Sunday, March 3, 2013

Has the fight against Poverty become a Non-Issue?

As I visit many different news sites, opinion feeds, discussion boards and other media outlets, I notice one thing. Not one of these outlets says much about poverty. They talk about many different results of poverty, such as crime, drugs, violence, unemployment, entitlement programs and the like. These are the popular stories but the thing is these issues are all a result of us turning a blind eye to the real problem which is poverty.  
A condition where people's basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter are not being met. Poverty is generally of two types: (1) Absolute poverty is synonymous with destitution and occurs when people cannot obtain adequate resources (measured in terms of calories or nutrition) to support a minimum level of physical health. Absolute poverty means about the same everywhere, and can be eradicated as demonstrated by some countries. (2) Relative poverty occurs when people do not enjoy a certain minimum level of living standards as determined by a government (and enjoyed by the bulk of the population) that vary from country to country, sometimes within the same country. Relative poverty occurs everywhere, is said to be increasing, and may never be eradicated. 
The scrounge of poverty may never be eliminated entirely, but we can work to make a significant dent in its progress. We have to continue to constantly spread the word, we have to take action at local levels, we have to be the change that we want to see. It's obvious the government has no solution, so we as citizens must do it on our own. We pay millions in taxes annually and most of our issues never see the light of day. Our elected officials have failed us and we need to show them how the job is done. 
Jobs and social programs in derelict neighborhoods and communities and educational opportunities in these same neighborhoods would help to combat the empty shells of depression left behind by years of aggressive capitalism. The youth can have a better shot in a world meant to shun them and block them at every opportunity. The adults can support families and rebuild their communities if only we would give them a chance. 
According to Chief Economist Jennifer Hunt, minimum wage increases have little or no adverse effect on employment as shown in independent studies from economists across the country. Additionally, a recent letter by leading economists including Lawrence Katz, Richard Freeman, Joseph Stiglitz and Laura Tyson points out that “[i]n recent years there have been important developments in the academic literature on the effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment, with the weight of evidence now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market. 53% of all minimum wage earners are full-time workers. 89% of those earning the minimum wage are 20 years of age or older, and studies have shown that minimum wage increases have had little or no adverse effect on teen employment. 
As always the start to any change in ones life has to start with the individual. Does the community want to improve, do they want to break free of the shackles of poverty? Many of the most successful people and programs started from nothing and turned into innovative parts of history. We're not trying to make history, we're trying to help people. President Obama and Congress don't have to come out and say they have an agenda for a specific racial group, if they begin to have serious focus on poverty you can take care of all of America. 

Tony L. Jefferson, Jr. 2013

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