Poverty is not a result of personal failures, but of societal failures & class inequalities

Photo by Zeng Afuang on Unsplash
Zeyn Afuang on Unsplash

The poor and minorities, the upper class argue, need to make better choices — work hard, and stay in school. This is a simplistic view of a complex social trap.

A person is poor because of their personal traits. If that was true, why is it so hard to get out of poverty that sociologists have coined the term “poverty trap”? Supposed traits range from personality characteristics, such as laziness, slothful work ethics, and poor time management, and that the poor are just not smart enough or slow-thinkers. Personal failures lead to poverty. Unsuccessful in achieving a comfortable and happy life; laziness, low levels of education and lack of resilience.

Welfare is actually the majority of people getting money as elderly. People who have worked their whole life. Also, over 93% of the disabled people for whom it is charged to help find work, Ryan (2014) found that the welfare system punishes them, stopping their benefits when they are too ill to get a job appointment.

John Bauan on Unsplash
John Bauan on Unsplash
John Bauan on Unsplash

Taking out small loans or saving up to start a business. But as a fact the majority of small businesses fail within the first year. Over 627,000 new businesses open each year, according to SBA estimates. At the same time, about 595,000 businesses close each year. That leaves us with 32,000 still running for the year after with a higher chance of failing in the fifth year.

Why would you not want to work hard in school?

It is plausible that underfunding and school district taxes are to blame. Say if someone wants to gain knowledge to become a lawyer which is a career that could get you out of poverty. But if the thinly-stretched teachers don’t believe in you, and most of the educational resources do not help, becoming a lawyer would be of insurmountable difficulty.

In America the IRA taxes you as soon as you make 9,800 dollars which is very low. Those living in relative or absolute poverty are not at fault because social mobility is hard to achieve in our modern socio-economic climate. Nevertheless, Tim Winton (2014) communicated, it is believed poverty and wealth no longer can be attributed to social origins; the upper class believe they are apparently manifestations of character.

Misha Ketchell (2018) asked if there was ever a time when so few people controlled so much wealth? The answer is yes multiple times, especially in the East. The west had a tendency to hoard wealth and think of the mindset that is “every person for themselves.” This is the crucial concept of capitalism.

Human societies have had a just distribution of wealth in the past and give an insightful examination of how we demonise the poor and sustain poverty through our misguided policies. It is essential for anyone trying to understand the demands of social justice in a poverty trap to also know about socialism.

Americas’s fairness is a source of pride, but egalitarianism does not apply to the blue-collar working class. There are definite boundaries and behaviours, many imposed and some internalised by the people who identified as low-socioeconomic background.

Millions of Americans are living in poverty despite two decades of economic growth, according to new research which calls for a radical policy shake-up Ketchell (2018) argued. The report by Ketchell (2018) states that poverty is an extremely long-term issue, with about a quarter of people who exit poverty returning to being poor within two years.

Those who have a high risk of falling into long-term poverty include people who don’t finish high school or any schooling history, Indigenous Americans, those over 65, those with a long-term health problem or disability, and those who live in a jobless household.

Poverty is not just a state of mind. The implications caused by structure — the macro‐level labour market and societal conditions — on individuals’ behaviour. Macro-level sociology looks at large-scale social processes, such as social stability and change Marx and Mandel (1967) claim. Such claims also ignore a large body of sociological science. Poverty is not an outcome of personal inadequacies and calling the poor ‘lazy’ is actually victim-blaming. If one believes that poverty is related to historical and environmental events and not just to an individual, we should be careful about blaming the poor for their fates.

Victim blaming occurs when a victim of a wrongful act is held entirely or partially responsible for the harm that occurs to them. It is a societal phenomenon. We as the opposition team strongly believe our lives could be improved if we considered the structural influences as root causes of social problems such as poverty and inequality.

In Conclusion, Marxist economic theory, which proves the complex sociological nature of poverty and immobility, deconstructed how governments are letting their people down and making it in fact more difficult to reduce poverty by turning a blind eye to those who are already struggling; through reducing salary and wages. The effects of poverty, mindset and perspectives causes those in a poverty-trap to think self-defeating, and doesn’t just affect their mental well-being but also their physical health.

Thank You.

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Reference List

Tim Winton (2014) The C word <https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2013/december/1385816400/tim-winton/c-word#mtr>

Misha Ketchell (2018) Why poverty is not a personal choice, but a reflection of society


Ernest Mandel and Karl Marx (1967) An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory(1967) <https://www.marxists.org/archive/mandel/1967/intromet/index.htm>

Frances Ryan (2014) Poverty has been re-branded as a personal failure


Khedija is a writer who utilises personal history as an entry point to discuss race, art, Islam, and the memories of cultures and countries she left behind.