Poverty and Inequality

Table of Content

As far as most American people think, U.S. is the most powerful country in the world in terms of gross economy and average people living standards. What’s more, U.S has been labeled as “The nation of Freedom” for a long time, which means that people enjoy the equal rights of all. In fact, while many people are still immersed in this kind of thought, there are millions of people living under poverty or not enjoying the equal rights. Whether people agree with it or not, the poverty and inequality does exist in the U.S., and this is a big issue in this county that needs to be carefully taken into account and figuring out how to solve.

For these purpose, we need to ask the characteristics behind poverty,what attitudes people have toward the poor, and how poverty should be solved.We’d talk about the poverty and inequality issue with some points shared by three articles, “Born Poor and Smart” by Angela Locke who mainly talks about the people’s stereotypes on social class and poor people is hard change. “A Great Time to Be Alive” by Matt Yglesias. This article claims that “The twenty-first century has been one of the greatest times to be alive in the history of mankind, (Yglesias, 2010, p.464) yet he also argues that this achievement is not beneficial to everyone.and “Middle of the Class” by The Economist, which puts forward the potential problems of “people’s rosy views on middle class”. (The Economist, 2005) All three articles refer to the poverty and inequality. Characteristics of poverty

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One of the characteristics of the poverty is the wealth gap. The shares of fortune held by between the poor and the rich is significantly different, which is pointed out by Matt yglesias in his article. The author says that “A wildly disproportionate share of the material gains of recent technological progress and economic globalization has been captured by a tiny, already rich slice of the population.” (Yglesias, 2010, p.464) In fact, top 10 percent of people owns the 75.1% of the tremendous wealth of this country and bottom 90% owns the rest, less than a quarter of the whole wealth. Related information is also thought by “The Economist”, which says that “Since 1979, median family incomes have risen by 18% but the incomes of the top 1% have gone up by 200%. In 1970, according to the Census Bureau, the bottom fifth received 5.4% of America’s total national income and the richest fifth got 40.9%.” (The Economist, 2005, p.483) Both article demonstrate the same topic that there is a big gap between the rich and the poor by listing data, so we have the reason to believe that huge fortune gap is one reason that causes poverty. Another characteristic of poverty is inequality brought by the poverty. The “Middle of the Class” states that “your chances of a good education, good job and good prospects—in other words, of moving upwards—are partly determined by family behaviour. On this view, the rich really are different, and not just because they have more money; moreover, these differences are becoming embedded in the structure of the family itself. Class stratification, in other words, is more than a matter of income or inherited wealth.” (The Economist, 2005, p.485)

Attitudes people have toward the poor and inequality
Although the poverty and inequality still exists, or is getting worse off. Most people may not realize that yet. Most people are still immersed in the the thought of “American Dream”. “The Middle of the Class” cites that “the a 21-year-old country-and-western singer from small-town Oklahoma, win the entertainment contest and to see Bill Rancic, who put himself through university by cleaning boats, land a six-figure salary as Donald Trump’s chosen sidekick.” (The Economist, 2005, p.482) He uses this example to show the success of American Dream, which is the idea that “anything is possible if you work at it hard enough.” (The Economist, 2005) Scenes of like this are less and less to see. More scenarios we could see may be like Locke. In the article “Born Poor and Smart”, the author introduces the difficulty of her mother and her, even if she worked hard to try to change social class. All she and her mother faced was other people’s unequal manners. She states that “Oppression can’t perpetuate itself without the cooperation of the oppressed. One way that cooperation works with class is that intelligence is scorned within the ranks of the poor.” (Locke, 2005) She shows us how hard it would be to change the social class without a rich family background even with the success of money, which proves the existence of inequality in this society. How poverty should be solved

The influences of poverty are obvious. The poverty and inequality has caused the social mobility hard to move up, poor people can’t enjoy equal rights with the rich, and higher higher wealth gap etc. We need to think about how this kind of issue is supposed to be solved. The Economist first admits that U.S government did do something to prevent this problem by showing the example of the similar rise in inequality in the early 20th century and rallied against it. President Roosevelt sought to save American capitalism from its own excesses so that “malefactors of great wealth” would not become a hereditary aristocracy. (The Economist, 2005) Also, “The Middle of the Class” suggests that American politicians should admit that the methods of solving this issue such as “reforming the way schools are financed, or giving federal help to poorer college students” (The Economist, 2005, p.485) have not been applied yet. Yglesias comes up with the specific way to solve the problems by rising taxes.

He claims that “Higher taxes to finance more and better public services is not the only conceivable method of curbing inequality, but it is the best one because it directly tackles the most objectionable aspect of high inequality in the economy—its tendency to perpetuate itself in the form of unequal access to basic social goods and unequal access to opportunities in the next generation.” (Yglesias, 2010, p.465) Apart from that, he proposes that “the main thing now is to defend existing services against the apostles of austerity and, where possible, make the case that expansion of services can boost the economy and lay the groundwork for future prosperity.” (Yglesias, 2010, p.465) both articles put forward the solutions through which the poverty and inequality could decrease.

In conclusion, All three articles by three authors talk about poverty and inequality from different aspects. Via what they say, we have a more clear mind about this general issue. By judging the aspects each author stressed, we are more likely to have a idea that thee poverty and inequality does exist in the U.S, and this is a big issue in this county that needs to be carefully taken into account and figuring out how to solve.


Yglesias, M. (2010). A Great Time to Be Alive. M.L. ; Kennedy, W.J. (Eds.), Writing in the Disciplines (pp.464-466). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson
Education, Inc. The Economist (2005). The Middle of the ClassI. M.L. ; Kennedy, W.J. (Eds.), Writing in the Disciplines (pp.482-485). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. Locke, A. (2005). Born Poor and Smart. M.L. ; Kennedy, W.J. (Eds.), Writing in the Disciplines (pp.450-451). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

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Poverty and Inequality. (2016, Oct 29). Retrieved from


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