By Friday, November 15 (11:59 p.m. EST), students will be required to post a blog journal entry about a particular social problem/issue on a weekly basis related to the theme(s) discussed during the week. The post will thoroughly address the following: 
  1. A social problem or issue related to the theme of the week;
  2. A justification of why this particular social problem/issue was selected;
  3. An explanation of how this social problem/issue is relevant to the student AND to society;
  4. A description of the actions taken/that could be taken by the student to personally address/work on this social problem/issue; and
  5. Pose a question to classmates and instructor that is relevant to the blog post for the week.

Peer responses to this post are due on Wednesday, November 20 (11:59 p.m., EST).
 


Comments

Dakota Ayers
11/13/2013 19:29

Hundreds of former child soldiers from the (Lord’s Resistance Army) LRA are returning to the battlefield to fight for the Ugandan army. In an article I read, a spokesman from the Army, Major Shaban Bantariza, openly admitted that indeed some of the soldiers were under the legal age of 18 and goes on to say that for some of them it was a lesser of two evils. Within the past 19 years there have been large conflicts in northern Uganda, over 20,000 children (BBC News) have been abducted by the rebel LRA. Many of the child soldiers are usually brainwashed and given extreme ultimatums such as “kill or be killed”. As for the returning soldiers, they have returned to war but they’re now fighting for the other side, the Ugandan military. The United Nations Children’s Fund Relief or UNICEF proclaims these children, younger than 16 and 17, aren’t mentally stable enough to make the decision to return back to war. Their primary concern is that returning to warfare isn’t in the best interest for the youth, but as stated earlier, joining the Ugandan military is the lesser of 2 evils, the other evil being extreme poverty or returning to the LRA. The Ugandan military, reluctantly agreed to allow UNICEF to identify the underage soldiers and attempt to remove them by encouraging the military leaders not to let them fight or join until their old enough to make that conscious decision.
Preguntas….
1.) Which of the evils do you find to be “lesser” continuing to fight in wars or facing extreme poverty?
2.) Why do you think Unicef felt obligated to step in?

Reply
SDS
11/15/2013 21:37

The militarization of children is definitely a major social problem, and in some ways, the case of the LRA authorities' justification for abducting children (i.e., Bantariza) is similar to the justification of child labor in rural and urban communities of Bangladesh as presented in Salmon's (2005) article, since the alternative is having no income/"livelihood." . . . In response to your first question, do you agree that there are "two evils" that individuals must decide between? . . . and to your second question, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is an international institution responsible for upholding the articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), and it is legally-binding. If anything, UNICEF (like many other UN bodies) needs to be more proactive in promoting the safety, well-being, and advancement of children, but the cooperation of states is necessary, of course . . . I'd also be interested in knowing how you would answer 3 & 4 on this topic . . . Thanks for shedding light on this issue.

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Gema
11/20/2013 22:23

Dakota,

Thank you for shedding light on this issue. It is hard to say that one is lesser than the other. War is no place for children no matter the circumstance. Unfortunately, life in different places around the world may leave people feeling like of the two, one may be the lesser evil. For these particular children, it may be all they know because of their experience with the LRA. Their mental, psychological, and emotional state may not be functionally ready to integrate in any other kind of environment/society. I think that the organization UNICEF has an obligation to address this and other issues that violates the rights of children, and I agree with the professor, there needs to be proactive relief programs that are promoting the well-being of children, and for this particular case, a healthy re-integration into their society. If they feel like their only two options are war or poverty, then perhaps a plan needs to be put in place to provide them a third option, one that will assist the children positively.

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Teddy m
11/21/2013 00:08

I think facing extreme poverty is the "lesser" of the two evils. For an underage child to go to war is far worse than living in poverty in my opinion.

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Imo E.
11/13/2013 19:52

Poverty is a social problem because its effects are felt in society as a whole. For example, if you examine most of the crimes with the exception of the so called white collar crime most of them are committed by those who are from extremely underprivileged backgrounds. If you have a problem in society that is causing a huge amount of problems and costing billions of pounds/dollars per annul then it’s a problem that affects all. Therefore, collectively, it is a problem because it costs the taxpaying public. A justification of why this particular social problem/issues was selected: The opinions and perceptions of society about what has been conceived as a problem as crucial and they are hardly taken into account in social analysis. In fact, they are usually taken as invariable – some kind of “granted” perceptions within a population or as a secondary determined of social change. They are also an important social thermometer. Because they are far from being static, their dynamic nature becomes of transcendent importance when evaluating the evolution of values and social priorities and when asking ourselves about the pace and the direction of social change. The social problem is relevant to the student and to society:- To inform students and help them understand the manifestation of social problems in schools. It will enlighten them on ways of managing social problems and its influence on classroom activities; The social problem will create awareness on the social ills of the society. The awareness is expected to generate concerns for majority of people and stakeholders in the society who in turn will gear up to eradicate the prevalent social problems of the society. A descriptive of the actions taken/that could be taken by the student to personally address/work on this social problem/issue. In recent times, it has become a common phenomenon to read, hear or witness incidences of student’s involvement in anti-social behavior such as teenage pregnancy/parenting child abuse, alcohol intake, drug abuse, rape, prostitution, sexual perversion, stealing, cultism, adolescent suicide, school dropout and all kinds of wanton misdemeanor. Its sad to say that, some of these social problems are unfortunately fallout of the social ills in the society. It is the society that creates severe poverty, homelessness and economic hardship. Furthermore, these problems should be addressed by saying that many have agreed that deviants acts perpetuated by students in the schools are responsible for the downward turn in the academic performance and social adjustment of these students. It is not certain whether efforts taken by researchers, teachers, school administrators and stakeholders of linking behaviors among school students to social problems with a view to curbing these behavior have yielded any fruits in the past.

Questions to classmates and instructor...
What are common types of social problems exhibited by students?
What are the social implications of behavior exhibited by the students?
To what extent do social behavior affect students activities?
To what extent do social problems impact on students academic performance?
To what extent do social problems impact on students social adjustment?

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SDS
11/15/2013 21:46

Thank you for presenting some very interesting thoughts on topics related to poverty. The questions you raise are also important and valid to consider, particularly in order to understand how solutions can be learned and applied . . . When you think of poverty as a social problem, what concrete examples do you have in mind (aside from addressing social problems in general terms)? I would be interested in learning how your relayed thoughts relate to a specific example relevant to poverty.

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IfiyaR
11/20/2013 22:32

Common types of social problems by students i could say one would be anti-social implied by the use of technology. I can relate this social problem to the article America Transformed when she said technology is a "creative destruction process". Globalization has created conditions of insecurities as we all know globalization can also be a cause of filling in gap and also creating new ones. With student activites there are many ways students can get by with sucess and also with failure in academic progress with poverty being so high. Adjusting to education like supplies,transportation, focus and food in the belly can be a problem that could lead to failure. Education is very important to continue to do best at excelling. Leads many students to do there best regardless of how hard times can be.

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Gema
11/20/2013 22:33

Imo,

To name a few, three of the social problems exhibited by students are individualism, consumerism, and violence, all of which could stem from other social issues like the one that you mentioned, poverty. I think it's possible that these issues, if not addressed before adulthood, will have serious negative affects on the individuals when it comes to personal relationships, the workplace, and self-esteem.

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Nandi
11/14/2013 15:21

Poverty is a social issue because it’s an encompassing problem to those living in it, and also extends out to the rest of society. Poverty is far more than a lack of money. Poverty is a whole system where your education, your opportunities, your aspirations, your self-image are all affected or at risk. It’s a vicious cycle that is hard to imagine if you’re not in it, but tremendously difficult to break out of. How can you concentrate on school when you’re hungry? How can you eat right if you can’t afford food? How can you get to work on time if you don’t have a home? How can you focus when you’re feeling tremendously insecure and worried about your physical safety, or how you’ll feed yourself and your kids? How can you do anything if you’re ill and can’t afford health care? Poverty then affects the rest of society. For one thing, poverty keeps people from achieving anything near their potential, because of poor educational and other opportunities. Therefore the entire society is impoverished by 1) the structural inequity of being divided into haves and have-nots. And 2) while rich people can steal billions in “white collar” crime, poor people are more likely to commit theft and other street crimes or get involved in prostitution. That in turn often leads to drug addiction, which leads to more desperate poverty and therefore more theft and other crime. This route can also lead to a general wariness of poorer people as “others” and “criminals,” further dividing society and leaving the poor further behind, as for example, their schools get worse as property values and property revenues fall when richer neighbors flee the neighborhood.
Questions
As we have seen obviously there’s no reliable manual on how to erase poverty, it would be finished by now however, is fighting poverty enough, or should humanity also take actions to promote economic equality, both within and between societies? And if so, what actions can most effectively and appropriately address the gaps between rich and poor?




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SDS
11/15/2013 22:03

Thank you for sharing your insights into the problem of poverty. As mentioned above, poverty is a nearly pandemic problem . . . one that is often overlooked/ignored, particularly when individuals do not find themselves " directly affected" by it. However, let us remember that the readings we had this week addressed notions of poverty that were constructed by those who do not live in "poverty." So the experience of "poverty" may not be the same for everyone, but the extreme gap between wealth and poverty are constant in many parts of the world, as we have learned . . . While there is no "manual" to "erase poverty," it is important that the focus is on narrowing the gap first. So in return, I would inquire how you personally relate this problem to yourself and what actions could be taken regarding your own thoughts on poverty? When you think of poverty, what are you referring to specifically? What are your suggestions in addressing it?

