Back when I originally signed up to participate in the Blog Action Day this year we weren’t really experiencing the heat of the economic maelstrom that’s among us at the moment.
My challenge right now though still remains as to whether or not we really know and understand what poverty is in this country. Don’t get me wrong, I know and realize there are people in this country that are impoverished.
Poverty (also called penury) is deprivation of common necessities that determine the quality of life, including food, clothing, shelter and safe drinking water, and may also include the deprivation of opportunities to learn, to obtain better employment to escape poverty, and/or to enjoy the respect of fellow citizens.
That’s pretty clear to me and there’s opportunity for us to do what we can to make a difference.
Extending the question further given the political activity currently going on, do I think it’s the government’s responsibility to fix or improve poverty in the United States. Let’s look at each defining item in the definition above:
- food & water - should the government guarantee food for everyone? Perhaps indirectly. I would say the government should have involvement in making sure that the food that is produced and sold in America is safe and reliable for people to eat. I don’t believe it’s the government’s job to staff and provide the meals themselves. I believe they shouldn’t get in the way of organizations (civic, faith-based, private, commercial) that are providing that effort.
- clothing – similar to food, is it the government’s job to clothe every US citizen? I don’t believe so. I believe Americans have more clothes in their drawers and closets that if they would just be generous enough, nobody in this country should be going without clothing. For that matter most of them would probably be wearing name brand designer clothes even.
- shelter – this may be the perfect example of why it’s not the government’s responsibility to provide shelter. I believe the confusion for the last few decades is that the it was "?life, liberty, home and happiness". Owning a home could be the worst decision for some individuals and families in their current situation. I believe the government’s involvement should only be that of insuring the economy in general is strong enough to support the business of lending and finance with integrity and honesty.
- education – education is actually one area I do believe the government has a major role to play. However, I don’t believe it’s in actually administering or running individual schools. I believe the only purpose of government in the educational process is to define and enforce the standards nationally that ensure when we say someone is "educated" we know what we mean and can agree on the basic requirements of the process.
- employment – here’s another area where there may be some need for government involvement, but I believe it’s only in the areas of making the economy strong and safe for businesses of ALL sizes to flourish and thrive so they can pay their employees an honest and fair wage.
- respect – here’s another area where there should be government involvement to a degree. I believe this should be covered under similar employment laws. People should have the security of knowing they won’t be attacked or harassed because of their race, creed, beliefs or heritage.
Do we have a poverty problem in this country. Sure. Is it the government’s responsibility to fix it? For the most part I’d say no. That leaves it up to you and me and the organizations we’re a part of and support. What do you do to help?