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The Poverty Across the US Culture Essay


Many countries have tried to fight poverty using all their means but have not succeeded. They have come up with strategies intended to reduce the poverty levels, and most of them have ended up accelerating the encroachment of poverty on the citizens. Politicians have included plans that seem good enough to eradicate poverty, yet the level of poverty has stagnated and even increased in most parts of the world. George Orwell discusses poverty and its implications on the people of Coq d’Or in France: “Henri, who worked in the sewers.

He was a tall, melancholy man with curly hair…” (Orwell 6). Many of them live below the poverty line despite working hard to eradicate poverty. Many other scholars who did research on poverty reiterated his argument.

Almost all the scholars that wrote about the causes and effects of poverty agree that the lack of well-paying jobs is the primary cause of the prevalence of poverty among the people. This paper argues that the prevalence of poverty in most parts of the US is a result of poor strategizing, the lack of education, mistakes in choosing courses, the disappearance of low-skill jobs and a breakdown in the structure of the family.


These factors contribute to the increased rate of poverty in the US in different ways. Poor strategizing falls on the government and other political leaders. They have not done their part to the best of their abilities.

The lack of education partly falls on the part of the government, partly on the lack of resources and partly on the total disregard of education. The breakdown of the family structure is a result of a culture that has cropped up in America over the past two decades, where people consider divorce and illegitimate thing as something ordinary.


Education is a very critical factor in the fight against poverty. Orwell describes the problems that people experience in foreign countries. His characters, Boris and the narrator work as hotel attendants, and what they are paid is not enough to sustain them. Worse still, they are unable to get other jobs after losing their jobs due to the lack of enough education to secure them good jobs: “I decided to start looking for a job, and—very luckily, as it turned out—I took the precaution of paying two hundred francs for a month’s rent in advance” (Orwell 16).

Many of the people living below the poverty line are high school dropouts and others who dropped out even earlier. As such, they cannot secure any well-paying employment. They depend on non-skill and low-skill jobs for their survival. However, there are very few such jobs in the contemporary American society: “But low-skilled and humdrum jobs, particularly in manufacturing, have gone overseas, or fallen victim to automation” (“The Poor in America in Need of Help” par. 11).

Therefore, these groups of people struggle for the few opportunities. Many of them end up missing the jobs. In the US, the majority of the people living below the poverty line are blacks and Hispanics. On the other hand, only a tenth of white Americans live in these conditions. The reason for this situation is the historical stigma against blacks and Hispanics.

In the 1960s and before, blacks were never allowed to go to school. They served as slaves for their white masters. As a result, many of the black citizens living in rural areas are still illiterate. The illiteracy makes them unable to get good jobs, leading to poverty. Their poverty in turn leads them to committing criminal activities.

Greenhouse, on the other hand, argues that many of the citizens of America also lack jobs even when they have university degrees: “Here as well as elsewhere, a college degree cannot guarantee a good job” (par. 19). He gives the example of Landan Howard, a graduate with a bachelor’s in social work, yet he has not found a job that suits his educational level (par. 8).

This situation could be due to the wrong choice of courses. The contemporary American society guarantees jobs only to people who had taken particular courses and not others. For example, medical courses and engineering courses guarantee the graduates employment as soon as they finish their studies. On the other hand, courses such as social work are less likely to help the graduates get job opportunities.

The other factor that has significantly contributed to the prevalence of poverty is the reduction in the number of non-skill and low-skill jobs (Roberts par. 8). Orwell’s narrator talks about his suffering while both in France and London as a result of the lack of enough non-skill jobs.

He pawns his best clothes twice because of the lack of a job: “Hitherto I had not thought about the future, but I now realized that I must do something at once” (Orwell 16). In the past centuries, many Americans also depended on jobs that required fewer skills. These jobs were mostly available in industries. However, as a result of the instability that has faced the US, many industries have closed down or reduce the number of employees (Roberts par. 7).

Many of the people who lost their employments had to change their lifestyles to survive the difficulty of life. They had to look for houses, foods, and other needs they could afford. The amount spent by both the federal and state governments has been increasing since 2008. For example, states spent $113.3 billion in helping 9.9 million unemployed citizens. The federal government on its part spent 16.6 billion in supporting needy families in the entire country.

Political strategies are another integral factor in eradicating poverty. However, Orwell gives little attention to politics as the cause of poverty. He concentrates on social problems and the individual decisions the narrator and his friends take. For example, the narrator’s poverty starts when an Italian steals the keys to his room and takes away all his savings. On the other hand, Roberts paraphrases Bill de Blassios’ words that “New York City has become a tale of two cities” (Roberts par. 1).

These words allude to the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor. The difference in the prevalence of poverty in many cities in the US implies that the political leadership has a significant role to play in the fight against poverty. In New York, for example, the rate of poverty was higher than the national level of poverty (Roberts par. 6). However, the figures were better than those of other cities. Their leaders claimed their city was better than other cities because they created jobs for their citizens.

In addition, many presidential candidates, the latest being Obama, promised to eradicate poverty using all their means, but ended up doing little or completely forgetting about it (“The Poor in America in Need of Help” par. 4). Therefore, if politicians and other leaders came up with useful strategies to fight poverty, they could bring it to an end. They should create jobs that require simple skills and make follow-ups to ensure that their poverty eradication plans are working as expected.

The other factor that has contributed to the high levels of poverty is the breakdown in the structure of families: “Most poor children live in single-parent homes, and most families that are poor lack married parents” (“The Poor in America in Need of Help” par. 21). Many of the characters in Orwell’s story say very little about their family members. In fact, when the narrator moves from Paris to London, he works as a babysitter. When his employers go out on a trip, he lives as a tramp as he waits for them.

His life implies that he does not have a family (Orwell 105). In the modern world, and particularly in America, many families are headed by single parents. Such families only depend on one person for their survival (Greenhouse par. 11). In many cases, the parents do not have enough education to help them secure well-paying jobs. As a result, they earn wages that can barely take them from one end of the month to the other.

They live in sub-standard environments, and lack essential items such as medical cover and school fees for their children. Their children drop out of school and engage in criminal activities while others look for jobs that pay them very little amounts of money. Such families find it hard crossing the poverty line since what they earn can only pay for food and rent. Marriage provides stability to families because every parent contributes in raising the children and providing food and other necessities.

Summarily, Orwell describes the poor standards of living among foreigners in Paris and those of unemployed people in London. These conditions result from factors such as the lack of education, divorces and separations. Therefore, if both parents avoided divorces and separations, the level of poverty would reduce substantially.

Political leaders should also come up with practical policies and make follow-ups to help eradicate poverty. Some of them have suggested that creating well-paying jobs for their subjects is the best method of reducing poverty. The policies and strategies should come from the president and the leaders of the state governments. It is also important for students to choose courses wisely: those from poor backgrounds should look for courses that guarantee them jobs as soon as they finish their studies.

Works Cited

Greenhouse, Steven. “Low-Wage Workers are finding Poverty Hard to escape.” New York Times 2014. Web.

Orwell, George. Down and Out in Paris and London, 1933. Print.

Roberts, Sam. “Poverty Rate is up in New York City, and Income Gap is Wide, Census Shows.” New York Times September 2013. Web. 8 Dec. 2014.

The Poor in America in Need of Help 2014. Web.

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1. IvyPanda. "The Poverty Across the US Culture." March 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-poverty-across-the-us-culture/.


IvyPanda. "The Poverty Across the US Culture." March 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-poverty-across-the-us-culture/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "The Poverty Across the US Culture." March 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-poverty-across-the-us-culture/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'The Poverty Across the US Culture'. 27 March.

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