7 WAYS YOU CAN FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY
Facts to know relating to poverty in America:
- 180+ out of top 500 richest people in the world are US citizens - (Forbes, 2010)
- US has a total 422 billionaires ranking top in world. Next is China with 66. (aneki.com)
- Fact regarding to race: Oprah Winfrey is the only black American within the list of top 500 richest people, and the only black American billionaire. Out of the 182+ she places somewhere in-between 140 to 160 on the list. Next is Tiger Woods with somewhere around 600 million (Forbes)
- US ranks riches country in world with total GDP of $14.580 trillions. Next is China with $7.8 trillion. (aneki.com) The national debt is around $13.73 trillion and has increased $4.14 billion per day since Sept. 28, 2007. (US National Debt Clock; brillig.com/debt_clock/ )
GDP - This is an abbreviation for Gross Domestic Product, which is the total value of all goods, services, agricultural produce and minerals extracted in a country or area, usually in one year. GDP=C + I + G + ( X-Im ) C=Consumption Expenditure (the action of spending funds) I=Investment G=Government Expenditure X=Export Im=Import
- 308,400,408 to 309,162,581 ppl living in US 2010 (politic news)
- 44 million or 1/7 of Americans are in poverty - US 2009 (The Washington Post)
- The richest 1% of the American population owns as much as the combined wealth of the bottom 90%" possibly even more." - The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley (90% of Us Population = 277,560,367 people and 1% = 3,084,005)
Why are we in this slump and how can we work ourselves out?
One of today's major reasons for poverty is that the unemployment rate in the United States is 9.6% (Bureau of Labor Statistic). Even though there are people who are unable to work (handicap, children, elderly, etc.), you still have to take into account the people who have to take care of them.
There are several matters that need to be handled but unfortunately most of us can not change. Even so, we still need to recognize and push the ones who can make a difference to do so. One of the largest matters at hand is the large amount of money wasted on war. According to several resources and the Estimate War-Related Cost of Iraq and Afghanistan (infoplease.com), since 2001 to 2010 the war has reached well over 1 trillion dollars.
The second giant waste of money in the United States is on prisons. Nearly two million people are behind bars, making US one of the tops in world for imprisonment rate. (article by Haider Rizvi - U.S. Money for Prisons, Not for Social Services on commondreams.org) Majority of people who are in prisons are people who have lost jobs and are in poverty. More than 50% of these people incarcerated are suffering from mental illness. These people can be offered assistance elsewhere which would be more helpful and provide jobs to workers who help them. Doing away with the unnecessary strict punishments on marijuana possession would help decrease the number of inmates drastically. Money can easily be distributed to help with schools and community development which will help prevent youth from heading in the wrong direction.
7 WAYS YOU CAN FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY
- Stop spending beyond your means and make smart long term purchases. In an article written on Inteldaily.com by Michael T. Snyder, facts show that 61% of Americans live check to check. The current credit market debt is over 50 trillion dollars which is 360% of the GDP. That is what you and I all have in debt combined. Most people spend money without thinking. Spend now and regret later seems to be the American way. If you look back at all the money wasted on things that aren't good for you (cigarettes, alcohol, weed in some cases) you would kick yourself. All the times you went to a bar or club and spent $10 to $20 on one drink or the times you bought an extra item because it was 50% off when you buy two...and you didn't even need two. Making smart decisions and planning out a smart budget, which includes saving money, will help you quickly get yourself out of debt. (note: doesn't mean you have to jeopardize your health buy eating off the dollar menu; continue a healthy diet but at a reasonable price) There are tons of helpful websites that give great advice on how to use your money wisely. Write down your budget and keep it with you at all times to remind you. Also, at the beginning of the week, take out a certain amount from your spending account and use that for your spending for the week (basically get used to leaving your bank cards at home). Lastly, you do not always have to buy everything brand new. There are tons of people selling products online (ebay, craigslist, etc.). Just be sure to test whatever it is before you purchase it and avoid paying online. Be sure to pay in person in a safe and comfortable environment. Also make smart long term purchases such as paying a little extra for a gas efficient vehicle will save money in the long run and help the environment.
