Poverty is a global problem, and it has existed from the beginning
of civilization. Hunger, homelessness, and lack of health care are major
aspects of this world-wide
dilemma. Many countries are in complete poverty and a majority are
third-world countries. Within the United States of America, a land of
plenty, there are also pockets of extreme poverty. Governments around the
world are trying to solve this huge problem. Third world poverty and
Appalachian poverty, which occurred in the United States of America, have
developed for various reasons, and these situations have led to a great
deal of problems.
Throughout the world, poverty has plagued all countries. In smaller,
under-developed countries many people die from starvation. These countries
can not afford to support their citizens. Due to their financial problems,
the people lack proper shelter and clothing to keep themselves warm during
cold months. Since they lack adequate shelter and clothing, diseases occur
all over. These diseases develop a lot easier with poor nutrition. Once
again with more financial problems, health care is limited to none.
Lawrence Senesh, the contributor of “Poverty as a Social Problem” from
World Book, says poverty is usually caused by the difficulty in holding and
even getting a job(650). Ability, education, and skills help determine the
kind of job an individual gets (650).
Everyone does not have the same physical abilities and mental abilities.
Poor health and abilities prevent some people from holding a job. Through
science people have been able to hold onto jobs a lot easier (650). It has
increased the need for professional workers and lowered the demand for the
unskilled (650). So, the people with higher education will get paid a
higher income, and people with lower education will get paid a lower
income. Changes in economic slumps can often bring poverty. When
businesses drop off and production declines people lose jobs without
warning (650). Poverty is also caused by social conditions, such as racial
discrimination (Blacks, Asians, and Mexicans) (650). Whites are usually
the ones who do the discriminating (650).
There are a variety of third-world countries in the world. A third
world country is a country that is economically depressed and continues to
grieve. Examples of third world countries are Bosnia, Hungary, Austria,
Romania, and Somalia. The United States of
America, the richest country in the world, has its share of poverty
(Senesh650a). Granted, American poverty is no match to third world
poverty, but for such a prosperous country it is pretty sad. Most third
world countries do not have social security or welfare (650a). So, the
people of those countries have no income to keep themselves going. Even
America does have both social security and welfare, this country still has
many homeless and starving people.
Appalachia includes thirteen states, ranging from southern New York to
eastern Mississippi (650a). About eighteen million people live in
Appalachia. In March, 1965, the
United States Congress passed the Appalachian Regional Redevelopment Act.
The legislation was designed primarily to create more jobs by attracting
tourists and industries. It provided funds and made the area more
accessible. Funds also were made available
for new schools and health facilities, land and mine reclamation, and
timber and water conservation. ‘
The poverty in America will not be solved all at once (650a).
Simply creating jobs will not help eliminate poverty because there are some
people who are disabled and just can not work (650a). The government
social welfare programs help to add income to many people (650a). These
people could be the retired, unemployed, disabled, or widowed (650a). In
order to help the less fortunate, the people that are employed are taxed to
raise money to pay for social security and other benefits (650a). For the
higher income workers taxes are higher, and for lower income workers taxes
are lower. Michael Winerip stated in “What’s a Nice Jewish Lawyer Like
John Rosenberg Doing in Appalachia?” from New York Times Magazine, that
Rosenberg left Washington to go to Kentucky ; he quickly realized that the
land was barren. A land that was once bountiful
for its time is now a vast quantity of nothing (Winerip25). In the video
tape “Applachian Poverty”directed by Susan Jones, she shows how runned down
Applachia really is.
The government has been trying to eliminate poverty for decades. In
1946 an employment act was passed (Senesh 650a). This act charges the
federal government to
keep the economic stability of the United States of America (Senesh 650a).
