There are many factors that aid the prevalence of poverty. Firstly, it is difficult to
assess these causes because the word poverty can be very subjective and difficult to
define. In attempting to define what poverty is, one would suggest having a lack of
income and resources not consistent with the requirements of the poverty line. Three
factors that play major roles as causes of poverty would be having a lack of education,
systemic discrimination, and inequities based on a capitalist system. This paper will look
at ways in which these causes can be combated and at the same time evaluated in regards
to its positive and negative aspects.

Education has long been a problem in society, because the lack of this essential
tool of survival doesnt allow for growth of any sort. It is a known fact that the risk of
poverty usually decreases as people get more schooling. Poor education can be either a
cause of poverty or an effect. Young people who drop out of school may be poor because
they lack the required skills needed to get good jobs, therefore adding to a system that
forces them to only be able to live in low-income, economically starving areas.
Moreover, education is a basic requirement in order to climb a hierarchy of income in our
society, so uneducated people are forced to become content with their surroundings.

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Systemic discrimination can be said to be a form of institutional injustice that
depends on this quiet oppression in order to maintain a history of past dominance. There
are many types of barriers that are not openly blatant and are in place so that minorities
dont get the opportunity to overcome these obstacles. As a result, many minorities
including women cannot overcome ranks in the workforce and are left with the lower
paying jobs. Furthermore, legislation in the Canadian government helps provide a
structure for these proceedings, for example laws that were passed as a result of
affirmative action programs might be said to be unjust and unconstitutional.

Canada operates under a capitalist system so it should really be no wonder as to
why poverty really exists in this country. It is necessary to have poverty in order to
support capitalism. Failure in our system would result in poverty and therefore this sadly,
becomes an incentive to become exceedingly wealthy and rich. Subsequently, greed and
selfishness becomes prominent even though it results in some people being extremely
above the poverty line, and others being extremely below the line. If a person lacks the
necessary resources to compete in this free enterprise, they will surely become failures
and live under the poverty line. In this type of economic system it becomes a race for
dominance and survival of the fittest, thus creating a major gap between the successful in
society and the unsuccessful. Overall, poverty in Canada can definitely be attributed to
capitalism among many other things.

Education, or the lack of, is a major problem in our society that is a major factor
of poverty. A solution to this, although communist in nature, could be free education
after high school. This would help level the playing field and give opportunities for
anyone, regardless their credit history a fair opportunity to receive an education.
Implementing this system could help people who dropped out of school at an early age to
go back for better schooling and skill training so that they can compete in the workforce
for jobs that otherwise would not have been available for them. Also, a reduction in class
sizes at the high school level could allow for more personal guidance from teachers to
students that may be struggling and contemplating dropping out of school.

Systemic discrimination is an underlying fault of a capitalist system that is a major
cause of poverty. To combat this problem, programs similar to affirmative action based
on meeting gender and racial quotas should be established. Furthermore, in a capitalist
system, the financially secure people control who and what establishes one as being over
the poverty-line. If you are a person that has been designated to be under, it becomes
difficult to receive such things as car and mortgage loans, therefore adding to a poverty
cycle that is difficult to break out of. If the poverty line were to be reduced, then things
like loans and mortgages become more accessible to families that may have been
considered unfit for such things in the past. This enables families to move out of the
economically starving areas and start businesses that can compete in the market-place.

It is not easy to battle many problems that result because of a lack of education. It
is usually the individual that has to make the decision for themselves as to their
education. Although this may be the case, the government should make it as easy as
possible to get back into the system and receive fair standards of intellect. Universal
education or free education after high school would be great for the economy as-well as
people in general because it would entail a high literacy rate and overall better sense of
knowledge amongst the people in this country. However, this would eliminate jobs
related to scholarship programs and bursaries for school. If so, the unemployed people
could easily go back to school to study something-else or branch off into another type of
job. Although this sounds quite simple, it would bring up an issue of how they would pay
for their homes and food whilst attending school. They would likely lose their homes if
they didnt have some type of grant coming from the government. This education policy
would then tie into welfare programs because people would then opt for such assistance
whilst going to school. Therefore, the government should limit the amount of time
people can depend on programs based on government assistance. In terms of the deficit,
these programs would initially cost more because it doesnt pay immediate dividends, but
in the long-run, the production possibility curve would shift outward as less people would
be unemployed and more skilled workers would be hired, thus compensating for any
opportunity cost.

