Since Lyndon B. Johnson declared a War on Poverty, the U.S. has attempted to eliminate and prevent poverty. Unfortunately, we are losing the war. Politicians claiming false information to justify their actions have cut and eliminated assistance programs throughout the United States. This is an injustice to the citizens they are supposed to be representing. We need action and we need it now. America’s current assistance programs need major reforms to ensure money gets to the people who need it rather than the major corporations that use it to line their pockets.
Effects of Poverty
The NHIS conducted a five-year survey on the psychological effect of poverty. Among many other things, this survey found that poverty causes severe psychological distress. This isn’t difficult to believe because, as I once dealt with, financial hardships permeate your entire life. For every waking moment you are constantly stressed about paying your bills, trying to decided which bill will have to be late. This distress can lead to many physical ailments but it also leads to depression.
This becomes a downward spiral. When you are suffering from this distress it affects your work performance and hinders you from getting a promotion or preventing a raise which will only increase your distress. To add insult to injury, having a social life is next to impossible. You rarely have the money to socialize and when you do you have to fight the guilt about spending money.
Beyond all that, the worst aspect of poverty is the children who suffer from it. They live in this stressful environment. They have to live with their parents who are suffering and trying to keep up a pretense. At the same time, kids may be getting the essential needs met but not and extras. They can’t go to the theme parks with their friends because money is that tight.
That’s assuming they can maintain friendships. Instability of residence is another major issue. Families have to money several times in order to keep a roof over their head causing the children to move schools quite a bit. How can you sustain a social life when you don’t know where you’re going to be in a month or two?
Effects of Assistance Programs
- 4.8 million people kept out of poverty because of SNAP
- 8.8 million people kept out of poverty because of low income tax credit
- 26.9 million people kept out of poverty because of Social Security
These assistance programs act as a life line in order for people to get a handle on things and give them a chance to get back on their feet. It is next to impossible to get anywhere when you have nothing.
America’s War on the Poor
Conservative politician’s have used false information to push though their agenda as they try to eliminate these assistance programs. They claim that welfare programs are overloaded with lazy drug addicts that are abusing the system. The Department of Labor’s report disproves this “fact”. According to their report, of all the millions of applicants, less than 3% were fraudulent.
America’s war on the poor also claims that there are a lot of drug addicts wasting tax-payer money. However, when Tennessee tried to weed out all the drug addicts, they refused .74% of all applicants were refused assistance because of this protocol. A far cry from opponents allegations of rampant waste.
Assistance Programs are Self-Sufficient
Cuts to assistance programs will only make things worse. Current recipients don’t receive enough money and reducing the amount they get will only make it more difficult to get ahead. They generate much more in economic growth than is put in. For every $5 that is spent on SNAP, it generate $9 in economic activity. If the U.S. were to increase SNAP expenditures by $1 trillion we would see an increase in economic activity of $1.79 trillion.
Welfare recipients take the money they get, and spend it which grows the U.S. economy. Once they get back on their feet and find employment, they will earn more money and contribute even more to the economy.
If you need to be mad at someone/something then it’s your lucky day. Corporate welfare is a major expenditure in America. Consider this: the government spent $74 billion dollars that help almost 50 million families. The government spent $110 billion dollars to help less that 100 companies. Which would rather brag about?
Now these aren’t small business that are creating jobs, $63 billion went to Fortune 500 companies. Berkshire Hathaway being one. Despite having almost half a trillion dollars in assets and generate $20 billion dollars in profits, they still receive and additional billion dollars from the U.S. government.
Boeing, which made over $90 billion in 2014 paid an effective tax rate of -0.3% from 2003-2012. Basically there were so many loopholes, subsidies, and tax evasion tactics that they didn’t have to pay any money to the government. Yet, people making $10k a year still have to pay over 10% of their earning to the IRS.
Make a Difference
The crazy thing is that we can make a difference. We can change this. It will take time to see changes, but it can happen. We just have to make sure our elected officials are looking out for us and not helping big corporations line their pockets. If our representatives refuse to cooperate, get them out and elect someone who will.
Find your representatives and contact them. Let them know what you want them to do. It’s what they are there for. Find out how they voted. If they aren’t voting in your interests, vote them out. Get someone else in.
We live in the richest country in the world, so why can’t we make sure the people that need the money can get it?