Poverty In America

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National University

Poverty in America
A Global Epidemic

Ben Sims
Sociology 445: Contemporary Social Problems
Professor Shannon Sellers
August 2, 2014

Of all the social problems that exist within America today, poverty is undoubtedly the most prevalent . The stigma of poverty is no longer solely the plight of third world countries, but rather an epidemic that has vigorously manifested itself in the United States at an alarming rate. Yes, in America, the country teeming with an abundance of natural resources and the patents to the most pioneering technological advances of modern time, indisputably faces an unprecedented burden of poverty. It is estimated that more than 46 million Americans live in poverty
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With all the carnage caused by poverty being distinctly obvious in America why is nothing being done about it? Does anyone care? Sadly, the most egregious aspect of the epidemic of poverty in America is that it doesn’t have to exist at all. The US ultimately has the resources and means to eliminate poverty altogether, if only it was placed as a high enough priority. To truly comprehend the profound impact that poverty has had on America, there must first be an understanding of what poverty essentially means and how it was caused. Webster’s dictionary describes poverty as “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions” (Webster’s Dictionary). The textbook however, offers a more in-depth perspective on the term stating that poverty is “a standard of living below the minimum needed for the maintenance of adequate diet, health and shelter” (Eitzen 181). This definition implies that the poverty threshold is based on those who can make the minimum amount of money required to maintain a decent level of life and those who cannot. Although these particular descriptions of poverty are not necessarily …show more content…
Welfare is the most notable of these programs. Welfare was established to assist underprivileged families and individuals get out of poverty (Eitzen 165), but have ultimately led to a disturbing rate of dependency. Instead of assisting families welfare had essentially enabled them in many ways, with a vast majority of recipients not feeling the need to work. Provisions within the program even made it easier to stay on welfare than to seek employment and encouraged unmarried woman to have children. Thus, the enactment of the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. This bill was established to reduce the number of families and individuals dependent on government assistance. These institutional changes helped to reduce welfare dependency by mandating that recipients actively seek work while receiving government assistance, increasing the level of accountability for those in need of financial aid. The government also developed several other programs in an effort to curve poverty such as the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program (TANF) which provides financial assistance to low-income families but also requires them to work at least 20 hours a week to receive benefits (Saddler, 2012). Addition services such as Medicaid, Food Stamps and WIC were all established to essentially assist

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