Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Poverty as a Major Factor of Crime

Meaning of Poverty
According to Gillin and Gillin, “Poverty is that condition in which a person, either because of inadequate income or unwise expenditures, does maintain a scale of living high enough to provide for his physical and mental efficiency and to enable him and his natural dependents to function usefully according to the standards of the society of which he is a member.”
The social phenomenon known as poverty has remained within human society in every age, but never before in history, it has assumed so gigantic a dimension as in the present times. The expansion of trade on a worldwide scale, the consequent accumulation of wealth and its uneven distribution and the establishment of higher standards of living have increased and intensified poverty. Poverty is not a problem of under-developed countries but is equally so in highly developed ones.
Poverty is a relative term. Mankind has progressed to that stage of development when inadequacy of the basic necessity of likes fooding, clothing and housing; do not constitute the sole criteria of poverty. Poverty should, therefore, be judged on the scale or standards of life set up by our modern age. One is poor not only because he has not enough to fill his belly but also because if he anyhow manages to fill his belly he is still not able to undergo necessary medical treatment. Some thinking regarding the relation of poverty to uneven growth of population as compared to food production was pointed out by Malthus. His theories may not be correct in all respects but in as much as it propounded that unless the basic need of food can be satisfied no concrete steps should be successfully undertaken to eradicate-poverty-the theory was correct. Poverty can be eradicated by starting from the beginning, i.e. by satisfying the basic animal need of mankind, the need for food, shelter and clothing’s.
The problem of poverty become acute when we find that major part of other social problems are directly footed or connected in one way or the other with the problem of poverty and that in order to root out those problems eradication of poverty becomes necessary. This aspect of the overall problems of our society is in turn connected directly with another major problem of our times, namely, the problem of war.

Factors Responsible for Poverty
What are the factors responsible for poverty? The question may be examined under two references. Firstly we have to see the factors which were responsible for poverty in all ages and secondly we have to examine the specific causes of poverty in our times. Unwillingness to invest labour, which is the result of individual personality traits, has always been the prime cause of poverty. Individuals, groups or communities who did not appreciate the relation between human labour and the wealth of society could not understand that is the labour alone which bears fruits. Machines to some extent solved the problem, they could multiply labour and hence could produce more with less labour. Individual communities could be produced on mass scale. But with the coming into being of mass production methods the wealth become concentrated in few hand and its distribution become hindered. This is the characteristic feature of our society that on one hand we produce on a mass scale that is to say our production of industrial commodities is socialized but on the other hand the system of distribution is not socialized. It is centred round the individual profit motive. The contradiction between the mode of production and distribution is the main cause of poverty in our society.
When each individual is born as a distinct member of society we cannot hold him responsible for his state of being in poverty. The entire social system has to be examined and the causes have to be analysed in their social perspective. Further, the problem of poverty is not confined in its consequences to individual pain and suffering. Poverty has wider social repercussions. It can lead to devastating social up heaval, to bloodshed and violence, to mass murder and to war.
We can, however, no longer present a solution of the problem of poverty. It is no longer a means of destroying surplus population. In fact, if war is restored to, then the very existence of mankind is put to a state. Human society is no longer prepared to do so. Hence the solution to the problem of poverty has to be found in the different channels – by accelerating the over all production but a corresponding decrease in war production and socialized mode of distribution. Then, the problem of poverty is directly or indirectly linked with other socio-economic problems. Gillin and Gillin have summed up the aspects of the problem of poverty, in the following illustrative lines:
“In summary, then we say that poverty and dependency play such a great part in our modern civilization. Create such a waste of method and moey, of childhood and womanhood, and youth disturb so many human relationships that they demand attention. We have also pointed out that factors producing poverty and dependency are individual incapacity, due partly to heredity and partly to accidental causes, features of the physical environment over which man has not yet obtained adequate control, to the maladjustment in our economic organisation to meet adequate human needs, to defects in our social organisation with respect to education, health, housing, improper preparation for family life. The wasted childhood and youth all caused by lag in social arrangement to meet adequately the changes characteristics of dynamic society. Finally we have pointed out that in modern civilization war is a great factor in producing social change in economic and social arrangements, in destroying young manhood; in wasting enormous sums of money, in creating restlessness, with respect to social relationships and international trade, in deriving the people of a large part of their income through taxation and tariffs and thus bringing low the level of the scale of living.”

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