Minimizing Poverty Is a Government Initiative Essay

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Minimizing Poverty Is a Government Initiative

The Progressive Era

Poverty reduction has remained a central debate in periodical democratic societies. Schemes have been established to enable citizens to be economically viable either at paid-employment or self-employment level. Activists, philosophers, and politicians have suggested technical, liberal, and legal approaches towards poverty eradication. In fact, most of the debate in relation to the field of poverty examines whether poverty is a natural phenomenon associated with human beings. As this report will identify, fighting poverty is a double-edged sword since, after all, poverty is not the only member of the league. Close players include capitalism and politics. The commencing research proves that reducing poverty is a sequential process that requires considerate participation from all stakeholders. The research will principally cite Darwin's Social Darwinism theory, the 1933-1936 national initiative New Deal and Johnson Lyndon Economic Opportunity Act.

Social Darwinism vs. Progressivism


There are close similarities between Darwin's Social Darwinism theory and opinion held by progressive Era thinkers. Darwin's social Darwinism theory specifies natural selections based on survival of the fittest while ideologies of the Progressive Era advocated perfect competition. However, as this report will identify, there are stretching differences between the two concepts. During the fifties and sixties, businesses sought to avoid stringent reforms and most of these were entrenched in federal laws. The commencing section will examine in detail the theory of social Darwinism and how it is related to Charity Organizational Society (COS) settlement movement. The section will also clarify the contrast between Progressive Era and Social Darwinism.

Social Darwinism and how it related to the COS and Settlement House Movements.

Social Darwinism is a theory, which originated from the industrializing England and United States. The theory sought to apply biological arithmetic to explain individual efforts, and general contribution in an industrial setting. Claeys (2000, pp, 223) argued that the Social Darwinism theory is based on a stereotype that the rich become stronger, and their wealth expands naturally compared to the poor. Whereas, the economically challenged get weaker since they do not have any economic resource to plough back to the business. Many theories have been pegged from Social Darwinism. Common of these theories are Laissez Fair, capitalism, racism, eugenics, fascism and imperialism (Davies, 1992, pp. 205). Contemporary philosophers constantly pegged the concept of the biology to sheer naturalistic fallacy; however, the concept does not change significantly.

On the other hand, COS and Settlement House Movements approaches to public administration began gaining influence as early as 1869 in England. The initial goal of the disbursement was to provide outdoor relief to the elderly and physically challenged. However, the ideology spread to cater for people who were economically challenged. It should be recalled that during the inception of this idea, Britain has slowly defeated Agrarian ideologies (Jansson, 2009, p.17).


Philosophers affiliated to either of the two ideologies will naturally argue that man struggles for his personal comfort. Comfort remains an integral concern to every human being and means of achieving it are unlimited. In this light, philosophers began noticing that the COS movement embraced Social Darwinism as its theoretical underpinning of either helping or not helping the poor. Leonard (2009, pp. 39) argues that, one will notice the concept of the scientific charity as applied to reach out to the public. The central goal of COS is to improvise self-support through proper investigation and determination of worthiness.

Alternatively, the settlement house movement specified a set of principles to be followed. Clients of settlement houses were viewed and understood differently as normal individuals. Efforts were made to separate the worthy poor or unworthy poor, and this emphasized in providing communal services and community development initiatives. However, in relation to Social Darwinism theory, it is notable that settlement house movement embraced a philosophy that combined individual achievement with satisfying social relations and social responsibility. Part of the central goals of settlement mission is providing a desirable reform. Additionally, the COS and the settlement house movement introduced a social reform ideology, one that fostered a forerunner to clinical social work (Davies, 1992, pp. 205). The program trained family and individuals to apply scientific methods to determine the necessity of training.

In an argument, the rationality of Social Darwinism specifies that competition is paramount for every society. Competition in this case is based on the aggregate performance of each. This research introduced the comparative of desirable and ruthlessness. Social Darwinist approaches were highly blamed for the heightened occurrence of World War II. In fact, debates of survival by then suppressed debates of self-improvement. The economically disadvantaged were staged on the stereotypical debates of capitalism (Marciano and Koppl, 2009, pp. 3). Thus, the focus was directed on the aspect of social harm that capitalist ideologies grounded men.

