There are several attitudes that the middle class and the rich have towards the poor. These attitudes stem from the belief that the world is a just place and people get what they deserve. If one works hard enough and perseveres he or she will be rich. However, the poor person is in that state because of poor decisions such as immorality, crime and alcoholism, lack of ambition and perseverance.
These negative attitudes have caused the middle class and the rich to distance themselves from the poor. The stereotyping of the poor is the genesis of class discrimination. The poor have been excluded as the rest of the nation goes on with their lives.
In this paper, I analyze three articles on social class and inequality to find out whether the authors’ views agree with mine on the negative attitudes towards the poor by the middle class and the rich and the way they have distanced themselves from the poor.
II. The war against the poor
Herbert Hans, in his article the war against the poor instead of programs to end poverty is arguing that government officials are not addressing poverty but instead making life difficult for the poor. Welfare expenses have always been small however the budget is becoming more and more restrictive.
The poor are being accused of enjoying welfare instead of looking for a job and making sure they remain childless throughout their adolescence. The middle class and the rich feel they are working so hard and the poor are not. These poor people are lumped together with the criminals and accused of making the streets unsafe. The poor have become an excuse or scapegoat for the
problems in society. Instead of admitting the decline in morality, the poor are accused of being the only ones with unmarried lovers. Once they get their life in order then they can receive welfare. They are being forced to live up to moral expectations that the working class and the rich speak but do not practice (Hans, 2007, pg 506).
Clearly class bigotry needs to be addressed. The poor have moral failings that are highly noticeable than the middle class but it does not mean it is at a higher proportion. The rich and middle class have access to counseling facilities to tell them their moral failings is as a result of prior abuse or disease.
The poor do not want to marry the fathers of their babies as they are jobless. There is actually scarcity of work; it is not true that the poor do not want to work. The government should address poverty through actively engaging in job creation initiatives and ensuring the actual crime of the poor does not fall below a certain percentage.
The author’s views on class discrimination agree with my views. He concurs that judging the poor harshly for their moral failings and the ability to secure a job is wrong. The middle class and the rich also have moral failings and the middle class has also been experiencing unemployment as jobs are scarce.
Crime and mental illnesses should be viewed as some of the effects of poverty. It is not that the poor and mostly the Blacks have higher criminal tendencies. The middle class and the rich to stop discriminating against the poor and having someone to blame.
The author has also highlighted other concerns that I agree with. Hans says that the government, politicians and public are making life tougher for the poor. I agree with Hans that the focus should be on creation of jobs for the poor. If the country does not stop attacking the poor, the morale, quality of life and economic competitiveness will only go down.
III. Middle of the class
The article Middle of the class published in the Economists is an argumentative piece of writing that questions the sustainability of the American Dream. America has always been defined as a country where anyone can become rich or wealthy if they just work hard. Shows like American Idol prove this.
The country has had presidents from humble backgrounds like Benjamin Franklin who was the 15th child of a candle maker. However the equality of opportunity in America for all its citizens is rapidly diminishing.
The author gives the statistical figures on how the rich have become richer while the poor have become even poorer widening the income gap even more. Secondly social mobility has gone down. A lower and lower percentage of people are able to change the social class they are in through increase in earnings over a period of ten years.
There have also been changes in the economy with a shift towards technical skills requiring workers who have a university degree. This has caused a high increase of the income gap between college and high school graduates. It has become hard to climb the corporate ladder or change jobs if one does not have a university degree. The author suggests that the American society is becoming an educational stratified society
in other words a meritocracy. The rise in university education is also providing a hurdle for middle class families to attend elite universities. The representation of the rich in these elite universities has increased more than the representation of the poor. The mean income of the families that have enrolled their children in Harvard is $150,000(The Economist, 2007, pg 528).
During the period 2001-2004, States found themselves facing a budget squeeze. They responded by increasing the fees of state colleges where the middle class take their children to learn. This proves that the American system is enforcing more income inequalities through educational differences. The rich children are more likely to get a degree than a child from the bottom quarter income level.
There is also a worrying trend in the society that further aggravates class and educational stratification. The chances of an individual getting access to a good education, a good job and good prospects in life is determined by the family the person is born into.
College graduates tend to marry college graduates. Therefore in the graduates home the returns of the degree is double and their children benefit even more with opportunities to attend better schools.
There is therefore great trouble in being poor. If in the American society to be socially mobile you must have a great education, a job and married with children then the rich start off with higher advantages.
There needs to be policy changes where the method by which schools are financed is changed and giving more federal help to poorer colleges. This will only happen when the American politicians and the public recognize there is a problem.
The author, like Hans concurs with my argument that the poor are being judged too harshly in society. The reason the poor are not able to support themselves is not that they are lazy or lack ambition.
Rather there is a limitation on the equality of opportunity when it comes to the middle class and the poor in the corporate world. The country is being affected by globalization and technology changes; therefore the requirement of a degree is becoming mandatory.
If what it takes to succeed in the American corporate society is the attainment of a degree then the government should ensure that children from all social backgrounds have access to this type of education. Making education costs high does not help the poor and middle class at all.
It only goes to aggravate the existent inequalities between the rich and the poor. As the author has given statistics, in the last few years the rich have been becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer. The government needs to step in and address the situation.
IV. When Shelter Feels Like a Prison
The two articles narrated on the stereotypes held by society towards the poor while the article in the Economist discusses the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Both papers focus on the poor. The third article written by Charmion Brown tells of the author’s experiences growing up in a homeless shelter. The real life story further reinforces my argument on the distancing of the poor by society.
In light of her first hand experiences in the place she feels she can only compare it a prison. First of all, the place is cramped with four bunk beds fitted in each tiny room (Browne, 2007, pg 531).
There is absolutely no privacy. One has to take care of their things or they will be stolen. There is a queue for food for the homeless. The author learnt that if you do not make the line two hours before the kitchen is open, one would miss food. There are no curtains in the bathrooms yet the facility is being shared by more than one hundred people. The author felt like the place was a prison.
The author’s experiences in the shelter confirm my views on the abandonment of the poor and homeless in the shelters. The author narrates how the social workers are rare and have no time for them. It is a prison. The government and public needs to stop abandoning the shelters. The living conditions needs to be improved. In my argument I had put forward the assumptions society has concerning the poor people.
They are not successful because they are lazy. The author cautions society and informs them that there were people from broken homes in the shelter due to drug abuse, AIDS and early pregnancy and not because they are lazy. The poor also lack knowledge on how to improve their lives.
The three articles have gone further to reinforce my argument on the existence of negative attitudes and stereotypes for the poor in society. Hans goes further to explain that it is because the poor have become a scapegoat to make other members in the society better. In my argument I had put forward the way society views the world in black and white. The hardworking succeed the poor are the lazy ones.
The article in the economist supports my argument and goes ahead to tell society that actually there is a limitation on equality of opportunity in the country. One may desire a job but he cannot get that job. In my argument I also said that the society distances itself from the poor. The article, When Shelter feels like a Prison clearly shows the abandonment of the poor by society.
Browne, Charmion. “When Shelter Feels Like a Prison” Writing in the Disciplines:
A Reader for Writers. Ed. Mary Kennedy. 6th Ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. 2007. Print.
Hans, Herbert. “The war against the poor instead of programs to end poverty”
Writing in the Disciplines: A Reader for Writers. Ed. Mary Kennedy. 6th Ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. 2007. Print.
The Economist. “The Middle Class” Writing in the Disciplines: A Reader for Writers. Ed. Mary Kennedy. 6th Ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. 2007. Print.