Whopping 4 out of 5 adults in the United States are battling poverty, joblessness, and the need for welfare at some point in their lives. The data collected by The Associated Press proves that our country’s economy is deteriorating, and the gap between rich and poor has reached a record-high.
President Obama has been pushing his administration to focus on this economic issue by saying in recent speeches that his biggest priority is to “rebuild ladders of opportunity” and fix the ever-growing issue of income inequality.
Nonwhite citizens make up the majority of our country; so one solution to this problem would be enhancing the public systems that help disadvantaged people. Racial barriers need to be broken in order for equality to be achieved in the workplace, and ultimately improve socioeconomic prestige for everyone.
Irene Salyers, a 52-year-old woman from Buchanan County, VA, who runs a fruit and vegetable stand with her boyfriend but relies primarily on government disability checks, spoke about this issue and how it has impacted her personally:
[box type=”shadow”]”If you do try to go apply for a job, they’re not hiring people, and they’re not paying that much to even go to work,” she said. She also stated that kids in the upcoming generations have “nothing better to do than to get on drugs.”[/box]
Our country is also seeing a universal economic insecurity for whites, with more than 76 percent of white adults facing poverty when they turn 60, according to a new gauge recorded by the Oxford University Press.
“Economic insecurity” is defined as a year or more a person goes without having a job and relying on government assistance and food stamps. This also relates to anyone with an income below 150 percent of the poverty line, according to the measurement. Seventy-nine percent of people are at risk for economic insecurity regardless of race.
William Julius Wilson, a race and poverty professor at Harvard, stated:
[box type=”shadow”]”It’s time that America comes to understand that many of the nation’s biggest disparities, from education and life expectancy to poverty, are increasingly due to economic class position.” He continued on to say, “There is the real possibility that white alienation will increase if steps are not taken to highlight and address inequality on a broad front.”[/box]
Wilson found that after Obama was elected, minorities were noted for having more optimism about their economic future than struggling whites. This could be due to the fact that, based on numbers, the prevalent race struggling with poverty is white. Forty-one percent of the nation’s poor are white families; 19 million of those people have fallen below the poverty line.
Demographers often times refer to these poor white people as “the invisible poor.” These low-income white families can be found mostly in Appalachia in the East, living in small suburbs and rural towns. Many of these people don’t have college degrees because labor jobs were easy to come by. Now, with jobs being so scarce, these people are relying on odd jobs, such as running a fruit and vegetable stand, or government checks and assistance.
Salyers was convicted a few years ago for abusing prescription pain pills, but she feels that shouldn’t be a reason for a company to not hire her when all she wants to do is provide for her family.
[box type=”shadow”]”It’s pretty hard,” she said. “Once the bills are paid, we might have $10 to our name.”[/box]
Something is going to have to give. The GOP cannot take away government assistance and refuse to raise minimum wage unless they want the deaths of thousands of American citizens on their hands. Oh wait, I guess that already happened.