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Emily Blase
11/19/2013 10:53

I think the readings we have been working through have shown us that being poor is not necessarily the problem, rather social inequity is the biggest hurdle facing us. I think the best thing we can do is to promote better equality between all social classes. As we saw in this week's reading, "America Transformed" globalization has increased social inequality and differences in income earned at an ever more expanding rate. One thing that could be done (and this is a mostly ideological argument) is to increase socialization in this and other countries. When we all contribute to and consume the same resources, not only does it ensure that everyone's basic needs are met, but also increases the sense of community between one another as there is no "other" at the local private or "urban" schools if education (health care, etc.) are all distributed evenly.

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kenny
11/20/2013 10:30

I agree with you because minorities will benefit the most if there is ever equality between all social classes. In the United States, the government supports an open class system ; However the system is not based on equality, but rather EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY. There is a difference. Also, equality of opportunity was historically held back by discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and ethnicity.

Jen B.
11/20/2013 20:39

I believe one main thing that must happen to start narrowing the gap is taxing the rich more. Tightening the gaps because there are so many loop holes that the rich go through in order to not pay as much taxes as they should. Also, having the government be responsible for certain social programs instead of the state because that leads to less funds and resources. Also promoting more social programs in order to better members of a community. Last but not least, promoting a sense of community within neighborhoods is just as important.

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Gisele
11/20/2013 21:31


Hi Jen,

I think you're definitely right about taxing the rich leading to a narrowing of the wealth gap. One thing many people don't know is that, in the years after World War II, the uppermost tax brackets were some of the most heavily taxed in the entire United States. The money of the rich helped to build the extensive numbers of schools, roads and public facilities constructed in this time of postwar prosperity. The Great Society, as it was called, owed its existence to the taxing of the wealthiest Americans. In the 1980s, though, in keeping with Reagan's free-market neoliberal policies, the tax rate on these same brackets went to being the lowest tax rate for all brackets - at one point dipping to a tax rate of 10%. Is it a coincidence that the years of Reagan's presidency were when we first started to see the old diamond-shaped model of wealth distribution become an hourglass? These same low tax rates for the rich are still in place today, and after the financial collapse of 2008, which led many of the poorest Americans deeper into poverty, I was amazed that no politician seriously brought up a return to post-WWII tax rates as a solution. There would be so much more money for social programs and failing schools if only we took this one simple step.

Rachel Zelaya
11/20/2013 20:44

I completely agree with what you said. Living in poverty not only affects people physically but also mentally. Sometimes parents even pass down their negative mentality to their children telling them they will never be anything in life thus repeating the past. It is not only about fighting poverty, it is about fighting inequality because that seems to be the root of the problem.

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ifiyaR
11/20/2013 22:42

This is such a challenging question because i wish we had the answers already. Im sure all of our thoughts that we have put into the universe have already been manifested of even thought of but the gap still remains. rich stay rich and poor stay poor. But no seriously there has to be a effective way to address the gaps between rich and poor and i think it should start from the home then to the government to create a balance in education and also people who need health. Those are the two most important things people will never regret investing on. Balance

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Teddy m
11/21/2013 00:31

I think actions such as reaching out to people living in poverty is effective. Educate them about the importance of taking advantage of school that will lead to great job opportunities which will eventually take their families out of poverty.

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Allyn Achah
11/14/2013 18:41

Poverty exists in every shape and form across the world and because of its consequences must be prevented. People live in poverty due to different reasons. For example, the ever growing population and our inability to fight the source have attracted attention. Governments, institutions, and international organizations such as the food bank, have made efforts to reduce poverty throughout the world. The practices of economies, geography, climate and location contribute to understanding the causes of poverty in the contemporary time. Poverty is a relative term that signifies a wide range of things. However, the most basic is the state of an individual who lacks a certain amount of wealth and material possessions. This definition varies from country to country, and relates in different ways. For example, price levels and income.3 dollars is an insignificant amount in the United States. But if converted in another currency, could be a huge amount of money to someone who lives in a region in Africa or Asia. Currently, approximately 1.2 billion people around the world live in poverty. There are many reasons for the uneven distribution of wealth throughout the planet. The geography of a country and contribute to its level of poverty. People living in rural areas, women, children and minorities are more prone to live in poverty. Many of these individuals especially in third world countries happen to be farmers. Many attempts by policy makers in trying to eradicating poverty are focused on urban areas, despite the severity of poverty in rural areas. Women experience the effect of poverty more than men and are more likely to be less healthy than men. It is difficult to determine the reason for this distinction. Gender bias and stratification are social environmental factors that vary from country to country but play a huge role in the scarcity and availability of resources in different regions. I come from a third world country in West Africa known as Cameroon. I come from a growing family meaning I was once very poor and watched my parents try to give us a better future and move our family from poverty to being in the middle class. Being that I personally knows what it means to be poor especially in a third world country which I believe is worse than being poor in a developed country, I can relate more to this topic. Poverty may not personally affect us but it is necessary that we pay attention to this problem and be able to identify it in our communities and try to make efforts to donate, feed the homeless and try to create programs that help the poor improve their standards of living.
Question: I gave a couple of suggestions on how to help improve poverty starting with our own communities. What other measures can be taken to help the poor?
"Your view: Care concern." Daily Record [Glasgow, Scotland] 20 June 2005: 32. Global Issues In Context. Web. 20 Apr. 2012.
Kmenla Jan. “Trade and Poverty”: when the Third World Fell Behind. “Business Economics 47.1 (2012): 84+. Academic One File.Web.25 April 2012

Reply
SDS
11/15/2013 22:19

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on poverty, as well as your personal experiences growing up in Cameroon. I trust it is rather humbling to learn of both the similarities and differences of what poverty “looks like” in Cameroon and the U.S. . . . I would repeat some of the same points I made in the comment for the post above regarding a request for a more concrete example of how you understand poverty, and I would be interested to know what suggestions you have on actions that could be taken to address/ameliorate poverty or the gap between wealth and poverty . . . Lastly, I think it is important to understand that poverty is not relative in all instances, and therefore, it is not appropriate to compare "poverty" in a "less developed" country to "poverty" in a "more developed" country. It cannot be "better" or "worse" in one place versus another, as its very existence is problematic, and implying that poverty is relative disregards the experiences of others living in poverty, “even if” they are living in "developed" countries. If anything, the gap between wealth and poverty is much greater in "developed" countries, which leads to further detrimental implications for those who are poor.

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Gema
11/20/2013 22:42

Allyn,

Thanks for sharing. Something that I did not realize a few years ago was how many homeless people end up homeless not because of poverty, but because of mental illness. In such cases, I think that it would help to provide programs of mental health care for people who are living in poverty because at some point all may be affected mentally by their situation and conditions. Perhaps help in getting in a stable and healthy state of mind would help one or many.

Reply
11/14/2013 21:59

I chose this article because it is current being published only two days ago and it addresses the issue of separation that we discussed today. It talks primarily about the decline of the middle class from 61% in 1971 to 51% now. It addresses the concerns of why this is significant and also talks about the growing influx of poor people as well as wealthy people. This separation gap has the potential to produce many problems that may already be occurring now and this article discusses that. As we discussed in class today, capitalism has positives, but it also has negatives primarily in regards to the large amount of people living in poverty. We are the future that will see this gap widen if things aren't done. in a little over 30 years the middle class has dropped 10%, an if this trend continues we may very well had the middle class down to 41% by the time where 50. This would leave our children and grandchildren with a country thats significantly divided and who knows what will result from that. What we can do to help this situation is come together and educate others about the issue. If people of the middle class and upperclass understand this gap thats being created they may be more apt and willing to help address the situation rather than go on with their life and years later its too late. We also can figure out ways to make capitalism more productive for the future by having meeting and conferences to brainstorm ideas to combat the situation. My question to you all is do you think this problem can be solved? and if so what do you think can be done to solve the problem?

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SDS
11/15/2013 22:28

I appreciate you introducing what you learned from an article you found to be relevant to the readings and discussions we had in class this week. Unfortunately, though, it is unclear as to which article you are specifically referring to, so I cannot fully comprehend the statistics you have shared in relation to the social problem you are introducing. Is the social problem you are identifying the gap between poverty and wealth . . . or is it capitalism as a contributing factor to it? . . . Furthermore, I would be interested in learning how you personally identify with this social problem and why it resonates with you. It is always possible for human beings to solve a problem that human beings started in the first place, but HOW to do it is an important question . . . Why not start at the micro-level first? . . .

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Jen B.
11/20/2013 20:27

I believe when it comes to any social issue and when asked the question can it change for the better our mentality must be yes, if not where will the future lead us. It would be ruled by people who have their own personal agenda and that does not include for the good of all but for him or her self. Also, one must be optimistic about the future; when did we every think that gay marriage would ever be legal, have an African American president, etc. People fight for their rights so the middle class and those living in poverty must fight for theirs too. Social media I believe is a huge tool in bringing voice to a social issue. If you create a big campaign and can move others a movement will occur.

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Jen B.
11/15/2013 10:29

I am presently taking a business course (BA101) with Professor Robert Carroll; we were recently lectured on Adam Smith, who was known as the “father of economics” and who came up with the “Invisible Hand Theory”. The theory is based on the forces that drive a “free market”. Those forces tend to be those individuals who are pursuing their own interest, and indirectly these individualist promote the good of society. Smith believed that when a person acts in his or her own self-interest society benefits as a whole because this is when DEMANDS for goods and services are WANTED to SATISFY an INDIVIDUAL’S own NEEDS. Therefore, these demands create and promote business and a type of free market world where everyone is seeking a profit for themselves. And, according to our professor the most important aspect is that the profit made does not redistribute wealth to the powerful at the expense of others, such as in a collectivized economy. The standard of living can rise for all people, even though the population is increasing, because the total amount of wealth is not fixed.

Based on Adam Smith’s theory a nation who runs a free market where the profits are for the individual, and there is little intervention from the government, should be a prosperous nation.

Despite, Smith’s theory, according to the "Index of Economic Freedom," jointly published by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, examines the relative strength of 10 key economic variables in 157 countries around the world.

