Sep 20, 2011 | By Claire Wheeler
Last week, the Census Bureau released its data on 2010 poverty statistics. I found the following numbers particularly disturbing:
After these 2010 figures were announced, I attended "Poverty and Income in 2010: A Look at the New Census Data and What the Numbers Mean,” a panel arranged by the Brookings Institution. The panelists represented a wide range of ideologies and advocated differing prescriptions for our country’s poverty dilemma. These prescriptions ranged from blaming personal irresponsibility to fully adopting President Obama’s American Jobs Act. One panelist even insinuated that we should put the needs of the most vulnerable on hold until the nation is financially “able” to address that problem. Essentially, the growing wealth gap was of no concern to this panelist.
These opinions were frustrating, needless to say, because although personal responsibility is relevant, it should not be used as a gross overgeneralization for condemning millions of people in situations beyond their control. People need to be provided with the opportunity and resources before being expected to take responsibility for their reality. We also know that people across socioeconomic strat