Poverty in the United States is one of the biggest problems that we face today. Despite prevention acts in place, the United States as a whole still suffers from this issue. The rising numbers are quite scary to see. With such high living standards, people often work overtime or have multiple jobs just to get by on day-to-day living and provide for themselves and their families. There is no definite answer as to how we can get rid of this issue, as we have policies that have been helping, but there are certainly areas we could improve upon to see these numbers drop.
Poverty & Existing Policies
The United States citizens are protected from poverty because their provided with different aspects of social services like welfare, food assistance, and even job training to help when unemployed. In the past, the elderly has been known to be falling to poverty because of retirement, but there are social security, retirement plans and so on to help prevent this. Another concern is children growing up in poverty, which results in lack of necessities like education, stable home and nutrients. It tends to be the more education the more successful and the key to stability. According to the 2000 ACS, “about 33.3 million people or 12.2 percent of the U.S. population had income below their respective poverty level. In 2012, the number of people in poverty increased to about 48.8 million people or 15.9 percent of the U.S population”(as cited in Bishaw, 2013). The government has implemented policies and they have been helping the poverty rates go down. One policy that has been helping is TANF.
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families(TANF) is a social welfare policy that helps low- income families. Their goals are to help families get out of poverty with an extra push, provides assistance to help find and prepare for jobs. The congress created, the TANF block grant in 1996 for states(United States General Accounting Office, 2002). It’s too provide states with a fixed amount of federal dollars to provide welfare cash assistance and also other benefits to help low-income families. This is to provide money to families and others to take care of themselves with children(United States General Accounting Office, 2002). People who benefit from this policy are required to work. Families need income to pay for many things like bills, utilities, personal care items and a lot more. To be able to receive TANF a family must have a “gross net income of $784 a month and countable assets of less than 1,000”(Division of Family & Children Services, n.d). TANF is very similar to another policy called the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) that is through the government (Division of Family & Children Services, n.d). There are also other policies to help with the poverty rates but TANF is one of the main ones that have successfully made the rates go down.
Increase the Minimum Wage
By implementing a policy to increase minimum wage to $15 a hour in every state it wouldn’t hurt employment or the economic growth. It would help people get out of unemployment and bringing home more money to their families to support them. It would also give them a escape out of poverty. This means people would start looking for jobs right away when they get fired from one job or if budget cuts them from a job. By raising the minimum wage it will make people want to try to find a job instead of just sitting at home and getting on policies that helps low-income families. It will encourage low-income families to see that they’re much more than a low-income family and that they can get hired for jobs and can provide for their families. This would also allow for students getting out of college with a bachelor degree to find a job as well while they’re waiting to find or accept jobs for their majors. By increasing the minimum wage it will not only help the low-income workers but it will help everyone in the United states. According to CBS project that if the he minimum wage increased to $10.10 it would raise about 16.5 million low wage workers incomes(Desliver, 2014). By raising it up just a little helps so many low-income working families and it will not hurt the economic growth.
Investment in Education
Child poverty is increasing among the world and increasing in the United States. From the lack in their parents income or even being left by themselves without anyone. Investing in education would help children stay in school longer with them getting all the necessities they need. By investing in classes that will help with saving, budgeting, and plans that will help students in middle and high school to get to the next level which would be college and then employment. They can also bring it upon their parents to help them with things they do not know. Also by starting in early childhood and Pre-K can make little differences for children who are from a low-income family. By investing more with HeadStart programs for minorities as well so that everyone has a opportunity to attend a four year university. It is said that, “among high school graduates in 1992, only 21 percent of those with family incomes of less than $25,000 were highly qualified for admission at a four-year institution, and 20 percent were minimally qualified”(U.S Department of Education, n.d). By investing in courses from Early childhood until highschool it will help benefit for so many children and for them to get to college and stay out of poverty.
Assets for Working Families
When families start working they should be enrolled into a retirement plan. To help them save for retirement but will also help them stay focus on saving for necessities and not spend casually. This could reduce low-income households because they will know what things to buy for the family and how much they need to put up for savings. They will not go from check to check, but they will end up saving for a rainy day. Also there should be training interventions to help people succeed in the workforce in their communities. We should put more emphasis on assets for working families so they can get that job training so they will know what things to do at a job or how to get and keep a job. By investing in these trainings and plans it will provide financial aid in the future and help families stay on their feet.
