Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty

I have been exploring the topic of poverty in recent days. The result is the following post.

Defining Poverty
What is poverty? According to the World Bank, poverty is characterized by lack of food and/or shelter, lack of education, lack of healthcare, but it is also “powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom.”
A large percentage of Americans are in debt. Which leads me to a question: is poverty the state in which one lives, or is it the amount of money and/or debt which one amasses?
I agree that extreme poverty is characterized by a lack of the very basics: food, shelter, medical care. But I also agree with the statement above that poverty is “powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom.” Obviously, there is a difference between being poor, i.e. trapped in one’s current situation but able to afford the basics, and poverty, which can be considered a lack of access to the basic needs of human beings in order to survive.

Poverty and Social Responsibility
What can we do about poverty, or should we do anything about poverty? Is each person responsible for him/herself, or do we have an obligation, if we are better equipped financially, to assist others? And along those lines, is it better to give or to teach?
There are many social welfare programs in the United States, but how many of them are bettering the needy? Should these programs be focused more on teaching and less on giving?
Is there a difference between living in poverty in a country like the U.S. and living in poverty elsewhere, such as in a developing nation? Are the poor in the U.S. richer (i.e. in social welfare programs available to them) than the poor in less financially stable countries?

Poverty and Homelessness in the U.S.
Poverty in the U.S. is very closely associated with homelessness.
According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition, 3.5 million people in the U.S. experience homelessness in a given year, and one-fifth of those are chronically mentally ill. I would like to further explore the topic of mental illness and homelessness at a later date.