What About the Poor?

October 16, 2008 | | Comments Off on What About the Poor?

Most everyone can agree that there have been several hot button issues during the course of this presidential debate.  From abortion to the economy, and the environment to the wars, the candidates have battled it out to prove to the American people that they will be best for the country.

However, one major portion of the population has been ignored: the poor.  In the recent presidential campaign, Senators McCain and Obama have focused on how their policies will be beneficial to the middle class.  Even though the candidates agree on very little, they are always able to agree that the middle class has been the hardest hit by the economic recession, and have proposed tax, health care, and energy policies to address their needs.  It makes sense that political candidates would work hard to court the middle class: its members vote at a much higher rate than the lower economic class.

Nevertheless, can’t we all agree that it is not the middle class, but rather America’s poor who suffers the most during hard economic times?  People with adequate resources pick themselves and their families back up when they are knocked down.  People with few or no resources face a completely different struggle.  Members of the middle and upper class take for granted having relatives who can lend money when the bills can’t be paid or having a car to be able to escape the devastation of a hurricane.

While programs that improve health care would surely benefit us all, there is a notable lack of media coverage about programs to assist poor Americans.  It is too easy for the news media to ignore the downtrodden members of society, who are working to change their lives for the better, but often fail in meeting their goals.  Poor Americans are just as patriotic as their wealthier counterparts, but despite putting the values of America first, their efforts to better their own lives are constantly hindered by systemic problems.  Contrary to some negative characterizations, the poor embrace hard work and dedication.

Correcting these issues will benefit all Americans by decreasing the amount of taxpayer spending on unemployment pay, disability assistance, welfare checks, and incarceration costs that are symptomatic of the larger disease of poverty.

Think about it.  Our government is supposed to represent the people, not just some of the people.

For an in-depth look at poverty in America, check out David Shipler’s new book, “The Working Poor: Invisible in America.”

Photo courtesy of Flickr user mh301179.

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