Poverty is not just an issue affecting the Third World; it’s a prevailing problem in the United States. According to an Associated Press poll, “Four out of five U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty, or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.”
Due to a capitalistic system, working-class white people face economic insecurity as blue-collar and wage-labor jobs are shifting to other countries that experience more lenient labor laws and regulations. This is a systematic change towards class disparities rather than racial inequalities in the United States.
A capitalistic economy that is concerned almost exclusively with maximizing short-term profits, e..g the recent fast-food worker walk outs, creates an oppressive infrastructure. To overcome this economic shift, we have to realize that our economic stability comes from the collective wealth of the country.
The gap between the rich and the poor is widening, no longer is economic wealth defined by race. Survey data shows that many working-class whites in rural and suburban areas are impoverished. According to the AP, “Concentrated in Appalachia in the East, [low-income whites] are numerous in the industrial Midwest and spread across America's heartland, from Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, up through the Great Plains.”
According to the AP's research, this economic instability centralizes on geography and demography: small rural and suburban areas are suffering due to the reduction of jobs in industries such as manufacturing and mining.
According to The Week, educational attainment also plays a crucial role in this economic dilemma. Many working-class white people, who once earned decent wages working within economically stable industries, lack the college degree that would enable them to acquire better-paying jobs.
Two possible solutions that would improve capitalistic economic conditions described by the poll are: investment in technology that will make American manufacturing competitive in price and reconfiguring international subcontracting policies, i.e. prohibiting corporations from setting up companies in third world countries in order to increase profits. However, these solutions may affect the capitalistic mandates in place which may be problematic to the economic revision of the Obama administration.
As the Obama administration develops a new plan to address the sluggish economy and increase employment, now, more than ever, the American public should focus not just on race, but on how class systems influence the capitalistic economic architecture of the United States.
According to the AP, “By race, nonwhites still have a higher risk of being economically insecure, at 90%. But compared with the official poverty rate, some of the biggest jumps under the newer measure are among whites, with more than 76% enduring periods of joblessness, life on welfare, or near-poverty.”
It’s important to consider that economic disparities are often inclusive of multiple variables, not just racial inequalities. Within a competitive capitalistic economy, the focus shifts from the workers to labor power with a definitive aim to maximize capital despite oppression.