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Rock Street, San Francisco

A prominent article by Barbara Ehrenreich called “It Is Expensive to Be Poor” paints an intricate portrayal of recent political ideologies regarding poverty, as well as tying in her own unique beliefs. In her fully-fledged attempt to fly through a time period of 50 years; the 36th President, Lyndon B. Johnson, was concerned with the fact that the national infrastructure was un-sustainable for low societal classes – prior to rejuvenating it. On the contrary, Bill Clinton and his constituents are noted as stating that, the less-fortunate have dwelled upon their circumstances and have taken their opportunities for granted. In the end however, the rapid defunding and criminalization of the impoverished have lead to meager wages and unpredictable economic fluctuations. Meanwhile, with the restructuring and demeaning acts which have taken place on both sides of the spectrum, Ehrenreich also believes that hard-working U.S. citizens do not have attainable access to securing a better future. Ehrenreich also observes political storms surrounding poverty based debates. This is true since according to some, widespread bipartisan condemnations on welfare in the 1990’s has lead to prejudice which has put misogynistic views into place which merely describe single mothers as being key to the cause of the epidemic (pars. 6-8). Suzanna Klaucke who is a leading activist for women around the world interjects when it boils down to this series of events by writing down in the same article that “Poverty is not a character failing or a lack of motivation. Poverty is a shortage of money” (Klaucke 15). While Klaucke’s academic opinions on the issue seemingly supports Johnson’s policies, Scott Applewhite who is a Senior Editor at the Chicago Tribune accrued evidence from numerous data sources that Bill Clinton’s new system “dropped the amount (12.6 million) of people getting welfare by two-thirds and the poverty rate fell particularly amongst blacks and children” (Applewhite 4). With Ehrenreich’s up-to-date recollections of events, she concluded that the amended bills should have never have been enacted nor utilized as a tool for blaming the poor victims… which derived all the way back from conservative perspectives embedded in Ronald Reagan’s cabinet (pars. 4-5). Additionally, if modern administrations had not intermingled into changing their views on poverty: Improved school systems, healthcare, properties, and employment opportunities could have formed… if not for scarce funds due to Vietnam quickly reaching its peak (par. 1-3). I disagree with Ehrenreich’s points when she states that after the 1990’s so-called attacks on creating prejudice against the poor in a misogynistic fashion as she heavily introduces bias in her piece in hopes of creating a personal agenda against conservatives, which merely hoped to demean the social class. Yes, Bill Clinton might have lead reforms which included a $100 million Chastity training plan which painted him as a patron saint for the cause, but not many credible sources can be found other than the occasional article. Therefore, Ehrenreich’s piece confirms a wide range of biased assumptions which derives from battering the Republican party as an extreme left wing liberal who is unable to regard multiple perspectives. Therefore, while I disagree with the manner in which she presented her perspective on the issue, I do agree with her stance on the effects of the Great Recession after Clinton and Reagan’s ostracization of poverty-stricken communities. As a whole, the Great Recession funneled medium class blue-collar workers into millions of layoffs, single-handedly spiking the number of soup lines, food stamp and shelter applicants, as well as minimum wage job offers. Through my own eyes, politicians emphasized blaming the housing crash on the citizens, while the government were the ones who could not maintain enough revenue to not drain into debt. In connection with the previous opinion, this situation might have played out differently if Lyndon B. Johnson’s policies were utilized. However, some Republicans and Democrats alike are still blaming the victims for their needy situations today. The government and the underlying taxes that it receives on an annual basis is what makes the nation go full-circle. Without taxes, the economy would take a major hit, however with recent tax boosts amongst the poor and reductions spread out across the upper class, poverty rates are creeping up at a steady rate. It is pointless for the government to blame the poor for the conundrum because most households through the span of time have derived from inadequate wages. In my opinion, while there is no seamless way to deal with the epidemic, the ‘War on Poverty’ ideals of Johnson’s administration stands out from the rest in terms of possible solutions. A revitalized infrastructure built from the ground up would allow for new and improved school systems, healthcare, occupational and employment training/opportunities, and programs (just like what current Social Security and Job Corps groups accomplish). On top of this, I also believe that the Great Recession of 2007-2012 has affected our livelihoods in more ways than we could ever imagine. The average working citizen does not acquire nearly as many benefits as they previously did. For instance, bonuses are scarce amongst micro-based companies, while large corporations have reached back with their tax cuts based off of Donald Trump’s new laws. In part of (but not limited to) this, numerous low-income families have had to take on new jobs in hopes of eventually creating a better life for their next generation. Little has come out of this, though. Conversely, it turns out that the average price to support your own life, not only your children, costs significantly more than the average middle-class family as interest rates have skyrocketed, leading to malnutrition/unhealthy eating habits, higher incarceration rates, and also lower school attendance rates.

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