“Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.” ― Nelson Mandela (Mandela, 2005, p. 123)
It has been said that poor people have poor ways. Professionals use the term culture of poverty to describe that people in poverty share consistent and observable characteristics. Critics of this concept argue that many of these conceived universal characteristics are myths (Lewis, 1998). Whether the culture of poverty is a legitimate concept or not, it is truth that families that are in poverty tend to be that way for generations. Since the beginning of civilization there have been individuals with means and those without. The issue of those that have and those who don’t is a divisive topic. As Aristotle once said, “Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.” (Stefan, 2003, p.1)
Many societies have put measures in place to help their impoverished citizens. Many feel that in the United States the programs meant to help the poor also lock them into perpetual poverty. Every society, great and small, has dealt with poverty and to date none have come up with an adequate solution to the issue. The solutions to fix poverty vary widely. Some feel the poor should receive few benefits but have programs in place to pull themselves out of poverty. Others feel that too much of the world’s wealth is in the hands of a few individuals and this wealth needs to have a more equal distribution. As with many issues, the truth undoubtedly falls somewhere in the middle if common ground could be found. Poverty is a generational issue that is putting a huge burden on our society and unless a solution is found to at least alleviate the problem it could become the catalyst to our nations ruin.
Poverty and Wealth by the Numbers
According to the United States Census Bureau the nation’s official poverty rate was 15 percent in 2012. To determine who is in poverty, the United States Census Bureau uses a set of income thresholds that vary by family size and composition. If a family's total income falls below the parameters set by the federal government, then the family and every individual in it are considered in poverty. Using those guidelines approximately 46.5 million people living in the United States fell below the poverty line threshold for the 2012 data cycle. From 2007-2012 the poverty rate increased two and half percentage points. Breaking down the 2012 poverty rate data by age group; 21.8 percent of chil¬dren under age 18 live in poverty. The poverty rate for people aged 18 to 64 was 13.7 percent, while the rate for people aged 65 and older was 9.1 percent (About Poverty, 2013). ...