According to the World Bank
Regrettably, today’s view of the poor is very negative most especially in the Western Democracies. The poor are seen as blights upon society, an eyesore that drains resources from the state in the form of welfare payments, socialized housing and other poverty alleviation programs. Worse, poverty is seen as a function of race, creed, or faith. Perhaps the most cruel accusation of all is that the poor are poor because of a lack of effort on their part or because it is their choice. In other words, the poor are poor because it is their fault and there is no reason for the average citizen to be bothered with them.
This is a far cry from Dorothy Day’s view on the poor. According to the World Bank, nearly 4 Billion people all over the world must subsist on only $2 a day (World Bank). Contrast that with a minimum wage earner in the US who will make a gross of $10 an hour or the net worth of Bill gates which is higher than the GDP of many third world countries. More than half the people in the world live in abject poverty. Yet contrary to common belief, poverty in not the fault of those who are poor. In fact, many of the causes of poverty are socio-economic and not directly attributable to the people suffering.
For example, the downsizing of car manufacturing companies in Detriot that resulted in the loss of many jobs there can not be blamed on the average factory worker. Another example would be racial discrimination that results in a lack of opportunity. Racial biases play a major role in people’s view of the poor. Terms like Ghetto or ‘hood commonly refer to African American or Latin American neighborhoods. Many famous comedians like Chris Rock, an African American, or Carlos Mencia, a Latin American, have made careers by making fun of the poverty that their respective racial groups have endured.
Unless the people can relate to their jokes they would not laugh meaning that there is indeed a grain of truth in what they say. For example in the movie down to earth Chris Rock has this spiel “In my town there are two malls, one for white people and one for black people, In the black mall they sell only two things; sneakers and baby clothes” clearly, he is connecting being black with being thieves, who need sneakers to run, and making babies. Also, “If a white guy dies you get a will, a brother (black man) dies you get a bill.
” In other words, a white man will leave an inheritance while a black man is so poor you actually have to contribute money just to bury him. This image of African Americans is hardly flattering but is sadly the prevailing view in society. Latin Americans, Asians and other minorities also get similar bias levied against them. “The poor chose to be poor. In a country as prosperous as America being poor is your own choice” Perhaps this is the most unfair myth of all. In today’s Globalized World being jobless can be a function of ones skills being more affordable outsourced to another country.
For example, many IT related jobs are now outsourced to India or Singapore leaving those who studied IT in hopes of landing a good job out in the cold. Often poverty is much more complicated than simply the person not wanting to get a job. Some lack the necessary skills to obtain a job while others are discriminated against when they apply for a job. Lack of education is also tied to poverty. Yet often dropping out of school is more complicated than simply being too lazy to attend. Domestic problems, Peer pressure leading to drugs or crime can also be other causes.
There are many poverty alleviation efforts in America such as Welfare payment. These efforts criticized as actually encouraging poverty. After all if someone can make money by just by being jobless there is little incentive to actually find a job. Worse, this drains money from other more worthy while projects. The driving motive behind this criticism is a lack of compassion for the less fortunate. Dorothy Day said in her autobiography “Each of us who was attracted to the poor had a sense of guilt, of responsibility, a feeling that in some way we were living on the labor of others.
The fact that we were born in a certain environment, were enabled to go to school, were endowed with the ability to compete with others and hold our own, that we had few physical disabilities, all these things marked us as the privileged in a way. We felt a respect for the poor and destitute as those nearest to God” Day believed in basic human dignity. She believed that we must all feel as sense of responsibility for others. Especially since, no man can claim to be living by his own labor alone. All people are now in one way or the other dependent on so many others to exist.
Lasty. , she believes that economic status is also a function of our environment and that she respect the poor and destitute as those nearest to God. Day’s view on the poor contrasts with the lack of compassion and caring exhibited by most people today she does not accuse the poor of indolence or malingering as the cause of their poverty. More importantly, she accepts them as her brothers and sisters treating them with equal respect and dignity as more economically well off people. Her basis for believing the poor and destitute is based on the beatitudes.
Which states “Blessed are the poor for they shall inherit the earth. ” My preconceptions about the cause of poverty were shattered by an encounter I had with a local nurse. The nurse was Filipino in his mid 40s, my first impression was that he had been a nurse for more than 20 years. Therefore, unambitious and lack drive to succeed. Typical of Filipinos he was short, had brown skin and dark hair. However, upon striking a conversation with him I learned he was actually an accomplished Surgeon in his home country. He also has two collage age children and a wife back in the Philippines.
Corruption and Political scandals in the Philippines have stunted growth and investment there for decades. The depressed economy meant that many patients lack the money to pay the bill for medicines alone much less his professional fees. As a result, despite his considerable medical skills he finds it difficult to make ends meet back home. As an alternative, he took up nursing as a second course. This was a serious downgrade since, surgery in the Philippines requires at least 12 years of post K-12 study, while nursing is a 4 year course that can be taken immediately after High School.
However, he swallowed his pride, passed the nursing board exams and now earns $30 an hour in an entry-level nursing job. I suppose, with a salary three times the minimum he is not exactly poor. However, I believe he should be considered poor because he was forced to leave his country by a lack of opportunity there and seek a job that is far below that status and prestige that he was accustomed to. It is regrettable, that an intelligent well-educated person like him would be forced to leave his family behind.
He said that he wants his children to attend good schools so that they can get good jobs, a common dream for Filipinos. But as mentioned his pay as a surgeon was not enough to finance his dreams for his family. He lives a modest life because he sends most of his pay back home. I believe that my experience with him showed that poverty and high education can mix. Despite being highly educated he could not afford to live the life he wanted to. Despite relative prestige and the respect of his peers he left his country in hopes of a better future for his children.
But at the same time he was also a human person, who conceives of what is true good and beautiful as we do. Who walks the same earth as we do with dreams hopes and aspirations as we do. His Race, Creed and religion mater little for in the eyes of God we are all his children. Day Dorothy (1980) The long loneliness. New York Parmount Pictures (2001) Down to Earth World Bank Understanding Poverty. Retrived 19 Nov 2007, from http://web. worldbank. org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTPOVERTY/0,,contentMDK:20153855~menuPK:373757~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:336992,00. html