Equality for a Dream

“America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, ‘It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.’ It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: ‘if you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?’ There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand – glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register.

Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say Napoleonic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.” 
— Kurt Vonnegut (Slaughterhouse-Five)

Only 4% of the people who were born in the lower and middle class will ever make it to the upper class? Doesn’t that put a damper on “The American Dream?” The reason for that folks is inequality, that is so deeply built into the structures of our society, that it will take a miracle or a revolution to change.

(Inequality creates{poverty) creates[inequality} creates (health issues] creates{poverty) creates [deviance} creates (crime] creates {inequality) creates poverty.}

Attempting to find the correlation to and between each social issue sends thoughts on a roundabout loop whirl of a ride, but the one issue that remains constant is inequality.

It has been said, mostly from privileged white men, i.e. (my significant other and co-workers), that inequality does not exist. That we are all equal in opportunity; that racism, sexism, and classicism, do not hinder a person’s ability to reach their dreams unless they let it. Also, that inequality is an excuse, and anyone can become anything here in America if they get off their lazy exploitative and put in the work. To some extent, that is the truth, and certain people have overcome the social issue of equality; a measly 4%. However, those people are the exception, and it is the exception that makes the rule.  

Inequality is the most critical social issue, because it is an issue in and of itself, yet it leads to many other issues. Ending inequality is in the best interest of every American, even those at the top of the social hierarchy and here is why; inequality is in the very roots of nearly every social issue: poverty, health issues, abortion, education, deviance, and crime to name a few.

Social inequality is the existence of unequal opportunities and rewards for different social positions or statuses within a group or society. Gender inequality refers to unequal treatment or perceptions of individuals wholly or partly due to their gender. Classicism is prejudiced against or in favor of people belonging to a social class, and structural inequality is a “condition” where one category of people have attributed an unequal status concerning other categories of people. Institutional racism (a form of racism expressed in the practice of social and political institutions), sexism, classicism, and the bias intolerance deeply rooted in our social construct, all have a significant role in inequality, and therefore if we could eliminate these issues, we could make huge leaps and bounds towards ending inequality.

Why is poverty a social issue: Poverty is defined once again as a “condition” with the standard of living below the minimum needed for the maintenance of adequate diet, health, and shelter. Society judges’ people in poverty, for their appearance (clothing, weight, skin, cleanliness, where they live, what they do or do not own, their education, and many other things.  They need money to live and to increase their income, to change the things they are judged on, yet the judgments keep them from obtaining jobs that are not minimum wage, thus trapping them in the “condition” of being poor.

In, 2010 46.2 million people in America, totaling to 15.1 percent of the population was found to be living in poverty those numbers are not nearly accurate enough, due to not being able to calculate households containing more than one family, those who have no physical address and many other factors. The percentage allows us to know that at least 15.1 percent of the people in America are living in poverty. Black people (at 27.4 percent), and single women (at 31.6 percent) of the 15.1 percent represent an excessively high percentage of the families living in poverty.  Institutional racism and gender inequality make it harder for women and people of ethnic backgrounds to make an equal wage. The unequal distribution of wealth leads to the substantial social gap with a small group of people fitting into the category of upper-class, a middle-class, and forever growing lower-class.

The best way to be in America is white, rich, and a male. The second-best way to be is a rich white female. If not born to be a rich white man or women, then be a poor white male or a rich black male, but heaven forbid a poor black male, or a poor white or black female shall exist. A rich white man has the best access to the best education, healthcare, neighborhoods. They are not forced into vast amounts of debt (that follow them for the remainder of life) to get an Ivy-League education, and they can pay for it out of pocket or are awarded scholarships for their esteemed background. They are not being forced to access state welfare or face penalization in the form of a fine at the end of the year, for not having insurance.  When not having to depend on Medicaid to receive medical attention, (which only pays for specific things and small amounts). Not to be forced to choose between eating processed foods, with additives and fat or not eating, because if one cannot afford healthy food. They are not having to choose between living in extreme amounts of pain from a condition yet to be diagnosed or going to the doctor and not being able to afford rent. The choice to live in quiet white suburbia where the neighbors are equally as privileged, and the crime is scarce, is available.

