The American Dream and Poverty

According to the recent economical and sociological researches, it is becoming more obvious that the “American Dream” seems more like a myth, which supports the spirit of the nation and gives people hope to find their place in the sun. However, the real state of affairs in the US is not so consoling. High unemployment rates, declining wages, social polarization and injustice – these are some of the major consequences of the actions of the politicians with unclean hands and business elite who have “loaded the dice and made it impossible for average people to get ahead.” The land of great opportunities has now turned into land with lots of difficulties due to social and economic inequality, which has risen drastically in the US during the last years as compared to the European countries.

Poverty in the US is measured according to the poverty thresholds, which represent the minimal annual cash amount needed for a living. Those thresholds are stated each year by the Census Bureau. According to the Census Bureau, in 2012 nearly 17 % of people were considered to be poor, or nearly poor.

There are two types of poverty. Income poverty is when people do not have enough income to make their living. Non-income or asset poverty is a type of poverty that does not depend on the income, but rather on a social group a person belongs to, which determines the access to social and economic goods. Though both types exist nowadays in the US, income poverty is a major problem due to the unjust income distribution and raising tax rates. Negative GDP and overall economic failure in addition to all the above mentioned issues all result in a decrease in the income of people and unemployment.

Alongside with the governmental programs and “war on poverty” there are many non-governmental, social movements and organizations fighting poverty in the US. One of the major organizations fighting poverty in America is LIFT. This is a voluntary organization that helps the American families and supports them. It was founded in 1998 and since then has helped more than 7,000 people.

Social ignorance is the main reason for relatively small social activity concerning the fight against poverty. American people who are in poverty need financial aid on the first place. The lack of financing is one of the major problems of social organizations that are trying to help, but do not have enough means. First of all, American society needs to mobilize in order to overcome ignorance and indifference.

Davis & Moore's criticism of the current situation in the US would have been directed against income distribution and social inequality. They would suggest improving the system of rewards among different positions according to the social utility and needs. This would promote motivation and give the opportunity for growth and development. Another important thing is to reconsider the wealth and prestige distribution.

Marx’s predictions about power and wealth concentration in the hands of a small minority seem to come true now. Marxist theory suggests that the main reason of poverty is social inequality and unjust wealth distribution in capitalist society. Therefore, poverty is considered to be a part of society with limited resources and the existent capitalist class.  Marx would suggest reconstruction of the society, taking into account interests of the labor class.

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