Why Is It so Hard for Many People to Get out of Poverty?
Poverty is about a lack of money, but also about a lack of hope. People living in poverty often feel powerless to change their situation. They can feel isolated from their community. If you want to overcome poverty, you need a combination of financial planning, a positive attitude, and a willingness to ask for help.
The global economic system is built on the exploitation of the majority, mainly in the so called third world countries. You and I could probably not afford e.g. modern electronics if it wasn’t produced in hell holes like Foxconn. The average Joe could not buy Nike's if they weren’t sewn together in sweat shops in Bangladesh. And Starbucks would probably have to close down if they were to only serve fair trade coffee.
The system needs cheap laborers to work as it does. Therefore, it does not allow too many poor to become wealthier simply because then they wouldn’t do the labor anymore. That would either mean reduced profits for the investors or increased prices up to the point where the normal people in the so called first world could not afford it anymore.
Stereotypes about how to get out of poverty have real consequences. Unfortunately, despite mountains of evidence (not to mention the lived experience of millions of Americans), you may still have a hard time shaking the idea that the only thing standing between poor people and wealthy people is how hard they’ve worked and how much they wanted to succeed. Even more unfortunately, this belief – when held by voters and reinforced by lawmakers eager to please their constituents – has led to troubling and even dangerous policies that perpetuate the cycle of poverty.
Poverty is an intersectional issue. Often, poverty and income inequality (like other topics in the economic sphere) are set aside from “social” issues (like feminism, systemic racism, immigration, criminal justice reform, and the difficulties of the LGBTQIA+ community). This is a problem because it creates a soiling effect, both in how we view poverty and income inequality and in how to best help those experiencing these issues.
We don’t often look at the ways that poverty intersects with the issues of marginalized groups, and instead, tend to treat it as a separate ailment. In reality, poverty is caused by much more than just a lack of jobs or expensive housing. For many communities, poverty is a byproduct of other systemic issues.
Poverty is a complex cycle of factors. One of the most important aspects of conceptualizing how poverty impacts people is to understand that it is more than just not having money. We often think of poverty as monetary status – someone doesn’t have money right now; thus, they are poor – rather than a cycle. Put more simply, poor people are just like not-poor people, except they have less money right now. But chronic poverty (the kind that impacts families and entire communities) is not the same as being broke, and it’s not the same as being low on funds before your parents deposit your rent money.
Author: Normunds Lokenbahs / LatConsul