Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A view of poverty from Chicago's West Side

A student's reaction paper on eliminating or reducing poverty.
While I was reading the article, “Policies to Reduce Poverty”, I noticed that there are two major things that must happen in order to reduce poverty.  One point is that we must remove the barriers or obstacles that stand in people’s way.  Barriers could be skill deficits, emotional or mental problems, racism, health problems, distance from employment opportunities, and so forth.  The other point is that we must help people find and keep employment that is satisfying and rewards them with an income that keeps them out of poverty, or if people can’t be employed, we must supply them with an income that eliminates their poverty. 
I did not know that there were two different types of poverty. The first type of poverty is absolute poverty. Absolute poverty is when people have an insufficient income to afford the basic necessities of life, such as food, rent and clothing. The other type of poverty is relative poverty. Relative poverty is when people have income significantly less than the average income for society. The American poverty threshold is set with an understanding that people need a certain income to be adequately fed and pay a certain portion of their income to secure housing, so in one sense the American poverty threshold is an absolute poverty standard.  But most people at the top end of poverty income distribution (those making more than 70% of the poverty threshold) probably do not face absolute poverty deprivation if they are getting the various welfare supports for which they quality. The people we read about in $2 A Day at the bottom 2% of the income distribution really are living in absolute poverty, insecure in their housing and food, and living with instability an real deprivation. 
I grew up on the Westside of Chicago, IL. Poverty is a huge problem in my neighborhood. There are areas that display a better side then what I see. This article made me think about how many people are laying on bus stops, sleeping in tents under the freeway, or even begging for change in front of stores. There has to be solutions to fix this problem. 
The article presents many possible policy solutions. The question is, “will they ever get approved?”. The first thing that caught my eye while looking at the list was reducing unemployment. I feel like the unemployment rate has lowered ever since Obama came into office. I really do hope that it stays the same. I’ve seen articles that has possible solutions that can help it, but I have not found any that has already reduced poverty. Increasing progressive taxes should reduce poverty. This could be the policy that take more the high income tax payers. Next, increasing benefits to the poor would also help, it would help because benefits that they receive now may not be enough. Being not able to feed your family, not able to pay for their medicine is too heartbreaking. While I was reading this article I saw that there should be a national minimum wage. The article states, “The government could increase the national minimum wage. This is an effective way of increasing the incomes of the low paid, and therefore reducing wage inequality.” I believe that the minimum wage should be higher so people can have a better lifestyle. There should be a national minimum wage that applies for everyone. 

Mary Bogle, Gregory Acs, Pamela J. Loprest, Kelly S. Mikelson, Susan J. Popkin. (August 25, 2016) “Building Blocks and Strategies for Helping Americans Move Out of Poverty” published at the Urban Institute.  

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