History of the United States since 1968

Historyof the United States since 1968

Thebook, TheUndeserving Poor: America`s Enduring Confrontation with Povertyby Michael Katz is all about the unanimous agreement on poverty inthe recent past. The author talks about the things that the poorpeople experiences including their beliefs. The characters thoughtthat they were underprivileged as a result of sheer laziness andfailure. Michael Katz had a different opinion because he describespoverty to be more than what people perceive. People’s perceptionof poverty was just masking their selfishness without willing to helpthe needy people. He gives ideas on how the Americans can assist tofight against poverty.

Thesecond edition incorporates new ideas to add to the concept ofpoverty. There have been other examples and explanations of poverty,from biology to other forms of research on poverty. It alsohighlights the ways people have tried to fight against poverty andthe outcome. My term paper will summarize the chapters and give abrief overview of the book. I will also discuss the themes broughtout in this book and the differences between the past and currentmatters relating to poverty. The importance of the book will also bedescribed and how it can academically help the History scholars.

1.Poverty as a Matter of Morality and Culture

Accordingto Szalai, the current poor people persuade the community to feelpity for them. The reason behind that is because there are scarceresources, and some reality about their payments cannot endure thestandard of living in America today. However, the poor women andchildren are considered in which the reasons for beingunderprivileged are understandable. This is what the first chapter ofthe book discusses, what used to happen in some years back and whatis currently happening in America (Katz,p. 1-50). The social stigma that came with being poor is felt morenow than it was in the past.

Accessto medical aid is a basic fundamental right of every citizen. It is asurprise that not every state accepted to expand their Medicaidprovision. According to Advisory Board, however, 17 states rejectedthe Medicaid expansion in their states. This is in contradiction withthe apparent sympathy we have been hearing. Is it now everyone’smoral obligation to be considerate of the needs of others? In myopinion, this selfishness has come about as a result of individualismin today’s culture. People no longer live as a community, whereby,individual’s problems do not concern the neighbors.

Accordingto Katz, in the past, the existing legislation regarded the povertyas a community’s problem. It was the community’s authority tosort out the needs of the poor. In this case, it involved theelderly. The habit of not being charitable was also seen by the localauthorities who instead of setting up a fund for the elderly in theirhomes, they decided to reallocate them to other states as a way ofavoiding taking responsibilities. Many people consider the poor asirresponsible where most of them do not like striving out of theircomfort zone. According to BBC, there has been a recent governmentproposal to stop remitting benefits to those who keep turning downtheir jobs.

Itis true that we have a moral agenda to help the poor in as much as wecan, but it is also recommendable for them to make an effort ofsearching the means of getting income. The poor are the humans whopossess fewer resources and should thus be treated as such. We shouldalso not be arrogant towards them because it can cause the feeling ofbeing less dignified. They are capable of performing various taskswhere they should be given equal opportunities as compared to theother society. The poor people should be empowered with completeknowledge of their rights and assist in improving the economy. It isa strategy that has been seen to bring improvement and development inmost countries. It has been recognized by women who are categorizedas part of the undeserving poor, and they get the education, employedor engage in leadership positions in the country. The InternationalCentre has the opinion that, empowering women against povertytranslates to equity between men and females. In overall, the economyof the country grows through the abolition of poverty by women(International Centre for Research on Women). The women play the keyrole towards raising the children in every family, and if they becomeempowered, it, therefore, becomes easy to eradicate poverty.

2.Poverty as Related to Politics and the Economy

Accordingto Katz, poverty is brought about as a result of the weak politicaleconomy. A country’s political climate does so much for itseconomy. If there is a war, for example, there wouldn’t beinvestments in businesses. The poor would remain unemployed and thusincrease the rate of poverty in the country. The government possessesa lot of control when it comes to the welfare of the undeservingpoor. They do so through issuing subsidies to government parastatalsto shield the poor people from expensively accessing the core needslike education and health. Therefore, the government agencies aregiven the power to improve the living standards of those living belowthe poverty line.