Not having to fear getting pulled over by the police or be denied a loan based on ethnicity. The ability to have a more simplified life, merely because the problems faced do not come from the color of one’s skin, is referred to as “White Privilege.” Not to say those with white privilege will not have issues, yet the issues had will not encompass race. White privilege allows one to create their societal issues, rather than be born into them, that is freedom.

The poor strive to be middle class, the middle class intends to be productive, the rich want to stay vibrant and luckily for them, they most likely will, but upward mobility and economic success is commonly a pipe dream. 70% of Americans will forever be middle class, while 43% will stay stuck on the bottom. A lack of quality education combined with facing discrimination and the lack of jobs paying above minimum wage, all take a considerable part in inequality. Poverty has a deep connection with teenage pregnancy, divorce, poor health, drugs, and crime. Consequently, poverty does not just affect those afflicted with the “condition,” but the repercussions of poverty affect a considerable proportion of America.

Teenage pregnancy causes more children being born into poverty, more people living off welfare, more people with a sub-par education, more people who can only attain minimum wage jobs which equates with more people living in poverty. Teenage pregnancy can also lead to abortion, which is considered a huge social issue. Abortion also can lead to stigma, which can lead to deviance, which can lead to crime. Hence, teenage pregnancy is an issue that is enhanced by poverty and creates poverty. Rather than having the issue of teen pregnancy or abortion, imagine a society that required birth control once puberty is reached, with the ability to reverse it, once an educated decision has been made, by a middle-class adult woman or a middle-class married family. There is a minimum income requirement before procreating, and each family must reach an income in fair proportion, an income to child ratio that would keep individuals in poverty from procreating until they have a financial parenting plan in place.

One in five marriages ends in divorce. African Americans are twice as likely to divorce than whites and Latinos, due to economic hardships and stress that lead to a disruption in the marriage. 85% of children involved in divorce end up living with their mother. Women experience a dramatic decline in economic resources, following a divorce, and as discussed previously, female householders make up 31.6% of families in poverty.

The rising cost of healthcare is affecting all of America. In 2010 2.6 trillion dollars was spent on healthcare, which is a little less than 1/8th of our National Deficit. Even with these extreme costs of healthcare, the United States ranks a meager 47 in average life expectancy. Minimum wage jobs do not carry health insurance for their employees, which is leaving a disproportionately high number of Latinos and African Americans as well as immigrants uninsured. Children of low-income families are at a higher risk for infancy death, not having enough food, premature births, lack of adequate prenatal care, low birth weight, SIDS and more are killing our ethnic children in America. The adult African Americans have a higher rate of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, and communicable disease.  African Americans suffer poor health, due to the lack of education on healthy eating habits and routines, lack of healthcare as children, exposure to toxic wastes and other factors surrounding environmental racism, and the lead paint commonly found in older houses used for low-income housing. Poverty helps create poor health and helps maintain poor health. Poor health leads to the need for medical attention; the lack of insurance leads to large amounts of debt, large amounts of debt places one into poverty. To improve healthcare, perhaps all the money we save on the incarceration of criminals as discussed below should be applied to a health care reform plan that mirrors Canada’s.

In 2010 17.4 Million Americans used marijuana at least once, and 4.6 million used it daily 1.2 million people reported using hallucinogens in the past few months, and 1.4 percent of high school students used methamphetamine in 2011, and these are just a few of the drugs available. Drug use is extremely high in the United States, and a combined racial background reportedly has the highest use of drugs at 12.5%. Drug use is considered deviant behavior, and there is a correlation between deviance and crime.  Deviance is the violations of the cultural norms or rather unsuccessful socialization and is based more so on the audience’s reaction to subjects first actions. Primary deviance is an action that has caught negative attention and creates a stigma for the person as a deviant, or the stigma turns this primary deviance into secondary deviance. Once this secondary deviance sets in, it becomes one’s identity, and crime is more likely to be committed by someone with this sort of stigma. The punished or convicted should not have that stigma after their “rehabilitation.” The stigma of the person in question carries on long after sentencing has been carried out.