- Consumers supporting small and local business. Communities are losing their identities and becoming just another town of Walmarts, Targets, Starbucks, Chase and Bank of America. Supporting small and local businesses opens more job opportunities that usually are better job environments for people (personal relationship with owner(s) and a chance to be a big part of keeping a business alive instead of just another number that is easily replaceable.)
- Mothers and fathers sticking together for a family. The poverty percentage of single parent households compared to two parent homes is drastic. 2005 Walter Williams' Ammunition for Poverty Pimps, expresses that the poverty rate among single-parent black families was 39.5%, while it was only 9.9% among married-couple black families. Among white families, the comparable rates were 26.4% and 6%. Census Bureau estimates that around 65% or 200,850,000 of the population is white (non-Hispanic) and 12.4% or 38,316,000 black (a number that has been declining over the decade: .5% from 2009 and 1.1% decrease from 2008). In 2008, African Americans comprised 44 percent of those incarcerated for drug offences, according to the report. (article by Haider Rizvi - U.S. Money for Prisons, Not for Social Services on commondreams.org) Being that males make up a large majority of prison inmates, it answers the question to why there are so many single-parent homes in America. Fighting against injustices in the court system and working to decrease the national imprisonment rate can allow many of these males to return to their families and society.
- Take advantage of free education. Public schools may not be the best, but they offer free education and the tools to get started. Make sure you complete your high school education at all cost. As of 2008, 68 percent of 12th graders in high-poverty schools graduated with a diploma, while 91% in low-poverty schools. (Education 2010: More high-poverty schools on joannejacobs.com) It is hard to fix these numbers when the schools can not provide the necessary tools and the areas are stricken with all the obstacles that come with poverty. What can be done, and needs to be done more often, is encouraging the youth to complete school and do more than what is expected. If you are an adult then you have an obligation to your community to make sure the youth are making this happen. A lot of households in high-poverty areas lack two parents in the home. It is up to the adults to step up and motivate these children to graduate; even if the child isn't yours. The whole cliché that getting good grades is for nerds and rich kids is no longer valid.
- Encourage the youth to learn skills. Today there are too many kids with nothing to do. There are plenty of places, that are cheap and sometimes free, where skills can be learned (from roofing, planting, sewing, learning an instrument, or whatever). Take advantage of the internet. There is a tutorial on just about everything and endless information on just about anything you want to know and learn. The more you know will help you with obtaining a job. If you spend a little time everyday perfecting a skill and your knowledge on the subject, you will be able to impress any employer at your next interview. Maybe enough for an employer to overlook the fact that you have not finished college and hire you anyway. In regards to college, there are tons of scholarships that people are not applying for. Find as many as you can and apply apply apply. It doesn't cost you a thing and you can get big savings.
- Learn about medical and health issues online for free. Before rushing to a doctor about something that doesn't seem too severe, research the symptoms you have and all of the testimonies from people who have had the same problems. Sometimes you can get solutions to try that may help you. This will prevent you from having to go to the doctor and worry about another bill to pay. It also is great because you may have symptoms that may not seem that bad, but when you research it you'll find that it can be serious and you should seek medical help immediately. It is always cheaper to take care of a problem before it gets worse. So stay informed so you don't have to waste money on something you could have taken care of yourself.
- Get innovative. As bad as it may seem nowadays, there is still a lot of money to be made. Use your skills to get paid. You know how to bake? Bake your buns off and sale your goods. If you have a truck, get on craigslist and look for people who need help moving. If you are good at cleaning, gardening, or washing cars, go offer your services. People will pay. Plenty of non-profit organizations and political campaigns are searching for workers to canvass. It can be challenging, but it does pay and you will be working for something that hopefully will be good for the community and environment. Don't just sit around waiting for something to fall in your lap.
-Ryan K. Willis