Thegovernment administration contributes much in making legislatures.The book takes us through the milestones civil rights activitiesachieved in the fight for the rights of the poor beings. It isespecially true for the Black Americans, who faced racism. The CivilRights Act was passed in 1964 which by then extended and expoundedthe rights of the black Americans (Katz,p.69). The government thereby showed how much influence theypossessed through passing the legislative Acts to support the poor.We get to see the important role the government plays and how thecitizens benefit from the laws made. Lobbying for the rights of thepoor should be one of the priorities of patriots who care for therights of everyone.

Welater came to realize the rise of the underclass and increasedawareness among black Americans. The government assistance, however,was only significant to the ‘deserving poor.` It is even seen todaythrough the benefits they get from the government. The benefitsassociated with pensions are higher as compared to the unemployed(Herist.org). It is because the deserving poor are considered to havebeen forced by life situations to live that way. Those who do notwish to change their life status, therefore, do not get to getemployment benefits from the government. This is done to ensure thosedeserving benefits much from government agencies. It also sends amessage to the country’s citizens of being encouraged to work hard.

3.Poverty According to Ideologists

Perhapsthe most common ideology is the relation of poverty to biology. Itclaims that there have been new scientific technologies that try tofavor a society elaborated through biological explanation (Katz,44). Various ideologies came about by the time the book was written.It proposed that there was some heredity associated with being poorand was supported by advances in neuroscience, evolutionarypsychology, genomics, and epigenetic. However, it was faulty becausethere were no conclusive findings of the theory. Being poor cannot belinked to genetics because nature influences it. People’s beliefsand cultures are usually related to the environment interactions.

TheMassachusetts board of charities believed in what was later come tobe referred as Lamarkianism. This related traits associated withpoverty and other negative habits to traits that could be passed fromone individual to the other. Katz throughout maintained his standthat these ideologies were just brought up to cover up theindividualism in Americans. He insists that people should payattention to avoid its resurgence. People just look for excuses toavoid helping the poor. According to the author, the scientificexplanations remained dubious because they have never been proven.

ConservativeAscendance came about in America further infringing on the rights ofthe undeserving and deserving poor. An article that talks aboutcriminalizing conservatism shows through history, how America hasabandoned its poor. The period in the early 70’s, the steps takento eradicate poverty slowed down. This was shown through the oilcrisis that hit the country further putting a gap between the poorand the rich (Joyce Jnr.). The poor continued being poor while therich got even richer. The years following that period was marked byintense urbanization because the level of poverty consistently wenthigh.

Thepoor people disagreed with the liberals who have been known forfighting for the rights of the minorities in the country. They wereunable to fight against the arguments presented by the conservatisms.The conservatisms managed to convince the Americans that theseundeserving poor were the reasons for their worries. Apparently, thiswelfare set aside by the government was just motivating the poorhumans to keep living in poverty. They were enjoying the benefits atthe expense of the hard work of ordinary Americans. An example wasthat of single black women who were getting benefits for theirchildren. This encouraged them to keep having children outsidewedlock. The claims were unsubstantiated, but they convinced theAmericans who converted to that teach of thought. The liberals wereleft helpless.

Relevanceof the ‘Undeserving Poor’ by Michael Katz

1.It brings out poverty as a matter of national concern.

Povertystemmed from many years back, as early as the eighteenth century. Thepoor people tried to make their rights be recognized in the societywhere they faced many hurdles along the way without succeeding. Joycetakes us through the war that was waged on the poor by Ronald Reaganand the conservatisms. Initially, it was a war on poverty which laterchanged and became a war against the poor. Lyndon B. Johnson set inmotion a war on poverty that was marked by extraordinary steps takento eradicate poverty. Some of these measures were like head start,food stamps, work study, Medicare, and Medicaid. These effortssuccessfully still exist till today.

