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home : opinions : letters to the editor July 22, 2014

4/3/2014 10:40:00 AM
Class inequalities are unfair to the tune of 90 percent
Blair Dunbar

Blair Dunbar

Fighting injustice: MHLT students write about a changing world

‘Being the change we wish to see in the world’

There are many ways that people discriminate, or treat each other badly, in our society.  

It’s happened in many ways throughout history, and it continues today. MHLT students recently chose from a list of topics relating to a specific social injustice and spent two weeks writing, drafting, editing, and revising persuasive essays.  

Their freedom of choice and opportunity to take the topic wherever they wanted really motivated the students.  

Students are reading “Night” by Elie Wiesel.  

This essay was a good introduction to the themes and elements of injustice covered in the class novel. Later in the year during social studies, the students will be learning about World War II and the Holocaust – so this essay is full circle and cross-curricular. 

The students enjoyed researching and voicing their opinions within this writing assignment. Throughout the year student have discussed ideas of utopia/dystopia, justice/intolerance, dreams/memories, free will, and survival.

By Blair Dunbar
MHLT Student

A great man once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 

In a way, Martin Luther King Jr. is right, and we all need to embrace this idea. Class inequalities in America are sickening to say the least. Did you know that 90 percent of the wealth in America is controlled by only 10 percent of our citizens; the stock brokers, the CEOs, the politicians, etc.? 

We, as a country, should lower welfare payments so people have more willingness to work; lower the overall cost of education so more people have exposure to it; and raise the minimum wage to help the people within the 90 percent.

Our government really should consider that they limit welfare payments, so that an individual would have more reason to work, restoring the wealth to American citizens. 

According to members of the Georgia State University’s Fiscal Research Center in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, “The tax-benefit system discourages low-income people from investing in education and training ...” This means that people who receive welfare checks generally don’t go to college or train to get better jobs; they choose not to better themselves. 

Another way we can help the country grow economically is if we were to lower welfare payments. The lower the welfare payments to citizens, the more reasons they will have to work, to gain individual wealth. 

In order to do this, we need to break welfare dependency. Welfare dependency is the state in which a person or household is reliant on government welfare benefits for their income for a prolonged period of time. 

The United States Department of Health and Human Services defines welfare dependency as “the proportion of all individuals in families which receive more than 50 percent of their total annual income from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), food stamps, and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.” 

Breaking this dependency will, over time, help the people who are dependant on welfare. It may not seem like it to them but in the long haul, it will help immensely. The more individual wealth there is in a community, the more it will cycle throughout the entire community. Wealth gives you the ability to fulfil your wants which, when fulfilled, the wealth spent is distributed around the entire community. Once welfare is lowered, we will still have another major issue to deal with, giving people in low income areas more exposure to education.

As a country, we need to lower the cost of education, have teachers 100 percent qualified and help students have the urge to learn and grow. Lowering the cost of education would help everyone in a lower income community. If the cost of education is lowered, more people in lower income areas would have exposure to education. 

According to a press statement from President Barack Obama, he hopes that “... starting in 2018, the ratings would be tied to financial aid, so that students at highly-rated colleges might get larger federal grants and more affordable loans ...” and so, if you are accepted to more high quality schools, it will cost much, much less to be educated. 

Another way a school can make education stick with a child is if all of the teachers in public and private schools are fully qualified. If the teachers are fully qualified and try to make an impact in a student’s educational future the students will most likely want to stay in school and get a good career. 

A study by the United States Department of Education suggests that “Teacher subject-matter knowledge is greatly associated with student learning. In this era of high standards and high expectations, having a highly qualified teacher has never been more important.” If all schools have good teachers, the students will be encouraged to do better in school than they would without. 

What else do students need to thrive? 

An urge to learn.

All students need an urge to learn or they will feel that they will never need to know or learn some of the important facts they need to know to succeed in life. According to researchers from Stanford University, “Researchers also have found that people have an innate desire to learn for the sake of learning and that this intrinsic desire is connected to our engagement in learning new concepts or skills.” 

