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Are Those in Poverty Really Responsible for It?

Describes common beliefs about poverty and the facts that prove otherwise.

In a Sociology class I am taking, we had to consider three statements and what we felt about them. The three statements were: The poor are responsible for their poverty. If people want to move up the class ladder, they just need to work harder, and poor people are just lazy and lack willpower. Would you believe that a lot of people in my class thought these statements were accurate!Well I would like to pick apart each statement and discuss why they are in fact not true.

The poor are responsible for their poverty.

Many across the nation have been laid off due to the recession. Even more have lost their houses due to the fact that they cannot afford them without their jobs leading them to move to tent cities. Sacramento and Seattle have been hit the hardest by the recession. Most of these people were actually middle-upper class citizens who have worked at the same company for years. Now let me take you across the globe. The bottom of the UN’s quality of life index list are filled with African countries. Ten years ago 300 million in Africa were living on less than $1.25 a day and the numbers have risen. In 2003 forty percent of the homeless in America were children, forty-two percent of homeless children are under the age of five. I doubt these children are responsible for their poverty. They cannot legally work, are born into their circumstances, or are due to their family’s circumstances.Do any of these people hold responsibility for their poverty? The top two contributions to poverty around the world are the economy and the government.

If people want to move up the class ladder, they just need to worker harder.

It is hard to move up on anything when you live paycheck to paycheck. It is hard to do anything when you can just barely afford the necessities for your family. In 2006, there were 12.9 million single parent homes; it is statistically proven that single parent homes are more at risk for poverty. Many parents would like to go back to school to move up in life, but it costs money on top of being difficult to raise children, and work.  Minimum wage in the U.S. is $6.55.That is just a little bit over $1000/mo. without taxes and FICA. The average cost of living is usually just below to way over the national average of 100 on the cost of living index. On average the cheapest rent in America runs about $650 for a small apartment(which is usually in the worst neighborhoods). So take that check and subtract the rent and you have about $350 left and this is still without Federal taxes, and don’t forget the utilities and groceries. And so is it really that easy to move up the class ladder? And for those who do, there are usually stigmas against them for their “new money” and working class pasts.

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  1. Sergeant

    On July 13, 2009 at 5:01 pm


    Generally speaking, The poor keep doing things which keep them poor while the rich keep doing things to make them rich.

    Take a million dollar lottery winner for example. The formerly poor person was used to spending all his income on both neccessity and non-essentials and end up in worse financial shape than before he aquired his riches.

    Then there\’s the rich who loose everything, go deep into debt only to rise again and do very well for themselves.

    I think my case is fairly common.
    I had no formal education and no means to aquire one. I was living paycheck to paycheck with few non-essentials. I love our 3 kids but financially would have been our ruin. I studied computers and software technology ****on my own**** using library and other borrowed books and bought a (barely) working 15 year old computer from GoodWill to work on.

    I studdied my fingers off while my wife scoured daily employment want-ads. After 3 years she finally found an advertisement for someone with my newly-trained skills. I went in, passed their pre-employment test. I was hired at a wage better than my two previous full-time jobs combined, and more than trippled after 5 years.

    Me? I\’m still not \”Rich\” but I\’m an example of someone formerly deep in the mire of poverty who pulled himself and his family out of it.

    Like I said, the poor keep doing things which make them poor.
    Over 10 years we took our new found wealth and spent more than we took in and ended up deep in debt. Still employed but financially ruined. We filed bankruptsy two years ago and have been following a payment plan and will finish late next year.

    Me and my family learned the hard way how not to stay poor.

    The war on poverty is a loosing battle.
    There will always be the poor, whether self-inflicted or by unfortunate circumstance.

    Freedom is not the aquisation of wealth.
    Freedom is the right to persue your personal happiness without interference from an overbearing, oppressive government or individual.
    That includes confiscation of your wealth to give to another.

  2. Redburn

    On July 31, 2009 at 8:21 pm


    Success is really something very tough. Believe it or not, just look at the faces of any sport champion while he is competing, I have never ever seen a smily face.

  3. serowa

    On November 16, 2009 at 2:11 pm


    Great write and very accurate. The facts you have raised are the ones used to oppress the poor. Instead of giving them hope they are stigmatised to feel useless.

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