Many people seem to think that poverty is a choice or punishment for laziness. For example, Congressman Paul Ryan was recently quoted as saying, “We have this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.” When called out on this statement, Ryan tried to back-pedal, but the damage was already done. Ryan’s argument was completely off-base as his insinuation that poor people are lazy only angered the general public – especially when it came to light that Ryan “married” into money – rather than earning it the old-fashioned way.
Since poverty is such a complex issue, it is hard to point at any one thing and say that’s the cause for people’s financial difficulties. Once workers get stuck in poverty, it can be quite difficult for them to lift themselves out of it because the opportunities for success just aren’t as plentiful as in past generations. It used to be thought that the route to the American dream was hard work, dedication, and sacrifice – but now it seems to be more about net-working and being in the right place at the right time.
Programs like Medicaid were created to provide health coverage to categories of low-income people. There are many positives to having this benefit provided for by the government. For example, people that need Medicaid are more likely to seek preventative care such as mammograms and cholesterol screenings. Food Stamps are another government program that helps people with financial difficulties. Although the number of people eligible for food stamps may vary from state to state, education level is not necessarily a qualifier for eligibility. A big reason for this statistic is because while manufacturing jobs used to pay well and did not require much education, these jobs have now all but disappeared – leaving many workers competing for any type of job.
There are several things that can be done in our country to improve the effectiveness of government programs that help low-income people. As a society, we have an obligation to reach out and help those less fortunate. We also need to be sure that we are providing for those in need without discouraging their initiative to provide for themselves. We need to encourage the people who are able to work to get a job. If they refuse to work, they should suffer the natural consequences of their decision. The needs of poor people in our country vary from case to case. A personal customized plan of assistance should be made available from someone who knows how much financial help they need and when to tighten the purse strings. Churches, charities, and private industry must step up and help provide assistance so people can begin to lessen their dependence on government programs.