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Consequences of Depriving the Poor Are Harsh

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - Franklin D. Rooseve...
Views: 925 Created 04/18/2007

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd US President (1882-1945)

There are those who will believe that this statement smacks of socialism, if not communism. Giving to those who have little, they say, is like throwing good money after useless people.

They have no quibbles about adding to the abundant wealth of those who have much, of those who have far more than they could possibly spend in their lifetimes. Those people, they say, have earned their wealth.

They also had the advantages, the skills and usually the education to use their resources to best advantage. Poor people usually do not.

Children from poor families are overrepresented with non-readers, kids who read at least two grade levels below their peers. They are also overrepresented in learning difficulties, which are often family (genetic) traits. They may not have sufficient food to keep their minds distracted from their hunger. Their home environment is often not conducive to doing homework or studying. Their evenings are often interrupted with social friction among family members or between parents.

No child can learn when they have significant social or emotional stressors weighing them down. Social and emotional problems always come first in importance to a child, no matter how hard the child tries to overcome them. A child with those kinds of problems on his mind has little ability to learn well.

A close examination of resources allocated to schools in poor districts often demonstrates fewer monies per student for teachers and other resources than for schools in wealthy districts of the same school board. That's a combination of less money for much greater needs.

The same kids from poor families commonly receive much less in the way of intellectual and physical stimulation to assist with their development than children in wealthier families.

If their family has been on welfare for more than one generation, count that as a third strike against them. These kids who have loads of things going against them are considered by some to be not worthy of equal resources from tax money. They need more to overcome their disadvantages, but they get less.

The people who make the most noise in political circles these days claim that this is the wisest dispersal of tax monies because it creates the most wealth for the nation. However, just as government borrowing puts a burden on future generations, mounting numbers of poorly educated children who become adults who lack the ability to cope with the stresses of adult life in a fast-paced high-tech world saddles future generations with problems.

In some countries, diminishing the size of the middle class and increasing the size of the poorer classes eventually results in revolution. In others the wealthy industrialists have to bring in more educated people from foreign countries to fill positions that their own people couldn't manage.

Social problems such as inequality don't go away by themselves, no matter how much we try to sweep them under the carpet. Delaying the repair of inequities inevitably makes the problems worse for future generations.

Increasing the rate of immigration to compensate for the failures of the education system and degradation of family support systems also raises the potential for social strife of a kind that most countries cannot cope with because they're unprepared for it.

Depriving children from any part of the community of the satisfaction of their basic needs to feel a part of their social environment is like building your own powderkeg and not knowing what to do with it. Adults who feel like strangers in their own community do strange and sometimes violent things.

Sometimes they go on shooting sprees in schools. Sometimes they blow themselves and many others up. Sometimes they turn to drugs, alcohol or many other forms of addiction. Sometimes they can manage to get through their days only with Prozac. Sometimes they can't manage and find themselves in prison without knowing how they could have avoided it.

Equality does not mean giving money to people who don't have much. Equality means finding ways to satisfy the basic needs of all children, be they intellectual, physical, social or emotional. Without addressing those needs, trouble is inevitable.

The needs of children go far beyond food, clothing, shelter and a school to attend. It's time we grew up as a culture and learned the basics of human needs. The alternatives are harsh.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to encourage everyone to give real equality a chance before trouble is inevitable.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/

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