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Crossing The Poverty Line: A National Priority by Karthikeyan Mayilvahanan

Crossing The Poverty Line: A National Priority by Karthikeyan Mayilvahanan

3.8 trillion dollars: the national budget. 711 billion dollars: the national defense budget. America has the highest military spending in the world. Its defense budget exceeds that of 13 countries combined. As if this isn’t enough, Congress wishes to another 600 billion dollars for national defense. So, is there any question why we can’t help impoverished families?

Poverty rates in America have reached 15 percent. An average family suffering from poverty receives an income below 18 thousand dollars. Poverty affects the education that a child can receive in and out of school. For example, good SAT classes can cost up to $2000. Workbooks can cost up to $30 each. These families can barely buy food every day, so how are they going to afford these?

How many of you guys have jobs? Now, keep your hand up if your family relies on your job and cannot function without the money you provide. Teens in poor families stress their job life over their education. Many will even drop out of high school to support their family. Statistics show that people often marry into their own socioeconomic level. As a result, the children they have suffer through the same difficulties. A mother’s education level is the most important factor in a child’s education. So, those children enter life with a disadvantage.

Children in poor families also face social adversity. Health officials believe early life adversity is as toxic as exposure to “alcohol or cocaine.” These kids aren’t thinking about tests or grades. These kids are wondering whether or not they’re “going to be okay.” These kids eventually seclude themselves from their peers. Studies show that social factors affect mental function. So, a lack of a social life can affect their intelligence.

Now, the government does spend money for the poor. The federal budget for poverty related programs is around 668 billion dollars. The government has spent over 16 trillion dollars trying to combat poverty. But to what extent? Programs like food stamps and Medicare only treat symptoms. The government fails to treat the cause of poverty. Instead of giving these people food and health care, jobs could be created at minimum wage. By taking this step against poverty, the potential of the poor is utilized in a productive way. By taking this step, money circulates better in the U.S. By taking this step, the U.S. will have a better economy.

Now, let’s take this to the school level. There are many programs that help poorer families. In an interview with Mr. Murphy, he informed me of programs that pay kids to get good grades in school. He also stated that the school offers cheaper college classes for parents. He believes that “communication” is the biggest problem. He said that with an increasing diversity in race, we need to spread information more efficiently. But, when I asked him if they focus on the economic situation of families at home, he said no. All the programs that the school has merely treat symptoms, like the government’s programs.

To combat poverty on a national level, the government could take Carl Slim’s advice for a three-day workday with longer hours. That means people can get up to two jobs and even allow for more jobs to be available.  At the community level, we could inform parents of jobs to create self-sufficient environments at home. By focusing on the parents, we can reduce or eliminate the stress and adversity that these kids go through.    

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