Poverty is a lack of goods and services needed to maintain a minimal adequate standard of living. The definition of the term adequate varies, however, with the general standard of living in a society and with public attitudes toward deprivation. No university accepted the definition of basic needs exists because poverty is a relative concept. In poorer countries it means living at the brink of subsistence, while in our country few improvised families confront starvation, although many suffer from undernourishment. Not everyone is born into a life of the rich and glamorous. Those who are fortunate enough know that they are very lucky to be in their position. Others however are totally in different situations. They need to fend for themselves and having meal is something which comes only once a day.
Malnutrition is the obvious result of not consuming the right amount of food. This will lead to outbreaks of diseases but in poverty stricken countries there are no hospitals to cure this. Lacking infrastructure means lacking educational rights. People who are living in poverty cannot afford to send their children to school so this will mean an unclear future for their children hence the undernourishment. Furthermore, living in crowded areas, this has a tendency to increase the chances of disease as people are drinking from unsafe sources of water. People around the world are not aware of how immense this issue is and sometimes hesitant to believe the scale that it has risen to. Without understanding the people living at a disadvantage from the rest, there is no cure for the problem. Poverty is not only the problem of the poor, but the rich as well. If the wealthy becomes too concentrated and there are too many people at the low end who can’t contribute to the cost of society (taxes to maintain infrastructure for instance) then more of that burden must fall to the wealthy.
The wealthy that derive their wealth by selling goods and services to a mass market will be affected if the market dries up because too many individuals are too poor to be able to buy the goods/services. With hints of the invisible hand playing a role in this, it’s possible that the economy might not adjust to the buyers and sellers. People suffering from poverty may become enraged at the disparity between themselves and the wealthy and may express that rage through a violent revolution and redistribution of wealth. Some wealthy individuals may feel concern about such a disparity and choose to give some of their wealth to better the condition of the poor or to help the poor find a way to prosperity. Poverty in the United States has long been a social, political, and human rights issue.
Few people would say that it is not our moral duty, as social human beings to take care of those less fortunate than ourselves, to the best of our ability. These types of people have what is called a “libertarian”. There is really no specific definition of “libertarian”, but it is associates justice with liberty. In relation to the matter at hand, specifically poverty in America, libertarians are against taxing the affluent or forcing people to aid the starving and poor. One of the most influential libertarians of our time is Professor Robert Nozik. His theory of justice begins with the principle that all people have rights, which require that we refrain from interfering with others. Other than this we have no obligation to do anything positive for anyone else, and likewise, they have no obligation towards us.
These rights are natural or inalienable because all humans have them and they do not come from any social or political institutions. These rights forbid us from interfering with a person’s liberty even if it would promote some general good, or prevent another’s rights from being violated. Overall, the general idea is that people have the liberty to live a life free from intervention of others, and can lead their life however they so choose. In addition, he says that if a person acquired their fortune or possessions without harming, defrauding, or violating the rights of any others, then it is morally permissible to use those things however one wishes. This includes wasting, willing, or endowing the possessions to someone else. Even though many people are dying from starvation and malnutrition, Nozik’s theory of justice states that one has no obligation to help those people.
His theory is summarized as follows: 1. A person who acquires a holding in accordance with the principle of justice in acquisition is entitled to that holding. 2. A person who acquires a holding in accordance with the principle of justice in transfer, from someone else entitled to the holding, is entitled to the holding. 3. No one is entitled to a holding except by (repeated) applications of 1 and 2. Relating to poverty, libertarians feel that no matter how the actual distribution of economic holdings may look, if all involved are entitled to the holdings they possess, then the distribution is just. Although Nozik’s theory concentrates on the just of distribution, Rawl’s theory of the difference principle can be thought of as the similar concept. The main moral motivation for the Difference Principle is similar to that for strict equality.
The overwhelming economic opinion though is that in the foreseeable future the possibility of earning greater income will bring forth greater productive effort. This will increase the total wealth of the economy and, under the Difference Principle, the wealth of the least advantaged (the poor). The inequalities consistent with the Difference Principle are only permitted so long as they do not compromise the fair value of the political liberties. So, for instance, very large wealth differentials may make it virtually impossible for poor people to be elected to political office or to have their political views represented. These inequalities of wealth, even if they increase the material position of the least advantaged group, may need to be reduced in order for the first principle to be implemented. The difference principle may be the solution to poverty in the near future, but sadly the idea of strict equality between individuals will be a difficult concept for people to grasp.
Capitalism is a system designed to produce for private profit, not for public need. We have gotten as far as we have due to decision-making of corporate boardrooms and placing them under the democratic control of the majority that the economy can provide for our needs. To do that, we need to bring into public ownership the largest 500 corporations and financial institutions. If the assets of these giant companies were under our democratic control, then investment and resources could be democratically controlled by working-class people.
Resources would be available to address our most pressing social problems and allocated to areas of most need. To achieve this means breaking from giving any support to the two big-business political parties – the Republicans and Democrats. They are both fully implicated in creating the present mess we are in. We need to build a new political party to represent our interests as workers, the poor and young people, and which points a finger at the real villains, the super-rich and the capitalist system.