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The War Against the Poor Instead of Programs to End Poverty

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Mylena McCoggle

on 27 September 2013

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Transcript of The War Against the Poor Instead of Programs to End Poverty

War Zone: Everyone Welcomed With No Way Out

Mylena McCoggle
Herbert J. Gans was a professor at Columbia University who taught many the subject of sociology. He was not only a teacher but a writer whom express himself through the subjects of poverty, antipoverty policy, urban issues, news media and race and ethnicity according to his faculty page on the Columbia University website. Gans has written numerous articles and books on the above subjects where he challenges his readers to go above and beyond accepted truths and to defy conventional wisdom.
Who is This Man You Speak of?
In the article of “The War Against the Poor Instead of Programs to End Poverty” Herbert J. Gans notifies his readers on a war against the underprivileged that has not only been going on long enough but has been ignored by many. He goes on to describe the few people who have tried to help the poor and contrast those efforts with the countless others who refuse to acknowledge the deprived. He explains how individuals with ignorance of destitution have changed the poor’s identity to be “undeserving” – where they do not “deserve” to escape poverty.
What was The Point?
What's the Point? Pt. 2
Gans continues to question his readers on why so many untruths of the poor have become accepted in society today. There is the obvious reason of the fear and anger of the people, who are much better off. He elaborates in his article the history of the fear and anger of the middle and upper class against the poor and how it was not happening overnight. Gans talks about the need for more antipoverty programs, especially in the United States, that can uplift the poor from the undeserving title they have grown to conceive. He ends his essay with ten statements of class bigotry that he feels must be address urgently as untruths against the poor.
Look in the Text
"The time may be ripe to look more closely at how nonpoor Americans feel about poverty; and try to reduce their unwarranted fear and anger toward the poor- with the hope that they would be more positive about reviving antipoverty efforts. " (Gans 506)
By definition, war is active hostility, contention, or conflict, with other meanings of an encounter carried on by force of arms and armed fighting, such as a science, profession, activity, or art. Herbert J. Gans use war as a metaphor for the acts that have been used against the poor to belittle their reputations in society. He express in his article the “war” on the poor with many “fighting” words. “…[T]o fight class bigotry along with the racial kind” (507) and “…begin to fight, the widespread existence of class discrimination and prejudice”(509). Gans elaborates on the war against the poor and show how everyday has turned into a battlefield. He uses these words to show on how the poor have it worse then what many people imagine. He wants to show people that being poor is not only looking a certain way but it is a lifestyle that has to be survived everyday.
Get Ready for Battle
How Do You Live?
What Gans fails to communicate is what the actual “war” looks like and where it is happening. Throughout his essay there are many solutions of what can be fixed from attitudes to physical programs but nothing of the appearance of the fighting happening against the poor. He starts with an overview of this war but then gets more technical on how it started and what can be fixed but where in his essay did he speak of what the actual war is? Readers can just assume that the war is against the “undeserving” label and nothing else for he discuss nothing other then class bigotry statements. While his ideas are step in the right direction, it is the lack of identifying the war that will have many still ignore it.
Get Ready for Battle: Ready, Aim, Fire!
Gans has his metaphor to expand on the idea of what war is and what it could look like from outside the normal picture of men and women fighting a common enemy, guns shooting, and bombs flying. War can happen at anytime or place and Gans is offering ideas on what it could look like outside the usual. He wants to open his reader’s mind that this “war” is the everyday lives of the people in poverty and how even though it is not seen there is something that can be done to help. He tells his readers that “once people become poor, it becomes ever harder for them to escape poverty” (505) and in order to aid these people it is better to learn not to blame but to build; more jobs, more opportunities and more programs to assist in the start-up of new life.

Get Ready for Battle: Battle Stations!
Seek Out the Enemy
Herbert J. Gans describes the way many individuals of poverty are viewed by middle and upper class citizens as the undeserving poor – “people who do not deserve to escape poverty” (505). He describes the undeserving poor as a way that society can disconnect their selves with the people of the underprivileged. Gans explains that “[v]iewing the poor as undeserving helps to maintain and even widen that status gap” (509) while decreasing the understanding of the individuals living the life of poverty. One of Gans’ class bigotry statements, that he feels is untrue, argues, “undeservingness is an effect of poverty “ (507) where he explains the feelings toward people such as high school drops, unwed teenage mothers, and people on welfare.
Seek Out the Enemy: Capture
He elaborates on this idea that these individuals did not “deserve” this because they are poor but that because they live the lifestyle of poverty these situations have happened to them. Gans wants his readers to understand “how much of what the poor do is poverty-related” (507). While living under the poverty line there are many of pressures all around from getting that money to not look “undeserving” and to not to do well in school for the shame of looking like a fool for being smart. Gans continues on that because no one tries to understand the situations of the poor and so no one can truly see what is behind the scenes and try to help make a difference.
Learn for Next Time
There is only a glimpse of the uphill battle that poverty is from the individuals on the streets holding signs for spare change to the ones shifting through garbage looking for cans or additional food. What is not seen is the everyday person that looks like everyone else that is going through the same battle without having to show it so pitifully. These are the people who live below the poverty line but are punished by the society around them for being poor and not working hard enough to make it into the “real” world. Herbert J. Gans wants his readers to not only appreciate this people but also learn not to be angry or fearful of them but extend a hand to help in the right direction.
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