define poverty

It is difficult to define poverty because the definition of what makes someone poor is subjective and changes based on the time and place that people live in. For example, twenty years ago living without a smart phone with an expansive data plan would be considered the norm. Now, it is a basic part of most people’s lives, and to be without a phone with access to the internet would be devastating. Thus, I would personally define poverty as being unable to afford or access the basic necessities and resources that are needed to live a fulfilled, successful life. More practical definitions of poverty that are used to create policy are used based on two measurements, the absolute and relative measures of poverty. The absolute measure “uses a fixed, predetermined amount below which people are defined as poor,” whereas the relative measure is similar to my definition of poverty, in that certain standards are used “to assess the minimum needed for a reasonable living situation, and anything less than that standard is considered poor” (Segal, 2016, p. 181). Coming to a consensus on the definition of poverty is pivotal because living in a state of desperation and deprivation can have lifelong implications, both for the individual themselves and society at large. This can be seen from the impact of living poor on children. Living in poverty can lead to children having “poor health, lower educational attainment, dangerous living situations, and a greater likelihood of experiencing disadvantaged life outcomes” (Segal, 2016, p. 190).

Social welfare programs meant to address and alleviate poverty are generally placed into two categories: direct, cash assistance and in-kind benefits. One example of cash assistance is the Earned Income Tax Credit. This benefit is mainly directed at the working poor, as it is only eligible to those individuals with full-time jobs that file tax returns and have dependent children. If the family doesn’t make above a certain income level, then they earn a tax credit. If that credit is higher than the amount of tax they owe, then that family will earn extra cash. In practical terms, this played out in 2011 with “28 million taxpayers (receiving the EITC), with an average of $2,905 for families with children” (Segal, 2016, p. 198). In-kind benefits are delivered through goods and services to poor people. One such example is public, affordable housing that is provided by the government at all levels. Individuals that have a low income are eligible to live in public housing where rental charges are set to about thirty percent of their monthly income after taxes. A similar program is Section 8 housing, in which the government will provide vouchers to bring down the rent of a private rental unit to make it affordable for low income families and individuals. Similar to public housing, Section 8 policies ensure that these people only pay 30 percent of their monthly income on housing.


Discussion 2 (200 words) Textbook provided


According to the author of our textbook, major social welfare programs such as unemployment insurance, minimum wage, and the income tax credit are tied to economic conditions. Explain and discuss whether or not you feel this is true and defend your reasoning.


Reply 1 Lauryn 60 words


I do agree with the author of our textbook which states that major social welfare programs such as unemployment insurance, minimum wage, and income tax credit are tied to economic conditions. When discussing social services and economics there is an emphasis placed on the competitive marketplace in which those who have the most to offer can outbid all others (Segal, 2015). Social welfare services are designed to minimize the extremes of competitive distribution (Segal, 2015). This is where cost and Benefits come into play and the economic part is concerned about finding the least expensive way to produce the greatest outcome while social welfare services are trying to find the best way to help people cope and adapt to the changing environments (Segal, 2015). Concrete criteria to explain social and human behaviors in economics is a conflict between the two since both have conflicting ideologies. All social welfare policies have aspects of economics and come up with a balance between supply and demand. An example of this plays into one another is the social welfare program SNAP. SNAP allows people in poverty to purchase food at a local grocery store but is also a stimulus to food production. This creates a multiplier effect on the agriculture and food industry by guaranteeing that people buy food no matter how poor they are.


Reply 2 Andrew 60 words


The author of our text delineates the correlations between social welfare programs of Unemployment Insurance, minimum wage, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Unemployment is based on payroll tax dollars that the state collects from employers based on the number of employees they have. This is then used to pay out benefits to unemployed workers at a percentage of their former wages for a set time period that varies from state to state. This is clearly tie to economics due to the tie-in to payroll taxes and then actual money paid out to unemployed individuals so they can maintain their households while looking for work. The program also pushes people to continue to search for new employment in order to remain eligible. Minimum wage is probably tied to economics more than most other programs. It is directly economic. This is the government-set minimum that employers are allowed to pay their employees. This amount is set through economic policies made by the federal government. Many states have minimum wage policies that increase the wage in their states above the federal minimum. Sadly, the minimum wage is still too low to allow for most families to live above the poverty line and avoid major economic setbacks when the national economy gets shaky. “Most low-paid workers lack economic security during recessions or changes in the employment market. Many are not covered by unemployment insurance and are consequently the most likely candidates for public assistance” (Segal, 2016, p. 232).

Broadly speaking, nearly everything can be tied to economic conditions in a country such as ours. Social welfare programs are no different. In the years that I have been working with the SNAP program, I have heard many times that most grocery stores would go under without the SNAP program dollars that come in. So, this would disrupt the economy by losing jobs, which puts more on unemployment. Minimum wages workers use programs like SNAP and Medicaid to make ends meet and provide necessities for their families. The programs of unemployment, minimum wage, and Earned Income Tax Credit are more economic than most of the other social welfare programs though. They are all directly related to an individual’s pay, their tax dollars, and their expenditures. These policies, many times, are made either directly or in correlation with economic policies meant to stabilize our country’s economy. They all target low-income families in order to help keep them as part of the economic engine that moves the country forward.