Sample Essay on Factors contributing to poverty in the U.S

Public Policy

The U.S Census Bureau indicates that poverty in America is estimated to affect more than 35.9 million people including approximately 13 million children. Factors contributing to poverty in the U.S include:


According to the United States Census Bureau, there was a reduction in wages at the 10th percentile. The overall tendency of pay at the 50th percentile reduced at a slow rate leading to about a 10 % increase over the whole period. It is approximated that the low wages earned by U.S citizens will contribute to poverty (Sawhil and Haskins 1). The only solution for the majority of the individuals to evade poverty in the United States is my work. There was a reduction in work rates for men between 1980 and 2009. Wage stagnation was one of the reasons that resulted in inequalities in wages.

Family composition

In 2009, it was approximated that the marriage rate for married-couple families stood at 11%. This was contrary to the level of poverty for female-headed families, which stood at 43.3%. It was also estimated that in 1950, 6.3% of families with children were headed by single mothers. By 2010, 29.3% of families had children with single parents. A large number of children living in this kind of a family are most likely to be unfortunate and this puts pressure on the level of poverty. One way to think of the change to female-headed families is that even if the public policy succeeded in combating individuals out of poverty, the large changes in the composition of the family are likely to affect some of the progress that will be made.

I also believe that government spending is a contributing factor to poverty in the United States. Apart from the large insurance programs like Medicare, social security, and unemployment compensation, there are very few programs that are aimed at assisting the poor. It was found out that real spending increased from about 89 billion dollars to 585 billion dollars and this was as a result of exploding health care expenses (Sawhill and Haskins 1). The rate of poverty is said to be very high in 2004 as compared to 1968. This was because the manner in which the government computes the rates of poverty does not put into consideration the health care expenses that have increased rapidly. Most funds are also used on families that are still languishing in poverty while billions of people are used on individuals living above the poverty line.

I believe the existing welfare policies are effective in combating poverty because they have played significant roles in lessening caseloads. Additionally, studies indicate that welfare reform has resulted in increased levels in employment, income, and earnings. The two welfare programs that were very significant in reducing the level of poverty include the self-sufficiency program (SSP), and Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP). Although it assisted in lessening poverty levels, most of its members were still living in poverty.

There are various policy reforms that I would recommend, for instance, the amount of income disregard that an individual earns for eligibility purposes. There is a difference in various regards concerning the amount of income with regard. However, this policy assumes that the higher the level of income earned disregard, the lower the levels of poverty. This is because income that has not been earned may increase as families with earnings are provided with assistance. Behaviorally, there may be a rise in income earned as present and capable recipients learn that they can put together higher incomes with benefits.

Section 2

A flat tax is a tax system where all individuals are required to pay an equal percentage of their income. The United States should have a flat tax because of the following reasons: Firstly, a flat tax is simple. Households are exempted from a generous allowance depending on the size of their families and then pay a lesser rate on any income above that amount.  This will make individual taxpayers not be worried about providing a report on dividends and other types of capital income. This type of income may make them be taxed at a business level, but not personal level (Mitchel 1). A flat tax can also make all types of businesses add up their revenue and then subtract their expenses, for instance, the cost of raw materials, salaries, wages, and expenses on tools and machinery.

The majority of the economists argue for a flat tax because it would reduce the tax rates and end discrimination against investment and saving, hence improving the economy of a nation. The most advantage of a flat tax is its fairness. This is because the complex documents, instruction manuals, and various forms that taxpayers struggle to deliver would be replaced by a simple set of instructions. The former tax code can depend on two simple postcard-sized forms. A flat tax would not allow politicians to be in a position to pick the winners and losers and use the tax code to levy their values on the government (Mitchel 1). Additionally, infringements on privacy and freedom would reduce drastically because the government will not need to be provided with the details of every taxpayer’s monetary resources.

A flat tax would also result in increased civil liberties. It would do away with all sources of conflict between the government and all taxpayers. If this tax is imposed, it would act as an end to micromanaging and discrimination. This is because a flat tax will do away with all loopholes, exceptions, and credit.  It can also lead to international competitiveness.  This can be based on some countries that have adopted a flat tax and it has indeed worked for them. A good example is Russia whose flat tax resulted in various benefits, for instance, there was an increase in economic growth because tax avoidance started becoming less profitable. The traditional tax system acts as a punishment to the economy because it levies heavy compliance expenses on taxpayers hence making the nation to be less competitive. Implementation of a flat tax would drastically eliminate these bad impacts (Mitchel 1).

Section 3

The elite model or public choice policy flows downward that is from the leaders to the entire public. One of the assumptions of this model is that it assumes that all legislatures, police choice payers, bureaucrats, political actors, voters, and political parties aim at maximizing their individual benefits in politics as a marketplace. This is because, during politics, individuals come together in a similar way that buyers and sellers interact in a market. For instance, the legislatures may come or even implement a policy that in most cases it is of mutual benefit to them.

The public choice theory best describes immigration policies in various ways. Each and every individual make their own decisions based on the issue at hand (Econlib.Org 1). For instance, the majority of the bipartisan politicians did not support immigration policies because they had a feeling that these individuals would receive rewards, and yet they had come into the country illegally.  The majority of the Republicans were of the opinion that immigrants should not be allowed in the U.S because they did not have relevant academic qualifications and they could not speak a similar language like the one they spoke.

