Poverty and Food Stamps

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Poverty: Bottoms Up

Poverty is an issue that surrounds us whether we want to admit it or not. There are many reasons that poverty plays an active roll in today=s society. It is part of everyday life and affects everyone. Social workers have been trying to help these people for many years now, but only with limited success because the poverty rate keeps climbing and there is not enough help available to give everyone personal treatment. There are many efforts that are being made in order to help this struggle. There are food stamps, welfare, WICS (Women Infants and Children Support), etc. The arguments with these programs are that are we making it easier for the poor to remain poor. AIt=s important to recognize that these figures [that I use] are a year old. They cover 2003, not the current year. Given current economic conditions, it is extremely likely that poverty fell during 2004, although the official figures won=t be available until the fall of next year@ (Fox News, par 1).

In order to interpret the causes of poverty in America, we must first understand how poverty is defined. AFor most Americans, the word >poverty= suggests destitution: an inability to provide a family with nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter@ (Rector, par 2). The issue is not that poverty is defined too broadly, it is that many people do not understand that our socioeconomic structure means you must make much more money just to survive. Poverty use to be Aconsidered a responsibility of society as a whole . . . Now poverty is often blamed on the poor and on the system of government support created to help them@ (Stengel, par 5). Is our over materialistic society to blame? Society seems to Ahave sought to convince us that in addition to the basic human needs of air, water, food and shelter, we all have a fifth human need for novelty@ (Sine 89). If you make even a dollar or two an hour above the minimum wage, you still suffer. Okay, suppose you make seven dollars an hour at forty hours a week (full-time). This equals about $14,500 a year before taxes. The poverty threshold for 2003 for a family of four was 18,660 (Census Bureau). So, the issue is not that the Apoor@ people are not really poor, it is that even when you Amake-it@ you can still be poor. The issue of whom we need to help is far more than just the homeless, though they still need our help. Our system is flawed, there seems to be far more losers than winners at the AAmerican Dream.@ Our government needs to choose between continuing efficiency and favoritism to the upper class or choosing economic sufficiency for all people. There is something definitely wrong when more than thirty-five million people are poor in such a country as America. At the same time, we need to take a look as the actual living conditions of those that the government deems poor (Rector, par 1). As stated by the Fox News Channel, AOverall typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family isn=t hungry, and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family=s essential needs. While this individual=s life is not opulent, it is equally far from the popular images of dire poverty conveyed by the press, activist and politicians.@ (par 7).

If this is true, the poor are still able to live a fairly comfortable life. They are rich compared to the rest of the world. Are the poor feeling poor because they do not have enough money to buy into the Acomforts@ of our society? This of course should not be taken for all those who are considered poor. There is a wide range of living conditions, and there are those folks who are at the other end of the spectrum. A ARoughly a third do...
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