Though millions of her residents live in poverty America still stands as one of the world’s richest countries in the world. “In the late 1950s, the poverty rate was approximately 22 percent, with just shy of 40 million Americans living in poverty. The rate declined steadily, reaching a low of 11.1 percent in 1973 and rising to a high of nearly 15 percent three times – in 1983, 1993 and 2011. However, the 46.2 million Americans in poverty in 2011 is the most ever recorded” (Fay, 2018). Upon studies scientist have concluded that poverty in the late 50’s and 60’s can be related to loss of agricultural jobs and lack of education to those losing them. When the times began to advance to the late 80’s and continuing 2000’s we now begin to see poverty in areas of high crime with many individuals living there less education, access to healthy food and limited resources to healthcare. In my paper we will discuss personal opinions on poverty and what can be done to fix it, provide social constructs that will help understand poverty and last define what sociological theory most relates to poverty with provided examples.
Poverty in America is believed to be caused by lack of education and a lack of effort by the citizens living in these conditions. In poverty-stricken areas individuals are more than likely to be introduced to drug ridden environments and areas of high crime. As an individual who has firsthand experienced living in areas as such it takes a miracle to be able to leave. Many wonder why the government has not stepped in and begun to help these individuals in areas like such. Though many do not realize that they in fact do help in many ways such as: academic based scholarships, food stamps/EBT, subsidized housing and many other things. With minor rules and regulations to be able to have access to these opportunities most individuals in areas of poverty cannot or do not have enough help to be able to qualify for some of these means of betterment. So, what could I propose to congress that would help solve poverty in America? In my believe tight knit communities, free rehab centers, better schools and affordable healthy foods are the base to establishing the forefront of turning a community of poverty around. Along with establishing those objects then the government or state must begin to find a push to provide jobs to the demographic in need, this would be those in poverty. When jobs become secure and in high demand the rate of living has to be calculated to ensure individuals are now able to afford housing, food, health care, etc. With free rehab centers in communities of poverty or surrounding areas drug use would have the opportunity to become less prevalent. Individuals would then have the means to correct themselves for free then upon release of the rehab center be able to qualify for housing and other opportunities because they would then be drug free. Personally, I feel the government does not use their full extent of resources to help communities of poverty and they in fact can install systems to help those in need if they wanted to focus on this atrocity in America.
Scope of Poverty
To understand the social scope of poverty it is important to understand when it was recognized as a national issue to the American government. The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights of 1964 were signed into law after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared unconventional war on poverty. Created to help low-income individuals and families by helping them expand productivity and ability to enhance economic outcomes by improving their health, education, skills and resources. Though poverty continues to this day it has begun to reduce due to programs and initiatives focused on combating it. “Compared to 1972, in 2012 the school breakfast and lunch programs provided meals to 19.1 million more children; Medicaid/CHIP covered 36.7 million more recipients; and 3.3 million more households received housing assistance to help ensure they had adequate shelter” (Chaudry, Wimer, Macartney, Frohlich, Campbell, Swenson, Oellerich & Hauan, 2016, p. 2).
With these studies performed by researchers it is easy to understand the amount of poverty-stricken people they’ve helped, but also helps put in perspective of the growth of poverty in America. To dwell deeper into the basics of poverty you must understand the full demographics from job loss and racial diversity. In the black community since “1966, two years after Johnson’s speech, four-in-ten (41.8%) of African-Americans were poor; blacks constituted nearly a third (31.1%) of all poor Americans. By 2012, poverty among African-Americans had fallen to 27.2%” (DeSilver, 2014). That statistic is double the rate of whites, who at the time accounted for 11.3% in 1966 then later 12.7% in 2016. During these earlier stages of poverty many contributed the loss of jobs and low income due to the change of agriculture jobs and production in the south.
Hence why “In 1969, 45.9% of poor Americans lived in the South, a region that accounted for 31% of the U.S. population at the time” (DeSilver, 2014). Comparing this with 2012s poverty rate of 16.5% when the south was populated by the 37.3% of the citizens in the country. Also, communities and those impacted by poverty are subjected to less healthcare opportunities than middle- and upper-class communities. In studies researchers found factor that linked poverty with health as stated: “the higher a person’s educational attainment and income, the more likely that person is to have a longer life expectancy. In fact, those in the highest income group can expect to live at least six and a half years longer than those living in poverty” (Lavizzo-Mourey, 2012). With evidence in the passage above we are led to understand that poverty in America has progressed and has taken strives since the 1960’s to ensure individuals and families in such situations have access to the resources they need.