Image Source: cdc.gov

Poverty seems to be a hot button issue. Are we paying attention to it now because of the continued disparity in wealth distribution ? Maybe, because the wealth gap continues to widen. The question we have to ask ourselves: whose fault is it anyway? Throughout the annals of time we’ve had poor and we will continue to have poor. I’ve asked my partner in truth Libergirl about the poverty question and it didn’t go well. We usually see things differently, which is a positive. If everyone thought the same there would be a lot of unnecessary people. Differing thoughts allow us to answer questions about ourselves as well as our humanity.

We can’t know someones plight unless we walk in their shoes. We can only assume and usually our assumptions are based on our own personal experiences. This is never a solution to any problem especially if we came out on the other side victorious. We tend to be self- grandiose in our thoughts saying, “If I can do it, they can too.”  Believe me I’m as much to blame as anyone else for thinking like this.

Pride in one’s self is very much a positive and we want others to overcome as well.   I always hear the arguments about the issue of poverty but never solutions. Libergirl offered up one solution during one of our debates. Let’s take a look at some facts and figures before we continue this conversation.

  1. 1 percent of the population owning and controlling more wealth than 90% of Americans.
  2.  Poverty rate 14.3 percent, highest  since the 90’s.
  3.  45.8 million people are on food stamps.
  4. The new poor are the former middle class.

Often the hard thing about poverty is putting a face to it; but poverty has my face on it as well as yours. Generally speaking people are a paycheck from the unemployment line. Let’s  look at something else, if you lose your job you are supposed to have, at minimum, six months of reserve to sustain yourself until you find another job or win the lottery. When we retire we should have $500,000 thousand to live on. Take a look at your humanity and ask yourself is that where you are in either instance?

Something I mentioned earlier symptoms vs solutions. The issue we fight is people making a living wage. This seems to be an easy fix: RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE SO PEOPLE CAN LIVE! Why is it the easiest solutions seem to be the most difficult, huh?

On a more personal note, I once had a co-worker who died because he couldn’t afford health insurance with the company he worked for.

Think about the minimum wage for a second. Look back at when it was instituted, it was a good thing since the ghost free market didn’t allow people to obtain a living wage. Government stepped in so people could live a more decent life not lifestyle.  Since its institution there has always been an argument about it. If you look at it rationally the minimum wage is still worth about the same as when it was instituted. But the price of goods and inflation have increased. It’s time think tanks worked on solutions rather than banter, otherwise poverty is going to continue to plague us.

Libergirl and I are hashing out ideas for a book entitled-Common Sense. We already shared one solution: raise the minimum wage, also get rid of strict arduous regulations and end the Bush-era tax cuts. The idea of trickle down economics was an idea that wasn’t meant to be taken literally and didn’t work. Make companies pay their fair share, not more but simply their fair share and get rid of the loop holes. If you have  tax laws so difficult that you must have a round table of lawyers to figure it out, we may have a problem. These are just a few COMMON SENSE fixes.

In getting back to fixing the problem of poverty we have to get rid of the divisive language. Reagan in his 1976 Presidential Campaign came up with the term “welfare queen.” This is an excellent example of divisive language. The image he portrayed was that of poor people driving around in Cadillacs while living off the system. How amazing that our country has changed from independence to dependence. Everyone at some point in their life needs help.

What Raygun forgot to mention is corporate welfare, look at how many of the rich have benefitted from government contracts. These are the same people who lambaste poor people who simply need to feed their families as well as themselves. I thought the airlines were independent companies, so why did they get a handout!

Two new things that I find to be newsworthy that deal with poverty:

  1. United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s remarks that food stamps are “the most direct stimulus you can get in the economy during these tough times.” Vilsack argued that “Every dollar of SNAP benefits generates $1.84 in the economy in terms of economic activity,” adding that “If people are able to buy a little more in the grocery store, someone has to stock it, package it, shelve it, process it, ship it. All of those are jobs. It’s the most direct stimulus you can get in the economy during these tough times.”
  2. Repubs are flirting with the idea of temporary tax cuts but they must find the right language to substantiate their hypocrisy.  Greg Sargent talks about this in his Plum Line Opinion Colmun.

Poverty is an issue that needs to continually be discussed. The next time we look in the mirror that person could be us. I leave you with this…

James 1:9-11 A believer who finds himself in a low position in life should be proud that God has given him a high position. 10 But someone who is rich should take pride in his low position. That’s because he will fade away like a wild flower. 11 The sun rises. Its burning heat dries up the plants. Their blossoms fall. Their beauty is destroyed. In the same way, a rich person will fade away even as he goes about his business.

The NON-Conformist