By Tristan Miller-Lammert, Trending Writer
Poverty is something everyone has had experience with. Homeless people are nearly on every city block in America. People are constantly reminded of it by commercials and media and some may even have to deal with it at home. Poverty represents a serious social injustice that affects our society.
According to L.A. Times, between the end of World War II and the 1970’s “virtually all working Americans saw paychecks rise”. Matters got worse towards the 80’s, though, and income gains all but stopped in the last 15 years. Middle-income Americans now earn less than they did in 2000 in addition to the recession of 2007.
An early 2015 Gallop Poll showed that two thirds of Americans were unhappy with how income is distributed in the United States. L.A. Times also states that low income and poverty also feel more pronounced when “only a small portion of the population [is] riding the economy’s up escalator”.
Low-income has led to entire regions to suffer from malnourishment, crime, and lack of economic mobility. And, with 91% of recent income gains going to the wealthiest 1%, it is easy to see why this disparity is such a problem.
The reality is that it is not cheap to be poor. Being poor in America involves stressing over constant costs, which threaten with anxiety, depression, and bankruptcy. Take the following: The Economist states “Some 8% of American households do not [have a bank account]”. This is because banking is too expensive. Monthly and even unexpected fees are too great a risk for many low-income Americans.
Cashing checks costs money (usually 2-5% of the value deposited) and some people do not live near enough to an ATM to make withdrawals using their welfare cards.
Low-income areas suffer because the people in them have very few options. Technology like smartphones opens up a whole range of possibilities spanning from free access to education, simplified communication, and transportation. As stated by The Economist, if one earns less than $30,000 a year, though, it is a 50/50 of whether or not he or she owns a smartphone compared to 70% for higher income groups.
By living in a low-income area, one is getting priced out of everything. Inflation was higher for those in poverty from 2000-2013 and the prices of essentials like rent and food are rising. Furthermore, the wealth-distribution in this country means that there will be less access to full-service grocery stores with fresh fruits and vegetables or infrastructure like parks and gyms.
Statistics do not lie. The wealth gap in this country needs to be addressed in order to help the most vulnerable people in our society.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 9th print edition.
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