Poverty in this nation is a universal term. Its grasp reaches men and women, young and old, black and white. It affects people in all states, all countries, and of all nationalities. Why, then, is such a universal term so commonly misunderstood? How can a concept that affects so many, be supported by so few? In the United States nearly 40 million people are considered to be living in the condition of poverty. At the same time, so many more privileged people are growing up in America with the misconception that poverty is a disease only to be cured by the individuals affected by it. The study of sociology, however, teaches us otherwise. The poor people in this country are not poor by choice. Most of them have been deprived of many of the opportunities that the non-poor have received. There are many arguments about how to get rid of poverty. It is my opinion that poverty will never be completely removed from any country. Our best hope is to use all resources to reduce poverty to a minimum level. .
In order to find solutions to poverty in America, we must first define what poverty is, who are most affected, and what factors cause it. The American Heritage Dictionary defines poverty as "the state of being poor; lacking the means of providing material needs or comforts." This basic definition, however, fails to define exactly who in a society is considered to be living in poverty. In the United States, poverty is concretely defined in dollar figures by the Social Security Administration. By determining the amount of money needed to survive on food, and then multiplying that number by three, the Social Security Administration sets the poverty line. For example, if the SSA decided that the amount of money needed to sustain a survivable diet during a year was $4,000, then it would set the poverty line at $12,000. Thus, any individuals whose income was less than this amount for a year would be considered to be living in poverty.