For those who live an impoverished life, it is difficult to participate in society. They are left behind in our cultural movement because they lack the necessities to be on an equal level with the rest of society. Because the poor cannot get their basic needs for life, they cannot improve their well-being; therefore, our society as a whole cannot efficiently move in new directions.
As Jo Goodwill Parker states in "What is Poverty," she does not have luxuries. Luxuries of the impoverished are what we would consider our basic needs such as food, water, transportation and shelter. Simply getting adequate food is difficult, but not the main problem for the poor. As Parker states, her children "do not suffer from hunger, [her] seventy-eights dollars keeps [them] alive, but they do suffer from malnutrition" (63). The poor also suffer from a lack of clean water. Their water is often dirty and can not be heated to clean it or to clean anything else properly because of their lack of funds for gas and electricity. Parker must wash the dishes she has "in cold water and no soap ... hot water is a luxury. [She] does not have luxuries" (61). The money for the soap that she cannot afford must be saved for her baby's diapers, and she can not afford to use it for anything else. The poor can not afford soap, nor can they afford transportation, whether it is a car or public transportation. Those who are not lucky enough to live in an area with public transportation must find other means to get around. As Parker says, she must find a way to pay her neighbor "one way or another" for the rides to the health clinic (63). For those of us who have easy access to transportation, it is hard to imagine living without a vehicle in our family and having to walk everywhere.
Not only do the poor have to suffer from malnutrition, dirty water and a lack of transportation but their living conditions are inadequate. Parker worries about "staying up all night on cold nights to watch the fire, knowing one spark on the newspaper covering the walls means [her] sleeping children die in flames" (61). No one should have to live in conditions like that.
Because of the inadequate conditions the poor live in, they are prevented from helping themselves break the cycle of poverty. If they can secure a job, it is usually a low paying part-time job that will not allow them to save money to help themselves out of poverty. However, there are those who do not see this as an excuse. L. Christopher Awalt, author of "Brother, Don't Spare a Dime", feels that people are homeless because they desire to be that way. He feels that "whether because of mental illness, alcoholism, poor education, drug addiction or simple laziness, these homeless are content to remain as they are" (Awalt 67). He thinks that they want to cheat the system and they enjoy living...