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Thread: Is Poverty Even Breakable In The US?

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    Question Is Poverty Even Breakable In The US?

    NPR had an piece on the temporary status of Haitians in America due to the Earthquake in Haiti in 2010. The Haitian representative did their best to talk down about the conditions in Haiti and why that temporary status needed to remain. Haiti definitely has a dubious and sad history like the Cleveland Browns between 2000 and 2018. And I pondered about what was needed to fix it. And then that made me think of East Cleveland, a suburb of Cleveland that is in complete and utter collapse. There is really no government there. It is extraordinarily poor (for America) and the school system is run by the state (which usually means it isn't being run well, but better than it would have).

    And the same thought keeps coming to mind. In order to fix places like this, the solution in America isn't ending poverty, it is displacing it, because any improvements that are made would make the areas unaffordable to those that live there. If people are to invest their money into an area, they need something to show for it. So if you tear down dilapidated buildings and replace them with new homes, the people that lived there aren't the ones that'll move in them. You have companies move in to provide higher paying jobs, the people that live there likely won't have the skills for those jobs.

    Effectively, to improve such areas, you need to get rid of the poor, at least in a capitalist society because they lack the skills and finances to either be part of or afford to live in an improved area. After all, if they could, they would have left a long time ago! Yes, the poor can be trained, the poor can be lifted up, but that is a generational investment, which involves a substantial amount of foresight and empathy... things in short supply in the US.

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    Veteran Member Valjean's Avatar
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    As long as they're dominated by a capitalist country/economy, I see little hope.

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    Veteran Member TV and credit cards's Avatar
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    Whatever happened to Voc Tech in high school? I remember my high school had an entire wing dedicated to it. Checking the school website, there is a heading for it with no content.
    I think a blue collar education is as close as we can get to quelling as much poverty as possible. I mean if you’re not willing to accept free training for a vocation, you need a compelling reason to be on the dole.

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    It's not just the 'poor' who struggle, also workers that do essential work within the economy but are poorly paid for their time and effort.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TV and credit cards View Post
    Whatever happened to Voc Tech in high school? I remember my high school had an entire wing dedicated to it. Checking the school website, there is a heading for it with no content.
    I think a blue collar education is as close as we can get to quelling as much poverty as possible. I mean if you’re not willing to accept free training for a vocation, you need a compelling reason to be on the dole.
    Over the past number of years, we've been renovating our old house which had not seen any major updates in...40+ years. Bunches of the work involved going down to studs and in the end, the entire house was rewired, plumbing was updated, so it wasn't simply aesthetics that was done. In talking with our general contractor and every plumber, carpenter, cabinetmaker, electrician and tile guy, they all said the same thing: They were struggling to keep up with demand for their services. Most of them are in their 50's or older and even then, owner of the electrician's company, the plumber's company are our age---looking to retire. A couple have in fact just retired. They are struggling mightily to find skilled tradespeople to replace themselves and their workers. Wages are good-about $50/hr where I live for most of the trades. More for some.

    There is a tremendous need for skilled workers in all trades: HVAC, carpentry, masonry, electricians, plumbers, tile setters, general contractors, everything you can name. I live in a small town. It's worse in the bigger cities.

    However, for many of these jobs, it is rare that anyone can work past their early 60's, if that long because of the physical demands of the job.

    One thing that has really hurt us is the decline of unions. Another is the growth of billionaires. I think there is a connection there. To me, it is obvious that some companies: Amazon, Walmart, Microsoft, Apple, (the first giants that leap to my mind) need to be broken up. And much more heavily taxed. And compelled to pay their workers a living wage as part of the cost of doing business. Because let me tell you, living in a working class town, it is easy to see just how much my tax dollars support these billionaires and their quest for more money by supplementing the living expenses of their underpaid workers.

