Why Do People Go Without? | Teen Ink

Why Do People Go Without?

December 4, 2010
By TheBirdman1014 SILVER, Coxsackie, New York
TheBirdman1014 SILVER, Coxsackie, New York
6 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Within our nation, our state, and even in our small community, there are many who do not have the basic necessities of life that most of us enjoy. Some are laid-off from their jobs, causing them to fall behind on their bills. The choice is between heat and food. Others have car repairs they cannot afford, but to go without a car prevents them from traveling to work. As a result, they lose their jobs and the above scenario occurs. These are daily events, from the surrounding area to communities across the nation. The same pattern in repeated. But no one is asking the question, why?
The United States is a first-world nation, one of the wealthiest in the world (debt not-withstanding). We have the highest GDP in the world. We have the most billionaires in the world, at 403. You cannot make the argument that there is no enough to go around, when 403 citizens have over one billion dollars each. Yet, over 14% of Americans live in poverty. In a sea of affluence, people cannot even keep their head above the water.
I’ll clarify what I mean by “going without.” I do not intend to claim that not having an Xbox 360 or a new television is going without. That is simply not having the newest consumer goods. Hardly a tragedy. But the real suffering is not having a warm meal to come home to. Not having a coat to wear in the snowstorms that will soon come. Not having a home, a simple roof over your head, is going without.

The facts are astonishing. Over three million people are estimated to be homeless in the United States. Of that number, over half, 1.5 million, are children. Almost 50 million people are not sure where their next meal will come from, and the numbers continue to get worse. Almost 10% of Americans do not have a job to provide for their families, while almost 20% do not have enough work. Every single day, over 100 people die because they do not have health insurance. When you read this, people will be dying. After you wake up the next day, remember the 100 mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, that died because they didn’t have enough green pieces of paper. All of these problems embedded in the fabric of our nation’s institutions have been hidden from the public. But they will, as the truth has a habit of doing, become known. The veneer of a prosperous nation is flaking off, and it revealing dangerous truths.

This phenomenon is not random, nor is it set in stone. People are not naturally poor or naturally wealthy. There are inherent problems within our social, political, and economic systems which prevent the equal access to basic tenets of life and force those in poverty to endure a life of hardship, with little to no chance of advancing.

Is it right for an extremely small group of people to control the nation’s wealth? As of 2007, 1% of the population controlled over 34% of the wealth. The bottom 80%, the large majority of Americans, only totaled for 15%. With 79 percent fewer people, the upper crust of the American social system manages to hold on to double the wealth as most average Americans. The lessons taught when we were young, fairness and sharing, obviously do not apply in the American economic system. It must be more important to allow a few people to have a steady supply of yachts, luxury cars, and international vacations than to make sure every citizen has food on the table, a roof on their head, and the knowledge that the basic necessities of life will be with them when they wake up.

What we have in the United States, a system of rampant waste that glorifies the incredibly wealthy as demigods and casts the poor aside as pariahs who are not worthy, cannot continue. During the holiday season, a time of shopping, eating, and general indulgence (as much as we’d like to pretend it is not), every citizen, no matter how old, needs to examine the system they live in. Question the framework, examine the details, and ask you self the fundamental question: Why do people go without?

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