Archive for February, 2009|Monthly archive page

John Berger Quote

In Uncategorized on February 22, 2009 at 3:56 am

The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other.  It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich.  Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied…but written off as trash.  The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.  –John Berger

How do you feel about Mr. Berger’s comment?



A Cultural Issue

In Uncategorized on February 22, 2009 at 3:51 am

“Equality of opportunity is highly valued in the United States. The color of a child’s skin or the poverty of his or her parents should not be barriers to future achievements. But equal opportunity can conflict with another strongly held value—the right of parents to help their children get ahead. Because some parents are more economically advantaged than other parents and can more easily afford to help out their children, many critics claim that the playing field is not level. This is further complicated by the fact that white parents are more likely than African-American parents to have high incomes and to have assets and less likely to be long-term poor. Many argue that poverty can and do handicap children in the contest for success” (Mary Corcoran).

Ms. Corcoran makes some interesting points—points that raise a couple questions I would like to pose to you. First, do you believe that the United States truly values “equality of opportunity”? Second, do you believe that the status of poor minorities should be more of a concern compared to that of poor non-minorities (considering that studies show that poor minorities are more disadvantaged)? Indeed, poverty—a social issue—could be deemed a cultural issue as well. When I say “cultural”, I mean circumstances surrounding poverty could also be attributed to race, gender, and the like.

Only Time Will Tell…

In Uncategorized on February 22, 2009 at 3:48 am

“Child poverty in the United States is higher than it is in many industrialized countries, even though U.S. living standards on average are higher than living standards in most other countries. Poverty is higher here because our social safety net provides smaller benefits to fewer low-income families. We spend a smaller share of our gross domestic product (GDP) on social welfare programs than do most other industrialized countries” (Susan B. Neuman)

The economic stimulus package has been a hot topic lately. I, like many Americans, are concerned about how much of the stimulus will aid low-income families. Of the jobs that the Obama Administration claims this package will create, how many are likely to go to the impoverished? Of the money going toward education, how much of it will help poor children get an opportunity to go to college? Only time will tell. If America has struggled to make the needs of the poor a top priority in the past, what makes anyone think things will change in the future?! I hope time will prove my negative assertions inaccurate.

The Power of Determination?

In Uncategorized on February 22, 2009 at 3:42 am

“Material hardships will affect nearly every aspect of children’s lives—from parental responsiveness to parental teaching, from quality of the physical environment to the level of stimulation for learning. The seriousness of the problem for the life chances of these children cannot be overestimated. Poverty will exert a heavy tool on children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. Born poor, children are likely to stay poor unless we are determined to change the predictable trajectory of low achievement” (Susan B. Neuman).

Americans must recognize that being poor goes beyond lack of material possessions—it impacts every part of one’s life. It is sad to think of the psychological trauma the underprivileged experience every day. Straying slightly from one of Neuman’s point, I believe that it takes more than determination to escape poverty. It takes determination, (unfortunately) luck, and an American economic system that makes the less fortunate a TOP priority.

Poverty is Everywhere

In Uncategorized on February 14, 2009 at 5:01 am

“A television or motion picture sequence involving poverty is very likely to be placed in an inner-city setting. [However], poverty exists in rural areas, suburban areas, small towns, and big cities—in all kinds of places all over the county” (Bertha Davis).

As Ms. Davis states, poverty is widespread. While most of America’s resources go to inner-cities to fight poverty, impoverished families in small towns and other areas are often overlooked. It is important that we and our elected officials become more aware of that fact that the poor are everywhere. If the underprivileged living in communities beyond inner-cities continue to be overlooked, they will not have access to health care, education, and the like.


In Uncategorized on February 14, 2009 at 4:56 am

“Should governments drastically reduce its involvement in individual markets so that the private sector can do a better job of responding to the needs of individuals?…Should government policy include an explicit commitment to redistribute income so that every citizen has a clear path to life without poverty?” (Joseph V. Kennedy).

Both of the stated questions are important concerns in economic and social policy. If the United States government reduced its role in the private sector, could the private sector be trusted to respond to the needs of America’s? And with respect to the redistributive income notion, it is vital to recognize that a nation can either have policies that are equitable or efficient. It is impossible to have both. If America wants to invest its efforts in creating equitable policies (that benefit the poor), its implementation will be a long process. If America wants policy to work efficiently, equity will be overlooked. Therefore, if the U.S. wants to make serving the underprivileged at top priority, it should not be concerned with efficiency. How do you feel about these two questions?

Land of Opportunity?

In Uncategorized on February 14, 2009 at 4:53 am

“The United States currently has the world’s best system for higher education. Every year, large numbers of foreign students come here to study for undergraduate and graduate degrees. Yet the system is also extremely expensive, lacks competition, and to the extent that it forms unnecessary barrier to entry into the better paying jobs, tilts the playing field further against those with limited means” (Joseph V. Kennedy).

If the United States supposedly has the world’s best system for higher education (I agree with this notion), and the poor still can’t afford to go to college; where will they go in order to obtain the best education?! Just incase you needed a news flash, America’s poor can’t afford to travel abroad to get a degree. Is America really the land of opportunity for all?

Health Care

In Uncategorized on February 8, 2009 at 3:14 am

Ill health is closely linked to social exclusion. There is a higher incidence of long-term health problems among the poor. Therefore, it is important that the underprivileged have access to top-quality health care. The Handbook of Families & Poverty states that “the disabling effects of ill health are far-fetching, triggering a series of problems that have a spiral effect, making it almost impossible for a family to get out of the poverty trap” (Crane & Heaton). Public health services, although free of charge, are not always expedient because no home visits are provided and waiting lists are long (Crane & Heaton). Moreover, services are not always accessible to the poor. It is imperative that America make improvements in health care a top priority and take current setbacks under consideration.

A Representative Democracy?

In Uncategorized on February 8, 2009 at 1:45 am

The poor in the United States are less likely to vote or engage in political activity when compared to other socioeconomic classes. “Thus, the poor in the United States have less political influence, are less likely to be seen as constituents whom our representatives in Washington have to be responsive to, and are not well organized to assert their influence” (Eldersveld). Therefore, it would seem that the poor have a limited voice in our so-called representative democracy. Considering that almost a fifth of the United States is living under the poverty line at any given point, can we honestly say that almost a fifth of our elected officials are representative of the underprivileged? If not, can we even say that almost of fifth of our economic policy is meant to better the welfare of the poor? You tell me!

An Equal Education

In Uncategorized on February 7, 2009 at 8:11 am

In Educating the Other America, Susan B. Neuman states that “poor children, on average, do not perform well in school…the average cognitive scores of children at age 4 in the lowest socioeconomic groups were 60% below those of children from middle- and upper middle-income families. If previous studies are prescient, this gap is likely to persist throughout children’s school”

It is important that lower-class communities obtain the best and brightest teachers. If the majority of top educators continue to take jobs in middle- and upper-class school districts, it will become more difficult for underprivileged children in impoverished areas to obtain a top-notch education. Education is one of the few tools poor American’s have to escape the realm of poverty. Education gives impoverished students a chance to compete for admission into top colleges and obtain great jobs. If America wants to end poverty, it must provide the less-fortunate with the same education that children of the upper-classes receive.