The way the government has tried to decrease the poverty level is by
increasing in goods and
services (650a). Since the mid-1940’s, poverty has been reduced about one
per cent a year, which is a normal growth rate (650a). Some other ways
that could help this vast area is for the people to start refarming the
land, which is stated in the book Justice Catholic Faith at Work in the
World by Gustatson and Wilkins (42). Sandra Decosta states in “Head Start
Restarts hope in Rural W. Virginia” from Children Today that schools are
being built and education is being spread. Although Applachia is plumeting
economically, the soul and hope of the people are still thriving, which is
found in the article “In the Heart of Applachia” from National Geographic
By Jeannie Ralston.
The United States of America is a land of plenty and America is known
for its freedom and advantages. With all these possibilities to succeed,
America has its own shame. Sadly enough, poverty has struck this country.
The largest pocket of poverty is found in a region called Appalachia. As
written by D. McGraw in “Signs of hope in Appalachia”
from U.S. News and World Report. Although Appalachian poverty is a big
issue in the United States, it was a lot worse about thirty-years ago (62).
States government has pumped fourteen million dollars into Appalachia (63).
Majority of the money is used to fix up run down buildings, communities,
and highways (Senesh 650a). In the beginning of the 1960’s, thirty percent
of Appalachia was in poverty. Thanks to the government funding, poverty
has decreased from thirty percent to fifteen percent (62). Although much as
changed, Ron Ellen ,a man that McGraw questions, quotes, ” …when you get
back into the communities that are off the beaten track, you find
conditions that have changed little from the 1960’s (62).” Another one of
the biggest problems in
Appalachia is the unemployment. In West Virginia alone, eight percent of
the people are unemployed (McGraw 63).
The sad thing is that it is the
best it has been in the past twenty years, and West Virginia is considered
to be the lowest unemployed state in Appalachia (63). The economic
development of Appalachia is extremely uneven (Mcgraw 62). Things that
help these small town are efforts like Dollywood (62). A variety of things
were done to help lower the unemployment rate. One important item is the
big industries, like computer factories, that came into the area. The
government has been doing a lot to decrease unemployment. They have been
creating government jobs for the people, a program which began in the late
1980’s. In fact, they set up a Federal Buerau of Ivestigation fingerprinting building that employs two thousand six hundred
people in West Virginia (Mcgraw 63). Companies have flourished in this
area. Nearly seventy top software companies have entered the area since
1990 (Mcgraw 63). Over a thousand residents have been employees in
software and research (63). Seventy seven point nine million dollars were
used to build seventy percent more firms in 1994, which was raised by the
federal government (63).
The primary way to lower unemployment is to encourage future
generations to get an education. The high schools today must be upgraded
to meet the future needs of our nation. In high schools and colleges
across the nation all students must be aquentied with the computer. Today,
the computer is used for many purposes from simple spreadsheet to
architectural designs. Another technological advance is the internet. The
internet is almost a mandatory commodity today. The whole world is
connected by the internet.
The internet connects many large and small companies. In Virginia, seven
hundred out of eight hundred and seventy three high schools have connected
to the internet as we
approach the end of 1997 (McGraw63). If the education is upgraded, people
will get more jobs and/or higher paying jobs (63). The Appalachian
Regional Commission says that seventy seven percent of eighteen to
twenty-four year olds have completed high school (McGraw63).
The bishops say in article “Bishops speak out on behalf of
Appalachia” from Christian Century, ” Poverty is just as bad as it was
twenty years ago (Bishops6).” In the new pastoral, bishops say that the
natural environment and its people depend on global environmental change
(Bishops 6). This change is having a great impact on the Appalachian
region, from New York to Mississippi (6). Reasons for the change involve
the closing of large business and the cutting down of forests (6). The new
economic system is changing the Appalachian region into a more
technological area (6). A bishop states:
With the decline of mining and other blue-collar
governments are tempted to depends on garbage dumping and new
prisons as their only source of revenue and new
is at a crossroads where a choice must be made between
The outside region is trying make Appalachia into an out-of-state
garbage-wasteland (6). Proposals also have been made to put countless
prisons into the area (6). The mining
workers and blue collar employers are being dumped off like waste (6).
