Poverty as a social injustice

Poverty is the central issue that potentially impacts everyone, all races, genders, religions, countries, states, etc.. It’s the universal injustice and in some ways the most difficult to tackle. We can change behaviors, as difficult as it is. We can change perceptions, but getting people out of poverty is really a mountain. When we layer on the other biases, race, gender, religion that makes it harder for people to gain stable housing, gain stable employment, etc that contribute to poverty, the mountain is insurmountable on their own.

The readings about poverty for me reflect how many do not seem interested in working to improve the condition or they believe that those people affected made choices that got them into poverty.   More than the other injustices, the focus is on the fraud or possibility of fraud. Almost as if we can ignore the problem, as long as we can justify that some abuse of resources exists.  In other words, it’s okay to ignore the many in poverty as long as we can prove that the assistance is abused by some.

It’s hard not to find the opinions of those opposing assistance offensive. While I never have suffered from poverty myself, I grew up in southern Culpeper, in an area where it surrounded me. Even as a child I recognized the struggles others had, even if I didn’t fully understand the costs of living or the underlying issues that caused poverty, I recognized that there were have-nots who were stuck in it and some of the struggle they went through.

Any discussion of poverty makes me wonder why the U.S. commits some many resources to other countries when we are not taking care of our own.  This is not to imply that other countries do not need and require assistance but we have many in need all over the U.S. who are falling through the cracks and living in conditions we would not find acceptable for ourselves. It seems like reinvesting in poverty in the US would be much more economically stimulating than sending funds to other countries.

I don’t understand the support for the Republican party by the poor. During the time leading up to this past election, I, like many observed the Trump signs in many of the poorest neighborhoods in the adjoining states. It has been explained to me that they do not want handouts, they want jobs, and Trump promised that. That I understand, however, those in poverty should know better than anyone that a political party did not get them into poverty and will not get them out. At best, the party can create policies and funding to support them in their time of need.

Much of what drives poverty is clear. Every discussion of poverty involves the same topics: drug abuse, healthcare, and thanks to Matthew Desmond, rent. When I think about it, the U.S. is actually quite poor at dealing with all three of these issues. News of overdoses seems to continue to grow and treatment options are very limited. We are behind many other developed countries in availability of healthcare and it costs more. Neither political party has good solutions.  Desmond clearly identified how poorly our programs of assistance with housing are at building steps out of poverty.

Are we bad at social programs because we deny these issues, or because we have developed a such a distaste for the word socialism that we would rather bypass improvement of social service and ignore the needs of Americans rather than being compared to a socialist country?



2 thoughts on “Poverty as a social injustice”

  1. Wow David, awesome assessment! I am totally on board with you. As I said in our meeting on Wednesday poverty is the one thing that crosses all social barriers: gender, race, religion, age it doesn’t care who you are or what you think it will strike and the majority, 50%, of us are on the brink of it at some point. And I agree with you that it is almost like the U.S. as a whole is so scared of the word socialism and what might happen if we offer or adapt our social programs that we are blaming everyone that using the resources when a few bad apples abuse the system. We rather help other countries instead of our own to include the men and women that have served this Nation faithfully. I don’t know if I am on board yet with the idea that drug abuse causes poverty I think it is the over way around, I think drug abuse is a result of poverty, a coping mechanism. I would agree that mental illness and the lack of medical treatment, the mass incarceration and therefore now criminal records and difficulty in getting a job, and the high cost of rent in general are all reasons for poverty.

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