Overcoming Poverty: Potential Solutions Essay

2552 words - 10 pages

Overcoming Poverty: Potential Solutions

There is no single description of poverty. But for many, perhaps most, it means homes with inadequate heating, unstable plumbing, and uncertain electricity. It often means a home where some go to bed hungry and malnutrition is very frequent. For almost all the poverty stricken families it means that life is a constant struggle to obtain the merest necessities of existence, the things that most of us take for granted. Financial aid and government assistance programs have been set up in hopes of alleviating this growing problem. However, financial aid and other assistance programs are just too expensive to contend with the growing social issue: poverty. It has become crucial that we examine possible economic alternatives in order to improve the increasing poverty statistic explained in this paper. We must ask ourselves if indeed spending money will really improve the whole situation, or will it set our nation in further unnecessary debt? But most importantly, the ultimate question that needs to be addressed: why are people poor and what is the bigger issue surrounding poverty?

The government believed the War on Poverty in the 1960's was the solution at the time. It was a step toward rehabilitation, but after spending over 5 trillion dollars only to come up empty, congress was ready to wave the white flag. This new strategy for the war on poverty was directed at changing peoples' core values and education. The program tried to reform the poor through education, training, and strengthening family life. The ultimate goal was for the poor to acquire basic needs and skills so they could become self-sufficient. As the Secretary of Health states:

Financial assistance to meet people's basic needs for food, shelter, and clothing is essential, but alone is not enough. Expenditures for assistance not accompanied by rehabilitative services may actually increase dependency and eventual costs to the community, the very essence of a vital program should be full use of all rehabilitative services. The ultimate aim is to help families become self-supporting and independent by strengthening all their own resources.

(Handler 48)

In other words, financial assistance helps, but with the poverty rates rising, costs to keep a respectable financial aid program fades. Ultimately, rather than simply throwing money at people in poverty, I believe more of a long run solution is needed: rehabilitation through education and through strengthening family life.

Since 1960, the number of financial aid applicants has risen from 2.4 million to about 10 million children and adults. In the last five years, the number of recipients rose by more than 75 percent. It costs about 7 billion a year to support this effervescent statistic. The costs are simply too much to handle. Social characteristics of families have changed as well. In the stepping-stones of this relief program, white widows headed most of the...

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