Observing the rankings, I noted that economic freedom is not necessarily correlated with democracy; thus challenging Adam Smith’s Theory. For example, India is politically a democracy, but economically it is "mostly unfree" and poor, ranking 119 in economic freedom. On the other hand, there are countries on the economic freedom index that have little history of democracy but are far wealthier than some of their more democratic counterparts, like Chile ranking at 11.

Question: Why do you believe that many countries who have a long history of a democratic government and have adopted somewhat of a free market economy, still suffer economically and most of its citizens are living in poverty?

Source: http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking

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Dakota Ayers
11/15/2013 22:37

I believe the majority of their populations are impoverished due to increase need for workers which will then encourage the exploitation of those individuals. All of the products are produced at a local level thus demanding the businesses to keep up with the product demand with their own resources. Not to mention the increase in corruption.

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SDS
11/16/2013 12:30

It's great that you are identifying connections between your sociology and business courses. Adam Smith and his philosophies on economics and morality are clearly relevant to both disciplines and to the discussions we've had the past few weeks (i.e., neoliberalism, development, dependency theory, globalization, capitalism, etc.) . . . Just to clarify, while Smith did support the philosophy of the free-market system, he does not necessarily imply that there is a correlation between "democracy" and "economic freedom," especially since "democracy" has known to be implemented and approached through varying perspectives and states that claim to be "democratic" have yet to learn how and why it should be implemented it in its entirety. The 2013 Index of Economic Freedom introduced here is an excellent example of how "freedom" is perceived in relation to the type of role(s)/control of government in the country's economy (similar to the argument critics of neoliberalism adhere to), and as you have indicated, such "economic freedom" is limited to material, physical gains for a select few . . . What about those who are not benefiting monetarily?

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Ajani Irish
11/20/2013 15:05

Democracy is a system that takes time to develop. Technically America is still a new country and continues to amend and try to improve. So for many of these countries who have tried to adjust to these foreign forms of government, a lot of trial and error will occur. This is especially true for 2nd an 3rd world countries.

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Emily Blase
11/15/2013 14:24

While researching for this week's blog post, I came across the news that Hyderabad, a state in India, is now the child labour capital of the world (Times of India). I was interested in this topic because according to this article and another I found regarding child labor in this area on Gulf News, many of the children employed in the region are migrants. Many young girls have moved to the area to be employed as domestic help and are getting abused by their employers. There are several reasons why this abuse is allowed to go on. First, which we talked about a few weeks ago, is that migrants are usually inherently disenfranchised by the fact that they are in a foreign system. Second, when the workers (the majority of which are female), they are working outside of the parameters of the legal system (child labor is technically illegal in Andhra Pradesh), which means that structured help is not easily accessible if the children or their families want them to continue working. Next, there is no specific law in place to protect the rights of domestic workers (child or adult) at this time, which means there is no help or protection if they find themselves abused.
As has been proven with child wives in Egypt (The Guardian), illegality of something does not mean it won't take place; It just means that help is not freely available if something goes wrong. According to the article, "Child marriage is common, the norm among the poor. Doctors are bribed to sign documents asserting a 14-year-old is 18 but most people don't have the money so marriages go ahead without registration. Underage girls then have children who, essentially illegal, cannot have their births registered. Without papers those children cannot attend school, encasing a whole new generation in poverty."

It is probably not realistic to assume that child labor is going to be wiped out immediately in Hyderabad (nor child marriage in Egypt). Given that information, does it make sense to continue outlawing these acts? Would it make more sense to make them legal (within certain parameters), so that there is help for people who are being mistreated, and possibly to avoid even YOUNGER people being employed or married off? Can you envision a better solution that is, at the same time realistic?

Articles referenced:
http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-11-11/hyderabad/43929125_1_labour-underaged-children-such-children
http://gulfnews.com/news/world/india/battered-india-housemaids-growing-trend-violated-rights-1.1253661
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/31/egypt-cairo-women-rights-revolution

Reply
SDS
11/16/2013 14:10

Sassen's (2007) article "The Making of International Migrants" does indeed share a link to your learning of migrant child labor in Hyderabad. I'm glad that you recognized some relevant connections in this regard . . . The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families is a legally-binding international instrument aimed at protecting migrant rights, including those of "minor children." Unfortunately, however, the implications of international law are not taken seriously at this time, as they are not universally enforced at the international level; nor are they recognized universally at the state level . . . The case of arranged/forced marriages for minor children (particularly of young gilrs) is not a unique case to Egypt (although the article referenced focused solely on this country). For example, you may be interested in reading the recent articles by Thompson (2013): http://www.thenation.com/article/177136/why-are-children-working-american-tobacco-fields# and Strauss (2013): http://www.thenation.com/article/177138/regulations-are-killed-and-kids-die# (but let's not forget that those working on behalf of media often have an agenda of their own) . . . How would you say that the social problem of the violation of the rights of children (and/or migrants) is relevant to you personally and to society overall? What steps can/have been taken in order to address these issues? What implications does "legalizing" such acts have on the rights and treatment of children and migrants (i.e., what are the advantages and disadvantages)?

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Rachel Zelaya
11/20/2013 21:09

Making it legal seems like a good idea to me because it will happen regardless, but at least if it were legal, there could be regulations made about working conditions and other factors. Also, it might give people the courage to ask for help instead of being afraid of being in jeopardy of losing their only income.

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Adwoa
11/15/2013 15:41

Poverty is a main concern to me as a social problem and it is all over the world. With the way things are it seems to be that the richer will continue to get richer and the poorer will remain poor. This is the sad trend that is continued for whatever reason and I believe the country makes enough money to reach out to the poor like with our taxes and traffic tickets. Also, instead of our money going towards prisons and jails, it could be made useful to a family who needs it. This way it would make prisoners less comfortable, jail isn't suppose to be a comforting place. This way prison rates will decrease. Killing two birds with one stone.

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SDS
11/16/2013 12:55

Your comments on poverty raise some interesting questions, particularly with regard to what exactly do you mean by "poverty," and what are you suggesting about the penal/justice system in the U.S.? If you conduct further research on the prison industrial complex, you will learn that "poverty" and "wealth" are very closely connected with the conditions and treatment of individuals who are incarcerated, and the injustices committed due to various social problems even within the confines of prison walls. Therefore, we must be cautious in using idioms such as "[k]illing two birds with one stone" that may inaccurately indicate the issue is "two-sided" . . . What is your understanding of what "poverty" is and how it's related to "justice," particularly in terms of taxation and traffic law enforcement? What are your relevant thoughts in response to the five questions for this post?

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allyn achah
11/21/2013 22:05

I agree that there seems to be a continuous trend of the rich getting richer and poor getting poor. But I would have love to hear more of your ideas on poverty

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TMerella
11/15/2013 16:23

The social issue I would like to discuss is Poverty in Bangladesh. I selected this problem because I recently did research on this topic and because I feel that the United States plays a role in the poverty experienced in Bangladesh. There are many U.S. companies with factories in Bangladesh, some of which collapsed, and caught on fire, and killed and injured many people. I believe that the role the U.S. plays in this has to do with our capitalist society. Companies put their factories there because they can get people to mass produce products for extremely cheap labor. Not only are the working conditions often times unsafe, but they’re not even willing to pay workers enough. I believe this has a great effect on poverty, families making barely any money are not able to pull themselves out of poverty, and on top of that these factories can put local business out of business. I think that Americans need to be more educated on their products and where they are made, and under what conditions. I think that if more people were aware, and cared, and stopped buying from these major companies, starting with the consumers would help the situation. These companies only thrive because they have consumer demand that they have to satisfy. I personally try to be aware of what I am buying and where it comes from.
What other ways do you think we as Americans can help?

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SDS
11/16/2013 13:57

The recent media coverage specific to labor violations in Bangladesh has clearly gained more attention globally. It is true that many companies around the world (including those from the U.S.) have been known to exploit human beings and labor restrictions in order to cut costs. In the same instance, however, there are initiatives taking place including the "ethical fashion" movement (e.g., http://www.intracen.org/exporters/ethical-fashion/ AND http://www.ethicalfashionforum.com/). Chao's (2013) article in The Guardian poses some measures that are taken/could be taken in order for companies to be held accountable and show more transparency (http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/dhaka-factory-collapse-businesses-held-responsible). Educating people about the ethical implications of their clothing is a great idea, and how would you propose doing that on a personal level? In some cases, people do not have a "choice" in what they purchase/wear due to economic constraints/barriers they face. In this case, how can awareness still be raised? Grinberg (2013) wrote an interesting piece in CNN about this very subject: http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/26/living/aj-zady-ethical-fashion/.

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Emily Blase
11/19/2013 16:44

As these are multinational companies you are talking about, I'm not sure that Americans are really in control of the situations overseas (aside from our purchasing power, as you mentioned). I think that this is an issue that should be addressed by an international agency. I would want to see better regulations on manufacturing plants overseas, as strict as they are here in America, and I would want to see people paid a living wage. I don't know that removing the presence of these plants would be the answer, as people now rely on these places for employment, but I do also think it's possible to employ people overseas (or here) in a HUMANE fashion.
I agree that education is essential towards changing people's minds and their purchasing patterns. I know that it's really easy to turn a blind eye and vaguely understand that bad things happen "over there" to keep things cheap, but knowing what those bad things are and who or what they affect has an immediate influence on which items I purchase and from whom.

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11/20/2013 16:22

I think one suggestion would be to raise awareness. Just like you mentioned that you try to be aware of what you purchase and where it comes from, more people should probably do the same. Ask companies/business you do with to ensure that no sweatshop or forced child labor is used in the manufacturing of the products they sell. The next time you go shopping for clothes, shoes, or household items, take a minute to fill out a customer comment card and ask the company to work with their suppliers to make sure that workers are paid a living wage and treated fairly. Also educate people around you, let them know that the kind of products they’re consuming could possibly be endangering a child’s life for example.

