really help or does it continue the cycle?

Kentucky statistics2:

  • 19% (almost 800,000 people) are below the poverty line
  • 8% (350,000) are extreme poverty
Figure 1: Distribution of Poverty in Kentucky(2). Cartography by G. Alan Noonan.
Figure 1: Distribution of Poverty in Kentucky(2). Cartography by G. Alan Noonan.

Lowest poverty rates in Kentucky2

  • Oldham – 5.4%
  • Boone – 6.6%
  • Anderson – 9.2%
  • Bullitt – 9.5%
  • Livingston – 10.2%

Highest poverty rates in Kentucky2

  • Wolfe – 41.9%
  • Owsley – 41.2%
  • Martin – 39.2%
  • McCreary – 37.3%
  • Knox – 36.8
Figure 2: Income levels in Kentucky(2).
Figure 2: Income levels in Kentucky(2).

Combating poverty will require support from all disciplines, e.g., bipartisanship, community partnerships, compromise, support from everyone, & ideologies that are not self-serving. Poverty is intertwined with all others areas & reducing poverty will improve other areas, e.g., economy, healthcare, education, workforce, & opportunities.

Communities must rally around one another by removing the infighting, self-serving ideologies creating segregation between allies support. This support & bipartisanship will be a model for governments. The United States has an obligation to all citizens of this great country & citizens of the world to provide opportunities built around accessibility.

A develop country should not have a problem with citizens living below the poverty line. The United States still has an influential role & still is the greatest country. With that being said, if we do not adapt & change our antiquate views, policies, procedures; we will not stay in this position.

Poverty creates more inequalities than any other issue. It’s time we actually fight poverty.

Terms:

  1. ACS 5 year – Most reliable for small population (Counties) 60 months of data collected for a large sample size (Kentucky)2.

Sources:

  1. Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP)
  2. United States Census – ACS 2009 5 year; Most current data
  3. Spotlight on Poverty & Opportunity
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