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Who is to blame for poverty? Because this issue is complex, there could be multiple answers to this question. Provided movie “Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream” looks at the origins of the problem and people responsible. The NPR segment titled “The Culture of Poverty” showcases the different aspects of poverty. Both present an informative look on the issue and are still relevant even years later. Discussing these points of view might help us better understand the problem.
The movie focuses the most on the interactionist and conflict theorists’ point of view. The wealthy supporters of the tea party represent interactionist views at their extreme. They believe that people are personally responsible for everything that happens in their lives. Inspired by the writings of Ayn Rand they promote lower taxes for the wealthy, reduction in welfare spending, and belief that government should not help the impoverished. The movie then presents a conflict theorist point of view by covering how wealthy individuals use their funds to affect laws, strip people of power, and manipulate the working class for their gain. It examines how poverty is not caused by a “culture of poverty,” but a result of policies bought by the rich for their self-interest. In contrast, the uncaring and greedy attitudes of the people in the movie could be characterized as a “culture of wealth.” Being rich does not make you responsible for poverty, but sharing beliefs of the group in the movie does.
The NPR interview provides a more functionalist point of view on the issue. By having different people present their experiences with poverty, it lets us see a larger picture. The interview shows that people in low-income areas do tend to fall into similar patterns, but it also indicates that these patterns are not exclusive to these areas. One caller talks about her experience with studying in a rich school and seeing the same patterns. The difference being that for wealthy families it is much easier to recover from any issues that can come from drug abuse, poor motivation for education, and teenage pregnancy. The interview only briefly touches upon the government’s responsibility for poverty, but it does provide the most interconnected view of the issue.
The movie is five years old now, and the interview is eight years old. We live in a world where a rich but desperately unqualified person has been elected by poor people with no faith in traditional government. The situation has gotten worse, and it is hard to see the idea of the American dream being even remotely viable today.
I agree with the sentiment of the presented text. With low-income neighborhoods lacking proper funding for schools and qualified teachers there can be no expectation of people being on the same playing field (Reay 319). If America wants to present an equal opportunity to everyone, these people need to be supported. Impoverished people often have to work multiple jobs just to gain a living wage, why do they not deserve to be supported if the government already could not provide a job opportunity for them? While tea party has been out of the news for years now, we can still see how politicians today talk about the same issues. The top 400 people have not stopped their influence on the government policy, and there is seemingly nothing people can do to stop it. This atmosphere of helplessness could be strongly felt after the election. Perhaps people have become complaisant, or their power was already taken away.
Plans to take away healthcare from the impoverished have already been put in place. Soon, schooling will become much harder for these families due to the high cost of medical care, and there is little chance they will be able to pull themselves out of poverty. Perhaps this presidency will be a wake-up call to people to take these issues seriously, but perhaps it is already too late.
Reay, Diane. “Inequality, Poverty, Education: A Political Economy of School Exclusion”. Subjectivity, vol 7, no. 3, 2014, pp. 316-319. Springer Nature, Web.