Increasing minimum wage would be an effective policy because the wage is going up for everyone. Everyone will be happy because everyone is getting paid. The country’s economic growth would go up tremendously because so many people will be working and will reduce poverty. This would be politically feasible because people would support a minimum wage hike. The two different parties will see increasing the wage in different ways. Republicans and Democrats are evenly divided over raising the minimum wage. Large majorities of Democrats (87%) support the minimum wage. Then Republicans who have not completed college (58%) while higher income Republicans oppose raising the minimum wage (57% to 40%) (Gewurz, 2013). Democrats would agree that minimum wage should increase to a living wage instead of a starvation wage. They would like to see it go up to 15$ an hour over time and that everyone should be able to join or form unions(Democratic National Committee, 2016). Republicans on the other hand want more things to do with rebuilding our government and making America better for the people. They are not all for raising the minimum wage, more for restoring our economy and getting out of national debt(Republican Platform, n.d). Raising the minimum wage would help the United States in reducing the rates of poverty even though there are some factors where some people wouldn’t agree with this policy.
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Investments in Education would be acceptable to most citizens because it’s helping the children around America and they’re our future leaders. Most parents would be socially acceptable with investing in our children’s education because it’s their future. It would be effective in the schools because it’s benefiting their education in the future. Children are more likely to go to college when they have the right tools to do so. With these classes they will understand skills for when they get older and on their own. Since education being the main priority, both parties would agree with funding toward education classes for the youth. If the youth have these type of classes where they know how to save, budget, how to get and keep a job and how to get to college, they would be much more successful when they get out of highschool and will know how to stay in college. Democrats platform says that having a college degree or another form of post-secondary education increases your chances of getting a job that has a middle class wage pay(Democratic National Committee, 2016). Republicans would also agree with this policy because education is bigger than just schooling it’s about teaching the younger generation but it’s educating them about life ethic(Republican Platform, n.d). This will help the poverty rates go down because they will have a bachelor’s degree and more likely to find a good paying job.
Assets for working families would be very social accepically toward communities and low- income families. They will get to have the right training and it will help them in the long run. Toward the government and republicans it would cost too much money to have these implemented into communities and into jobs but they do believe that we need a change to end poverty, they would like new partnerships between who manages the federal programs and people who are fighting poverty(Republican Platform, n.d). They want to see a change and creating assets can help. Democrats would accept this policy because they want everyone to be equal in having equal paying jobs and for everyone to have a job(Democratic National Committee, 2016). By having trainings for families to know how to keep and get a job will get people to be able to support themselves and their families, without having to fear where there next meal is coming from. This would be effective to low-income families and their communities because it’s helping them get on their feet with some assistance on how.
My final recommendation is to implement investing in education for our children. The youth is who we are trying to make the country better for and if they don’t have the right tools to make it better there will be numerous problems as we get older. It’s said that students who are from lower income families earn bachelor’s degrees at rates that are significantly lower than their peers who has had the extra tools to get them to the next step. It’s concerning to see this because higher levels of education means that you’ll have higher lifetime earnings. A bachelor’s degree is so powerful in the United States and can lift people out of poverty(United States Government Accountability Office, 2018). With these classes for example, saving, budgeting, and planning for the future they can bring it home to their parents to educate them. When the children get older and have children on their own they can educate them on these skills. It would be the most feasible because children need the skills to get to a good position in the workforce. Although, minimum wage is very appealing investing in our youth’s education would be better for our country because they will have the skills to be able to have higher positions instead of minimum wage. If we did minimum wage not everyone would agree with this policy and it would be a bigger change in the economy. So this would make it better that investing in our youth’s education is more ideal and their is a direct way to make it happen. By making assets for working families would help but not everyone would agree with this policy, it wouldn’t be equitable fair to make everyone have these assets and maybe people wouldn’t want to do it. Investing in our children’s education would be the best beneficial. Wouldn’t you want your child to have a better life than you?
Poverty in the United States will continue to rise if we do not do anything about it. Instead of families having to work overtime and having multiple jobs, these policies could decrease the poverty and increase the help they need. The policies could work, but it won’t necessarily get them out of poverty. There’s not a complete answer on how we can get rid of poverty all together, but we can take little steps like investing in our education, increasing minimum wage and assets for working families to make it better.
- Bishaw, A. (2013, September). Poverty: 2000 to 2012. Retrieved from https://www2.census.gov/library/publications/2013/acs/acsbr12-01.pdf
- Gewurz, D. (2014, February 07). Sharp divisions in GOP base on raising the minimum wage. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/08/20/sharp-divisions-in-gop-base-on-raising-the-minimum-wage/
- K-12 EDUCATION Public High Schools with More Students in Poverty and Smaller Schools Provide Fewer Academic Offerings to Prepare for College. (2018, October). Retrieved from https://www.gao.gov/assets/700/694961.pdf
- Low Income and Minority Students. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/offices/OPE/AgenProj/report/theme1a.html
- Office, U. G. (2002, July 12). Welfare Reform: Outcomes for TANF Recipients with Impairments. Retrieved from https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-02-884
- Party Platform. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://democrats.org/about/party-platform/
- Republican National Committee. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://gop.com/platform/preamble/
- TANF Eligibility Requirements. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://dfcs.georgia.gov/tanf-eligibility-requirements
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