Term Paper: Working Poor Are

Pages: 4 (1416 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Ehrenreich's book demonstrates that America's poor are not lazy - they have a much harder life than many of us can imagine.

According to a recent article (People's Tribune, 2001), "Oregon welfare agency recently handed out a circular to poor women telling them that, to save money, they should "check the dump and residential/business dumpsters" to find things they need." While this may be seen as a reasonable request to some, it seems to be a type of inhumane treatment that should be protested.

However, due to the fact that Americans are being taught that the poor are poor because of their own "personal failings," we tend to view poverty as shameful and often turn the other cheek. Still, Americans are worried about poverty. People may, at least once in their lives, find themselves without enough money for rent, transportation, medical bills, and food.

Some argue that the poor are lazy and that's why they're poor. However, a recent survey by National Public Radio, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government contradicts this belief, showing that the majority of low-income people reported that they do work. So if the poor are not lazy, why is poverty growing in America?

According to a recent article (Microenterprise, 2001), democracy thrives with healthy economies and vice versa. When people are poor, weak, and suffering, they have no time or energy to defend their basic human rights as free men and women who have a say in their country's laws and leaders. When democracy frays, other political systems win - and the world has had enough of totalitarian and terrorist regimes.

The major causes of poverty given by those polled were: drug abuse, medical bills, too few jobs (or too many part-time or low-wage jobs), too many single-parent families, and too many immigrants. Approximately half of the public stated that the poor are not doing enough to help themselves out of poverty and that they have it too easy, and the other half says that circumstances beyond their control cause them to be poor. Contrary to what our leaders would like us to believe, being poor has nothing to do with the poor, working or not. It has to do more with the functions of an economic system, which is known as capitalism. The law of maximum profit governs capitalism.

It is this law of maximum profit that determines our economy and consequently the number of jobs (People's Tribune, 2001). The growth of poverty has nothing to do with whether people are doing enough to help themselves out of poverty. In fact, poverty is ingrained into the workings of the capitalist system. Under capitalism, two classes exist. One class is made up of those who have to work for a living -- whether they are employed or unemployed, whether working in a factory, as a janitor, a computer programmer, a secretary or any other job. Then there are those who have appropriated the means of production, such as factories, mines, real estate, high technology, and more, for their own personal wealth.

The solution to poverty in America is not to insist that the poor work more. The solution lies in developing a new economic system: one that will put life and humanity first and profits second; one that will work for the majority of Americans, who have to work for a living, and not just for the minority, who do not.


Coryn. C. (Fall 2001). Antecedents of Attitudes Toward the Poor. Annual meeting of the Great Plains Students' Psychology Convention, St. Joseph, MO. Tagler, MJ.

Ehrenreich, Barbara. (2001). Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. New York: Danziger.

Microenterprise. (January, 2001). Compassion and Economics Join Forces to Empower the Poorest of the Poor. Research News & Opportunities in Science and Theology.

People's Tribune. (June, 2001). Growing poverty is America's shame -- here's how we can end it. People's Tribune (Online Edition), Vol. 26 No. 6 / June, 2001. http://www.lrna.org.

Quammen, David. (August 6, 1996). Now That "Welfare As We Know It" Is Ended, Let's Quit Kidding Ourselves About The Poor! Ari.net. Retrieved from the Internet at… [END OF PREVIEW]

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