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Climbing the Ladder Out of Poverty

Updated on August 10, 2015

This article is the product of a variety of resources I researched for a thesis paper for my English class. This is a pretty big controversy among politicians today if you happen to read the various articles in USA Today, NY Times, Yahoo, and MSN. There are of course other resources you could read from, but these are the most popular.

Climbing the Latter Out of Poverty
“Poverty is not equivalent to moral failure.” But I can certainly see how that perspective has been obtained by the lower class society. Upper class, along with those who are more well off, assign the “criminal” and/or “miscreant” label upon the people of the lower class society and they do so because of the ridiculous stereotype that America has created. Politicians have dealt their hands of cards within the situation as well. All of the resources that used to be available to benefit the lower income and needy families are disintegrating. The recipients of the remaining available government programs are looked down upon and shamed because they are seen as living the easy life. “How can Americans in poverty ever break free when higher classes discourage social climbing?"
So many Americans are eager to accept the misleading and often untruthful information about the poor and yet at the same time, they are adverse to accepting the truth when it is given to them. This obviously has a lot to do with both a certain level of fear that is imposed upon upper and middle class society due to stereotypical judgement, as well as because of the anger the wealthier citizens have towards the welfare recipients because of the declining economy. Because such a large portion of our nation’s wealth is being mainly distributed among a small percentage of already wealthy people, our lower class citizens don’t have the same opportunities to climb up the social ladder. The nation’s wealth not being more evenly distributed can be blamed as major cause for the disgruntlement the classes have with each other. Updating new deals that repair falling infrastructures would create new public facilities and allow the old ones to function better. This would also be the most constructive way to provide jobs and help many families to survive without government assistance.
The percentage of working-age Americans with a job is only 59%, unchanged for the last 5 years. The adult population increases about 200,000 per month, while the monthly increase of available employment only averaged 219,000 in 2014, as cited by USA Today’s article “ 5 Ways We are Losing the War on Poverty”. Making more of an effort to curtail the unjustifiable fear and anger towards the poor and antipoverty efforts would certainly be a giant step in the right direction.
Our generation is actually provided with a more than sufficient amount of opportunity to go to college. Even if you’re in the lower income brackets, there are so many financial aid options out there that people can utilize. However, even with all of these resources being allocated to the public, the lower class society is still made to feel like they are “undeserving” of going to college, let alone obtaining a degree. If they do achieve a degree, even though they worked so hard to earn that degree, they still have to question whether or not they are “worthy” of that success because of the pressure that is put on them to remain within their own level of social class. Even though they have proven that they are successful, there is still the problem of "feeling like an outsider among the upper class."
Eliminating this gap within social class would benefit society in the sense that, if the poor felt like they were deserving of “climbing up the ladder”, and in achieving success we would have less poverty in the world. There would most likely be lower crime rates and safer neighborhoods as more people felt secure in the knowledge that they could provide for their families.

I realize that there are people that would argue that the lower class are where they are because they’re lazy, or they’re criminals. Maybe they had children as adolescents and dropped out of high school. A large portion of the people in poverty are essentially there because of their own indiscretions. However, is that reason enough to punish them forever with a lifetime of hardship? It is a sad fact that some of them could have possibly prevented their poverty. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they deserve to remain there for the rest of their life. "

Browne, C. (2002). When shelter feels like a prison. In M. L. Kennedy & W. J. Kennedy,
Writing in the disciplines: A reader and rhetoric for academic writers (pp. 486-488). Boston: Pearson.
Lindsey, B. (2008). Culture of Success. In M. L. Kennedy & W. J. Kennedy,
Writing in the disciplines: A reader and rhetoric for academic writers (pp. 452-456).

Locke, A. Born Poor and Smart. In M.L. Kennedy & W. J. Kennedy,
Writing in the disciplines: A reader and rhetoric for academic writers (pp. 450-451).
McWhinnie, E. (2014). 5 Ways We are Losing the War on Poverty. In USA Today
Wall St. Cheat Sheet


Key Points of the Article

  • Parents who are poor cannot afford to send children to college, and they therefore make less money, causing the poverty cycle to continue
  • Poverty causes poverty behavior
  • People often achieve poverty through mistakes and can't get out of it
  • When people try to break free they endure discrimination, and are often shamed for reaching for better
  • The poor have less opportunities and often do not receive the same educational opportunities as the people who are more well off, due to lack of funding
  • The poverty cycle seems to be so continuous due to a large amount of our nations funds being distributed among a small percentage of already rich people. Implementing better tax brackets could help put a halt to this scenario.



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    • Ruth Angel profile image

      Ruth Mata 2 years ago from New Mexico

      Indeed steps should be taken. And you're absolutely correct, military expenditures could still hold strong even with a small cut. (But some might say im unamerican) for having such beliefs

    • Talers profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from San Diego

      I read somewhere that the economics department of some college (can't exactly remember) conducted a study which concluded that the modern U.S. has the same level of social mobility as medieval England... That's an outrageous (even if it isn't entirely true) idea to entertain, and has disturbing implications when read in the context of some of the points made here...

      You brought up an interesting point about how many Americans view poverty as a result of some kind of moral shortcoming; that's disturbingly realistic. Our country has been influenced by too many factors (aside from religion) which have molded our perception of this. Books like Atlas Shrugged have a special place in the G.O.P.s heart, and label altruistic attitudes, as lazy, decadent and evil. In this view, not only are the poor responsible for their own misery, but anyone who tries to reach out to help them are also deemed manipulative and scheming.

      The best thing we can probably do is invest more in social programs and education (if only we could decrease military expenditure, but not in this world... sigh...) but steps toward eliminating this attitude should be taken.

    • Ruth Angel profile image

      Ruth Mata 2 years ago from New Mexico

      It is true, that many western civilizations are suffering the effects of poverty as well. The continuous problem revolving around politics being that they are essentially more interested in personal gain rather than being concerned of the invariable growth of poverty that effects the people that they're asking for their votes from.

    • Noreen Fahad profile image

      Noreen 2 years ago from Abu Dhabi

      It's not a story of America only even most of Asians countries are below the poverty line. In Asia difference between rich poor is increasing drastically. Rich are becoming more rich whereas poor are thinking that they don't have right to live. Eventually this is the biggest problem of our corrupt politicians it seems they don't want to look into this matter

    • profile image

      C.J. Wright 2 years ago

      There are loads of employment fields that are quite profitable and don't require a spatula or a college degree. Unfortunately too many young folks are fooled into believing their only hope for gainful employment is to first hamstring themselves with debt amassed while attaining a degree.

    • Ruth Angel profile image

      Ruth Mata 2 years ago from New Mexico

      I agree, there has been a sizable decline in the middle class. It's become impossible to make a decent living. And I agree, some of this is in part to a lack of college degrees being obtained, so there are jobs available, but with out a degree you have no chance in obtaining respectable job. Now we have middle age adults working in fast food jobs, demanding $15 an hour in wages, when it simply isn't possible. You shouldn't expect ample pay when you're trapped in a mediocre job due to the fact that you only have a high school diploma. If even that.. but this is just my own opinion and I realize not everyone will agree.

    • profile image

      C.J. Wright 2 years ago

      "The poor will always be among you" That being said we must be charitable . I don't believe government redistribution is a great idea or even constitutional.. I also don't believe it solves the problem of poverty. It has been over 50 years since the USA declared war on poverty and the only thing we see shrinking, is not the number in poverty, but the number in the middle class.

    • Michael J Gordon profile image

      Michael 2 years ago from U.S.

      Great article. the perpetuation of class distinctions must be stopped.

      A hand up is needed more than a hand out. Good Luck to you