Poverty is an issue that plagues all races of people in America. People who live under the conditions of poverty did not wake up one day and say to themselves, I am going to be poor and my family members including my children are going to be poor as well. In my humble opinion if a person does not have any experience with poverty and its conditions, then a person cannot comment. The rich or elite members of American society are especially ignorant of the poor. I remember watching Spike Lee’s HBO special on the aftermath of the Katrina natural disaster. The people of Louisiana were displaced and suffering. The poor people who did not have the means to leave Louisiana who did not have the means to leave were all forced to seek shelter in the Superdome. The Superdome is the arena that the professional football team uses for its games. Former first lady Barbara Bush and former President George H. bush referred to the citizens of Louisiana as “refugees”. How can people who live in America and pay taxes be referred to as refugees? Another comment that former first lady Barbara Bush stated was that they are probably living better in the Superdome that what they did in their original homes. This is just one example of extreme poverty and the response by the elite members of society. In order to understand why poverty exists in America, I think that it is time for people in America to learn once again how the economic system in America functions. Once that information is learned, then people can begin to conceptualize how serious poverty and its ramifications are on American society.
I would like to start by speaking about capitalism. First, I want to define it. Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production are privately owned and operated for a private profit; decisions regarding supply, demand, price, distribution, and investments are made by private actors in the free market; profit is sent to owners who invest in businesses, and wages are paid to workers employed by businesses and companies.
In essence, Great Britain and America were pure capitalist countries prior to the Industrial Revolution. The owners of industry operated without any government intervention. The term is “Laissez-faire” is the term used to describe the marketplace without any government intervention, but pure capitalism has its limits. America today is a mixed economy. There is some government regulation of a few major industries. Government intervention has been required due to recession and worker demands for equal pay and equal rights.