What the Main Causes and Effects of Poverty in the United States

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2017, there were 39.7 million people in poverty (Fontenot, 1). This is a low estimate since the poor are likely to be missed in the Census (Eitzen, 157). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of men and women working full-time, year-round increased by 1.4 million and 1.0 million, respectively, between 2016 and 2017 (Fontenot, 1). Despite employment increasing, poverty statistics have remained stagnant. This is due to a national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, compared to the cost of living, which is $13,200. Many are working, but the wages don’t stand up to the cost of living in the U.S.. Poverty is caused by a capitalistic system that rewards the rich and does not assist the poor in breaking through the poverty cycle to rise above. Poverty may not be eliminated completely, but may be improved through government funding and supportive social policies.

When we see a person asking for money on the street corner it’s easy make some assumptions about that individual. Common stigmas associated with poverty are that they’re on drugs, that they are poor managers of their money, or that they should just get a job! While we can be quick to place these judgments on people, that isn’t always the case. Many people who are poor have always been poor and cannot break the cycle of poverty they’re in. Children of poor parents tend to live in areas with underfunded schools. They aren’t expected to succeed, since they lack the resources to do so. They grow up to work low end jobs like their parents, continuing the cycle of poverty (Eitzen, 172). Minimum wage jobs where created to give young adults work experience and a way to pay for college. Now college costs so much that a minimum wage job woul very rarely be able to cover tuition, let alone the cost of living in the meantime. Many people who are severely poor or even homeless led functioning lives just trying to get by until they where hit with an unexpected event and could no longer afford food and shelter.

The poverty line was created in the 1960s, in order to measure the minimum amount of money a person needs in order to live decent life (Eitzen, 156). Those who earn below the poverty line become eligible for government assistance programs such as food stamps and WIC. Unfortunately, this number does not take into account the cost of healthcare or the various costs of local housing. The average cost of healthcare per person is $10,348 per person (Keehan). For a person who makes $15, 080 per year, that would be over 75% of their annual salary. The solution in the U.S. is insurance, but sadly the cost of premiums and deductibles can be insurmountable. As a result, people on and below the poverty line either choose to live an unhealthy life or go into debt to pay medical bills.

There are many causes of poverty, and the in recent years very few improvement have been made. Poverty is a problem to some extent in every part of the world. There is no way to completely eliminate world poverty, because there are people who make choices that lead them to be poor. Drug rehab programs need to be improved, but even with more programs using effective strategies, some people will still choose drugs. There are not nearly enough mental health resources in Washington state, but even if there where enough some people with mental health issues like Schizophrenia may still choose not to accept the assistance that’s available. However alleviating poverty is far from impossible. A combination of affordable healthcare and a living wage, along with affordable college education could help more people to get jobs that can support a family. The minimum wage should depend on the cost of housing in a given area, and then opportunities to public assistance programs such as Medicaid could be still be given to those who qualify.

Many argue that public higher education isn’t an option, and that healthcare can’t be free. While that may be true, it isn’t impossible for these services to be significantly subsidized. According to the United States Department of Defense, President Trump proposed a budget for the military of 584.5 billion dollars in 2017 (USDD). In addition to the excessive military spending in the past year, now more troops are being deployed to the border to meet the caravan expected to arrive soon. If just a fraction of that was used to make healthcare and higher education attainable, a living wage could truly allow people to live rather than just survive.

In conclusion, poor people are not always at fault for their circumstances. Poverty is a cycle beginning with education, involving the cost of living and the cost of higher education. A living wage would help people to support themselves, and affordable college would give training to people who want to raise their standard of living. Healthcare costs can take out a family’s finances in one foul swoop, and although free healthcare may not be attainable it should at least be affordable. Lowering the cost of living and raising the minimum wage can alleviate poverty in the U.S. The money is there, we just have to choose to use it to fund the programs that we need.

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What the Main Causes and Effects of Poverty in the United States. (2021, Nov 11). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/what-the-main-causes-and-effects-of-poverty-in-the-united-states/

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