Poverty as a Social Problem in United States

Topics: Poverty, Poverty in the United States, United States Pages: 5 (2149 words) Published: March 18, 2011
What is Poverty and why is it a social problem? Poverty is a standard of living below the minimum needed for maintenance of adequate diet, health and shelter (Eitzen187). Thirty seven million Americans were reported poor in 2005 (Eitzen 187). The key word is reported because about another 30 million Americans are unreported since many are homeless or illegal immigrants. These millions of people are discriminated in schools, courts, job market, and marketplace. This discrimination has trapped many poor people in these conditions (Eitzen 187). People living in poverty are placed there by an invisible line which divides them from the non poor. This line is the poverty line which is computed by the Social Security Administration which figures out the basic cost of adequate diet and multiples it by 3. The poverty line equation was computed in 1955 and was multiplied by three because SSA felt that people spent a third of their income on food. Nowadays people are spending more than half of their income on shelter, which does not allow this income to stand up against inflation (Eitzen 187). The poverty line is $10,160 for single person under 65, $ 15,277 for family of three, and $20,144 for a family of four. Poverty is defined as a social problem. A social problem is defined as the problem must has a social origin, must be harmful to many individuals, must be defined publicly as a social problem and must has a social solution (Charon 6). Many people blame poverty on the victim but in essence the social structures that coincided with poverty allow poverty to continue. Many people in poverty do not have adequate jobs that can alleviate them out of poverty even if they are working full-time. Many full-time workers are affected by this idea; 2.8 million full time workers are below poverty line (Eitzen 194). Many people in poverty are in the secondary sector job force which is low paying job that pay above the minimum but still pay low enough to be below or slightly above the poverty line. Many secondary sector jobs are employed by women since many are service occupations. Many of the poor have inadequate schooling because they live in low income areas were classrooms are overcrowded and have many disruptions because of the disruptive lifestyles that many are born into. If 37 million people living in poverty and maybe another 30 million to be about 67 million Americans living in poverty doesn’t define poverty as a social problem publicly then what else could? Finally since poverty is a social problem it has to have a social solution. Many people living in poverty may be living up to the poverty stereotypes but that is individual and a small percentage of the cases. Poverty affects so much of the United States population that the government needs to intervene in some way to help poverty be diminished. Also the social structures need to be reformed and that will take government intervention. When, why and how did poverty originate in the USA? The War on Poverty was declared in the 1960’s in America. Lyndon B. Johnson stated the War on Poverty during his State of the Union in response to the difficult economic times during the 1960’s which the poverty level was about 19%. Poverty has always existed in the United States if there are wealthy people there has to be poor people Lyndon Johnson made it part of his Great Society idea which was to eliminate poverty and racial injustice. The Great Society came to an end during Richard Nixon’s campaign but many of the Great Society’s programs still exist but are just underfunded. What groups are affected by it? How many people? {draw:frame} {draw:frame} How are groups hurt by it? Poverty impacts the poor substantially. People in poverty usually have inferior education, live in substandard housing, exposed to toxic chemicals, are malnourished and have health problems (Eitzen, 206). Education is funded through the government but is based off of people’s property taxes. Many people in urban...

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