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Poverty Has a Major Effect

Essay by   •  December 8, 2010  •  Essay  •  463 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,617 Views

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The way social classes are in the United States make it very difficult for people to move up in the structure. Many Americans do not believe in social classes, as we are a country of equality; however it is quite obvious that one does exist. This existence of a social structure can make poor people poor, and rich people stay rich. It is easy to believe that poverty can be the result of the weakness of the individual; however, in many cases people do not see that is actually the result of the social structure.

History takes a tool on the American social structure and helps shape it into what it is now. From Centuries before, "African Americans are vastly overrepresented among those Americans whose lives are the most economically and socially distressed," (Ferguson-Oliver pg. 304) they are a part of a majority that we call the underclass. There is a relationship of race to wealth that we must examine.

From our history, the long years of slavery has put African Americans at a great disadvantage. During those years, slaves were not allowed much freedom and this limited there economic rights, "slaves were by law not able to own property or accumulated assets. No matter how poor whites were, they had the right if they were males, that if not the ability, to buy land, enter into there own businesses and develop wealth assets that could build equity and economic self-sufficiency for themselves and their families" (Ferguson-Oliver pg. 307).

This limitation and inability to accumulate wealth and assets during these years as slaves, accounts for the low wealth development among African Americans today. African Americans have paid more into the system and received less unlike their white counterparts. For instance, they have made contributions to social security earning less than whites, however, they were, on average, taxed on 100 percent of their income, while their white counterparts earned a considerable amount of untaxed income.

The issue is not that poverty is defined too broadly; it is that many people do not understand that our socioeconomic structure means you must make much more money just to survive. Poverty use to be considered a responsibility of society as a whole, now poverty is often blamed on the poor and on the system of government support created to help them around (Stengel, par 5). Is our over materialistic society to blame? Society seems to had sought to convince us that in addition to the basic human needs of air, water, food and shelter, we all have a fifth human need for novelty around (Sine 90) If you make even a dollar or two an hour above the minimum wage, you still suffer a lot..

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