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Sharifur S
11/20/2013 20:05

Education and being informed are the key to solving this problem. Not just American consumers, but the laborers in Bangladesh. American consumers need to voice their dissatisfaction/disapproval at the American companies exploiting people, while Bengali grassroots organizations protest for higher wages and better working conditions.The media can help by keeping the spotlight on these problems and drawing people's attention to it around the world.

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Gisele
11/20/2013 22:52

The author Elizabeth Cline recently published a book about a similar topic. It's called "Overdressed", and it deals with the current culture in the United States of buying cheap, one/two-use garments and then throwing them away when they inevitably fall apart to buy more. Cline relates an anecdote at the beginning of the book that she says made her realize what a problem Americans have with disposable clothing. She was at K-Mart, and there was a sale on cheap, Keds-like sneakers. Cline bought seven pairs for a remarkably low price - around ten dollars. As she was bringing them home, she says, she noticed their toxic-smelling plastic odor, felt like a glutton for buying so many, and couldn't help but feel there was something very wrong with her purchasing habits.

After that, she visited several clothing factories in Southeast Asia and mainland China, pretending to be a buyer for clothing companies. She details the poor working conditions she found there in her book. I would argue that the United States has a twin social problem to the poverty and dangerous conditions of Asian garment workers: our habits of overconsumption and our preference for many items of cheap, shoddy clothing over a few better-made, higher-priced items. Many girls I went to high school with would buy $20 dresses from Forever 21 to wear at one party, and when the dress inevitably fell apart after one wash, they would throw it out and replace it with another. The social problems in Asia and in the United States are, of course, connected. Fashion retailers like Forever 21, Zara and H&M have risen to become fast-fashion giants, knocking off designer pieces in huge numbers every season. Of course, when these clothes quickly go out of style, more are produced to fill the void. Such companies rely strongly on exploited Bangladeshi, Thai or other Asian workers to produce their garments. The fashion market has seen an extreme stratification: high-end retailers at one end, super-cheap fast fashion giants at another. There is no middle ground anymore - supposedly, consumers are no longer willing to spend in the mid-price range, wanting only cheap throwaways or luxury items. This could change if more consumers became aware of the appalling manufacturing conditions industry-wide. Labels like Eileen Fisher have already begun to have success selling mid-price range clothing that appeals to consumers because of the company's ethical manufacturing practices.

For myself, I try to buy mostly used clothing. There are so many garments in the world already that I don't see the appeal or point of making new ones. Quality has decreased as Americans' appetite for cheap clothing has risen, so many old clothes are "built to last" and can be worn for years.

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Teddy Mesidor
11/20/2013 23:59

I think we as Americans can help by educating others about the struggles of Bangladesh. I believe it is important for people to know what others outside of America go through on a daily basis. That way more Americans will feel empathy and be motivated to help make changes.

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Sharifur S
11/15/2013 18:44

The social problem that I would like to address is child labor. I feel most of us in the developed countries only attack the fruits of the problem, when we should be attacking the roots. Child labor is an issue that exists in many forms in virtually every country more or less, including the US. Often times we do not look at the circumstances behind child labor or become desensitized to it.

Child labor is wrong in many cases and can be prevented. Developed countries can launch programs that help kids as well as their families and advertising to tackle child labor and child prostitution. The social is much harder to address in developing or poorer nations. However, the most direct solution would be to help the poorer countries economies improve in terms of efficiency and better allocation of resources. Also, increase minimum wages to the extent that parents can pay for their children's education and provide for the rest of the family to live off of. If the parents had enough money, then the children would be less likely work.

Question:
What are some other ways countries can do to eliminate or at least reduce child labor?

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Sharifur S
11/15/2013 18:53

Question to Instructor: Would you agree that by offering parents job training skills it would reduce child labor indirectly if the parents had better jobs?

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SDS
11/16/2013 14:33

You raise a great point that social problems such as child labor must be addressed at the "root(s)" of the problem, especially when in some cases, it is not considered a "problem" at all to employ minor children in paid/unpaid labor. While it is important and vital to consider the role of state governments in addressing child labor problems in their respective countries, it's also more tangible to consider what can be done at the grassroots-level to help raise awareness of this issue so the state can be informed and thus take further action. How is this social problem of child labor relevant to you and your community? What educational alternatives can be provided so that children do not have to enter the labor force at such a young age? . . . As for your question regarding offering parents/guardians job training skills as a potential remedy for curbing child labor, unfortunately, it cannot be answered so simply. There are several things to take into consideration. As in many cases, families living in rural communities often have less income than those living in urban communities, because the diversity and level of jobs is far greater in urban centers than in rural areas, which sometimes leads to those parents who are trained with particular job skills leaving their rural households to seek better opportunities in the city. This can potentially lead to more child labor, particularly if the child stays home (in the case of rural-based families). Parents/guardians may also potentially teach these same skills to their children, which might also promote child labor. It is important to educate adults and children (communities) so that their attitudes about child labor are transformed to address how the long-term detriments outweigh the short-term benefits and that the capacity, identity, and value of children is far greater than associating them with profit and/or human capital.

Ajani irish
11/20/2013 15:16

You raised a good point. I don't know how realistic this may be but a increase in minimum wage and free education would definitely help the situation. This would be an investment for the future of their economy and would help current workers trying to maintain for their families.

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Nandi
11/20/2013 17:11

Child labor is a complicated issue which cannot be solved through legislation alone. In fact forced legislation can move children out of monitor able forms of child labor into more hidden and hazardous employment such as the sex trade.
Primary school education which is free, accessible and compulsory does more than any other single factor to reduce exploitative child labor. But as individuals, what can we do to help put an end to child labor throughout the world? We can all help by taking small initiatives such as contacting our local retailers and importers and asking them about their policies on child labor. This could mean asking about the products they buy from overseas or about the use of outworkers in Australia. Do they have any checks in place which help ensure that child labor is not employed to make their products?
If you are thinking about buying a carpet, ask traders about the availability of Rug mark and Wool mark carpets. These labels mean that to the best of the manufacturer’s knowledge, child labor has not been used in the production of the carpets - there are retailers in Australia who stock the Wool mark carpets.
As consumers we should be supporting those manufacturers and brands that don’t use exploitative child labor. We can contact consumer bodies and pressure them to bring their trading practices into line with our consumer expectations. Consumer bodies can be powerful allies and can help pressure manufacturers to introduce schemes like workplace education and better employment conditions.
As consumers we have the power to tell manufacturers, traders and retailers what we expect from them. We must make it clear that using child labor, whether inside Australia or out, is not acceptable to us. These measures will help solve part of the problem - but eradicating exploitative child labor is something that must be tackled on various fronts.
If we take such actions, we should also support programs and schemes to help children who, because of our actions, will no longer be able to work in factories, mines, hotels and the like. We must be sure that these children are not merely forced onto the streets and into more exploitative forms of labor, such as prostitution. The best way to ensure such schemes are in place is through pressuring those who have the power, such as politicians, to take action.
Write to our politicians and decision-makers encouraging them to establish a Code of Conduct regarding labor practices for Australian companies operating overseas. Initiatives taken by Levi Strauss and other such companies have shown that such Codes can have a powerful impact. Urge our government to provide more effective, poverty focused aid which targets such things as education. Encourage them to become more involved in funding projects which aim at eradicating the exploitation of children.
Sources; http://www.iearn.org.au/clp/archive/resource.htm

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TMerella
11/20/2013 21:31

I think a great way to start is with increases in the wages of adult workers,increases in the funding of education specifically in poor areas, and not charging children fees to attend school. I think that both of these things would help because children who live in household's where all the adults are working and still are not above the poverty line are more likely to work as mentioned in the article on Child Labor in Bangladesh. And it was also mentioned that a lot of poor children do not attend school because they're parents cannot afford the fees.

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Allyn Achah
11/21/2013 22:10

I think one way that countries can reduce child labor is by increasing wages in jobs so that the parents can provide for their children. They would not have to depend so much on their children to bring in an extra income. Secondly. making education affordable I believe is another way to reduce child labor

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Tarmru Demsash
11/15/2013 19:26

As someone who was born in on of the poorest countries of Ethiopia, who grew up in one of the wealthiest parts of Europe (Germany), and who has extensively traveled around Europe, the topic of poverty, or let me better say the existence of poverty had always bothered me throughout my life. I also believe that most of us here will have to deal with poverty in one way or another. This can be because we know someone who is poor, and we are helping him/her out or simply because we see it every day on TV. Although we would like to think that poverty happens only in the so called third world countries, it is shocking to realize that poverty is real even here in the United States. As indicated by the US Census Bureau (USCB) there were 1,872,020 people in the US living in poverty – that is nearly 12% of the American population. Poverty affects every state and there is no county in the country that doesn’t have some poverty living within it. In other words all of us could be affected by this wave of destructive poverty. The scale of poverty is enormous and we seem to be powerless to stop it. However, I believe there are many ways to drastically reduce or even eliminate poverty in the long run. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Therefore, I contribute to the reduction of poverty through my organization that I founded with my father in Germany. With this organization, we help children in Ethiopia to pursue their Education. After they have graduated, we make sure that THEY support their brothers and sister in getting the education they need. By doing so, we make sure that entire families will have a better future because if there is one family member who has a formal education, he/she will pass it down to his/her sister. I also think that each of us have individual abilities which we can use to fight poverty. Finally, I believe in the long run, education can be a powerful weapon of suffocating poverty.

Questions to classmates and instructor

Thomas Hobbes, one of the most well known philosophers of all time proposed that humans have one and only one fundamental motivation. While people may appear to be concerned about others, Hobbes argues, the deep, unconscious motivation of all human actions is self-interest. Therefore, do you believe that the root of poverty is self interest? Would poverty disappear if we
were less self interested creatures?

