Lately there has been a lot of fuss about a “war on poverty.” I often find myself wondering about this so-called war.
I see homeless people all the time when I drive down Meridian Street, so obviously we aren’t faring too well.
However, the government’s fight against soaring poverty rates is something that we should all be concerned with.
Close 44 million Americans were living in poverty in 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
This number does not include the Americans that purchased lavish houses on a string of credit that would barely support a studio apartment. These people were adversely affected but not driven into poverty.
I’m talking about Americans, who in this economy, have been robbed of their jobs. Americans whose jobs have been outsourced to India, Americans who worked at automotive plants that were shut down after a failed government bailout.
I’m talking about neighbors, friends and family that are now living paycheck to paycheck, trying to get the most out of their money while simultaneously being crushed by the weight of this recession.
Many of those directly responsible are still living substantially better than the 44 million in poverty-—many of whom worked hard for what they eventually lost.
The government is doing what it can, but, regrettably, it is not enough.
Since the term of President Lyndon B. Johnson, we have been fighting this “War on Poverty” and losing miserably.
The Census Bureau found that an increasing number of Americans, across all family types are falling into the pit of poverty and that 14.3 percent is the highest it has been since 1994. This is the most people living in poverty in American since data was first collected in 1959.
Not only do we have a substantial amount of poverty, we are exceeding the previous poverty records that have been set for our nation. There is nothing to be proud of here.
This fight is a tricky one. There is no clear solution to eliminating, or even reducing, poverty.
I do think there are a series of steps to help repair our poverty-related problems.
The first step is to find those Americans who are simply living off of welfare or unemployment.
We need to implement motivational programs that inspire these people to get their foot in the door of the work force.
These programs could be as simple as training seminars, sessions on how to present oneself in an interview or free resume´ critiques. Services like these are commonly offered on college campuses, including here at Butler.
The biggest issue in the unemployed sector isn’t so much laziness as it is a lack of knowledge of the skills it takes to successfully attain a job, even if it is an entry-level position.
If the government provided American citizens with these tools and then the encouragement to implement them in the work force, there could be less poverty and an increase in jobs, which therefore creates an increase in revenue that in turn boosts our economy.
The second step is more of a direct result of the first step rather than a completely separate suggestion.
Once we seek out the people who are living off of welfare and other government-supported benefit programs, there will be more money available to help those citizens who are having a more difficult time locating available jobs in their area.
My misgiving with this “War on Poverty” is that there are things that Americans can do that will make it easier for them to attain a job in today’s struggling market.
However, the public cannot fix everything on its own.
Some of these problems need to be addressed by those who have the most influence and power-—the government.
In a recent article for USA Today, Bob Beckel, columnist and democratic strategist, said, “The fact is most poverty is concentrated in areas with fewer well-paying jobs. We can’t expect the government to supply all those jobs, but there is still a role for government to play to encourage the private sector to create jobs in these poverty zones.”
We are not the only ones who can solve this poverty crisis.
We desperately need the help of the government to boost available jobs in the areas most affected by poverty.
Without government assistance, I’m afraid the poverty rate will only continue to grow, as will the income gap between the upper, middle and lower classes.
It is imperative for us as a nation to band together and help the government fight the “war on poverty.”
We need more widely available jobs, as well as less outsourcing.
The main key to fighting poverty begins with the youth.
What we need to be focusing on is showing children how important school is for their future. If more children complete high school and continue on to college, they will be able to choose a career path and create new jobs, as well as make the existing ones more of a necessity.
Perhaps, one day, this “war on poverty” will come to a close and American’s can walk away the victor.