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Communications Extreme Poverty US Survey Essay

Communications Extreme Poverty US Survey Essay


Here are the results of the class’s Poverty in the US Survey:

When we define “extreme poverty” we often see it in terms of lack. This is the list of things that people in extreme poverty lack according to our survey responses. They are organized from most to least often cited.

  • Food – 28
  • Shelter – 23
  • Clean Water – 17
  • Living Wage – 12
  • Healthcare – 12
  • Hygiene/Sanitation – 10
  • Education – 9
  • Employment – 8
  • Clothing – 8
  • Electricity – 4
  • Transportation – 3
  • Identification Documents – 1

Other indicators of extreme poverty were dependence on social welfare programs (2), having debt (2), being unable to support your dependents (4).

When asked if Extreme Poverty exists in the United States:

  • 87% said Yes
  • 13% said No

When asked about the extent of the poverty problem in the United States

  • 3% said Neither Extreme Poverty or Poverty is a major issue in the United States
  • 23% said that Poverty was a major issue in the United States, but not Extreme Poverty
  • 73% said that Both Extreme Poverty and Poverty are major issues in the United States

When we thought about which demographics are more likely to be living in extreme poverty, we chose the following ordered from most to least often cited.

  • Racial Minorities – 18
  • Under-Educated – 16
  • People with Disabilities – 14
  • People Born into Poverty (Intergenerational Poverty) – 8
  • People with Mental Health Problems – 5
  • Children – 4
  • Elderly – 4
  • Single Parents – 4
  • Working Poor; Folks with Low Income Jobs – 3
  • Young Adults – 3
  • Immigrants – 3
  • Folks living in Rural Areas – 3
  • LGBTQ+ Folks – 2
  • People with Substance Use Disorders – 2
  • Veterans – 2
  • People who Lack Motivation – 2
  • Women – 2
  • Men – 1
  • Unemployed – 1

When we consider solutions to “extreme poverty” we tend to identify two primary kinds of strategies—individual-based solutions and structural-based solutions. Individual based solutions are solutions that are driven and funded primarily by private citizens, families, organizations, or corporations. Structural based solutions are solutions that are driven and funded by public institutions—local, city, state, and federal government agencies. The kind of solutions we favor depends on our perception of the main causes of extreme poverty. If we see extreme poverty as primarily the result of individual behavior—bad luck, low motivation, poor character—we see individual-based solutions as the most appropriate. If we see extreme poverty as primarily the result of structural inequality—intergeneration wealth/poverty, lack of public infrastructure, institutional discrimination and bias—we see structural solutions as the most appropriate. Below, I’ve categorized your responses into Individual Based Solutions, Structural Based Solutions, and Ambiguous Solutions (for those solutions that may be individual or structural). I’ve also indicated how many people identified each solution.




  • More Shelters (4)
  • Donations to Charities and Non-Profits (4)
  • More Food Banks (2)
  • Educate the Wealthy about the Status of the Poor (1)

The following are all solutions that could be individual if undertaken by a private group (non-profit, religious organization, family, private universities and schools, corporations) or structural if undertaken by a government funded entity (public schools, city, state, federal government agencies).

  • More Job Opportunities for Folks without College Degree (7)
  • Accessible Healthcare (5)
  • Increase Food Access (4)
  • Increase Mental Health Care (2)
  • Affordable Child Care (2)
  • Family Planning and Birth Control (2)
  • Eliminate Standardized Testing (1)
  • Substance Abuse Treatment (1)
  • Debt Forgiveness (1)
  • Better Sexual Education
  • Increase funding for Education (19)
  • Improve Water Infrastructure (5)
  • Increase Funding for Social Welfare Programs (4)
  • Guaranteed Housing (4)
  • Universal Healthcare (4)
  • Protections against Employment Discrimination (3)
  • Ban Gerrymandering (1)
  • Universal Basic Income (1)
  • Raise the Minimum Wage (1)
  • Increase Funding for Public Transportation (1)
  • Ban Child Marriage (1)
  • Anti-Discrimination Protections for Previously Incarcerated (1)
  • Address Climate Change (1)

Once you’ve reviewed the survey results and read the UN Report on Poverty and Human Rights, you will respond to any TWO of the following discussion questions. You will provide two responses to each question leading to a total of four individual posts. Here are the guidelines for the discussion posts. 

1. TIME CONSTRAINTS: You must respond to two different questions. You must respond to the same questions twice; however, the posts must be AT LEAST twelve hours apart. That means that to receive full credit on this assignment, you should respond to two different questions at least twelve hours before the deadline so that you are able to post twice more in response to the same questions before the deadline. I am implementing the time delay so that I can ensure that the discussion posts are more like a discussion rather than everyone posting four thoughts all at once without engaging with their classmates.

2. CONTINUITY: If your first set of responses are to prompts 1 and 3 then your second set of responses should also be about prompt 1 and 3.

3. CONTENT: To receive full credit each of your posts should include the following: 

If you are the FIRST PERSON to respond to a prompt, your response should include:

  • A comprehensive claim or argument that responds to the prompt.
  • Evidence from the UN Report and/or the survey results that support your claim.
  • An explanation of how the evidence reflects/supports your argument.

If you are NOT the first person to respond to a prompt, your responses should include:

  • Either a statement of affirmation or a respectful point of disagreement about one or more claims made previously in the thread.
  • Direct reference to relevant evidence that builds on the previous posts’ argument or provides a different perspective from previous posts.
  • An explanation of how your evidence either corroborates and strengthens previous posts or how the evidence modifies or challenges previous posts.  

4. REPETITION: If you repeat what someone else has already said–making the same argument/observation and using roughly the same evidence–you will not receive credit for the repeated post. It is important that you give yourself enough time to read through previous comments so that you can add productively to the conversation.

The prompts for this assignment are listed below.

Prompt 1: To what extent does the UN’s report on extreme poverty in the US reflect our own perceptions in terms of prevalence of poverty in the US as well as the demographics most likely to experience extreme poverty? Are there any demographics that are low on our list but higher in the UN Report? Are there demographics that are high on our list but lower in the UN Report? What might account for the differences in our perceptions of the prevalence and demographics of extreme poverty in the US and the perspective of the UN Reporters?

Prompt 2: The UN Reporters argue that the existence of poverty in the US is the result of political choices and that those choices are based on beliefs, values, and myths about human nature and the culture of the US. Do you see any of the values and myths listed on pages 239-240 of Hart & Daughton’s chapter at play in the UN Report? How might those values, believes, and myths inform public policy?

Prompt 3: One reason that our opinions might differ from the opinions of the UN Reporters is that we rely on different information sources. What information sources do the UN Reporters draw their information from? Do you find those sources to be reliable sources for data on poverty in the US? Are they the same or different from the sources you use to make judgments about poverty in the US? 

Prompt 4: How are our solutions for poverty in the US similar or different from the solutions outlined in the UN Report? If there are differences, what do you think would explain the differences in strategy between the domestic population and the international population?

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