The curse of poverty has plagued America since before the phrase “The American Dream” was coined. Due to poverty in America, some Americans can not even chase that dream that is so passionately sought after. The full range of the amount of people suffering from poverty in America was not even fully realized until the 1960s. The negative effects it can have on an individual are devastating and can make the long-desired American Dream even further out of reach. Poverty still plagues the country today and is still a great issue, even greater than it was in the past. People can fall into poverty in various ways, some of which include being born into it, or even because of unfortunate circumstances. This problem is not an easily solved one, due to the many factors that accompany it. The growing amount of impoverished people is not something that can be overlooked because it is harming people; this is an issue that needs to be put to an end, no matter the cost.
Poverty is a problem that is as old as time, it has been around since well before the 1900s, and a problem that has not been properly dealt with until today. Poverty in America is “more about a lack of basic necessities and a lack of security” (“Causes” 1). Even though poverty does not have an exact start date here in America, the method for calculating the poverty levels in America was not even developed until the 1960s. This is the closest thing there is to an exact start date of poverty in America. Even though poverty has been a common issue for some time now, it seems as though no one has made it a top priority, and that needs to change. Poverty is most abundant in the rural south and southwest region, due to a lack of education and innovation (Fay 1,2). This seems to be a driving cause for poverty in most places, but especially here in the most impoverished areas. With a total of almost 39.7 million people in poverty in America, this problem needs to be addressed immediately (“Range” 1).
The problem of poverty has been overlooked for far too long. Even though the south is one of the most impoverished areas, there are still many more cases of poverty around the United States. One of the leading causes for poverty around the country is due to the unequal and unjust society that Americans have created (“Society” 2). The wage difference and earnings between different genders and ethnicities is quite obvious and extremely unfair. Men are earning more than women, minorities are getting underpaid compared to white people, and this is forcing many people into a life of poverty. There is also a greater tax burden on low-income families, which essentially makes it extremely hard for them to support themselves and their loved ones (“Range” 1,3). While families that have a higher income do not have to worry about this corrupt tax burden, they have even less reason to worry about ever falling into a life of poverty. Lower-income families are always on the edge of their seats with higher taxes and less money to pay them off. The corrupt, unequal, and unfair society that Americans live in is one of the most significant influences on families that have less money, and often is the deciding factor on whether they are impoverished or not. In America, there has been an increase in unemployment due to weak economies (“Causes” 2).
America needs to strengthen their economies so that people living in poverty have a chance to start earning money by getting a job. A more diverse work environment with more jobs and equal pay to all is a way to help diminish the poverty levels in America. While an unjust society is one of the huge factors contributing to the spread of poverty around the country, the individual themself could also be the one to blame (“Society” 2). Sometimes there is a lack of effort from the individual to go and find a job, or to try and get out of their current situation. Laziness can be a huge factor of poverty, and lack of effort is the second major cause for poverty in the United States. A lack of education is also to blame for poverty, yet this can tie into the individual being the one to blame. Many people in the middle and low classes simply do not have the monetary resources to attend and earn a degree from a college (“Causes” 5). Even though not having enough money has nothing to do with the individual being lazy, what can be considered as being lazy is not trying to go to a junior college or a lower-ranked school to work up from there. Sometimes impoverished people do not have the motivation to get a job and earn enough cash to get into a small cheap junior college, they would just rather accept the fact that they are living in poverty and not do anything about it. This can lead to homelessness and other terrible things, which is why this lack of education and not being motivated to at least try to get into a junior college is a major reason for poverty, as not having a degree means even less job opportunities for impoverished people. Most people who bring poverty and ruin upon themselves are not able to afford the minimal standards of life essentials, which is called absolute poverty (Fay 2). These people often live in absolute poverty because they brought it upon themselves and do not want to try and get out of poverty due to laziness.
Poverty being faulted on the individual is still a questionable concept, yet there is plenty of evidence to show that it is the second leading cause of poverty and can not be overlooked. When an individual is living in a life of poverty, the negative effects that are a product of their lifestyle are very severe. This also goes for families that are living in poverty, as the negative effects can be even worse for a family than a single person. One of the worst things about living a life of poverty is that poor nutrition and health come along with it (Kolankiewicz 1). When one is living in poverty you do not have the necessities to own health insurance, so when the cold comes around or a more serious sickness, there is nothing that can be done. The sad yet true thing about not being able to afford health insurance is that it is very likely that people living in poverty will never catch up health-wise, possibly leading to a shorter life. As a matter of fact, the life expectancy difference between people that are impoverished and people that are not, is about ten to fifteen years (Esposito 1). This is a huge difference, especially since lives could be ended very early on. Income strongly links to whether or not a person will be living in good health or not.