Another barrier was the legislation. The comprehensive immigration reform legislation was not in a position to pass the congress in 2006 and 2007. Because of the failed attempts, there was no serious legislation between 2008 and 2010. The legislation argued that comprehensive immigration reform will have an effect on the taxpayers. They also argued that an increase in the number of low-skilled laborers would represent a physical drain.

Furthermore, competition for jobs was also an issue. The majority of the Americans had a perception that they would come to occupy jobs that they would have secured. This forced them to highly oppose the issue of supporting immigrants into the nation. The House Republicans were also the main barrier to the legislation passing the congress. They criticized Mr. Obama’s administration, which had a good number of immigrants. Racial discrimination was another impediment to the comprehensive immigration reform. The majority of the Americans argued that immigrants could not speak a similar and therefore did not qualify to be granted citizenship (Econlib.Org 1). The debate over the reform was hot, but when it came to pass the legislation on the reform, the Republicans were not interested in doing so. There was a conflict between the Democrats and Republicans

The public safety officials also took part in ensuring that there were no immigrants entering the U.S. They argued that immigrants were a security threat to the government and therefore would not be allowed to cross the borders if they did not have a visa. For instance, when President Obama was trying to encourage Republicans to pass the immigration reform legislation, the border security acted by revising the principles into a bill for discussion.

Interested groups and corporations also opposed the comprehensive immigration reform because it served as a disadvantage to the locals. For instance, they made the poor Americans not benefit fully from the provided health care. They also argued that there was a need to evaluate the needs of the immigrants, especially employment. Most employers recruited foreign immigrants because they had moved into the country illegally and could accept a job at cheaper pay. They further argued that based on the present rates of unemployment, the entry of immigrants would make it difficult for the U.S to determine future labor needs. The low-skilled workers would not secure jobs if at all the immigrants were highly skilled (Econlib.Org 1).

Section 4

A current example of an issue that has been raised in the state’s rights is whether to legalize marijuana. It is a recognized issue where there was a conflict between the federal government and the state. Restrictions and regulations on the sale of marijuana as a drug started as early as 1619 (Pbs.Org. 1). Increased limitations started in the United States in 1906 and the prohibitions started in the 1920s. Marijuana was further regulated as a drug in every state in the mid-1930s together with 35 States that started using the uniform state Narcotic drug Act. Between 1951-1956, other federal laws were enacted that set mandatory sentences for individuals who committed drug-related offenses including marijuana. If one was found in possession of marijuana, he would receive a minimum sentence of 2-10 years including a fine of up to $20,000. In the 1960s, policy changes led to some positive opinions towards marijuana. The white middle-upper class started using the drug. President Kennedy and Johnson carried out an investigation and found out that the use of marijuana did not result in violence or use of other drugs. The policy change towards marijuana included considerations of treatment as well as penalties for any criminal offense.   In the 1970s, the majority of the states started banning the sale and use of marijuana. IN 1986, the Anti-drug Abuse Act was enacted and it included offenses for drug-related crimes. Together with the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, the new law came up with federal penalties for individuals who were found in possession of the drug.

The Anti-drug Abuse Act was later amended and it included life sentences for individuals who would commit a drug offense more than one times.  In 1996, marijuana was legalized in California and it was used for medical purposes for patients who had cancer, AIDS, and other painful and serious diseases. There are several other policies that have been implemented with regard to the sale and possession of marijuana, for instance, in the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, individuals who paid an excise duty for the drug were not allowed to possess it for specific authorized industrial and medical uses. The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013 (Pbs.Org 1). Another Act that was enacted in 2013 is the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act. On a federal level, the bill would decriminalize and it would be referred to as a substance just like alcohol.

Although most individuals are not informed about the issue, most of them seem to have an opinion. Federally, marijuana is categorized as a schedule 1 drug- one that has a high capability of abuse without any medicinal value (Pbs.Org 1). The federal government intended to maintain this classification and enforce penalties associated with using or possessing the drug. By making an argument over the likelihood of a black market, the Supreme Court made a ruling that it was illegal for an individual to grow marijuana in the state and claim that it is for medicinal purposes. The issue of legalizing marijuana would erode the rights of the state because initially, the state was opposing the sale and possession of the drug to an extent that individuals who were found with the drug were imprisoned.

I believe that the issue of regulating marijuana should be under the umbrella of the states. This implies that every state should have the mandate to come up with its own laws regarding the legalization of marijuana. I also believe that the federal law should be in a position to make a firm decision regarding the same (Pbs.Org 1). There were various barriers to the comprehensive immigration reform, for instance, the bipartisan bonhomie whose members opposed the issue of passing a comprehensive piece of legislation in giving immigrants who had illegally crossed the borders reward

Works Cited

Mitchell, Daniel. Flat Tax is the Way of the Future. The Heritage Foundation, 2006. Web. 26 Mar 2014. <>.

Sawhil, Isabel and Ron Haskins. The Next Generation of Antipoverty Policies. The Next Generation of Antipoverty Policies, 17. 2 (2007): Print.

Pbs.Org. Marijuana Timeline | Busted – America’s War on Marijuana | FRONTLINE | PBS., 2014. Web. 26 Mar 2014. <>.

Econlib.Org. Public Choice Theory, by Jane S. Shaw: The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics | Library of Economics and Liberty., 2014. Web. 26 Mar 2014. <>.