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SDS
11/17/2013 12:56

Thank you for sharing your reflections on your personal experiences, observations, and response to issues of poverty. It sounds like the organization you and your father run has great intentions and is hopefully, addressing problems at the community/grassroots level . . . It is true that poverty is evident in the U.S., but what are the indirect ways in which you are affected by its reality, its existence? . . . How does granting children access to education liberate them from poverty? I would be interested in learning the deeper aspects of your proposed solution/action to address this social problem . . . Also, in reference to your question, clearly, social problems exist because of the divisive attitudes and behaviors of a few individuals at the expense of ALL (albeit at times unintentional), but Hobbes' argument of human beings' deeply-rooted self-interest being inherent and your question about poverty and self-interest are not directly linked here . . . How would you connect Hobbes' premise to poverty and to resolving poverty if the characteristic of self-interest is part of the very "nature" of humankind?

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Tamru
11/17/2013 20:20

Thank you for your comments and questions Prof. Sattarzadeh.
You really raise some very interesting questions. To begin with, I personally do not believe that poverty is inevitable. If I would, I would not have started the organization in Germany. The reason that I came up with Hobbes philosophy is because ever since I read some of his work, it extremely bothered me. He does not talk about some individuals, but about the majority if not all of the human race. How can such a “bright” person come up with such a cold-hearted theory? Unfortunately, it is not the right class to discuss it here. However, I am trying to deliver the message that if we would act a little bit less self-centered, chances are that all of us can make a difference and fight poverty. More importantly, asking this question, I believe, makes one rethink his/her attitude towards poverty. Maybe one will get frustrated about Hobbes theory and start taking actions to show that he/she is not selfish. As to you other question regarding my organization, you are right. At the first sight it seems as if we are not really helping them to overcome poverty immediately. Don’t give me wrong, there are organizations who do that, but we are planning for the long run. In Ethiopia, agriculture is still the major source of income. So, many of those who we support are out there and farming. This means they will be at least able to eat 2 or 3 meals a day. But this individuals are still living under extreme conditions and they are still very, very poor. By helping them going through their education, we make sure that trained and educated individuals give back to their family and getting them out of their extreme conditions. It is a system that has worked extremely well ever since we had this organization. Tradition plays a huge role here. We have been raised to give back to our families. Therefore, each individual whom we helped to get a good education has helped his entire family to dream big and to have more than just a small portion of food that they rely on. Who knows what could have happened to these families if some of their family members were not educated. Lastly, by indirect effect, I mean that many of us know someone who is really poor. Maybe it is a close relevant, or a friend etc. So, we may not be poor yet, but by helping those around us who are poor, we can slide into or under the poverty line. This is for me an indirect effect of poverty.
Thanks,
Tamru

Mamyi F
11/20/2013 23:57

I don't think that legalizing child labor will help the situation because these kid will still be exploited and abused.children should not be working tedious jobs at such a young age they should be at school learning how to read.If these families can manage to send there kids to school then maybe they can brake the cycle.They should promote education for children rather than child labor. The government needs to become more aggressive with there laws so that things like child labor can be stopped .

Reply
11/15/2013 20:45

Teen violence is a reoccurring social fragmentation in our society. Many innocent children are in perilous environments filled with violent teenagers who are associated with charismatic gang leaders. Violent acts amongst teens usually happen in povertized neighborhoods and is vital to the decision making of other teenagers. Some teens may join a gang from fear of being at risk, or to find comfort in having a second family that will not fall apart. I feel sorry for young teenagers who truly believe they have no other choice but to join a gang for safety or comfort. Young people are the future of our society and some either die from homicide or live in fear for the rest of their lives. One way to potentially solve this tragic social problem is to have role models such as Professional Athletes or Musicians bring good vibes to struggling neighborhoods where teen violence is common. Also, I believe role models who personally reach out to problematic teenagers will ignite them in hopes of a better future.


Question: What ways can people further prevent teen violence in schools or neighborhoods?

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Dakota Ayers
11/15/2013 22:55

Youth violence (Bullying in particular)
It all starts at home with attentive parenting and acknowledging behaviors and attitudes that may lead to violent behavior. Encouraging equality and promoting collective values that will diminish social stigmas and promote positivity.
Teachers as well as parents must help to channel youths insecurities and address those issues in a way that will help the child to develop higher self-esteem thus preventing the need to lash out.

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kenny
11/20/2013 10:53

I agree with your statement “It all starts at home with attentive parenting and acknowledging behaviors” I saw on the local news that poor parenting style linked is linked to bulling. The effects of these types of poor parenting were stronger among children who were bullied and also bullied others (bully-victims) than among those who were bullied but did not bully others.

SDS
11/17/2013 14:40

You raise an issue that is a deeply-rooted problem in many parts of the globe, particularly as it relates to gang violence, which will be discussed in more depth the following week. Kramer's (2000) article "Poverty, Inequality, and Youth Violence" addresses several causal and correlational indicators that foster violent attitudes and behaviors among youth, and a lot has to do with socialization within the household and/or community. The developmental phase of adolescence, which is often portrayed as the "awkward" or ambiguous stage of a young person's life, can also potentially create opportune sensitization to vulnerability of heightened peer/gang socialization . . . What can you do/suggest can be done at the individual level to help address this problem of youth violence, (particularly since statistics across race, class, and gender lines are highly disparate)? . . . Having role models such as professional athletes and/or musicians can be positive, but they can also be detrimental (consider how this might be the case) . . . What kind of role models are you referring to, and what would they need to do in order to offer youth long-term alternatives to entering a life motivated by and resulting in acts of violence?

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Sharifur S
11/20/2013 20:10

The most basic way to deal with or reduce teen violence would be to start at the home. More family programs, less working hours for parents so they spend time at home with their children like in the old days. A strong family and support system would be a way to offset this issue. Parents can also tell their kids to hang good company, instead of bad company. They need to be aware of who their children's friends are. Parent's can also become their kids friend and play with them.

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TMerella
11/20/2013 21:42

I think that the people within a community that experiences a lot of violence can come together to create community programs for their youth, I know there are already some in place, but I think the more the better. I believe that the community can be one of the most important factors in reducing violence, if people collectively come together and decided enough is enough, find ways within their communities that will appeal to their youth, I think that they could reach these teens because they will probably have a better understanding of them than someone on the outside who has never has to live in that type of environment. And I do think entertainers should take a better initiative at being positive role models because they can argue all they want about their not trying to be a role model to youth, but at the end of the day they have a major influence on the youth today.

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Gisele
11/20/2013 22:26

Recently I remember hearing in news media about top black students who lived in dangerous city neighborhoods in Chicago. These students were not the norm for young people trapped in inner-city poverty and violence - they were closer to the "talented tenth" W.E.B. DuBois described in his vision for the equality of African-Americans. The students were single-minded in their goal: to earn scholarships to universities, often prestigious ones, and escape the trap of inner-city impoverishment.

Their methods for obtaining academic excellence were extreme, to say the least. First, these students avoided all social contact within their schools. They did not make friends with anybody - not even fellow "overachievers". Instead, they attempted to be social non-entities, attracting no one's attention. They did not walk home from school - they got a ride, or if desperate, arranged for a teacher to drive them home. They did not leave their houses except to go to school; on weekends, they remained entirely indoors, not wanting to create even one chance of interacting with another young person in their neighborhood who might draw them into violent social circles. They focused intensely on their studies, and once they gained their scholarships, they did not return to their old neighborhoods.

While their achievements are admirable, the extremities these dedicated students went to to avoid their peers and escape their neighborhoods shows the depth and insidiousness of bad social influences in poor neighborhoods. The fact that the best minds from these neighborhoods sought to escape and never look back brings home the destitute nature of their former surroundings; no one with other options would choose to live in these places, and no one who had gone on to success was willing to come back and help those still mired in poverty in these crime-ridden neighborhoods. This story illustrates the extreme divides in America between poverty and wealth, and the way an impoverished upbringing can bar students from obtaining the educations they need to improve their communities. The disadvantages experienced by the individual radiate outward to damage the community.

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Nandi
11/20/2013 22:44

Even though many factors go into stopping youth violence and schools and neighborhoods, I believe that the two most important parties are still parents and teachers. Parents must not only continue to have open conversation with their kids but also be actively present. Every child needs a strong, loving, relationship with a parent or other adult to feel safe and secure and to develop a sense of trust. Behavior problems and delinquency are less likely to develop in children whose parents are involved in their lives, especially at an early age. Teachers should provide Classes on conflict resolution – This certain kind of class will provide students with the correct knowledge on how they can solve any conflict without the use of violence

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TyGrayWes
11/20/2013 23:08

I feel teens in those situations are affected by their situation and surroundings, and that’s all they know. This world is so much bigger than us and a lot of people in the hood going through those situations are distracted by their surrounds to realize it’s not an accident, why you are in the hood. Teach them the right knowledge, there history in order for them to realize what is going on in this world we live in and how the USA was really built. Teach them their real history the stuff missing in "white text books”. So it will make them angry and want to do something about it and inspire them to want way more for themselves. Schools should promote teaching these teens the real role models like Malcolm X and what he truly stood for. Education knowledge and the right knowledge is the only thing that can get each and every one of us out of our situation and working together as groups as a people as a minority and even as humans to change the world we live in, starting with the government. I'm beginning to learn and the more I learn, the angrier I get and want to change my situation and my future family situation. I'm from the hood and feel through education and knowledge anyone can get out. I honestly did not see myself being the man I am today and I continue to grow by being positive working on myself and educating myself. Force yourself out the box we have been placed in for all these years.