Evaluating the policy to battle systemic discrimination as a cause of poverty in
Canadas capitalistic system results in a clear distinction between the pros and cons of
the remedies. If the government installed programs based on meeting quotas in a
corporation, then past systemic discrimination would be eliminated. On the other hand,
these programs, would be hypocritical in itself, because they would be battling past
discrimination with new discrimination. As a result of this, peoples rights guaranteed to
them in the charter would be taken away and would result in unconstitutional laws being
passed or the charter being amended. In terms of battling the inequities of a capitalist
system, it would be a boost to our economy because people would now be over the
poverty line, and it would cost the government absolutely nothing to do so. It would
however, affect the stock-market as previously ignored minority established businesses
would have an opportunity to grow because other visual minorities would be empowered
to take chances on these companies.

Poverty is a term that can be viewed from many different aspects when attempting
to define this opinionated word. This is a major problem in Canada, and it is evident
everytime you travel down-town and actually see poverty within just feet of the
premiers office. Even though the actual word may be difficult to define, there are
endless causes of it. It doesnt make sense that we condemn other forms of government
that are base on equality and fair opportunity when our own system is based on survival
of the fittest. In essence, it is really based on survival of who can control the most
amount of resources first and maintain it. Regardless of our ineptitude to define this
word, we do know that lack of education, systemic discrimination, and inequities based
on a capitalist system will cause it. I personally believe that absolute poverty can never
be solved regardless of what system one might live in. It is because of our form of
government that politicians are afraid to implement policies that might not be fully
developed when its time to call another election. We should battle poverty regardless of
how it may effect the deficit in the short-term.

Author

Poverty is defined as “the state of being poor; lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts.(” More children live in poverty in the United States than in any other developed country (p. 192, Parrillo). Generally, poverty is blamed either on the individual or the system. Several dimensions such as intelligence, poverty culture, family life and the system of capitalism give explanation as to why poverty exists in the U.S.
Intelligence has been labeled as one of the factors of poverty in the U.S. because of research done by sociologist, Richard Herrnstein, who “argued that the poor have a lower intellectual capability than the non-poor, and that they marry other people of low intelligence, thus producing children of low intellectual capacity (p. 195, Parrillo).” Although, there is plenty of evidence refuting this finding many people tend to think of the poor as lacking the knowledge to attain and obtain a well paying job. For this reason, people of poor economic background receive fewer opportunities in the work force.
Poverty culture gives explanation for the existence of poverty through “the continual reinforcement of the cycle of poverty (p. 195, Parrillo)” adapted by children of poor families. Poverty culture consists of unproductive actions such as a lack of education, teenage pregnancy, drug use, a lack of trust in the authorities and a pessimistic attitude. It has been argued that the “negative orientation toward life and work makes them ill-equipped to enter the societal mainstream (p. 195, Parrillo).”
Family life, like intelligence and poverty culture, places blame of poverty on the individual. It has been consistently found that family instability is most common among the poor than in any other economic class. Because there is a lack of support in poor families, individuals raised in these families are prone to failure.
Finally, the system of capitalism is one of the few dimensions that places the blame on society for the existence of poverty. “Socialist, Michael Harrington argued the inadequate programs and misdirected priorities hampered efforts to solve this far from intractable problem (p. 217, Parrillo).” Because the poor have no positive influence in society and lack political support, they have no means of power to break the ongoing cycle of poverty.
The United States tried to rectify the poverty problem in several ways. Through social programs such as welfare and social security, the poor are given a minimal amount of money in order to aid their existence. The “Trickle Down” approach was installed by the Reagan-Bush Republican administrators with the belief that in giving the upper-class a tax cut, the rich would have more money to pump into the economy which would eventually reach the lower classes. The Interventionist Approach was an action taken on behalf of the federal government, which sought to educate and employ the poor in order to help them attain a job career. Unfortunately, these social programs have not been able to keep up with the inflation rates and the constant want of material goods by the poor created by the need to fit in with the middle and upper classes.
In reaction to the deregulation of the international market, many other countries are simulating the American capitalistic system. By “reducing social benefits towards the poor and unemployed and minimizing government efforts to assure job security (p. 47, Heiner)”, poverty is being given the opportunity to manifest globally. Without an international plan that places emphasis on building “successful families, competent schools and positive communities in which good jobs exist to meet the needs of families worldwide (p. 45, Heiner)”, the problem of poverty will continue to grow.
Due to the individual and societal influence that is placed on poverty, the amount of poor people in the world has grown consistently. A unified plan is mandatory, otherwise, poverty will continue to grow and create a serious threat to our general welfare. In realizing that the upper classes of the world has the power to put an end to poverty almost immediately through a combination of educational jump start programs and a guaranteed annual income, a system ought to be devised to end poverty once and for all.
Bibliography
Works Cited
Contemporary Social Problems, 4th Edition; Vincent N. Parrillo: pp. 193-219
Social Problems

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