People living in poverty “tend to suffer more from cancer and heart disease”, among other very dangerous diseases (Fay 6). This is a big deal, and a problem that needs to be resolved. Another very major and negative effect of poverty is a lack of nutritionally adequate foods. Food is always one of the biggest problems when it comes to impoverished people because “when you are poor, food is your first worry” (Kolankiewicz 1). Even though it seems unlikely, it is very common for someone who is living a life of poverty to be obese rather than skinny. In fact, in most impoverished households there is increased hunger yet more obesity (Esposito 2). This is due to the fact that the foods that are usually cheaper to purchase are very unhealthy. This leads to a high junk food intake, and a low vegetable intake (Fay 5). Lack of food is strongly linked to health problems, as not eating enough can result in sickness. On the other hand, overeating, especially junk food which is extremely cheap, can lead to other diseases such as diabetes, which for someone living in poverty, is a disease that there might be no coming back from. In order to tend to this problem, more soup kitchens could be implemented throughout more impoverished communities, leading to easy access to good healthy foods that do not cost a single penny for people living in poverty to enjoy.
Poverty has all sorts of negative effects that come with it, and another very severe one that can also lead to even more problems is ending up living a bad lifestyle. When living a life of poverty and being desperate for money, impoverished people will go through any means necessary to get the money that they need. An example of that is them putting their lives in danger through crimes such as drug dealing. Dabbling with drugs and illegally selling them is extremely dangerous, but it does haul in a lot of money, something people living in poverty will do anything for. The terrible thing about this is that in impoverished families, most of the time children are being exposed to all the horrible things that are going on. When the children see their parents doing these bad things, it is very common for the children to continue this bad lifestyle as they get older (Kolankiewicz 1).
Children most of the time lead the same life of crime that they witnessed their parents lead, and the cycle continues to go on. Children living in these dangerous communities and being exposed to violence are also at higher risk for trauma and mortality (“American” 4). Another common thing to happen in impoverished families is a ton of stress being put upon the mother of the family. This often leads to depression in mothers, and in turn causes them to have different relationships with their children (Esposito 2). These children not having a good relationship with their mother is yet another reason for them to grow up into a life of crime, especially after watching crime happen throughout all of their life and not having someone to guide them down the right path. There have been many attempts to approach the problem of poverty in America and put an end to it, however they have not all been successful. Even with millions of Americans being kept out of poverty through government benefits, there are still millions more living in poverty (Fay 6). Whenever poverty is brought up, one of the most brought up solutions that is being discussed is the implementation of more jobs. “One of the most often attempted solutions to put an end to poverty is the creation of more jobs and more employment opportunity to poorer people, which would bring an estimated four million Americans out of poverty (Vallas 3).
The problem with creating more job opportunities is that it really is a difficult task, and though the unemployment rate has dropped over the past few years, not nearly enough jobs can be created to compensate for everyone living in poverty. This very reason is why implementing more jobs can still put a reasonable dent in the amount of poverty plaguing America, but will never truly be enough to put an end to poverty forever. Another commonly attempted solution is providing free and better health care to impoverished people, as people have “gone a long way to provide health care”, mainly provided through Medicaid (Esposito 3). The problem is yet again the sheer amount of people living in poverty, there just are not enough doctors or hospitals to provide for everyone living in poverty. Even if a good amount of them are treated, by the time that more impoverished people get their turn to be helped, there are even more new people living in poverty, and the cycle just continues. Solutions If I were to try and put an end to all the poverty that is going on throughout America, it would be a very hard task. Even if all poverty was to end for a while, it would be inevitable that it would return one day. What I would do, however, is try to integrate more soup kitchens and community centers in impoverished societies.
In my opinion, this would help put an end to a sizeable amount of poverty in America. Adding more soup kitchens in poorer communities gives a very good and viable source of good, healthy food for impoverished people to eat. This alone can help to put an end to the obesity and unhealthy lifestyle that impoverished people live due to them not being able to afford healthier food and just eating unhealthy and junk food. Adding community centers to communities living in poverty gives them a chance to just kind of destress and forget about what is going on in life. People living in poverty are always stressed, so adding community centers with maybe a pool or a gym, can help these people to destress and just relax. This would also be good for children living in poverty, as it lets them experience something nice and allows them to play with other children while being exposed to a good environment. While these ideas will not necessarily help end poverty, it will help people living in poverty to cope with it and motivate them. Poverty has been a problem plaguing America for more than one hundred years, and will most likely be a problem that plagues America for some time to come. A corrupt society and the laziness and lack of motivation of an individual have been some of the main causes of poverty in America, with the negative effects of bad health and lifestyle along with obesity coming along with it. There are possible solutions to help solve poverty, but they are few and are difficult tasks to accomplish, but without them, Americans may be living in poverty for the a long while to come, making it impossible for them to chase the great American Dream.