Children are at the mercy of the choices of their parents, but for anyone in America over the age of 18, poverty is a choice plain and simple. This isn't The Great Depression, it's the Information Age. Recessions and news of unemployment rates and the like are mostly just scare tactics from the administration, the media, or both working together to instill fear in the average person in an effort to control his/her actions and spending habits. These tactics actually CAUSE recession.
There are people making money for doing "nothing", like blogging. Stephen Hawking is almost completely paralyzed, yet he finds ways to continue generating income. Physical disabilities and your geographical circumstances are no longer limitations on the what you can achieve.
Anyone who is on Welfare, food stamps, or any other government handout for longer than the minimum time necessary to fix their situation is a burden and a liability and a freeloader. Non-citizens should never, in any case, be receiving government handouts, ever. Yet they do, reaping benefits without contributing to the source.
I say stop every one of these social programs and force those dependent on them to get off their asses and start singing for their supper again. Being a ditch digger is more honorable then just going to mailbox on the first of the month.
But, to answer the question as it is written: the poor play a very important role in society, they vote for liberals who make them believe they will wave a magic wand and make everything ok, or at least pass tax laws on the rich so they can "get even" with those money hungry bastards who have done nothing more than work for a living and invest their money wisely instead of buying lottery tickets and weed every payday.