The Brick Wall of Poverty

As I sit in my government class at the beginning of my senior year, many questions flood into my head. So many controversial issues exist in our world, and our country more specifically, yet I appear to be tied between sides on various matters. One of the more key matters for consideration is the issue of poverty in the United States and the controversy about just exactly who causes it. A person can do their best to push themselves and reach a place of success, but can still end up in the depths of poverty with nothing to show for their effort. Is it the people themselves who must take the blame for being continuously pushed down by a system that serves to make success and stability increasingly difficult for those at the bottom of the ladder of class? Or is it the system that we believe is there to help us and keep us living sustainably, when behind closed curtains it is really throwing us under the bus? The latter appears to be much more logical, through the many lenses that you may view it.

Recent statistics centered around poverty have shown that there is a vast number of people in the United States who are actually poor. According to feedingamerica.org, In 2013, 45.3 million people (14.5 percent) were in poverty. An enormous number – 45.3 million – of human beings were in a position where they could not effectively support themselves and/or their families properly, due to financial trouble and hardship. Even if a fair number of the poor had somehow overcome the odds and lifted themselves out of their tough situations, that would still leave millions of people who may not have moved even a single inch forward. There are many reasons for their stationary position, of that you can be guaranteed. One of the primary and possibly most important reasons is the way that the system treats them, whether it be in everyday life, or even at the most crucial moments when they wish to propel themselves forward and make a change.

In today’s society, people can try as hard as they want to get to a point where they can elevate themselves out of poverty and live sustainably with little worry. Unfortunately, our system does not run so smoothly. In an article titled The Expanding World of Poverty Capitalism written by Thomas B. Edsall, he states, “In terms of food, housing and other essentials, the cost of being poor has always been exorbitant. Landlords, grocery stores and other commercial enterprises have all found ways to profit from those at the bottom of the ladder.” Edsall’s statement is a prime example of one of the many ways that the system is structured to keep those at the bottom of the ladder just where the higher ups believe they belong. It is a way of making sure that not many can jump past the expensive obstacles that have been established, so that those in poverty may remain in poverty. It is a way of keeping those tens of millions of people who were in poverty pleading for help and change.

For one such as myself, adulthood is right around the corner. It is approaching rapidly, which means the need for financial independence is nearing. That being said, I do not wish to become part of a statistic pertaining to poverty once the time comes for me to spread my wings out and soar into the world we know as modern day society. I do not wish to be one of the people that many deem as someone who may fail simply because of their own failure to push themselves. I do not wish to be a part of what people consider a prime example of how poverty exists only because of the behavior of poor people, when in actuality, that is rarely the case. That may be the way things turn out for a few people here and there, but it is under no circumstance appropriate to generalize the complete population of the poor as people who have failed simply due to their own ignorance and lack of what it takes to survive in this world.

We have to target the source of the trouble causing poverty itself, not just sit by and let it consume the country with full force. The system that plagues our community must be altered to a point where it will no longer act in a way that makes it a large hindrance to those whom it is supposed to help out. Whether the changes made are simple price drops, an increase in provided opportunities, or even just a significantly increased amount of help for those who have been stuck in poverty for a long time, it will be valuable. There is no amount of positive change that deserves to be set aside and postponed for the sake of preserving some sort of “order” that has already been established. If we truly desire reform, we must act as soon as possible.