Moreover, that shame is the second sentencing.  Each convicted criminal should have the chance for successful re-socialization upon their “reintegration” with society.  We can do so by allowing the rehabilitated to attach a new label to themselves; that new label earned, by allowing convicts to choose their punishment: to either commit themselves to a facility such as a prison, a mental hospital, or rehabilitation center. Alternatively, one may choose to serve our country or God by becoming a soldier or a missionary. After the punishment or now what we can call rehabilitation, society can now view formerly convicted person in a positive light.

The stresses of living in poverty tend to lead to drug use, and drug use leads to crime to support drug habits, criminal activity, and drugs have a secure connection. Poverty can lead to drug use, which can lead to crime, the impoverished committing crimes leads to many minorities in the criminal justice system, many of the people processed in the criminal justice system are poor, uneducated, unemployed or working minimum wage jobs, i.e., people living in poverty. People living in poverty are excessively Black and Hispanic, helping to support views of racism, which leads to a lack of change in institutionalized racism. Institutionalized racism leads to poverty. To repair crime and deviance, again imagine a world where citizens give into government and issue a “noncombatant insurance.”  America forces socialization, or issues consequences more severe than acknowledging, in the form of institutionalized racism and classicism, and the stigma attached to deviance, which is mostly not conforming, hence being an American is forced socialization. If Americans would admit that they have no choice but to be successfully socialized or considered deviant; and gave into social control allowing the government to control society publicly, we could lower if not eliminate social deviance. If we forfeit our right to privacy, in return, we gain privileges/rights to believe in what we choose to believe and act as we wish to act. “Civilian Insurance” would allow the government to supply each “covered American” with a tracking device which dictates your whereabouts 24/7.

•    Home and vehicle surveillance and digital video recording eye contacts.

•    Require monthly urine deposits.

•    The insurance will pay a monthly stipend for obtaining criminal insurance.

For proving the innocence of all crimes and by forfeiting the right to privacy, in turn, citizens would earn fundamental human rights to think, feel, preach, learn, and love what and whomever one wants. Eventually, they may legalize drug use in the privacy of one’s own home, with fierce stipulations as to children and behavior. {Privacy becomes unnecessary if one feels there will not be repercussions for one’s non-criminal actions or that information obtained on, will not be used against to impact one’s life negatively.} Only specific criminal actions should be punished, therefore indeed granting ultimate freedom to those who sacrifice the freedom of privacy.

Criminal insurance would make all actions public to only the highest of government officials, thus eliminating any negative connotation associated with whatever legal behavior one may choose, that may be deviant by societal standards. Also, if sentenced to life in prison or more than 50 consecutive years, the death penalty will suffice, if an offender of violent crime, with no remorse, or a chance for changed behavior, i.e., rehabilitation, the death penalty is the only feasible option. We can start shaving the deficit, by saving money not feeding criminals who have no chance at ever being reintegrated into society.

Educators need to be better educated, and their education should be free, that way, more people who want to do the job, can do the job. Also, deviants have been characterized and recognized by these five traits: trouble, toughness, smartness, the need for thrills, and belief in fate. If teachers observed student’s closer and scrutinized over these traits early on, then behavior specialists could focus their attention towards these students. Helping individuals with specific characteristics, to redirect and distribute their energy towards something positive.

If America gave into society need to control people’s beliefs and actions [social control], to earn freedoms {that should already be had} as privileges, we would be able to decrease and potentially overcome poverty, which would lead to an end to inequality, thus fixing all the social issues.

That is an American Dream!

Stay tuned for how to make it possible financially!

Works Cited

Binder, Lea. Forbes. 21 February 2013. Internet. 17 July 2017.

D. Stanley Eitzen, Maxine Baca Zinn, Kelly Eitzen Smith. “Social Problems.” D. Stanley Eitzen, Maxine Baca Zinn, Kelly Eitzen Smith. Social Problems. Saddle River: Pearson, 2009. 155-180. Book.

James, James St. Everyday Feminism. 10 May 2015. Internet. 16 July 2017.

Jones, Rachel. Crime and Deviance – Functionalist Approach. 16 January 2014. Internet. 20 7 2017.

Smccormac7. Ethnicity and Crime-Slide Share. 25 February 2013. Internet. 22 July 2017.

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