Hence, in summary, it is positive to note that charity organization emphasized on individual strength as a power to rejuvenate oneself from chains of economic bondage. There is a need to empower the economically challenged as this provides a wider framework of enriching all individuals collectively. A better performing society is explained as that one not affiliated to poverty. As a matter of reference, one will notice these differences between first world countries and third world countries. While Darwinian theories provide a better and logic approach towards tackling poverty, societies should provide easier environments for all people to compete equally (Jansson, 2009, p.160).

Progressive Era in-contrast with Social Darwinism

Progressive Era comprise a group of reformers, middle class individuals sought to better the economy by removing the atrocities associated with capitalism. Progressives were naturally comprised of Elite individuals who formed a small section of field and the industrial workers union. Union activists and federal laws centered constant agitation and wrath in attacking corporate societies who were avoiding stringent reforms. On the other hand, religious women were struggling to stamp out alcohol as one of society's greatest vices.

Skidmore (2011, pp. 12) argues that, progressive era politics specified that both economics and law integrating social Darwinism principles were a much more epithet and an analytic tool. The approach further provided stringent measures, which were not accomplished within the context of American politics at the time. It should be noted that the social Darwinist worshiped competition and a central ideology in the business was monopoly or oligopoly. For this reason, monopolistic or oligopolistic ideology naturally mutated of the survival of the fittest.

In contrast, the Elite societies provided a protest around the turn of the century. During this time, Karl Marx socialist ideologies were already gaining significant influence in the underground labor market. Seconding this were the liberal concern on the nature of industry exposure and the consumer markets. Drugs and alcohol were the closest concerns of most agitators (Skidmjore, 2011, pp. 20). The purpose of Elite movement was not dictating external values but to cultivate and reinforce values that were confirmed on individual perceptions.

Leonard (2009, pp. 37) affirms that, and moral theory was a central concern that the provided extensive social control or religious and philosophical roots. Elites provided a limelight of agitation by specifying acceptable positivistic economic ideologies that combined science and religion. The debate of equality did crop in almost every stage of development. For this reason, progressive economists understood that their ideologies could not thrive in a laissez faire driven Darwinist economy (Margaret, 2013). However, it was not sufficient that Laissez-faire was the best application of Darwin theory of human morality.

Based on this approach, one will notice the ever-heightening differences between Social Darwin theories and Progressive Era ideologies. On one hand, the government provided impetus to the development of Social Darwinism theory as this approach was seen to instigate a hardworking economy (Davies, 1992). In contrast, Social Darwinism perceptions of the Progressive Era held that poverty was a manifestation of an individual's fundamental unfitness. Hence, the movement geared toward cultural uniformity and eradication of poverty did go beyond individual interpretations of poverty and toward of social explanation (Hausman, 2007, pp. 459).

Following the developed structural view of poverty, it became logical that the environmental view took a radical sociological view. Belligerence between the two sides became imminent. For this reason, making rational decisions within the context of environmental opportunities improvised structural opportunities, which were well understood by different camps. A reference theory is the Social strain theory, which argues that people in poor neighborhoods take advantages of opportunities surrounding them. Thus, in providing the notion of progressive Era politics, it is legitimate to argue that Man lacks even delivery points, and this presents an unjustifiable argument of poverty (Jansson, 2009, p.201).

New Deal vs. Lyndon's War on Poverty

Lyndon's war on poverty

On January 8, 1964, a Democrat by the name of Johnson, Lyndon B. presented a controversial poverty reduction program debuted Economic Opportunity Act. The act saw the establishment of the Office of Economic Opportunity entitled to administer the local application of federal funds targeted towards poverty reduction. Lyndon contribution oversaw the introduction of several bills, which part of them included Social Security Act…

Sources Used in Document:


Claeys, G. (2000). The "Survival Of The Fittest" And The Origins Of Social Darwinism. Journal of the History of Ideas, 61(2), 223.

Davies, G. (1992). War On Dependency: Liberal Individualism And The Economic Opportunity Act Of 1964. Journal of American Studies, 26(02), 205.

Hausman, W.J. (2007). Jason Scott Smith. Building New Deal Liberalism: The Political Economy of Public Works, 1933-1956. Enterprise and Society, 8 (2), 459-461.

Johnston, R.D. (2013). Review Class Unknown: Undercover Investigations of American Work and Poverty from the Progressive Era to the Present Pittenger Mark New York University Press New York. Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (1998), 106 (2), 347-349.

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