Inequality-When Crime and Punishment Collide
Why is poverty a social issue: Poverty is a “condition” with the standard of living below the minimum needed for maintaining 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, etc. People need money to live and increase their income, to change the things society deems unacceptable. Nevertheless, 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 15.1 percent of the population, lived 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 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 a substantial social gap with a small group of people fitting into the upper-class, middle-class, and forever growing lower-class.
The best way to be in America is white, rich, and male. The second-best way to be is a rich white female. If not born to be a rich white man or woman, 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, and 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.
Nothing forces the “well-off” to access state welfare or face the penalty of a fine at the end of the year for not having insurance. When not dependent 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 privileged and crime is scarce is available.
Not having to fear getting pulled over by the police or being 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.” Those with white privilege will not have issues, yet the issues had will not encompass race. White privilege allows one to create societal issues rather than be born into them, which is freedom.
The poor strive to be middle class, the middle class intends to be productive, and the rich want to stay vibrant, and luckily for them, they most likely will, but upward mobility and economic success is commonly pipe dream. 70% of Americans will forever be middle class, while 43% will stay stuck on the bottom. A lack of quality education and facing discrimination, and the lack of jobs paying above minimum wage all play a considerable part in inequality. Poverty deeply connects 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.