Poverty in the United States Essay

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POVERTY IN THE UNITED STATES Poverty in the United States today has many faces. There’s the pleading face of a middle-aged man on a city street holding up a sign that says “Hungry, Need Help.” There’s the anxious face of a young child in a schoolroom somewhere, whose only real meal today will be a free school lunch. There’s the sad face of a single mother who doesn’t have enough money to buy clothes for her children. And there’s the frustrated face of a young man working at a minimum-wage job who can't afford to pay his rent. The federal government measures poverty by the numbers. In 2007, the federal “poverty line” was set at $16,530 for a family of three and $21,203 for a family of four (USCB). If a family makes less than those …show more content…
The federal government already has a number of programs designed to help people in poverty: food stamps, Medicaid, housing subsidies, and others. But despite these programs, poverty continues to rise. In his response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, President George W. Bush promised that the nation would do “its duty to confront ... poverty with bold action” by spending billions on rebuilding New Orleans and other hard-hit regions of the South (Washington Post). However, one of President Bush’s critics, former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, says it will take more than money to stop the growth of poverty in the United States; it will take a change of heart. What Edwards is saying is, in order to end poverty, we all need to stop looking the other way and face up to the fact that poverty in America is a real problem. It will also take some reform. The current poverty measure has not been updated since it was adopted in 1969. Right now, the federal government’s poverty formula says that the poverty threshold for a family of four is $21,000- whether they live in Manhattan, New York or Manhattan, Kansas. This one-size-fits-all formula tells us about 19 percent of New York City residents are poor. But the cost of living is much higher than average in New York and many other cities. A proposed, new formula takes this geographic difference in the cost of living into account. As a result, it was found that the poverty