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    Veteran Member prideandfall's Avatar
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    i would say the answer is a resounding and definitive "no" in terms of the way culture and society is structured in the US.
    poverty is the result of one of two issues: a lack of available resources, or the unwillingness to allocate excess resources to those who didn't luck into stumbling into them.

    in human societies you have two options, you can either share excess resources for the good of everyone (and i mean everyone) or you can hoard excess resources for the bloating of a tiny aristocratic upper class.
    the US since its founding has chosen the latter, and it will never (well ok 'never' within the next 100 years at least) naturally change that paradigm based on the will of the populace.
    the only way you could impose reasonable accommodation for all humans living in the US is through the martial enforcement of resources allocation.

    there's certainly enough economic and material resource available to the US as a country to provide a comfortable first world living arrangement to every human living within its continental borders while also allowing for individual wealth beyond the wildest imaginings of the species up to this point, but there is zero social or political will to do so.

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    You don't solve poverty by providing better houses and the like. You solve poverty by providing education. Unfortunately, education is like water--you can lead the horse to it, you can't make it drink. Fundamentally, this is a cultural problem, not an economic problem. I do not know how to fix it, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
    You don't solve poverty by providing better houses and the like.
    and herein lies one of the interesting issues when it comes to addressing poverty: it's true, you DON'T solve it that way, but you CAN.
    not doing so is purely by choice, not for any logistical reason.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
    You don't solve poverty by providing better houses and the like. You solve poverty by providing education. Unfortunately, education is like water--you can lead the horse to it, you can't make it drink. Fundamentally, this is a cultural problem, not an economic problem. I do not know how to fix it, though.
    I don't think that's entirely true. I'm sure you're thinking of better housing as many steps beyond inadequate heating and plumbing and lack of safe drinking water, lead paint, infestation with cockroaches and rats and other horrors because those things do have an immediate affect on health and well being with children bearing the biggest burden. That affects ability to benefit to the fullest from educational and employment and training opportunities.

    And...better housing often is found in 'better neighborhoods' that are safer, nearer to things like grocery stores, parks, good quality schools and day care. All of those things have a positive affect on school attendance, school achievement, health and well being.

    It is extremely stressful to live in an unsafe home or an unsafe neighborhood. Poverty is extremely stressful and that stress contributes substantially to lower health and lower achievement in school, job training, employment, etc.

    What I've observed is that people in poverty are often ground down so far by shame, by the stress of trying to find and pay for decent housing, utilities, transportation, health care, child care. People who have very little feel it very, very, very keenly. I've seen parents who worked for the same anti-poverty program that I did-and who qualified for the program themselves go to absurd lengths to avoid letting people at work who did not need the free thanksgiving basket know that they did need it, very much so.

    All of that stress results in increased negative mental health, especially depression and anxiety. It also increases the chances that people will self medicate with alcohol and recreational drugs because it's really really hard to work 2 or 3 jobs, none of which provide benefits or health insurance.

    We need to do much, much, much more to have mixed housing so that lower income people have some of the same opportunities for school, decent access to good grocery stores, clinics, child care without the stigma because rich(er) people use the same stores, the same schools, etc. Universal day care would really help. It won't stop some families from needing or preferring nannies or au pairs but it will make it normal to drop our child off for day care so that you can go to school or work yourself and if middle class parents are using the service, there is more pressure to ensure that it is decent quality. And the kids go to school as well prepared as their peers from more wealthy families.

    Of course, universal health care, better public transportation, a living wage, affordable education from birth through out life--those thing would really help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
    You don't solve poverty by providing better houses and the like. You solve poverty by providing education. Unfortunately, education is like water--you can lead the horse to it, you can't make it drink. Fundamentally, this is a cultural problem, not an economic problem.
    If you are talking about college education, that is nonsense. You do realize that most US citizens do not have a college degree. The distribution of income was less unequal from 1945 to about 1980 even though a vast majority of workers did not a college degree.

    And, if you think about it, if everyone had a college degree, there could be no college premium.

    As Toni pointed out, the aging of the labor force is disproportionately affecting the skilled trades. And, as Michael Sandel points out in his new book "The Tyranny of Merit", discrimination/snobbery based on educational credentials is the only prejudice that is acceptable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
    I do not know how to fix it, though.
    For more reasons that you admit.

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