What About Poverty?
Poverty-s-a situation in which people lack enough money to maintain a minimum standard 9f health and decency-used to be the normal condition of most people. Today, there is widespread feeling that, at least in the industrialized countries, there is enough to take care of all and that no one should be desperately poor. Nevertheless, the world’s most prosperous countries, poverty still survives. L Before we can discuss a topic profitably, it is necessary to define terms so we understand what we are talking about. The Department of Labor estimates the minimum needs of an urban family of four. This figure was set at
$3,000 per ‘year in 1~60 and, because of inflation, was raised to $9,287 by 1982. This figure can be debated as either too generous or too restrictive, but at least it gives an objective base for measuring change. Who are the poor? ‘Many of them live at many have mental, social, or physical handicaps. Many of them are children, and a disproportionate number are- women. We’ have minimum-wage laws, but steady work at the minimum wage will not support a family. Government and private charity aid the mentally and physically handicapped but not generously. People who have other handicaps , for instance are difficult to help even when society has -the best of intentions, Probably the most frequent social handicap today is the broken family, usually headed by a mother with little
or no support from the father. It is difficult for a woman to care for children and be the sole source of financial support, and the majority of one-parent, female-headed families live at or below the poverty line. Probably the acid test of the degree of upward social mobility is the proportion of the population who have moved above the poverty line (see Figure 15-3). Such mobility above the poverty line takes place both by overcoming individual handicaps and by making special provision for those with low incomes.