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Manyi F
11/20/2013 23:47

It is kind of interesting that you brought this topic up because there are many factor's why some teenagers turn to a life of danger. To answer your question teen violence is something that Schools , the media and even the household should address.Teacher have the responsibility to tell the student that living a life of violence is not a good one and that there are alternatives.Parents should also influence their children to stay out of violence.Teach them some values and tell them whats wrong from right.

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Manyi F
11/21/2013 09:02

It is kind of interesting that you brought this topic up because there are many factor's why some teenagers turn to a life of danger. To answer your question teen violence is something that Schools , the media and even the household should address. We need to show these teens that there other alternative.es not just violence. Now a day a lot of people are being bullied and some people are being bullied to the point where they are lead into suicide.I

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Urabn_Mason
11/15/2013 21:05

The war that waged in my country for a little more than a decade has severely changed the dynamics of class in Sierra Leone. Being born in such a beautiful place and not being able to return after more than ten years of war has really changed my perspective on life. A social problem that exists there is the fact that many people there don't know how to "get on", as the English would say. Still rich with culture and tribalism, Sierra Leone has come a long way in advancing itself after a decade long war. The country has outlawed guns, and has ensured that every election is legitimate. What has remained and been left to fester after this war besides corruption is the fact that there is no balance between the poor and the wealthy, the gap is non-existent. There's the rich and then the poor, the poor cater to those who have money and the rich ensure they can keep exploiting those who have nothing. Being born in a resource rich country has opened my eyes, i am a conservative and Laissez Faire conservative in America, but my country needs more. This system of debt and interest is killing my people and my land. Neo-colonialism is hard at work, developed nations are taking advantage of those countries who are not in tune with their fallacies; that which are promoted as strengths. As Gaddafi has fought for, the continent of Africa must unite, and create its own currency separate of the western world. It must also learn to mine and hold its own resources and create its own central bank; now with such understanding comes the responsibility of understanding that with great wealth that is going to grow and not become incurred interest, means that funds need to be allocated where they need be: education and healthcare.


Questions to Class Mates:

America is only some 200 years old, do you really feel that it should be the empire that it is?

Question to my professor:

You are definitely adamant about creating change in young minds and in communities, as well as broader. Do you think America must violate its own constitution and keep running down the road of a socialist gov't?

Reply
SDS
11/17/2013 16:42

The full history and context of the civil war that marred Sierra Leone for 11 years is often disregarded and misunderstood. Aside from the underlying, varied political agendas of a select few, social and economic motivations (e.g., army/rebel recruitment of refugees (primarily children), corruption within the mining industry, etc.) also played a primary role, yielding a complex web of interconnected and interdependent social problems . . . The current status of African Union agendas is also highly complex and polarized. Can you please clarify how a united African continent can help address the past and current ills it is currently facing? It is true that Gaddafi publicly promoted a unified, self-sustaining Africa, but it is also important that we recognize other implications of why he endorsed such a notion. Was it to benefit the continent and its inhabitants? Perhaps there there are more angles that require further analyses . . . For instance, what might people imply by suggesting a "unified" or "united" continent, country, etc. when such terms often tend to be based on contentious, contradictory, and fragmented ideas at the expense (and security) of the greater whole? The African Union was preceded by the Organization of African Unity. Unity doesn't only have to be implied; it can become reality; but its motivations must reach beyond the notion to "unite" against another force (i.e., "Western imperialism"), focusing on the well-being and advancement of those within, rather than exerting a false notion of collective energy externally. Perhaps, in this way, the meaning of "empire" can be transformed . . . With regard to your question about promoting change within individuals and communities, I only advocate and promote change that serves the long-term best interests of individuals, and as far as the U.S. Constitution goes, unfortunately, even the "good intentions" behind it have already been violated. Inequalities and injustices are often found to be systematic, meaning at the level of institutions, including those at the state-level. Ideological terminology such as "socialist" or "Marxist," therefore, were simply invented and labeled in response to propose alternatives, but this does not mean they are any different, better or worse . . . This case is not unique to the U.S., however, and it's also evident in the language and content of international law treaties. While the intentions behind drafting laws and policies may promote the security and well-being of those concerned, the manner in which such language/content is interpreted and implemented is often where the disconnectedness and discrepancies (and therefore, the problems) lie.

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Gema
11/15/2013 21:06

There is an undeniable correlation between inequality, poverty, social exclusion, and youth violence, just as Ronald C. Kramer states in his article Poverty, Inequality and Youth Violence (our reading for 11/12/13). A child, from an early age is aware of his or her family's financial position (or status), whether that be a wealthy family or a less financially beneficial family. For a child who's family struggles financially the child is astute to the hardships and situations going on by where they live, what they can afford etc. The gap between the rich and poor that Kramer speaks of is unfortunately evident and a factor in children's school settings. In school years the child experiences the "cliques" or group of individuals you "chill" or associate with. Children in school can be cruel to others who aren't "cool" enough to their standards, maybe the kid not wearing the trendy/expensive/popular item or carrying around the latest electronic invention or phone. The children who are experiencing exclusion, teasing, or bullying most times don't know how to handle standing up for themselves and eventually may resort to the same violence and lashing out, and it is true as Kramer mentions in his article on page 128, that because the parents are too busy focusing on money, there is a lack of proper focus on monitoring and rearing their children. Not only is this leading to violence, but it also affects the self-esteem, confidence, and maybe also the motivation for youth, leading to other issues such as suicide. This is a serious social problem because as is apparent, the issue of poverty or focus on money is leading to youth experiencing inequality from their peers which is furthermore leading to violence. The gap between the wealthy and poor seems to be getting bigger and this cycle leading to violence will just continue. As a parent I worry about my daughter experiencing violence towards herself, and/or of her perpetuating violence as she grows up and enters her grade school years. All society, parents, guardians, adults in the education system etc, should worry and focus on this issue as it will somehow affect their children or a child they care about at some point one way or another, and will likely continue this cycle for generations to come. It is important to monitor your children, teach them to respect others as human beings and equals that we all are regardless of economic status. It's hard for youth to stand up to their values when peer pressure, insecurities, and lack of support is involved, but I strongly feel that a parent's (role-model) words will always resonate in a child. I think that something that I could do to try and help with the problem of violence is to be involved, even if my life only allows a minimum effort, that is still better than no effort at all, make sure that the school system is supporting and promoting non-violence in schools and that there is an open line of communication with the families.

Question:

What is more important to help lower the violence rates in schools in the U.S., a better socioeconomic status or more focus by adults (parents) on child rearing, or are both equally important?

Kramer, R. C. (2000). Poverty, Inequality, and Youth Violence.

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SDS
11/17/2013 19:09

You present an interesting analysis of Kramer's (2000) article, especially relating to the potential correlation between parental responsibilities and other external socializing factors on the development of young people. It is true that conditions of poverty can detrimentally affect the stability of the household and how those within it interact with the conditions outside of it as well. Therefore, your question poses an interconnected dilemma that needs to be addressed, How can we address poverty, while also preventing youth violence? Ideally, a collaborative effort among all stakeholders would be most effective, whereby community members/neighbors, families, local/municipal governments, and educational institutions could develop programs that would be more holistic in nature. However, what initiatives could be taken within your own household? . . . and what about your neighborhood/local community? . . . The more practical steps we can take, the more favorable and feasible the idea of solutions becomes . . . How would you personally answer the question you posed?

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Emily Blase
11/19/2013 16:07

I think that the task falls on the parents to keep their child away from media. I know that for me growing up, my parents did their best to instill a strong sense of self-confidence within me, and also wouldn't buy me designer items that I had not earned myself. I'm assuming they didn't want me to derive my self-worth from materialistic goods, especially if I wasn't working for them. Looking back, I'm grateful for that, but when I was younger I constantly felt like I was "less-than" because I didn't have the hottest clothes from limited too and/or abercrombie. I also realized, while thinking back to my younger years, that I was never teased for my lack of designer goods, but I felt like I wasn't worthy to hang out with the "cool" kids who did have those items, and I was wondering WHERE I got those ideas from. I didn't feel less than for not wearing Ralph Lauren when I was 5, so why did it matter when I was 15? I wasn't given those ideas by my classmates, and I wasn't given those ideas by my parents. I think that some of that derivation of worth based on material goods came from the media. Seventeen, Allure, TV ads etc. all promote (expressly or not) that a happier lifestyle comes from designer goods.
I'm not sure how my parents could have shielded me from the media, as magazines were usually items I got on my own, and seeing commercials on TV is inevitable (though they did limit my TV usage). I think a lot of the realization that happiness and feeling whole must come from within was an idea that I have been gaining over time, though it certainly would have been helpful to understand in High School! I don't think that a better socioeconomic status in my case would have made the HS experience any easier, and even if that were true, not everybody can be at an above-average socioeconomic level, though (as Schor notes) that is the one promoted to us from all angles.
I think removing ourselves and our children as much as possible from the media-constructed image of how to achieve happiness and going to earn it for ourselves is a big help. The further we get into this class, the more it seems media is contributing to many of our social problems. From my own experience, it seems that media wants to tell us how to be happy, yet often the only ones who end up getting the good end of that deal are those turning a profit.
I think that response was a little all over the place, but there are so many contributing factors for this issue, and I know I barely scratched the surface, but I wanted to at least touch on a few. :)

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Sharifur S
11/20/2013 20:18

Lot's of issue are raised here, but I think its our culture and standardized way of living that is the real issue. Our consumer culture in the United States propels us to buy the newest gadgets or follow the latest fashion in order to stay modern. This liquid modernity is ever changing, and as a society our identity is inconsistent. In the US, we live in a high paced society with long work hours and the insatiable thirst for success. Pushing ourselves and others to compete time and again for virtually everything. A balance is needed between good parenting, work, and life.

