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Poverty Is the Worst Form of Violence

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Poverty is defined as “the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support” (“poverty”). Different necessities are clearly needed for each individual. So this leaves one to believe that a person is defined as living in a state of poverty if their income is below the amount required for these necessities. That is one way to measure poverty but a more accurate way to measure poverty is by the consumption rate of an individual.

Americans get plenty of help from the government or other non profit organizations which makes their income an insufficient way of measuring poverty. Taking the consumption rate into account, one can see the ways in which money is going in and out of an individual’s life and creates a better foundation to answer the question of: do Americans know what true poverty is? It is inaccurate to say that Americans know what true poverty is because even the poorest people in America make more than people living in third world countries. Americans have access to financial help from the government and access to more homeless shelters and food drives. However the government in the United States still does a poor job of preventing poverty in the first place.

Poverty does not appear out of thin air, and cannot disappear quickly either. Lots of times, children are born into poverty. According to a website titled “Poverty in the United States,” author Bill Fay stated that the United States Census Bureau’s population report in 2011 brought back results of 16,400,000 children living in the United States, twenty-two percent of the population of minors at the time, were living in some form of poverty. Trends that are found in poverty stricken families include inadequate amount of education, major health issues, and little access to healthy nutritious food. Typically, the less of an education someone achieves, the less financial stability they will receive in their life due to lack of good paying jobs for low educated individuals. Few jobs require only highs school a degree or less, and these jobs are very low paying. One has a better chance of getting a high paying job if he or she attends college and obtains a degree.

However, if one does not have the money to attend college, this is very difficult. Not having the right nutritional food can lead to major health issues and leave one in piles of debt due to rising medical costs. Medical insurance will only cover so much even if one has access to medical insurance. It is much cheaper to buy food from a fast food restaurant to feed your family rather than purchasing healthy food from a grocery store. Poverty stricken families are forced to spend what little money the have on this junk food, only worsening their health (Fay).

Poor people living in America often claim to be in a much worse situation financially than they actually are. According to a website titled “America’s Real Poverty Rate is Around and About Zero,” author Tim Worstall makes the claim that some people in countries much poorer than the United States are making around a dollar and twenty five cents a day. This money is supposed to be spent on food, clothing, and shelter not only for themselves, but for their families as well. Americans that claim to be living in poverty are making much more than that a day, which is not even including the financial help they gain from the government and/or other resources.

Looking at the same article mentioned previously, The United States Census announced in 2014 that nearly 46,600,00 Americans were living in poverty. Yet, if one takes the conditions that a poverty stricken person in a third world country is facing and compares it to someone living in poverty in the United States, that number drops to almost about zero. Almost every United States citizen has access to financial help which is very uncommon amongst the poorer countries (Worstall).

Looking only at the official poverty rate from income will not give one an accurate picture of poverty. A 2007 study found that the official poverty rate in that year was around fourteen percent. Although, if one took the consumption rate into account, the number dropped to zero percent. This is similar to how in 2010 the official poverty rate was around sixteen percent in the United States but once the consumption rate was taken into account, this number dropped to about two percent of the population. Looking at the income rate alone does not make sense since the government is doing more now than ever before to help end poverty, it would not make any sense for the poverty rate to rise. When the government spends millions of dollars on resources to help poverty, it would make no sense for the poverty rate to rise after this action has been taken. This only happens when one looks at the poverty rate through one’s income (Worstall).

Not only are Americans making more money than poverty stricken citizens in third world countries but they also have more access to effective government oriented financial help. For example, an organization located in other poverty stricken countries to help people in need of shelter is “Habitat for Humanity.” According to the article titled “Changing the Face of Poverty,” author Diana George explains how this company allows people to build their own house, and the hours they put into labor can be traded in for an amount deducted off of the total cost. Although these houses are a great way for someone to have a place to stay, after the owner passes on, the houses are no longer in possession of the owner’s family or anyone in their will. This is like a person in America paying off any debt they have on a house, officially owning it, then soon passing on and not having the right to pass it on to anyone they wish.

This shows that even the organizations for poverty stricken humans are not as effective as the ones located in the United States. In America there are plenty of organizations for a poverty stricken human to take action of. People volunteer daily at homeless shelters and many food drives take place at various events, schools, churches, and many more places to help gather food for homeless people (George).

Americans have access to many government or non profit organizations located in the United States only that give financial aid and access to food. Looking at the previously mentioned article by Bill Fay, social security alone keeps about 21,400,000 Americans out of poverty. Unemployment benefits given in the early 2010’s allowed 2,300,000 Americans to overcome poverty. Food stamps alone bring 3,900,000 Americans out of poverty. Less developed countries do not have access to benefits like these causing the poverty stricken citizens to be in a much worse place than Americans (Fay). However, the government is not doing everything they could be doing to help. Some things the government is doing is making the poor even poorer. Most poor people do not have the money to go to college, or didn’t when they were of college age.

The highest level of education they have is a highschool diploma, or sometimes even less if they dropped out, which took place a lot due to social and financial issues. A minimum wage paying job is all one can get with this education. In most states, the minimum wage is $7.25 (“Minimum Wages in the United States 2018, By State | Statistic”). If and individual works forty hours a week the whole entire year, they will make about $15,080. That is before taxes are taken out and does not include sick days or any other reasons one could not work. That is then supposed to be used to pay for housing, food for the whole family, clothing, and/or anything a family would need. There may be government or non profit organizations to help end poverty, but the government is doing nothing about it to prevent it in the first place (Moore).

Americans do not know what true poverty is because even after help from either the government or various non profit organizations, they are still making more money than poverty stricken humans in third world countries. Although the poverty rates in the United States seem very high, this is due to the measurement of one’s income, rather than consumption by an individual. The poverty rates in America are literally nothing when compared to third world countries. When poverty is defined correctly and then the circumstances of an individual’s life are taken into account, one can understand what true poverty is. When poverty stricken American citizen’s consumption rate rather than income rate is taken into account and the daily lives of these individuals are compared to people living in poverty in poorer countries, one can conclude that Americans do not know what true poverty is.

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