I posed a question on Facebook: “Why do you think there is so much poverty in our country?” I received a few responses from my friends. The responses covered the spectrum. One friend said it was a leading question. He argued that the question assumes there is poverty in this country. He is right. I assumed there is poverty. However, my assumption can be backed up with facts. I want to know why poverty exists. In knowing that, I believe we can find a way to combat it. That is what this blog post will address.
By definition poverty is “the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor.” Poverty is tied to economic standing. The definition does not explain why there is poverty. It describes what poverty is. If you were to look at the human condition in some of what are described as the poorest communities in our country, you would see poverty as defined in living color. But why?
I believe that poverty is a condition that results from the combination of a lack of individual character and how the economic infrastructure is built. An individual’s character informs the life choices s/he makes. These choices will directly impact their economic standing. That is the underlying opinion in this article from Bob Lonsberry.
Yet, individual character does not account for all of the reasons there is poverty. There has to be an economic component that factors in. This quote from a Huffingtonpost.com story entitled Richest 1 Percent to Own Half of the World’s Wealth by 2016, Oxfam finds captures the idea pretty well:
Drill down the numbers even more and you’ll learn that the 80 wealthiest people in the world possess $1.9 trillion, which is almost the same amount shared by some 3.5 billion people at the bottom half of the world’s income scale.
Those who are capable of earning the money should be able to. It is called opportunity. Yet, there is something that comes with amassing money and resources in the way Oxfam points out – Power. The power that allows certain people to dictate policy that will give them greater opportunity to amass more money and resources. In other words, the rich get richer and poverty begets poverty.
Is this the way things should be? No.
Is this the way things are? Yes.
How does it change? Incrementally and through the strength of individuals to stand up to the status quo and provide solutions through new ideas. Hopefully, the new task force announced by Lt. Governor Hochul in Rochester, NY will be an example for success. If it isn’t, then it is possible that changing the human condition may never happen.