Poverty in the United States
More than 640,000 U.S citizens call the streets their home on any given night, a study done by Move for Hunger found. Poverty affects our people and our economy in more ways than one. Discrimination and educational differences play a huge role in the ongoing cycle of poverty. Throughout this reflection, we will cover the repercussions of discrimination, education’s impact on poverty and what has been done to help alleviate the hardships of poverty, as well as some insights on what could be done to decrease these rates in the future. Poverty in the U.S is a complex and circular situation which taints the picture of the American Dream; the ability to afford a home, receive adequate education, equal pay for equal work, and access to healthcare.
Lack of education is the root cause of poverty in US. A person who is not able to do simple math or apply for a job will definitely end up being poor. Lack of education contributes largely to high rates of unemployment something that is directly connected to poverty. This cycle starts at the early stages of education. Schools which receive limited funding from the government end up disadvantaging students there (Lewis, 2017). Our country only spends 5.4% of the gross domestic product (GDP) on Education, which puts us at 13th and 14th among the 18 Western industrialized countries (Brux, 2016). Lack of education results into poverty in the sense that there will be less qualified candidates for the available jobs. Public education is looked at as the force that levels the playing field and ensures that we have equal opportunity to succeed in this society. Public schools in the poor societies have limited resources and this makes the quality of education by the students here to be low. According to statistics comparing student performance in rich and poor societies, students in the localities do not perform well as a result of the barriers within the setting they are in. According to research conducted, the rate of poverty is the best predictor of performance among students at the same level of education (Brux, 2016). Even though education is free in many areas, there are other additional costs that children from poor backgrounds struggle to cater for. They include costs of transportation, books and uniforms. In the rural settings, children may be in a setting where they have to travel for some distance to get a bus to school (Lewis, 2017). It is in this manner that children from poor backgrounds end up getting poor quality education, which in turn alleviates the levels of poverty. Poor leadership is another main cause of poverty in the United States. This works alongside corruption and mismanagement of government institutions. As a result of poor leadership, poor economic decisions are reached at and this ends up affecting the development of the affected region. Poor economic decisions are as well reached at. Through corruption, leaders interfere with the development meant for the region through fraudulent means such as channeling development money to their personal projects. All these processes end up making people of the affected region continue languishing in poverty (Lewis, 2017).
Discrimination on its own can lead to poverty and also act as a hurdle in order to alleviate poverty. According to Brux (2016), discrimination in society and the educational system create discrepancies in income and create problems for those seeking housing and health care. Even in a country like ours where the fight against discrimination is intensified, there is still a significant group of people who are poor. Current framework of policies had been made in a way that looks ahead to achieving a state of non- discrimination and equality. Administration and legislative reforms are however required in order to make sure that discriminatory practices by private and government actors are well dealt with. This should happen alongside a change in educational measures and allocation of resources by the state and federal government. According to Brux (2016), national output will reduce discrimination due to the fact that we are not making use of our labor force in most effective way. Effect of discrimination in the United States is also seen through the rates of homeownership by ethnicity and race. According to data collected, white householders make up a percentage of 71 while Hispanics make up a percentage of 47. This is a clear proof that whites are richer as compared to the Hispanics. The discrimination between racial groups continues from school, to life beyond school, in their abilities to obtain the American Dream of owning your own house. There also proves that race discrimination in the United States affects the income levels of the people differently. Another example of discrimination affecting certain groups from homeownership would be redlining or the practice of denying mortgages in certain minority neighborhoods. Even the homeless that work a minimum wage job don’t have adequate income for paying rent. We all depend on some form of health insurance or program, otherwise we incur unaffordable medical costs or go without health care. People of racial or ethnic minority are more likely to be without healthcare.
People living in poverty encounter social and health effects. Through poverty, the chances of poor health are increased. Vulnerable groups and the marginalized communities are among those highly affected. This is in the sense that they are deprived of money, access to health services and information that would help in the prevention and treatment of a disease. Very vulnerable and poor people end up making harsh decisions knowingly, hence putting their health at risk as they cannot withstand seeing their children suffer. In areas where provision of health care services is paid for, the health of the poor will deteriorate as they are not in a position where they can cater for the expenses involved. Poor living conditions also contributes to low health outcomes (Lewis, 2017). Lack of security is another social effect that happens due to poverty. Youths from poor communities end up turning to crimes in order to provide for themselves and their families as well. This in turn results into deterioration of security.
According to Lewis (2017), a number of policies and programs have been put in place in order to address the issue of poverty in the United States. Promotion of early childhood development is one of the policies that have been put in place. Through this program, initiatives to improve education for children will be initiated in places where the quality of education is low. In areas where these services are available, the program will seek to improve their accessibility among the children. The federal government is also seeking to develop effective parenting interventions that will help improve the development of a child during the early stages. Programs to reform the system of education will help ensure that children have been raised in an environment with similar education conditions and thus the academic performance of children from poor backgrounds will be improved. Provision of mentoring programs and policies meant to benefit the disadvantaged youth will also help deal with the issue of poverty. It is through such programs that their access to education and employment opportunities will be improved (Lewis, 2017). Low-income rental housing measures that assist poor families in gaining housing will also help lower poverty by a significant percentage. Other important policies that are helpful in fighting the issue of poverty are: Low-income rental housing measures that assist poor families in gaining housing; Sub-prime mortgages in which government incentives given that the lender will overlook the sub- prime conditions of the borrower and make the loan anyways(also includes low interest rates); Housing vouchers and section 8 housing that mostly go to very poor families to help reduce poverty rates; Demand side subsidies that increase the demand for housing, but also increase supply of housing units at low costs; and Federal Tax Policy which promotes homeownership by a way of allowing lowering of payments of mortgage interest. In addition, Medicaid and Medicare program, and Obama program for homeowners will also help in the fight against poverty (Brux, 2016). Although there are programs and policies in place to help reduce poverty, the most effective way to address poverty and inequality is to break the cycle and it starts with education. Through this, equal education opportunities will be created for all students. Poverty may be a complex issue, but you have to start somewhere and that somewhere will be education.
The current economic system of the United States does not provide a way for the poor to get out of poverty with ease. This is because it has grown in a way that favors the interests of the rich groups. This is because there are disparities in the manner in which people access opportunities. The youth are limited in terms of the opportunities that can help them get out of the poverty levels they have been trapped in (Lewis, 2017).
Poverty may be a complex issue, but if we center our focus on where the issues stem from, we can allocate a budget to the programs that will help end the continuous cycle of poverty. The number of poor people in the United States is quite high. Discrimination, poor education systems and inequalities are the main causes of poverty. Poverty leads to social impacts such as poor health and lack of security. In order to solve address this, issue, policy meant to liberate the poor should be put in place. Since poor education services is the root cause of poverty, one of the policies and programs enacted should aim at improving educational services from early ages.
Brux, J. M. (2016). Economic issues and policy. Australia: Cengage Learning.
Lewis, O. (2017). The culture of poverty. In Poor Jews (pp. 9-25). Routledge.