Smith Goldsmith Blakely Observe ' Burden Poverty Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Smith, Goldsmith Blakely observe ' burden poverty falls heavily women children disproportionately African-Americans Latinos/Hispanics' (pg.

The issue of poverty in the United States is not merely an issue of economic shortcomings of the system or a lack of coordination at the level of the state in terms of ensuring a proper social welfare protect system. Poverty in America, such as in any other democratic and complex state, depends on a multitude of factors that mix and provide an important shortcoming that in turn affects the lives of millions of people throughout the world and in the U.S. alike.

The combination of factors is varied and depending on the way in which these factors combine, they affect certain parts of the society. In the case of the United States there is a clear recognition of the fact that women, children, African-Americans and Latinos / Hispanics are more prone and vulnerable to the burden of poverty that the other social groups. William Goldsmith and Edward Blakely consider that the reason for which these groups are more vulnerable than the others takes into account a geographical position and separation. By comparison, Anne Marie Smith views this burden of policy on these groups to be the result of family connections and sexual regulations.

Anne Marie Smith provides a perspective on the burden of poverty related to the way in which sexual regulations such as the ones related to marriages may affect the degree of poverty among the analyzed groups. More precisely, she puts up for discussion whether women and children may often be subject to poverty because they are in single parent households or lack the support, financially and morally, of the partner. At the same time though, she argues that such a solution, the promotion of heterosexual marriages may not tackle the actual issue of poverty burden. In this sense, she argues "when we consider family structure, gender, and race simultaneously, it seems entirely possible that al three variables are interacting in a significant manner where poverty is concerned. It is true that children who are living in American families that are headed by a couple are much less likely to live in poverty than their counterparts who are being raised by a single parent. In 1999, the poverty rate for all families was 13.8%, qhile onlu 6.3% of the families headed by a couple were poor." (Smith, p265)

The argument Smith is making is indeed valuable in the sense that women and children tend to the be first subjects of poverty if the social structure is broken. The issue of increased revenues for the family members in the situation of two parents' families is obvious. The single parent has less pressure and burden to earn the living in order to support the child/children. Moreover, such arrangements also reduce the pressures from the childcare system. As Smith points out, 'in the United States subsidized childcare is rare, paid family leave programs are nonexistent, and public health programs are so grossly inadequate" (Smith, p265).

Smith however points out that despite these positive arguments at the first glance related to the way in which two parents' families reduce the poverty of burden in the case of women and children, there are also certain aspects that are not taken into account and therefore this solution cannot be seen as viable at a larger scale to reduce poverty among the mentioned groups. On the one hand, the divorce rate in the United States is rather significant and, as Smith points out, the "volatility in adult romantic relationships" should be taken into account. More precisely, "one out of five of the TANF households are headed by a single custodian parent who was married at one point but is now either separated or divorced. Also a child needs much more than economic resources to thrive; the gain from living in a two income household might be cancelled out by emotional costs if the parenting couple has an unstable and conflict -- ridden relationship" (Smith, p266). Therefore it can be pointed out that heterosexual marriages and two income parents cannot be considered as a definite and successful solution for the reduction of poverty among these groups.

Goldsmith and Blakely on the other hand, although agree that these groups are indeed vulnerable consider that "Economic and political forces no longer combat poverty- they generate poverty!" (Goldsmith and Blakely, p5). Further, the two consider that the society at large puts a lot of pressure on these groups while considering them guilty of the situations they are in including poverty. More precisely, "these ideas can be used to justify expressions of racism, sexism and individualism offering little to counteract the ethnocentric reactionary logic of the street: 'lower class blacks lacked industry, lived for momentary erotic pleasure and, in their mystique of soul, glorified the fashions of a high stepping street life" (Goldsmith and Blakely, p5). Therefore, the misperceptions of the society also impoverish these groups.

Goldsmith and Blakely point out that the geographical distribution of poverty has changed in the last half century. In the 1950s poor people were mostly found in the rural areas whereas in the last decades, this has shifted to the urban areas. One explanation for this change can also be the increase in the number of immigrants and the flux of people from the rural areas coming in the urban constructions. Either way, "urban poverty is centered in the nation's largest cities, especially those with the largest minority population. (…) Twenty percent or more of the populations were categorized as poor in the 1980 in New york, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, San Antonio, Memphis, Cleveland, Boston, New Orleans, St. Louis, El Paso and Atlanta." (Goldsmith and Bakely, p46).

The shift in perspective is rather significant for the debate on poverty. While Smith takes into account certain aspects related to human interaction, for instance the ability of people to connect in marriages and to remain in such arrangements, Goldsmith and Blakely point out several aspects that focus on social arrangements that are created at the level of the communities poor people live. For instance, poverty in segregated societies take into account the actual separation of poor people at the outskirts of major cities. A relevant example in this sense is the actual city of New York where the poor neighborhoods are mostly inhabited by African-Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities. This is also due to a sense of solidarity among poor people of the same race, "not only are blacks in our largest cities disproportionately likely to share tracts with other blacks, they are very unlikely to share a tract with any whites at all. Moreover, if they go to the adjacent neighborhood or to the neighborhood adjacent to that, they are still unlikely to encounter a white resident." (Goldsmith and Blakely, p49)

Unlike the analysis provided by Smith, Goldsmith and Blakely emphasize the way in which society plays a role through the segregation that is taking place at the level of the geographical areas. By contrast to Smith, the two point out that the role of marriage and complete families is not essential for reducing poverty. More precisely, "…a considerable number of people who fall persistently below the poverty line lived in households with intact families, or where the householder was disabled or elderly, or where the householder worked a substantial part of the year. In three-fifths of the persistently poor households in 1980 the head of the household was either married and living with a spouse, disabled, elderly, or was usually employed." (Goldsmith and Blakely, p53). This comes to point out that the burden of poverty is not necessarily dependent on the way in which the social status of the poor is perceived by the society.

At the same time though, the issue of being poor,…

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