Sullivan of Richmond, Virginia says, ” we are treating the poor the way we
treat the land (6).” The people of Appalachia should be treated through
technology since they are also consumers of this land we call “land of plenty” (6). The bishops are
helping out the Farmers Budget and adopting forests to help keep Appalachia
a better place (6). Many also say that the land should be used for helpful
things, not wasteful things (6). The bishops who all signed the statement
were: Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore, Archbishop John Donoghue of
Atlanta, Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati, Archbishop Thomas Kelly
of Louisville, Bishop William Curlin of Charlotte, North Carolina, and
Bishop William Hughes of Covington, Kentucky.
Although the Appalachian area is known for its poverty problem,
Jeffery Damron who wrote “Going Back to Appalachia” from Newsweek,
considers it a beautiful place and something he calls home (16). Because
of the down roads and low run communities, it is no wonder Appalachia has
the stereotype it has (Damron16). Appalachia is not just a poor waste
land. It is an underdeveloped area waiting for the future to arrive. It
has high mountains and extremely gentle winds which make life there
beautiful. The forest of
Appalachia is a major center of the United States (16). “Bark grinders and
fly minders tell a tale of Appalachia” which was written by Jeannie Ralston
in Smithsonian, states that she notices that progress has found the mountain area, and that the
life is easier and more romantic (Ralston45). With the wide open land this
area is open for the future. People are starting to move into this area,
looking for what promises to be a bright future (16). Appalachia contains
one of the biggest cities in the world. New York City is the center of world activity. Trends are started and developed New York City (16).
Despite the fact that Appalachia is high in poverty, it has one of the
lowest crime rates in the United States. It is a wonderful place to live
and raise a family (16). With the wide open fields and ranches, it makes
for a peaceful place to live. When the seasons hit the Appalachian
Mountains, it is beautiful (16). In autumn the leaves turn a red and gold
colors that light up the hillsides. The mountain ranges run on forever (16).
Political scientists say that poverty situations could lead to
hostile actions against the government (Senesh 650). The government is
usually blamed for the poors’ problems. As quoted by anthropologists and
sociologists “Poverty breeds Poverty” (650). Children that are raised in a
poor environment are usually destined to be poor for all their lives. Many
adults become extremely discouraged. Due to the fact that they can’t hold
onto a job, these people lose all dignity and self-respect (650-650a).
Eventually they become associated with being poor. This leads to their
children wanting to remain poor (650a).
With the younger generations wanting to remain poor, it operates like a
chain reaction ; leading to hundreds and hundreds of people in poverty.
Given all of the facts mentioned above, it is easy to see that the world
and America has a bigger problem on their hands than they realize. The
causes of poverty come from many different factors. It might be related to
the natural evolution of civilization. There are ways to solve this
dilemma, and it will take some time to resolve. If this problem is
solved soon the whole world could prosper in the future, but if not the
whole world could pass away in famine.
Appalachian Poverty. Dir. Susan Jones. 1997.
Bishop. “Bishops speaks out on behalf of Appalachia.” The Christian Century
3 January 1996: 6.
Damron, Jeffery. “Going Back to Appalachia.” Newsweek 19 October 1992: 16.
DeCosta, Sandra. “Head Start Restarts hope in Rural W. Virginia.” Children
Gustatson Ph.D, Janie , and Ronald Wilkins. Justice Catholic Faith at Work
in the World
McGraw, D. “Signs of Hope in Appalachia.” U.S. News and World Report
6 May 1996 : 62-63.
Ralston, Jeannie. “Bark grinders and fly minders tell a tale of
February 1996: 44-53.
Ralston, Jeannie. “In the Heart of Appalachia.” National Geographic
February 1993: 112.
Senesh Lawerence. “Poverty as a Social Problem.” World Book 1977: 650-650a.
Winerip, Michael. “What’s a nice Jewish lawyer like John Rosenberg doing in
Appalachia?” New York Times Magazine 29 June 1997 :25-27.