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TyGrayWes
11/15/2013 21:25

Poverty is a social issue that also results to many socially undesirable outcomes, like Michael Yates states, "compounding the unlikelihood of eliminating poverty is the fact that inequality in and of itself generates many socially undesirable outcomes." I selected this issue because I thought about our discussion on the reading about Child Labor in Bangladesh, and thought about my own experience being born in Liberia and running to the USA during a civil war at the age of 2 yrs old. We lived in poverty but it wasn't as bad for my family because my grandmother was a nurse and my grandfather I think was a farmer and did other things. My great grand or great great grand were slaves, the Wright family. We were placed in a lot of life treating situations by soldiers. I thought what if my life turned out different, my uncles who were young than, were being forced to join the army and be a soldier to fight in the war or whatever. My cousin followed some soldier friends and joined and left us and went to Germany. What if I was forced to join the army and fight in the war or forced in child labor by my family to help out. Poverty places children in so many different situations. Children placed in war, violence crime and drugs, child labor, child trafficking, and poverty leads to other outcomes. Poverty affects us in some different ways in the United States. But thinking about the clothes and shoes we wear, and other things made in other countries. Children could be making them and they are working in bad situations and being treated like no human being should be treated like. So in a way it affects us and we should be educated in situations like this in other countries and try to help. It affects us whether we acknowledge it or not. We can't just fight to stop these sweatshops because that's those families’ only sources of income. In some of those families everyone needs to work to help the family. Children are the last economic resource of the household. I think survivors from those countries should come to the USA and go to college and bring businesses to their country. They should get scholarships if they get good grades and have a business plan they can add to their majors. The government should give a temporary visa to those students and supply them with resource and funds to start business in their country. We as students can help those students with different projects and support them as much as we can. US companies who have children and people living in poverty working for them, all the money they make, the government should force them to pay the workers a minimum wage of $7-$10 dollars. That money can help those families and those countries build them out of poverty. For the small business that deal with cellphones or whatever, make them hire more of their people, and give them more funding’s for doing so. Make them pay their workers the same minimum wage. I think that will help some, unlike some US companies that try to help but end up using those kids and families more. They ignore the source of the problem, capitalism making money of the poor the workers.
In what way do you think we can help those countries? Do you think helping them help themselves is the key to decreasing the poverty level?

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SDS
11/17/2013 20:05

So many different issues are raised here, so it seems that the best option would be to either focus on only one of them or to start at the very core, where the foundation of the problem could be addressed which subsequently leads to so several other problems . . . On another matter, your personal recollections of family memories from the Liberian civil war must also make the experience much more real for you. Unfortunately, among the thousands of refugees from that civil war a high proportion ended up being exploited as child soldiers (as you already mentioned), particularly for the civil war that ensued in Sierra Leone. In times of instability and conflict, there is no reliable infrastructure, which further marginalizes the most vulnerable populations. However, is poverty the sole underlying social problem in this situation? If so, how so? If not, what are potential social problem(s) may lead to the exploitation of minor children in war and labor spheres? . . . We must be cautious to suggest that sweatshops or child labor cannot be avoided if times call for "desperate measures," There is a culture of ignorance that yields such inequalities and injustices, but how can it be addressed, without oversimplifying the root of the problem(s) and the remedies to address it/them? Are you suggesting that child labor, such as in Salmon's (2005) quantitative study on Bangladesh, is a socialized norm where cases of poverty prevail, and if so, what evidence is available to make such a claim?

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Melissa
11/15/2013 21:44

Poverty is such a huge social problem due to the fact that we see various cases throughout our daily lives. There is not one person you can honestly say they have not come across a homeless person begging for money. This affects me personally in a weird way because when it comes to these types of situations my first thought is handing over what ever change I have and just keep it moving. I realized that this only calms my conscious but what good does it really do to them. The huge social problem is that people that have the good opportunities do not always seem to give that helping hand. How is it that we help people with egos, or simply are ashamed? These people are just like anyone else the only difference is that in whatever cases opportunities were not taking correctly and life has struck them in a harsh way. Steps that can be taking to approach this social problem is by being educated on how to necessarily approach these types on situations we tend to come across. After we are informed actually put our knowledge in to action to better society.

How can you be sure that by handing over money to a homeless person would really do them any good?

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Dakota Ayers
11/16/2013 01:40

Personally I believe panhandling (handing money out to the homeless) is pointless. I don't think handing money to the homeless is useful at all. I feel like we should attack the problem at a macro-level by creating full-time, consistent jobs for people. One way of doing this may be to reduce the amount of outsourcing done by factories, companies, and corporations.

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SDS
11/17/2013 20:48

Poverty is a broad social problem, and homelessness is a more specific social problem which may or may not be associated with poverty. If the focus of this discussion is regarding interactions with individuals who beg/panhandle, then how do you personally choose to respond in such cases when someone is soliciting food and/or money from you? How does your response reflect in your understanding of the social problem that leads to such a common social practice to exist? In an interesting article, "Homeless Are Fighting Back Against Panhandling Bans," Frosch (2012) writes about the various perspectives and responses to restrictions and bans that several states and municipalities have enforced on panhandling practices . . . Your question implies that all individuals who panhandle are homeless, but this is actually a common (though inaccurate) perception (Scott, 2002; Saunders & Zoladz, 2013; Vinson, 2013). Saunders and Zoladz's (2013) study revealed that, on average, "panhandlers" make $20 per hour, and many do it because it's a highly effective alternative for them . . . So taking your question back one step further, how can positively reinforcing the act of panhandling contribute to addressing a social problem (i.e., would you consider panhandling a social problem)? . . . and if we were to retract even further, what social problems lead to panhandling? Homelessness is a social problem in itself, but it, too, is connected to other social problems (i.e., mental health, family abandonment/estrangement, poverty, etc.), and it's even further complicated across age and gender lines. So how would you re-frame all this before posing such a question?

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TyGrayWes
11/20/2013 22:59

You can’t be sure, and I understand people sometimes do so to help and don’t have time to really help because they have their own problems and feel bad. One day I was at work, in DuPont circle and these white girls were talking to this homeless guy, and asking him questions about his situation. I don't remember the questions but it was not anything too personal like how he became homeless. It seem like they were asking for a project or something. I was wondering what their purpose was. What if next time you see a homeless person and have some time, ask him or her there story. How they became homeless and what went wrong. Ask him or her where they would like to be in the next 5 years and go from there to see how you can help their situation in the long run. Show that you really care.

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Manyi F
11/15/2013 21:46

One social problem I would like to talk about is child soldiers in Africa. In countries like central republic of Africa, Congo, Sierra Leone, Uganda thousands of children are captured and forced to become soldiers. Some children join driven by poverty and the hope of a regular meal and shelter. Many of these children are under the age of 18. There as much as 300,000 child soldiers in the world today (NY times). It is thought that 40% of child soldiers are girls.While these children are soldiers they are brainwashed, drugged and forced to kill. When these children show any sign of weakness and emotion they are brutally dealt with. Some of these children are told that eating the bodies of their victim will make them stronger. Little girls are use as sex slaves and wives. Little action is being done to help stop the recruitment of child soldiers. These small children are being robbed of their innocence and youth. I think more aggressive measures should be taken to stop this kind of practice. Not only are there child soldiers in Africa but also in other continents like South America and Asia. Right now Organizations like UNICEFF and the UN Are taking action to try to resolve the conflict. These children need to be rescued and given back their youth. One child soldier is one child too many.
Question #1
How and why are children used as soldiers?
Question #2
What other actions do you think need be taken in order to solve this issue?

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SDS
11/18/2013 09:23

The social problem of child soldiers has clearly become globalized and transnational, blurring geographical boundaries as well as legislative language intent on ensuring and protecting human rights. Given the introduction you have presented on child soldiers, I would be interested in learning how you would personally respond to questions 3 and 4 regarding this particular social problem. How are these issues relevant to you and to the society in which you live? What actions do you think should be taken in order to address this social problem? . . . Hopefully, in addressing these, the question you pose to the rest of us can yield practical, insightful responses. The current questions posed force us all to adopt a posture of distancing ourselves from the problem as they may appear to be too broad and oversimplified to answer practically, but if you could share more about your personal connection with the implications of the militarization of children and its probable causes, then a richer discussion may result . . . Thank you for igniting this opportunity for further exploration . . .

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kenny
11/15/2013 22:36

the social problem I want to address is poverty here at home in the united states. I chose to focus on the united states because our country is seen as the most wealthiest place in the world. but we forget that More than 100 million Americans—1 in 3 of us—live in or near poverty, struggling every day. This social problem/issue is relevant to us students and to society because for many off-campus college students living on their own and not living with relatives, the poverty rate is 51.8 percent and 14 percent for your average 9-5 low wage workers. Actions that could be taken by a student to personally address this social problem/issue we could support President Obama bill to raise the minimum wage. Raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 would give working families, students and the overall economy, a much-needed boost.

1.Why is there so much economic hardship in a country as wealthy as the U.S.?
2. How is poverty measured in the United States?

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SDS
11/18/2013 09:54

Poverty is indeed a problem in the U.S. and because this country is so economically advanced, the socioeconomic disparities among the national population are vastly evident. Issues of students and their housing options and low-paying jobs and minimum wage is also raised here . . . I would be interested in learning what your understanding is of the link between poverty in the U.S., minimum wage, and students living on their own. How are these these three connected and related to each other . . . Furthermore, how would you answer your own questions? How IS poverty measured in the U.S., and what is your understanding of what such measuring schemes suggest/imply about how poverty "looks"?

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11/15/2013 23:48

According to the US Census, 1 in 6 Americans live under the poverty line, which is much higher than the official rate. Due to work related expenses and out-of-pocket health costs, the number of poor people in America is 3 million higher than the official count.
This particular social problem was selected because I don't agree with continuous years of poverty in America, if we are the richest country in the world there should be enough food, water, essentials to live. Humans are the only beings on Earth who have to pay to live. This is something I don't understand. There has to be a way to help the poverty increase and incorporate factors like living expenses as well as healthcare expenses.

