By Laura Robledo
Last week, students across the nation debated about the issue of poverty and ways to help prevent it in America in our #DoNowPoverty. We asked How should the U.S. treat people who are living in poverty? What would an anti-poverty agenda look like? Devise one piece of legislation that could make a difference.
The US Census Bureau reported that 46 million Americans (about 15% of the population) live in poverty. Additionally, this rate has remained essentially the same since 2011. According to Robert Reich, the economist, (talking about his new film, Inequality for All, on PBS Newshour), “we know that 42 percent of poor kids born into poverty remain in poverty for their entire lifetimes, a higher percentage than even in Britain, where 30 percent of people born in poverty stay in poverty…” Throughout the 1960s and 70s, the minimum wage in America allowed a family of three to rise above the poverty line at about $18,000 today. Currently, however, the minimum wage is at $7.25 per hour, which means full-time employees earn below poverty earnings of approximately $15,000.
Students throughout the week suggested a wide variety of solutions from raising the minimum wage to taxing the wealthy, showing that there is not one way to end the complex issue of poverty in America.
Education is the key to success
Many students argued that the government needs to make education more available to everyone to ensure they are given the same opportunities.
— Susan Liu (@susansqliu) November 6, 2013
@KQEDspace Why doesn't America have free higher education? It's as if those who cannot pay for schooling,are hopless. #DoNowPoverty
— Tana (@tana_mita) November 7, 2013
— susely gaeta (@gaeta_susely) November 7, 2013
Provide more jobs and raise minimum wage
Many students proposed that America needs to create more jobs and raise the minimum wage for the average American.
— Stefan Denny (@Dr_Slagathor) November 4, 2013
If we raise the minimum wage workers will make enough money to raise their families with out being in poverty. #donowpoverty
— Stay humble. (@itsadthang_) November 4, 2013
— Jennifer Lopez (@Jenni_MITA) November 6, 2013
People need to work to be paid
Other students acknowledged that people living in poverty do need help, but we need to create a way to ensure they don’t take advantage of the system.
— Remy B. (@remybfauhs2B) November 5, 2013
— Timothy N (@timothynfauhs4B) November 4, 2013
— Suley (@AbbyisHurt) November 6, 2013
Diminish the gap between the rich and the poor
Many students discussed the income disparity between the rich and the poor, suggesting that the wealthy should be taxed or donate their money more frequently.
— Nadia S (@nadiasfauhs4B) November 5, 2013
— bill erwin (@bilerw) November 7, 2013
— Olivia Hayward (@oliviahfauhs2A) November 8, 2013
— Andrea Arellano (@arellano_mita) November 6, 2013
Treat the poor with respect
Several students raised the issue that America needs to acknowledge the problem and treat those living in poverty with dignity.
— Alison Lucero (@AHA_Geodude) November 6, 2013
— DK. (@Davieshia) November 8, 2013