October 7, 2005
Based on what I know, I do not believe that people are poverty striken due to laziness. Much of it is due to the poor economy in which we live and the resulting lack of jobs available for people to work in. Although the unemployment rate is relatively low at 5% (Oct, 2005), many of the people employed are underemployed and forced to work minimum wage jobs or jobs that simply cannot sustain a minimum standard of lifestyle in a inflation-driven world.
Take the situation of your average minimum wage worker. They make just under $6.00 per hour after taxes are taken out! There is no way one could live on such money, and the result is poverty. A person working two part time jobs at 25 hours a week making $6 an hour still only brings home $1200 a month, or about $14,000 per year. That is not enough to afford a house, car payment, and all the normal costs of living (electric bill, water bill, food, etc). The result is that many people are resorting to living a lifestyle that is sub-standard, or known as poverty. If a person has kids, these costs only increase and it becomes even more difficult to provide for the family until the kids are of working age.
So, accordingly, taking this above example, I do not believe that laziness is the cause of this type of poverty in the U.S. (or any other given country for that matter).
The following stats were taken from the UNICEF website:
- 640 Million children do not have adequate shelter
- 500 Million children do not have access to sanitation
- 400 Million children do not have access to safe water
- 300 Million children do not have access to information
- 270 Million children do not have access to health care services
- 140 Million children have never been to school
- 90 Million children are food deprived
The seriousness of this problem is hard to visualize by the use of these simple statistics. The words “adequate shelter” fails to paint the picture of living in squalor. The words “access to sanitation” does not illustrate the fact that there are people bathing in fecal matter. “Access to information” means “illiterate,” “untaught,” and ignorant of the world. “No access to health care services” means no immunizations, no medicine, etc. And the number is disgustingly high for the amount of children who fail to have these basic and essential needs met.
What accounts for this poverty? One factor is that it is a never ending cycle. One poverty stricken generation begets another. The reason for this is hinted at in the above statistics. Not having “access to information” or never having attended school means they are more likely to become unemployable as adults and they themselves will live in poverty. Even in the best case scenario, one would end up on welfare in a country such as ours, but that is not enough to sustain a lifestyle that is near or much above the poverty line.
Poverty is not as much a problem in the U.S. as it is in Africa and India, but that does not mean it is at an acceptable rate either. Many are forced to live in a condition we middle class Americans simply cannot relate to and would not even want to relate to if given the “opportunity.” But it is important to understand that it is a situation in this country that drives poverty to be existent. It is not simply due to “laziness” nor even to a lack of education alone. It is a persistent cycle that cannot be eliminated nor abdicated until there is a more even distribution of wealth. And that simply may never happen.