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Social policy concerns have historically served as political battlegrounds in the United States, since they energize people, divide political opponents, and even determine election outcomes. Healthcare, social security, poverty, and housing have been at the forefront of everyone's minds. In terms of poverty, social issues have played a significant part in determining individuals' futures, and as Rushefsky (2013) points out, political institutions have a significant influence on this component. Changing conditions, as well as individual ideas, have all been predicated on the American style of developing and approaching public policy.
There are many factors and reasons for poverty in the United States. These factors range from loss of jobs and increased cost of living to issues such as disability and mental illness. However, there are major aspects to this issue. First is the case of a poor economy which has caused a very rapid increase in unemployment. As Rushefsky (2013) points out, a few companies in the United States have shut their business doors while others have downsized on staff. Worse still, some have opted to international investment out of the country. This has occurred as a result of a recessing economy which has further led to structural unemployment. As a result, many families find themselves living under the poverty line while others even become displaced as they cannot afford a home.
The abuse of drugs has been a contributing factor to poverty in US. According to DeNavas-Walt (2010), more than twenty prevent of the homeless population is affected by alcohol and drug addiction. The latter can dominate the life of the user, making the addict lose their money into this dependency. For instance, cocaine and heroin users end up spending more money in a week than they can actually manage to make hence live beyond their means (DeNavas-Walt, 2010). Drug consumers suffer serious economic effects such as loss of jobs, increased medical expenses due to sickness and related accidents. Their piled-up liabilities have the consequence of decreased eligibility of loans. Drug abuse and alcoholism has been a major contributor to poverty in the United States.
The third factor to poverty in the US is increased health expenses. As Hotez (2008) notes, many Americans from both deprived and rich families unexpectedly develop illnesses that require immediate attention medically. Such unexpected sickness may deprive an individual of lots of funds since the cost of treatment is relatively high. For instance, the treatment for cancer, chemotherapy and even surgery is quite expensive and a number of citizens cannot afford it. Although medical insurance may cover some bills, it’s obviously not all of it. For this reason and the fact that the sick must access medical attention, the middle class as well as lower class end up into poverty due to high medical bills.
The fourth factor which leads to poverty is the struggle to afford proper housing. Inefficient proper and affordable housing has been another major factor which ends up making many people poor. High cost of housing leaves many people in America struggling to even make ends meet. As Cook (2008) notes, in order to afford a two bedroom apartment in the US, one has to earn approximately fifteen USD in an hour. This is impossible to some, considering the aspect that a significant number of families are big or extended.
Lack of proper education in the United States has been yet another major factor that contributes to poverty. Although education has been a basic need for every individual, a good part of the lower classes cannot afford colleges so as to earn degrees (Rushefsky 2013). For this reason, the only jobs they clinch are those that with low wages and meager or zero additional benefits. Consequently, they continue supporting their dependent families with the little money they have and are progressively driven into poverty. In a family with at least three dependents, a bread-winner holding a diploma from high school cannot manage to land jobs with packages that can support them.
Welfare Policies in Combating Poverty
There have been welfare policies and programs helpful in combating poverty in the United States. Such schemes include unemployment benefits, social security, availability of food stamps and Earned Income Tax Credits (DeNavas-Walt, 2010). These policies have favorably reduced the number of poor people in the society. For instance, food stamps have enabled many poor families to feed their children, a matter which has assisted the poor. However, these policies are not effective enough since many people in the country are nevertheless poor, with the number inflating as time goes on. In addition, welfare policies such as medical and social security during the administration of Obama have for a long time been controversial in the country.
Although there have been welfare reforms under the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations, they have not been effective at all. The regimes tried to address the issues of education and access to social services. They were however not effectively implemented. Policy reforms such as discipline to the poor people should be recommended. The destitute as Cook (2008) states have no one to blame but themselves. If policies were made such that the poor would start to rely on themselves, it would reduce the rate of neediness. Moreover, policies that deal with issues that cause impecuniousness such as drug abuse should be clearly addressed by the government towards lessening poverty.
An Effort to Amend the U.S. Constitution
Constitutional amendments are very rare; however, there have been talks in the United States about taking such an action. These forums have been propagated and supported by politicians who wish to address the issues that affect social policies. Democrats for instance have had agendas on how to amend the constitution since the failure of Equal Rights Amendment Anon (2017). These meetings about how the Republicans want to alter the constitution have been top of the US news for a long period now. For example, the amendment issue on direct elections of senators and taking of stocks by the government has been around for a long time.
In addition to those alterations, there has been news on how the fourteenth amendment of the constitution would be carried out so as to deprive the rights of children born in the United States soil. Talks have pointed out that the birthright citizenship in the US has elevated poverty levels since most of these children end up unattended to and end up living in the streets. According to Anon (2017), this bill grants anyone who is born in the United States the right to citizenship and its full benefits. This has been viewed as a demerit in the sense of attracting opportunists.
Talks about parental right amendment are designed to stem the gathering hazard of the US government raising children (Anon, 2017). These agreements have been supported by more than a hundred members of the house. Moreover, there have been formal conversations about the amendment of balanced budget; many are of the view that the Bush tax cuts should be made permanent. Right to life amendments have also been addressed by the public who are not supporting the act of abortion. Lastly, government spending amendment has also been a concern. The public calls for reduction in the amount of funds that the government spends, citing the scenario as one of the major causal factors of financial neediness in the form of household funds withdrawal via high taxation. An amendment is vital, rather than merely initiating changes in federal law because as Schortgen (2017) points out, change in federal laws would not affect the constitution. However, such corrections would cause a contradicting section to be deleted and the new phrase added in its place in favor of politics. This scenario is more permanent than just an alteration in the federal laws which can be subject to change by Supreme Court as need arises.
Anon, (2017). [Online] Available at: https://www.usnews.com/opinion/slideshows/12-ways-republicans-want-to-change-the-constitution?slide=12 [Accessed 4 Oct. 2017].
Cook, J. T., & Frank, D. A. (2008). Food security, poverty, and human development in the United States. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1136(1), 193-209.
DeNavas-Walt, C. (2010). Income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in the United States (2005). Diane Publishing.
Hotez, P. J. (2008). Neglected infections of poverty in the United States of America. PLoS neglected tropical diseases, 2(6), e256.
Rushefsky, M.E. (2013). Public Policy in the United States. Florence: Taylor and Francis
Schortgen Jr, K. (2017). Global Research.
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