The more motivation you have to get your work done, the higher your desire to learn. There is still one problem with class inequalities: income in general.

We should raise minimum wage to $10 an hour so money is cycled around the 90 percent, and help try to stop discrimination against the people within the 90 percent of people in America who are on or below the poverty line. 

Raising minimum wage would make people want to work to have more money. There are people in America who do not work because it is easier to collect welfare than get five times less working at places like McDonald’s and Burger King, places that once were just jobs for high schoolers to have some spending money. These jobs are not meant to be the entire source of income to a family. Low paying jobs like these are not enough to support a family. Also, more money made for the 90 percent means more money is controlled by the “poor.” If the “poor” control more wealth, are they still in the 90 percent? Or is the wealth being changed to a more even percentage? 

In the end the 10 percent will still have most wealth but if we all work hard and try our best, we can even up the wealth without converting to socialism. 

Still, even more important is discrimination. Discrimination is a scourge in any community, for it can lead to loss of self-esteem and make people feel as if they are not worth the hard work of trying to have a good future. If we treat the so-called minorities like second class citizens, will they even try to prove us wrong, or will they accept it and not try to change it? 

Minorities are great for the country. We need to stop discriminating against them and just accept them for who they are, Americans.

We need to lower welfare payments so people have more willingness to work, lower the cost of education so people have exposure to it, and stop discrimination against the people within the 90 percent of American citizens in poverty. 

We all know someone who is in the 90 percent, family and friends or maybe even yourself, but if we do not try to make a difference, we cannot change. 

As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Article comment by: Blair Dunbar

I do not understand why people love to comment on how I am wrong. I'm a 13 year old student who did an opinion piece. If you don't agree, just keep it to yourself and don't try to pick on the little guy.

Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2014
Article comment by: Dick Ward

You want class inequality----move to North Korea!
Without the wealthy---there would not be any charities, no healthcare, no research etc. etc.
There is no shortcut to knowledge through

Posted: Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Article comment by: Shelly Boettcher

Many people do not realize Wisconsin is one of the few states that does not have welfare payments anymore. The welfare reform happened about roughly 15 years ago and now requires classes and proof of trying to make some sort of income to even get food stamps. There is the TANF program that puts the welfare recipients to work if they can't find a job. There are many programs here that help them now.
As for raising minimum wage, do you realize that it has not increased at the rate of inflation. So minimum wage now is equal to the wage of the 1950's. Now some say it will wreck businesses but it surely didn't hurt anyone when the CEO's were getting bonuses and raises in the millions. Most businesses no longer pay sick time, vacation pay, health benefits, retirement pay, and only work people part time so they should be able to afford more. Most local businesses already pay more than minimum so why not make the corporations pay it too.

Posted: Sunday, April 6, 2014
Article comment by: William Hunter

If raising the minimum wage were really a means to eradicate poverty would it not make sense raise it meaningfully? What about a minimum wage of $50,000 annually. Then everyone in America could join the middle class, right?

Oh, wait, now it seems clear. If you were to raise the minimum wage that high, lots of people would not join the middle class, they would just lose their jobs, because employers could not stay in business paying such high wages for the many current jobs that do not produce enough profitability to support such an annual expense.

This is the simple arithmetic nature of capitalism. You cannot run a business indefinitely losing money. Raising the minimum wage is a phony solution to the problem of poverty. Every increase in the minimum wage eliminates some marginally profit producing jobs which hurts, not helps those at the bottom end of the economic spectrum.

Posted: Friday, April 4, 2014
Article comment by: george evenson

Blair Dunbar's letter seems logical. Stop payments and people will go to work. However, where will the jobs come from?
What does he consider as welfare payments? Where do I go to apply for them?
Are my retirement payments from my employer considered welfare payments?
Is Social Security considered welfare?

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