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The subject of whether poverty in the United States is or is not a significant problem has been in discussion, in the recent times. This is after the government released some disturbing statistics stating that close to 37 million people are wallowing in poverty. These statistics are according to the U.S Census Bureau, and it gets support from some presidential candidates who use the figures as their campaigning platform. This paper seeks to analyze both aspects of the debate and providing supporting logistics for either side. Looking at the current logistics the subject of poverty in America highly depends on the information provided by media houses, the actual situation on the ground, welfare spending on the poor, dependency on welfare and the tools used in coming with the poor figures.
In the 21st century, poverty is a problem in the United States, and this can no longer be ignored. Looking at the statistics of the U.S Census Bureau there are approximately 37 million poor people in the country. According to presidential hopeful John Edwards one out of eight Americans is poor. In this aspect, poor means someone who does not have the basics of life that are food, shelter and clothing. Looking at poverty from this angle then it means that 37 million Americans lack the basics of life. Poverty in America is evident by the growing number of homeless people. With each passing day we witness many people spending their nights and days on the streets because of lack of shelter. Citing a survey outcome in early October 2005, approximately 727,000 individuals from 460 different communities lacked shelter. Recent estimations indicate that close to 3.5 million Americans stand high chances of being homeless in any given year. The heights of poverty in America can also be seen in the funds the government spends on programs, which support poor people. The Bush administration had a proposed budget for fiscal year 2006, which amounted to 528.5 billion dollars and this was only for the homeless. With such figures, one cannot rule out that poverty is a vital issue in America (Callahan 12).
Natural calamities have played a leading role in rendering many Americans as poor, for instance the Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. Since poverty is a serious issue in the country, there have been measures put in place to combat poverty. The government launched a war on poverty to fight the shortage of basics situation in America. The program has so far spent over eleven trillion dollars, and the situation seems not to be improving. According to the poverty rates, the situation has not improved since the launch of the war against poverty program, with the numbers sticking at 12 or 13%. On matters of food, there have been records of several individuals who lived for many days without having decent meals. This is the case especially for children or young people who are not under the care of any adult.
In carrying out statistics for the poor people in America, children are the bigger part of the list. Another notable aspect that supports the idea that poverty is a key issue in America is the number of people who cannot access medical aid or care. Most programs, which focus on such eliminating poverty in America, spend their funds in offering cash, housing, food and medical care services to the poor. From these services, medical care takes the majority share, as the poor do not have access to medical aid. Analyzing the figures on the number of poor people in America, the number seems to be growing at a high rate especially with the current, hard economic times. If the criteria in which we continue to define poor people in America stands, then the number is bound to increase because remarkably few people can afford decent meals, homes, clothing and medical care (Amick 13).
On the other hand, the statistics concerning poverty seem to be exaggerated. Poverty is not a paramount issue in America and people need to channel their funds to other critical issues rather than poverty. According to Rector, the war on poverty is a false alarm as all Americans are living above the poverty level (8). In his interview, Robert argues that the criteria by which the Census Bureau uses to label people as being poor is not real. The category of poor individuals in America is one that can comfortably afford a standard lifestyle. For instance, the people John Edwards considers poor in his campaigns are those who can afford to own and use cable television, microwaves, air conditioning and two color TVs. In addition, these poor people possess their own homes which usually is a three bed roomed house. Relating these standards of living to others that fall under the category of poor then it is obvious the Americans are not poor people.
Describing an individual as poor means the person totally lacks food, shelter and clothing that are not the case in America. The same statistics call children as poor but they seem to be well fed as there is no case of malnourishment. The poor community has children who are the age of 18 or 19 who are heavier and taller than the average child is. This is an indication of proper health in the individual and gives an opposite picture. For any person termed as poor the health status should be of a malnourished, skinny and small individual. Most people argue that if the government concentrated on actually people who lack the basics of life, then the records should stand at one out of a hundred people being poor.
In America poverty seems to be describing single parenthood (unmarried) and the non- hard workers. Children affected by poverty are mostly from single families or from homes with parents who cannot put more effort in fending for their families. For this reason, we have increased numbers of people who depend wholly on welfare because they think they are poor. The government programs do not seem to be helping the situation because by providing the financial aid and other services make these poor people fend for themselves. After all, it is common knowledge that there are funds set aside to help the poor. The main reason behind the poverty levels in America is political to encourage welfare spending (Steigerwald 6).
The main function of the welfare programs is to support the poor to another level where they can start providing for themselves. However, since the launch of the programs there has been minimal change in the records of poor people in America. This is an indication of misplaced government’s efforts and the misuse of poverty funds. If this is the state of poor people, then poverty is not a crucial issue in United States. Instead of trying to focus and politicize the poverty issue the government and other people should direct their efforts and funds to other outstanding problems in the country. The welfare programs should encourage poor people to work hard and provide for themselves just like other American citizens do. On the other hand, the government should not neglect those who genuinely need the funds like those affected by natural calamities such as hurricanes. These genuine poor people deserve to get financial aid and other basics from the welfare programs.