"This is a real incongruity, when 1 in 6 people face economic insecurity here in the richest country in the world," said Joseph Stiglitz, a Columbia University economist and former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers who has argued for more government action to alleviate income inequality."
Encouraging families to get food stamps and reasonable health care would be a way to start helping.

What new innovative measures can be taken to decrease the poverty lines?

How can we as youth start today and make a difference?

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SDS
11/18/2013 10:29

I would be interested in understanding what you mean by not "agree[ing] with continuous years of poverty." Based on the statistics you have shared, what does "poverty" mean to you and why is it a problem? How can promoting food stamp usage and "reasonable health care" solve the problem of poverty? In some cases, food stamp use is frowned upon because it can foster habits of dependency and/or abuse and possibly perpetuate economic hardship. In other instances, however, it has served as a temporary measure in assisting people become independent and self-reliant, moving beyond the need for social welfare assistance. Some of the examples provide reveal that poverty yields inequality, just as you referenced with the Stiglitz quote. In his book, The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future, Stiglitz (2012) also argues that the U.S. has the highest rate of inequality among all the "advanced nations" of the world. What are the root causes of such inequalities? Is it poverty? How would you respond to your own questions? . . . What steps could you take at the individual level? . . .

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Jen B.
11/20/2013 20:16

I believe narrowing the gap of wealth is the first step in decreasing poverty, but in order to accomplish that we must first do many things. For instance, creating more jobs and getting individuals not to rely on welfare is one. Another measure, which is the most important in my opinion is the right to a good education no matter where you live. In the US if you live in a impoverished area the education you receive will be poor as well. Also, there are many broken families, which leads to single parent households. Children raised by single parents are not as successful in school and in their personal lives as children who are raised by both parents according to many surveys conducted by the government (NIH/CDC). There are many men incarcerated in jail with harsh penalties for minor crimes that come from poor neighborhoods. I believe if the judicial system can alleviate a bit these harsh sentencing, it would allow for fathers to return to their families to provide not only financially but emotionally. Believe it or not it is a proven fact that the US has the harshest penalties in the world for crimes.

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Rachel Zelaya
11/20/2013 21:19

The first thing we have to do is decrease the gap between the rich and the poor. People at the top of companies are getting paid more and more as years go on while their workers are getting paid minimum wage. The government should raise the minimum wage limit, someone living off minimum wage cannot afford the cost of living yet it is okay for companies making billions of dollars to pay people $8.25 an hour

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IfiyaR
11/20/2013 22:12

One of the ways that can help decrease the poverty lines would be to have more education programs that are available to all. Decrease spending on military so that the government could help fund edu.programs.Yes education can be expensive but its and investment for the greater good. It would also help with war/violence for people. Some people just have to make do with what they have and that is ok but to expand on what you have to have alleviate for your self and communal is a good way. As youth we can bridge the gap and be available for resources an outlet to those who dont know how to find a way. Each one teach one!

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TyGrayWes
11/20/2013 23:16

I think making the government increase minimum wage in these non-careers and trade job would be a start. Cutting college tuition could help also, less students and families would not be in debt just trying to put their children or selves into college. Let every student pay in-state tuition and in county tuition. Cut out the entire fee for transportation and living on campus, when you drive or take the bus to school and live with your parents. Make healthcare available to everyone for free or low prices from your job or through small insurance companies. As student if we come together and do more to fight these issues and all who can vote, vote towards these issues or for candidates that think these issues are important, we can make a difference.

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ManyiF
11/20/2013 23:29

I agree with poverty's a serious issue in the united states today. especially since were considered one of the wealthiest countries in the world but our poverty lines so high. I think that there is many thing that we can do to decrease the poverty line ,would be to educate more people. Whether its is going to a university or a trade school, Education is very important .Another option would be to raise minimum wage from 7.25 to 8.25 or even higher. Some people cant even afford to support themselves on minimum wage and some are the jobs that they are working are very tedious. Some of theses people are taken advantage of and exploited . There are many options we can throw out there on how this issue could be solved.

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IfiyaR
11/15/2013 23:59

Money is power? Without a doubt i would never regret spending any on education or bettering my health. Better yet but why? Acording to the Federal Reserve Board, average loan of up to 24,310 and over 60% of most college student borrow money. Knowledeg that im paying for better be even powerful because the cost of education is putting many parents and student in society in alot of debt. But the prevalent to many teacher as well to continue to gain knowledge in what ever they seek for. the credit score begin to get a nice time going up in down by trying to keep things afloot and positive. This issue puts alot of people in financial stress which could lead to alot of other health issues that you gotta pay.
Question:
Is it common for the debt to be so high in 60% of every prevalent student ,if so how can the system decrease poverty if education and health is number one?
wise

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SDS
11/18/2013 11:31

Your post reminds me of two simple, yet resonating quotes—one of former Harvard University president and current professor Derek Bok: "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance" and the other from Interim Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools Erroll B. Davis, Jr.: "If you think investing in education is expensive, consider the cost of not investing." Although, your comments are specific to formal education, and perhaps Bok's and Davis' references are as well, there is still the implication that there is some value and/or benefit that comes out of investing in education (formal/non-formal). However, the benefits are not only material or monetary, as a strong correlation has been found to exist between education and social benefits (i.e., reduction in violence and crime, protection of human rights, healthy livelihoods, etc.) . . . If "[m]oney is power," what does this suggest about your understanding of money AND power, and how is this relevant to education? . . . and why does education/acquisition of knowledge have to be "even [more] powerful" if one is paying for it? . . . What is the social problem that you are addressing here? Is it in reference to student debt? If so, how is student debt a social problem? I would appreciate learning more about your analyses of student debt and how this issue is also relevant to you and the greater society? What if access to higher education was free? How would things change? . . . In response to your question, is it that 60% of people have college loans or 60% are in debt, and what is the relationship between this issue and poverty?

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TMerella
11/20/2013 21:48

Personally I think the cost of education needs to be greatly reduced, college tuition is almost as much as purchasing a home in some cases. And I think that there are a good amount of students who have to get student loans, and the unfortunate part is that a lot of times people don't just jump into their career after college and when you end school payment on loans starts. So I think that this can cause people to not be able to afford to pay their loans, and it gets worse with the interest incurred.

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Gisele
11/16/2013 00:02

One social problem connected to issues of poverty and wealth in the United States is the administration of the health care law under Barack Obama. Currently, the early stages of the health care overhaul are in effect, but the full range of policies has yet to be put into practice because of squabbling between Republicans and Democrats in Congress. The interparty squabbling does not reflect reality in this case: polling indicates that the majority of Americans support the new health care law. On tonight's edition of PBS News Hour, one of the more reputable television news programs, a segment focused on the bumpy rollout of the new health care plan due to the serious technical problems with the website. A young man from California who had just graduated college and worked as a chef described his inability to enroll for health care because of these issues and explained how difficult it had been to figure out which plans he qualified for, both under the new law and under Medicaid, which he had decided was "the best option for me right now given my income level." The report went on to explain how the Obama administration had failed to roll out the details of the new health care law during the last election because of serious concern that Mitt Romney's campaign would use it against them. As a result, the information was released much later, after Obama's reelection, denying Americans a vital update on what to expect when the health care shift occurred. The Democratic party's intense fear of a retaliation from Republicans led them to withhold vital information in a move that ultimately proved detrimental to their cause and led liberals and conservatives alike to accuse them of dishonesty.

As a result of these miscalculations, the American public was left behind. Partisan interests won out and twisted what should have been the simple application of a policy long since signed into law; a decisive Democratic victory, the passing of the law, was turned into a fruitless months-long squabble that ended in defeat for congressional Republicans, accusations of dishonesty from the American public to the Democratic Party (due to their attempts to thwart Republicans' repeal of the law) and still, no comprehensive health care coverage for many Americans. I myself am eager to see the law come into full effect. I am already benefitting from remaining on my parents' health care plan as a 19-year-old. Under old health care restrictions, I would have been kicked off the plan at 18; now I can stay on until I am 26 if need be.

Where does the intense hostility towards public health care come from in the Republican Party? Republican politicians are largely white, male and wealthy, and as power in this country is traditionally associated with these characteristics, they are likely acting to preserve their own influence as capitalists. The earnings of insurance companies and the low tax rate currently in place come to mind; when the new law is in order, insurance companies will not be as profitable and taxes will be higher (taking more money from the rich) to pay for universal coverage. We must seek to understand the motives of our politicians in order to comprehend when they are acting in their own interests as opposed to those of the public.

Imagine you were a wealthy white politician, Democrat or Republican, with the knowledge that universal health care would be at odds to capitalist values generally espoused by most American politicians? How would you make your decision to support or oppose the law, and how would your own personal membership in the above demographics affect your decision?

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SDS
11/18/2013 11:42

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the current administration's handling and management (or in this case, mismanagement) of the Affordable Care Act and health care in general. While I appreciate and understand the concerns expressed here, it is difficult for me to discern exactly what social problem is being targeted and how it's specifically relevant to the themes covered this week. Although partisan politics is problematic for its very nature of divisiveness and contention, focusing on individualistic fulfillment at the expense of the greater society, how would you frame this discussion within a relevant social problem? . . . and how is it relevant to you aside from the age restrictions imposed on dependents of health care coverage? . . . It is also important to understand what actions and/or steps you suggest can be taken to address the social problem that is identified . . . I am interested to know as to what motivations influenced in shaping your concluding question. There are some implicit and explicit messages conveyed, and it would be helpful to understand its relevance to the social problem and how it can lead to identifying realistic solutions in addressing it.

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