During our last class session a subject was brought up that I found very interesting.
We often take for granted all the privileges that we have by simply being born in the United States, during our class we have examined the devastating effects of poverty in America and all of the hardship, tribulations, and sacrifices one must when living below the poverty line just to get from day to day. I believe however that is is important to keep things in perspective, in that even our poorest are living in relative luxury when compared to those living in poverty in regions such as India, west africa, rural china, and the middle east etc. where things that we view as basic necessities of life such as running water, education, fare wages, democratic elections, and electricity are often completely unattainable. I don't say this to devalue or dismiss poverty in America, or to suggest that we stop fighting to improve the quality of life of americans living below the poverty line but simply to put things in perspective. Especially when even the most minute aspects of first world living (our cell phones, clothes, shoes, electronics) are obtained at the expense of the third world wether through labour or resources it all comes at price. We live at the expense of others and it is something that we should always be aware of. As perspective social workers we would be doing ourselves and the world a dis-service if we choose only to focus our efforts on advocating for the rights of those living in U.S our focus should be global, to increase increase increase quality of life and advocate for the rights of all people. If we do not we are simply perpetuating the notion that
an American life holds more value then another.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
I found a statement in our reading, “we are a nation of resources but not a nation of social services aimed at preventing poverty and poor health” this statement supports a lot of what we discussed in class this evening when Susan asked us where does the US rank in social welfare. I believe the two correlate, in most cases than none someone in poverty is likely to have health concerns due to lack of funds, education, and resources. Our country life expectancy is below most other developed nations. The U.S spends the largest amount of money on health care. My question is where does it go? Yes we have great technology, as Mahria mentioned during our discussion but why is our infant mortality higher than other countries? There are resources available many which were presented this evening, SNAP, WIC, and Medicare, etc. Our government puts a lot of prominence on the wealthy, allowing for breaks with taxes for employment, home ownership, and education. Those funds could be used in lower income communities, providing accessible resources for families. In some low income households it is difficult for a single parent and in a few cases a two parent household to afford transportation other than to work and home. Funds could be used to provide mobile serves to identified areas in need; I believe this could improve our rating. If all U.S. citizens were treated fairly we could decrease the gap between the rich and poor and improve poverty and poor health.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
According to CNN.com, by 2029, the youngest of the baby boomers will reach retirement age by turning 65; it is also estimated that by 2030 the older adult population will have doubled. "Possibly more than 80 million will be on Medicare and social security"(CNN.COM). If we don't come up with a new plan, our generation will struggle after retirement without social security benefits. I work with the elderly community and for most of them, social security is not enough to live of, but it helps. I was also talking to my elderly next door neighbor just the other night, he is retired due to health issues, but his wife is still working full time because they can not simply afford not to. As social workers we must advocate for the rights of the elderly and become more involved in policy making. I included a video that talks about the social security program crisis and the lack of working people vs. the people getting the benefits. I think that this is a very important issue for social workers to be aware of because it at some point, it will affect everyone as we continues to age and eventually retire.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
In light of the recent readings, I feel this huge responsibility that I've been somewhat aware of on a personal level, to fight for human rights and advocate for issues by resolving problems best suited to the wishes of our clients. I find it interesting what the Chu, Tsui, and Yan article called attention to as the standards that we are responsible for upholding. I believe it would be a conscious effort especially for me in not allowing my own personal beliefs to affect my performance as a social worker in advocating for the rights of my client even if I don't share the same beliefs or values they would uphold. It's a charge and a challenge to every social worker after reading this article to make an effort to be conscious of any biases or indifference they reflect and to acknowledge them as a tool for staying impartial to the rights of the client.
Saturday, November 1, 2014
One thing that stood out the most when reading the assigned chapters and listening to today’s lecture from class were the negative connotations that are directly correlated with the word poverty. In class, when we were going around the room and discussing what comes to mind when thinking of the poverty, mostly everybody’s reaction was one of negativity or pessimism. I believe it is fair to say that the society we live in today assumes that poverty comes from a lack of hard work or determination. In my personal opinion, that could not be further from the truth.
There are millions of workers in America who work full-time jobs, sometimes more than one, to try and support their family’s needs but somehow still fall under the poverty line. “In 2011, the US Department of Labor reported at least 10 million people worked and were still below the unrealistic official US poverty line, an increase of 1.5 million more than the last time they checked” (Quigley, 2013). That is an astonishing number, to me, for a couple reasons. Not only is that simply an obscene number of people who are working but still struggling to provide for their family, but more importantly, how many people need to struggle in order to get their voices heard. Nobody who works hard in America should struggle to feed their children. Yet, nothing substantial seems to be done for the “working poor” in America to end this ridiculous problem.
This is also a very serious problem I’ve seen my entire life growing up in a small town outside of New York City. One perfect example that I have from my adolescence that proves this to be sadly true came when I worked my first job in a kitchen at the local hospital in town. One of my co-workers was a mother of three, and worked six days a week, 7:30 to 3:30, day in and day out. She also worked a night job about three days out of the week. One day at work I overheard her talking to her friend, who also worked at the hospital, saying that the night before she had to put her children to bed hungry. She simply did not have the money or resources, for dinner, on that particular night. I remember thinking how absolutely ludicrous that sounded, and I haven’t forgotten since, and probably never will. In fact, the more I think about it, the more infuriated I become.
One of the biggest reasons why the working poor are left with absolutely no money or resources, is the outrageous income disparity in America today. Over the past 25 years economic growth has not been beneficial to all workers, in fact, it really only benefited those who were already well off. “ The top 20 percent of households in this country realized an increase of more than 50 percent…while the bottom 20 percent realized an increase of only 2 percent” (Segal, 2013). A 2% increase over the past 25 years? While the rich just keep getting richer? That doesn’t even seem possible in this country, but it is. Does that sit well with you? Because it sure doesn’t sit well with me.
Therefore, my main goal of this blog post was to simply get everyone to think differently about the word “poverty” if you haven’t already. Poverty does not describe the type of person you are, or how much effort you put in every day of your life. So next time you hear a discussion about poverty and the negative connotations that go along with it, maybe drop some actual knowledge on what poverty in America truly is.