Friday, March 17, 2023

Why Poverty Persists in America

In a New York Times article, sociologist Matthew Desmond explores why poverty is still a persistent issue in the United States when anti-poverty programs have been in place for decades. Poverty rates in America have stayed nearly the same over the last fifty years, reflecting little improvement even as government funded programs have continued to increase their budgets in hopes of helping people. Desmond concludes this lack of progress can be attributed to “the way the American poor are routinely taken advantage of.” Examples include the demise of unions who were able to fight for better pay and safer working conditions that helped both unionized and non-unionized workers, and worker pay that has not kept up with the rising cost of inflation. Workers are being undervalued in labor markets, rent prices are increasing, and banks are earning exorbitant overdraft fees – nearly $11 billion a year. “Unwinding ourselves from our neighbors’ deprivation and refusing to live as enemies of the poor will require us to pay a price,” Desmond writes. “It’s the price of our restored humanity and renewed country.”

Read the entire article here, if you have a NYT subscription.