Over the past 5 years, our government has spent more than 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs. That’s 5 times greater than the spending amount of transportation, education, and NASA combined. Though poverty rates have gone down from 15% t0 14.5% in 2013, there are still 45 million Americans living below the poverty line, second highest among 35 developed nations. Although money is a great resource to help the poor, research has shown that poverty may be more than just a lack of financial resources. For us to see a significant improvement in the poverty rate of our country, we must first understand the culture of poverty and create solutions that include MORE than just money.
The following video was created by Abednego Samudera:
The Culture of Poverty
In her book A Framework for Understanding Poverty, Ruby Payne described that poverty is a set of hidden rules or “norms” that influence an individual’s “patterns of thought, social interaction, and cognitive strategies.” Poverty is a lifestyle, and like any other lifestyle, it is composed of many different elements besides financial resources, such as emotional, mental, and spiritual support. Support systems are as crucial as money for an individual to break away and stay out of poverty.
One of the biggest downfalls of social welfare programs is the notion that if an individual is given money, it will help them secure other resources. Theoretically, it makes sense. Realistically, however, money cannot buy a good support system, especially considering that an individual living in poverty is probably surrounded by other poverty-stricken individuals who need the same resources.
There isn’t one correct solution to this problem. However, there are other cost-effective ways that can yield greater results than just money. Sure, money will be part of the solution, but it will not be the whole solution. Since poverty is a culture, we must teach individuals to break away from that culture. Enrolling in a program that provides support group is a great step to teaching individuals that there are other possibilities besides their own. Education is also a crucial part in getting the poor out of poverty. It’s important that we teach them basic, yet very important, coping strategy skills, such as problem solving, positive attitudes, resolving conflicts, and setting priorities and goals. Along with that, having a support system also means that we are providing them with a network of people who can be a resource to their success. As you saw in the video, New Beginnings aims to break the cycle of poverty for each mother and baby at New Beginnings by providing an abundance of resources and support.
When we understand that poverty is an accumulation of the lack of numerous resources besides money, the solution to fight poverty is exponentially greater than just using money as the only solution. As educators, professionals, mothers, fathers, and students, this means that we need not invest thousands or millions of dollars to this cause. We have opportunities to influence with other resources besides money that can make such a tremendous impact on the poor.