Could you imagine growing up in a country where money and everything you own define you, yet you can barely afford to eat a meal a day? I know that I would not be able to survive in the circumstances where people can barely find food, afford shelter and struggle to survive. Still, 49 million Americans live that exact way; in poverty. We live in the world’s wealthiest nation, yet 14.5 percent of U.S households struggle to put food on the table. When it comes to poverty, people are passionate and polarized. At one extreme: we need to invest in more resources. At the other: we’ve thrown away billions of dollars away in the past fifty years and have accomplished nothing. Why is our nation’s poverty rate so high and what are the long-term effects of living in poverty?
In the United States, hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food. There is more than enough food to feed everyone. We have the infrastructure to deliver it. There is a network of interstate highways and a trucking industry to transport billions of pounds of food a day to wherever it needs to go. The market shelves are always stocked to the ceiling and the restaurants never run out of food. But, none of this matters if the consumer has no money in their pockets. Hunger is derived from poverty, yet the problem is that money is the main cause for people living in poverty. In extreme poverty cases people are living on less than one dollar a day. One in six people live in extreme poverty. The other none extreme cases still only live on 2.50$ a day. Due to lack of money to survive, people have to give up essential needs. Americans living in poverty do not get the opportunity to enjoy hot showers, have nice clothes on their back, or live in a suitable living environment. To people that aren’t poverty stricken eating is a three time a day activity, they wouldn’t know what to do without food. But to these 49 million people, getting one meal a day is a blessing.
One small effect stemmed from poverty that often gets set aside is the problem it causes with society. The effects of poverty are often interrelated so that one problem hardly ever occurs alone. For instance, bad sanitation makes it easier to spread around old and new diseases, hunger and lack of water that occurs in poverty make people more vulnerable to them. The cycle is nearly never ending and stirs up social issues in America. By human nature we learn how to survive before learning what is right from wrong. When you are raised with little you start to learn how to take what you can get, in which crime rates can go through the roof in these areas. Crime varies over time and space; it’s high in certain areas and low in others, generally with huge differences in wealth. Living in poverty tends to spur property-related crimes, such as burglary. In the end poverty is a major cause of social tensions and should not be put aside.
A more obvious effect of poverty is what living without proper nutrients can do to a person’s health. Infectious and neglected tropical diseases kill and weaken millions of poorest and most vulnerable people each year. Deprived of the information, money or access to health services is what puts these peoples life at risk. The extreme cost of doctors’ fees and antibiotics can be devastating. Not only to the individual but also for their families that have to watch them basically wither away. Overcrowded and poor living conditions can contribute to the spread of airborne deses such as tuberculosis and respiratory infections. Starvation and dehydration effect people living in these areas faster and more often than diseases. Malnutrition falls under that category as well. Many people are killed off in these circumstances because nobody can take care of them.
Children are the ones that suffer the most in poverty stricken communities. Children are the powerless victims here. They don’t have a choice; they are born into their circumstances and have the least ability to change what happens to them. Nearly all possible effects of poverty have an impact on children’ lives. Poor infrastructures, unemployment, lack of basic services and income reflect on their lack of education, malnutrition, violence at home, child labor and diseases of all kinds. A great number of children in poverty widely suffer from physical and emotional abuse, neglect, and forced labor. While most people will look at the physical effects on a child, a more invisible effect on the child takes a high toll. Where violence and neglect affects a child’s emotional development, and disease holds back physical development, the income of the household will influence the potential of a child to grow to the full extent of his capabilities. The longer children in poverty suffer from hardships of all kinds, the harder it gets. When the children actually do get to go to school, many get judged and discriminated against. They can be at risk for bullying just because of how they live. Sadly, many children in poverty drop out of school and cannot provide a better future for them. They get trapped in their poverty community and can only keep the cycle going.
America should be doing more to help these people that are day to day struggling, but it’s not easy. You cannot always tell who is in poverty. But the main problem America is trying to fix is hunger. Nobody ever deserves to be hungry and unprotected in this wealthy country. There are many communities helping to stop the causes of poverty to stop the cycle. Explaining crime rates, health problems, and child suffering does not nearly come close to explain what these 49 million Americans go through every single day to get by in life and survive.