11.07.2019 in Exploratory

Poverty Essay Sample

The purpose of the paper is to highlight poverty as a problem in America. A generic description of poverty will be considered as well as the specific occurrences of the problem in various parts of the world comparable to America. The paper will identify the problems faced in America and offer the corresponding solutions to help tackle them. The solutions under review here will be the already documented, proposed and the researchers own remedy to the problem. In addition, the paper will discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of the propose solutions to the problem.

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Poverty in America has been an issue several governments in place have strived to tackle over the years. “From President Johnson’s War on Poverty to President Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina, poverty, and the fight against it, has played a central role in American politics and policy.”(Cellini, McKernan and Ratcliffe. 2008, p2) This suggests how much detail has been paid to solve the problem and that the respective authorities did indeed acknowledge it as a problem. Poverty levels vary from one region to another and therefore ca not be assumed universal. This paper specifically addresses the issue of American poverty and its solutions.

Most America’s ‘poor’ live in material conditions that would be judged as comfortable or well-off just a few generations ago.” (Rector, 2007) The Author disputes the popular perception that being poor in America means destitution. On the contrary, he argues, the average poor American  has adequate food and nutrition, enjoys a wide range of material amenities, owns at least one car, and as more living space than the average citizens of major European cities. This argument basically highlights the critical approach to be applied in identifying poverty. In our case the measures of poverty in America is far different from that used in Europe.

Poverty as a Problem in America

“There are several reasons why poverty continues to be a critical issue in the United States. First, the hardship that often accompanies poverty plainly has adverse effects on individuals’ physical and psychological well being.” (Iceland, 2007 p 2). The author further alludes to studies carried showing that children raised in poor families are less healthy and worse off in terms of their cognitive development, school achievement and emotional well being. Also, poor adolescents are more likely to have low self esteem, act out antisocial behaviors, and become delinquent. He further argues that poor individuals are more likely to have health problems and die at younger ages.

Likewise, Iceland argues that poverty has broader economic consequences. Declining levels of poverty contribute to a healthy economy by increasing the number of people who can purchase goods and services. That increase in turn, he says, stimulates the economic growth and raises average standards of living.

Thirdly, he goes further to say that high levels of poverty have serious social and political consequences. He suggests that poor people often feel alienated from mainstream society. Furthermore, he says that poverty also provokes social disorder and crime and reduces confidence in democratic institutions if they feel their needs are not being addressed by the prevailing system. The author also refers to the ghetto riots of the 1960s as a reflection of the social, economic and political marginalization of the African American in the U.S. cities.


The biggest challenge governments are faced with globally in fighting poverty is the means itself. Many have been tried variedly and have not achieved much and poverty still remains a huge problem yet to be surmounted. In the book ‘Poverty in America: A Handbook’ John Iceland examines the policy issues towards poverty. He says that the history of American welfare policy has been characterized by perennial tension between the goal of giving aid in a humane manner to those in need and the attempt to ensure that such efforts do not promote dependence or provide work disincentives. (p 118)

He does point out as well that colonial programs tended to provide sufficient benefits to needy community members, though they were unkind to outsiders, able-bodied men and pariahs. He also gives an illustration of the poorhouses of the nineteenth century attempting to supply very basic care while discouraging residents from becoming dependent on handouts. The author also highlights that these institutions ended up doing little to address the roots of poverty. Reference is also made to the scientific charities that came at the turn of the twentieth century who tried to professionalize welfare assistance; their efforts to reform morally the poor often fell miserably.

The author concludes that the failure of the welfare cash assistance has been majorly due to the misconceptions about the sizes of the various government programs. He reiterates that the government transfers are minimal and hardly enables one to get over the poverty line.

A recent policy undertaking to reduce poverty in America has been focused towards the reduction of child poverty.

“The generally high living standards of poor Americans are good news. Even better is the fact that our nation can readily reduce remaining poverty, especially among children. To accomplish this we must focus on the main causes of child poverty: low levels of parental work and high levels of single parenthood.”(Rector and Johnson, 2004)

The research also explains that the decline I marriage is another factor contributing to child poverty and that nearly two thirds of poor children stay in single parent families. It also suggests that marriages would be a great step in reducing child poverty. The authors also acknowledge the efforts by the United States government in reducing child poverty by introducing a new program called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).(par67)

It further identifies a key element of the reform to b the requirement that some welfare mothers either prepare for work or get jobs as a condition to receiving aid. The limitation o welfare reform according to the report is that they have been limited in scope and intensity. It says that even in TANF over half the adult beneficiaries are idle on the rolls and are not engaged in activities leading to self-sufficiency. Work requirements are virtually nonexistent in related programs such as food-stamps and public housing. To this it recommends that welfare be transformed, able bodied parents must be required to work or prepare for work and the welfare system should encourage rather than penalize marriage.

The service offered to the needy should be favorable and not discouraging to a majority of the deserving recipients. As noted by (Koch, 2000) that only 40% of those served by Second Harvest’s food bank received food stamps. (par50) She attributes this to the fact that the bureaucracy involved leaves out many in aid.

Person solutions would include the offering standard education to all children enabling equal opportunities to everyone. With education the children are exposed early enough with the idea of creating and making better. “ Among those who finish high school, get married, have children only within a marriage and go to work, the odds of long term poverty are virtually nil” (Bailey, 2003 p1).In his findings Bailey concludes that education is a great factor in eliminating poverty in the long run. The educated also have a chance to move a cross a whole spectrum of opportunities thereby finding themselves where they fit. Likewise, the educated tend to attach value to things around them thus would always find reason to add value rather than destroy. In the long run the educated find well paying and stable jobs and families thereby being able to plan for the future and create more jobs as well.

Talent recognition should be done and a continuous search for talent should be done to enable maximum development of the respective talents. The talents should be advanced indiscriminately whether sports or art. The success can then be emulated by the young ones who will likewise strive to be their best and utilize all their potential positively and eke a descent independent living out of it.

A serious program of family planning should be carried out to ensure that the parents actually sire the children they are capable of taking care of. Consequently illegal drugs should be cleared off the streets and perpetrators of the same be handed punitive sentences in the courts of law if found guilty.

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