Free Essay On “At The Edge Of Poverty”
Response to David K. Shipler’s Article
So, after having read and analyzed the current article, it is fairly reasonable to outline the most essential aspects and problems it strives forward to the reader.
First of all, Shipler stresses that there may be two sides being responsible for the existence of poverty: the individual himself for he creates his life himself by making relevant decisions, and the government (society) the individual is currently living in owing to the fact that it is within the government’s powers to legally stipulate the minimum wage and regulate the economy and influence the country’s pricing policy on many products (251).
Secondly, the author discusses the difficulty in defining of what should be considered a poverty level. He delivers a comparison between the American living standards and those of the Russian: for instance, if a rural American citizen does not have a car and his own house he may be found poor, at the same time when take the Russian Federation, a rural inhabitant unable to buy a car or a house will be unlikely taken for the poor one (253).
Thirdly, the analyzed paper introduces us to the complicated and complex nature of poverty: in reality, poverty is not only a financial matter, it invokes much more social and psychological aspects: the family you were born in, your parenting, your neighborhood, your education level and at last, your attitude to life: how you perceive various problems and tackle them. The author intends to claim that poverty may be somehow related to the person’s state of mind. He even tells of the woman who commemorated her “cultural capital” (254).
However, Shipler also demonstrates the way the United States authorities defined poverty in 2004: a household consisting of one adult and three children with the income amounting to less than 19,223 dollar is considered to fall into the poor rating. That estimation is grounded on the formula elaborated by the Census Bureau yet in 1964 with some slight amendments in the following years. And that is the huge problem, to the author’s mind, because since the second half of the twentieth century our lifestyle has undergone radical changes: computers, technologies, Internet (254).
I agree with the author on many points he has shown and analyzed in his article, and on the most important point: poverty is created by a couple of significant factors: spiritual and material and “only where the full array of factors is attacked can America fulfill its promise” (255).
Not without a reason the American Dream is not associated entirely with a mere financial prosperity. The Epic of America by James T. Adams provides us with the authors own interpretation of the American Dream which is held as the dream of the country where every individual will be able to achieve the living conditions commensurate with his own skills and abilities (Library of Congress). Another argument could be taken from the American Declaration of Independence: the founding fathers stipulated “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” as the nation’s development directions and aspirations (The Charters of Freedom).
Of course, the poor American having been born in the poor family, having received a poor education and living in the uncertain neighborhood is likely to respond to these constitutional freedoms as to the empty words which carry no practical base and sense at all. And he will be right from his side.
Or let’s consider another story. It is a story of the woman named Maria Cristina Rangel who had been attending Massachusetts Smith College and been the recipient of the unemployment benefits program. She had two children who were born out of marriage. Undoubtedly, Maria has undergone lots of difficulties and managed to cope with so many social problems described in her article titled “Knowledge Is Power” (219 – 225). Rangel draws the reader’s attention to the insufficiency of the unemployment benefits to live on decently. As of the date her article had been written, Massachusetts’ benefits for a mother with two children amounted to around 579 dollar per month (223)! This sum is strikingly insufficient, definitely.
Eventually, she became a member of the campus-based organization aimed at helping the individuals having experienced similar hardships. By utilizing the knowledge and life experience Maria, being of the Mexican origin, proved to her family that there were ways out (223).
Though let’s employ a little bit of the professional view of this picture. We know that in every normal state free of corruption and nepotism economy functions in accordance with the market rules and principles: there always will be some percent of the unemployed population and families whose income will be on the threshold of poverty rates because market acts like a living organism, some companies emerge on the market offering new jobs while some percent of the firms may disappear due to a decline in the demand for theirs services and products. I am not calling to completely share all the views of capitalism as a social and economic order, it has its own faults, I am just requesting to have a realistic attitude to life but it does not mean that we should not strive to attain better lives and better living conditions. This is the matter which has not been taken into account by Shipler.
The researcher just drew our attention to the negative side of the issue but every object or event has at least two sides: advantages and disadvantages, pros and cons. Shipler concentrates only on the negative. Plainly speaking, if the individual has certain needs and desires then they must force him to do something but not only complain about his bad life position. Everybody can argue without any special efforts. Trying to improve your life, even by small steps – is valuable and worth respect.
Nevertheless, Shipler has succeeded in depicting the poverty causes and factors to his targeted audience even omitting to reflect on the rules the market functions and its inevitable consequences.
Library of Congress. "What Is the American Dream?" Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/lessons/american-dream/students/thedream.html>.
Rangel, Maria. "Knowledge Is Power." Print.
Shipler, David. "At the Edge of Poverty." Print.
The Charters of Freedom. Declaration of Independence. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. <http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html>.