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Hate Poverty, Not the People In It

Updated: Sep 27, 2020

Our society often fails to empathize and understand why the poor are poor.

Say you are diagnosed with cancer. You walk into the hospital and meet with your doctors, and they state your chemotherapy treatment is going to be 48,000 dollars. This cost excludes further testing, treatments, and hospital stays. You work a minimum-wage job, earning $9.45 per hour. You also have a family of five to feed. What will happen to you? This terrible situation is a common experience for the many low-income families in our nation. While many Americans may be able to empathize with those who live in this situation, our society often fails to empathize and understand why the poor are poor.

A common stigma among Americans is that the poor often deserve to be poor due to a lack of work ethic. Who would they not think this way? America is supposedly the country where success is possible to anybody if they have the dedication. Right? Wrong!

There is often an upper-class bias today that somehow those in poverty deserve their poverty because they do not work for the end goal of success. Contrary to this pervasive belief, however, many underprivileged citizens are highly motivated and are committed workers who were born into underprivileged households where they were unable to receive formal education. This often leaves them being unable to afford basic needs. For instance, one Jefferson County resident is an adjunct professor at two different colleges who also delivers pizza on the weekends to make ends meet.

Moreover, there are numerous single mothers in this nation who work multiple jobs to support their child. Despite working painstaking hours, these people are simply unable to afford necessities such as food, transportation costs, or healthcare.

This stigma that continuously harms a major portion of our population not only prevents our society from making progress but also it harms the way our society treats people who are living in poverty. This is because our government often considers them expendable. As a result, even though these citizens are workers doing work that most others do not want to do, they do not have a voice in the legislature.

Even more, the stigma that the poor are simply lazy influences the treatment that the poor receive. Studies have shown that physicians are less likely to perceive people of low socioeconomic status as intelligent, independent, or responsible, which is why physicians sometimes believe these patients are less likely to follow medical advice. But the truth is any lower income patient—if provided information in a way they understand and are given the resources to follow that medical advice—follows it.

Once Americans decide to move away from this damaging stereotype and start to sympathize with the lower class, America can begin seeing progress for the disadvantaged members of our society.


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