However,the years in the last quarter were marked by a lot of debate betweenconservatisms and the liberals. It is still a battle, considering therate of inflation. The standards of living are still high. For ahistory scholar, one gets to understand the fundamental human rightsof every person. Through the debates by the different ideologists,one understands the social structure back then and how muchadvancements it has undergone. The facts are still related to what wehave now, and one gets to understand the basic principles of suchbeliefs.

2.It shows the ways one can tackle poverty the ways are endeavoredand tested.

Historyprovides a learning platform in which one perceives how the wrongs ofthose who existed before us can be made right. The book also shows usthe war on poverty regarding legislation. Certain laws werechampioned for by American citizens during that time. One understandsthe different legislations that are meant for the minorities and theless fortunate. Laws usually come up when certain limitations areimposed on people and refuse to agree with them. Various Acts werepassed during that time a period of which the book was written. Anexample of this was the Economic Opportunity Act in 1964 (Katz,p.103). This set in motion many movements that were for mobilizationto help in eradicating poverty.

3.One gets to learn more about America’s history as related topoverty.

Asaforementioned, various steps were taken by different ideologists.The rights activists made remarkable steps in progress towardseradicating poverty. Some of the benefits that came, as a result,were Medicaid, work study, and Medicare. The book sensitizes ahistory scholar of genesis for some of these welfare benefits, theevents that came before then and how their effectiveness today. Themost important thing about this book is that it brings out historyspecifically tailored to poverty. One gets to understand poverty inits entirety and the historical advancements made on that front.

4.It opens a history scholar’s mind to the many possibleexplanations for poverty.

Thebook brings out various perspectives on poverty and how it ended up.There is a correct statement that suggests that it was a way ofpeople masking their individualism by categorizing the poor into thedeserving and the undeserving. There have also been biologicalexplanations that suggest that poverty in people can be attributed toheredity traits. It further suggests that it was supported byadvances in neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, genomics, andepigenetics. These various ideologies put in perspective for thehistory scholar the way different people perceive poverty. The stepstaken to prove these theories also make up a history.


Povertyis a matter of great concern. This can be seen through the variousadvancements made on that front. Debates and movements have beensparked a result, and different groups mobilized to lobby for therights of the poor. In my opinion, no one is undeserving, all of usare equal. Therefore equal opportunities should be provided toeveryone, and no hindrances should be placed on them. The ones whoare in extreme poverty can be supported through the welfare benefitsto improve their lifestyles. It is not only an elementary human rightbut also a moral obligation of each of us to assist and help the poorpeople. The poor also includes individuals with disabilities whorequire people and government’s attention for better survival.


AdvisoryBoard. “Where the states stand on Medicaid expansion 31 states,D.C., expanding Medicaid.”https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/resources/primers/medicaidmap.2016.

BBC.BBC.“The deserving or undeserving poor?”http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-11778284

Herist.org.Herist.org.“Deserving vs Undeserving Poor.”http://www.herinst.org/BusinessManagedDemocracy/culture/work/deserving.html.Web Access. 2016.

JoyceJnr. CriminalizeConservatism.“How America abandoned its undeserving poor.”http://www.criminalizeconservatism.com/2013/12/how-america-abandoned-its-undeserving-poor.htmlWeb access December 23 2013.

KentAnnan. Christianitytoday.“Poverty is a moral problem.”http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/april-web-only/poverty-is-moral-problem.html.Web Access 2014.

Katz,Michael.&nbspTheUndeserving Poor: America`s Enduring Confrontation with Poverty.Oxford:Oxford University Press,2013. Print.

SzalaiJ. TheNation.&nbsp“Beingpoor in the United States has rarely meant anything as simple ashaving too little money.”https://www.thenation.com/article/just-deserts/. 2013.

InternationalCentre for Research on Women. InternationalCentre for Research on Women“The Issue: Women’s Economic Empowerment.”http://www.icrw.org/what-we-do/economic-empowerment. 2016.