The United States' Poverty Epidemic Essay

1096 words - 5 pages

Compared to the rest of the world the United States is economically prosperous however, many citizens are plagued with poverty and destitution. Poverty has become such a problem that one in six Americans are living below the poverty line (Yen). Despite the significant number of Americans living in poverty, most Americans are unaware of its vast scope and scale. The public’s apathy towards poverty has caused it to become an invisible epidemic. The middle -class’s flight from the cities has created de facto segregation between the impoverished and the financially comfortable. Lawmakers find that running on the platform of “fixing poverty” is not appealing to the majority of their middle-class constituents. The media turns a blind eye to America’s poverty epidemic because poverty does not excite viewers or garner favorable ratings.
Cities are now bastions of poverty, the concentration of the impoverished in cities began to skyrocket in the years following World War Two. The sharp increase of poor families living in cities is directly correlated to the middle class moving out of cities and into the suburbs. The disparity is so profound that “the population of midtown Manhattan dropped from 1.5 million during the day to 2,000 at night” (Invisible Poor). The socioeconomic segregation created a permanent underclass that rarely interacted with their well-heeled counterparts. The separation of classes based on socioeconomic status plays into a human’s natural desire to show indifference to the plights of others. This indifference has fueled poverty’s reclusion because it is unlikely that suburbanites will interact with the poor. The per capita poverty rate is significantly higher in urban areas therefore; suburban dwellers are statistically unlikely to come in contact with the financially destitute (Ferguson). De facto segregation was subsequently created after the middle-class fled to suburbia; they left in their wake hordes of homeless and economically unstable individuals. De facto segregation has contributed to poverty’s invisibility because it allows for the middle class to passively avoid poverty and hardship. The past half century has drawn boundaries that separate the poor and the comfortable; this separation is a factor is poverty’s invisibility.
The poor have relatively few material assets and a complete absence of capital and clout. The poor’s lack of political influence has had a dramatic effect on poverty becoming invisible. Politicians follow the money; the poor do not possess the resources needed to wield significant political influence. Dan Glickman of U.S. News and World Report expertly articulated why politicians and citizens alike shy away from the issue of poverty.
There are many reasons for [poverty]: persistent distrust of government among many Americans, real long-term fiscal and budget problems, political gridlock and the incorrect belief that most anti-poverty programs don't work. Perhaps part of the problem is that, among...

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