Who is to blame for poverty in America?

By: Dr. Devon Smith

Devon is HSH Senior Correspondent, follow her on Twitter @Devon_Bianca

Thursday (Feb. 8, 2018) night’s radio broadcast was full of colorful dialogue between the callers, Armstrong and his guests. The guests included: Blake Allison, founder of FELA a financial education program, Jordan Goodman, a personal finance expert, Dr. Devon Smith, a veterinarian and correspondent for Howard Stirk Holding and finally, Renee Garfinkel a Washington Times Contributor and Jerusalem Bureau Chief for Howard Stirk Holdings.

The first hour of the show focused on two related topics: the stock market and financial education. Many callers were quick to blame President Trump for the fall in the stock market over the last few days. They were also quick to credit President Obama for the past year of economic growth. Jordan stepped in to remind people of a few important ideas. First, presidents generally, do not impact the stock market on a day to day basis -- their impact is long-term, and second, given the aggressive growth over the last 12-15 months, a drop or “correction” in the market was expected if not needed.

The conversation evolved into the idea of financial education or rather lack thereof in educational institutions. Devon pointed out that in all of her years of education, including graduate school, she was never required to take a basic financial education course. This is, in everyone’s opinion, a huge problem. Armstrong argued that financial education classes are being purposefully withheld from the lower classes of society to prevent them from being successful and rising above the poverty line. Devon pointed out that her private school education also lacked financial education classes suggesting that the problem is widespread and not in fact deliberately targeting the lower classes.  Blake jumped in and informed everyone listening about a recent push for a standardized financial education course mandatory in all public-school curriculums. A program that is now being implemented in many states. Blake also went on to discuss his platform which is aimed at educating adults with applicable, relevant information that will help them more easily navigate their financial world.

From there the conversation pivoted into a discussion about the poor and lower classes of America and more specifically, what can they do to rise above the poverty level into the middle class.  Armstrong was adamant that the middle and wealthy classes are to blame for the level of poverty in America and that poverty is a form of slavery propagated by upper classes. Many callers agreed with Armstrong and called in to offer their support. Devon, however, cautioned that Armstrong was painting a broad stroke on a very complex and multifactorial issue. She referenced a Brookings Institute study. In this study, the institute found that if American’s follow three guidelines: graduate high school, get a full-time job and wait to have children until you are married, there is less than a 2% chance of living below the poverty line.  The bottom line is that poverty is a very complex and troubling issue that our country needs to focus on. However, individuals and society alike must both be held accountable.