Poverty In US

Poverty in the United States is getting worse each day and not enough is getting
done about it. The readings from “Babies and Benefits” by Sheila
Holbrook-White, the article on poverty by Michael J. Paquette, and “Keeping
Women And Children Last” by Ruth Sidel made me view the issues of poverty in a
different way. I never realised what kind of people were living in poverty, and
the true reasons why they are there. What amazes me the most is how much these
people need help, and how little the government is doing to help them. The
government should set up work programs for these people to help them get better
jobs and make enough money to survive. The politicians in Washington D.C. and
all over the U.S. want nothing more than to cut back on government funding for
the people in poverty. The government doesnt believe that most of the people
actually need this money from AFDC. They cant get it because they dont
meet the proper criteria set by the government. Either theyre not poor
enough, theyre not poor in the right way or they need the money for the
wrong reasons. The reading in the book Keeping Woman and Children Last, showed
time and time again the shocking stories of how people fall into poverty after
living a middle class life for decades. Reasons pertaining to illness, death,
unemployment, divorce and accidents left these people with nothing and the
government would refuse to help them. These people are called the “New
Poor”(Sidel, 1998, p.60). Their social security and pensions are not enough
for them to live on so they must rely on these funds to help. “With marriage
being touted today as a central route out of poverty, few critics of the choices
and behaviour of poor woman speak about marriage as a path into
poverty.”(Sidel, 1998, p.60) I never thought that marriage could lead to
poverty until I read this story from “Keeping Women And Children Last”. A
welfare worker married one of her clients and ended up on welfare because of her
marriage. She married a man who had ” little education, a drug problem and an
alcohol problem.”(Sidel, 1998, p.60) Their marriage fell apart because of his
abuse to his wife and children and the woman was forced to go for help from the
place where she used to work, a welfare office. They got back together
eventually after he came out of a rehabilitation program. He then started with
the drugs and alcohol again and she was force to leave him to apply for AFDC.

“Those who are stigmatising welfare recipients do not point to all those young
mothers who are valiantly caring for their children on meager AFDC checks while
struggling to complete their education.”(Sidel, 1998, p.63) Parent who receive
AFDC checks that are going back to school to better qualify themselves for
better jobs in order to better provide for their families. One woman came off
the streets of New York City and went from begging at supermarkets to attending
Columbia University through their Higher Education Opportunities Program (HEOP).

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” She is constantly fearful that HEOP will be cut back and that “welfare
reform” will force her to quit school and go back to work full time.” (Sidel,
1998, p.64) These people need help while they are in school, but welfare reform
is not the kind of help they need. These programs should receive more government
funding to not just better the people and help the children but to better
society. Some people are also saying that single mothers have more children to
receive more money from the AFDC. This is where the term “woman have babies
for benefits”(Holbrook-white, 1998, p.1) comes from. Politicians like Bob
James and Robert Rector believes that these women are cheating the system.

Studys have shown that even though AFDC benefits have fallen across the
nation 47% since 1970, single mother childbearing has nearly doubled. Statistics
in Alabama show that more than half the babies born in Alabama are unplanned. I
feel that these cutbacks on welfare reform are just excuses to spend less on the
poor and more on the wealthy. The statistics on specific ethnic groups are
ridiculous. 33% of Hispanics live in poverty. Sidel shows that that the average
white family income is $20,000 more than the average black family income. She
also shows that “Connecticut, one of the richest states in the nation, has
since passed one of the most restricted welfare bills adopted by any state.”


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