Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen by Dry. David Hellfire is an intriguing novel about the existence of the poor in the post-1996 world where welfare reform was emphasized. Dry. Hellfire’s unique background allows a diverse look at the major obstacles leading to the propagation of the ghetto. Through Dry. Hellfire’s structural construct one can understand these reasons and begin to endorse some of the solutions the author provides. Dry. Hellfire in an interesting source for a commentator on such a subject given both his professional and personal upbringing.
A Yale educated physician, he is by no means reliant on such forms of government assistance such as welfare, yet he has devoted his life to serving the poor. He worked 20 years in the inner-city clinics of DC, ran a medical establishment for recovering of homeless men and founded Saint Josephs, a hospice for homeless men dying of AIDS. It appears much of his work is founded in his spiritual beliefs as he has been an integral part of Doc’s Church of the Savior. It is with this background information that we further dissect his thoughts on the matter.
Hellfire’s basic argument for the perpetuation of the poor and more specifically the “ghetto’ is founded on a structural induct. Hillier argues that it is the lack of educational resources and universal healthcare in these areas that set up future generations to fail. Also, the lack of Jobs that provide compensation enough to move out of ghetto are rare, even for qualified individuals. Furthermore, Hillier speaks of not only the poor, but more specifically about the biased view of the poor that is seen as solely the black inner-city community.
More specifically, Hillier argues these poor black individuals face a criminal Justice system who may not be as understanding when compared to other or ethnicities. He takes this point even further as one third of blacks 18-34 are under some type of government restriction, which even after their time served acts as a scarlet letter limiting any decent Job opportunities. The author also argues that these ghettos continue to exist because the support that is provided isn’t nearly sufficient.
First, the poverty level that has been established by the government is not an accurate estimation of what is truly needed by a family. Therefore, the standards that the government bases its assistance packages on are already inherently flawed. In addition to this, the assistance that is practically provided, doesn’t even meet this substandard amount, with the level of Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TAN) reaching only a quarter of the poverty level in some states.
Of note, the TAN was already an improvement from its prior form (Aid to Families and Dependent Children), where working and marriage were actually penalized by decreasing support once those activities occurred. Furthermore, Hillier argues that many individuals will never be able to be helped under the system, such as those who have absence abuse issues, and therefore continue the creation of ghettos. Hillier promotes increased programs to help these individuals so that they may eventually be able to hold Jobs that will take them above the dreaded poverty line.
Hillier does criticize the current system in many regards, but also provides specific solutions for eliminating the ghetto as well. First and foremost, Hillier argues for universal healthcare, so that all individuals at least medically start off on similar footing. He Urban Injustice By zapping above the poverty line, but in the long run will save the nation money as a whole. He states with universal healthcare there will be decreased emergency department visits and other chronic diseases will be more appropriately managed and thus costing less money.
The second program he wants to expand is the earned income tax credit, so that individuals have even greater incentive to work, rather than remain on government assistance. Next, he would like to provide income to those not working at a rate to reach the poverty line. Finally, he would like additional programs in place to help those that are disabled either mentally or physically. He believes thou these additional assistance programs the government is Just setting these individuals up for failure. Dry.
Hellfire provides a very thorough look at key factors contributing to the propagation of the poor. His unique background and work makes him an authority on the subject matter and his ideas well respected. His thoughts are largely unoriginal, yet I believe the combination of these ideas and revolving them purely around a structural construct to make logical sense. His religious beliefs are quite clearly a foundation of many of his assessments and although this is impolitely understandable, it seems like one weakness in his argument.
An appeal to individuals based on religious matters implies in some ways that there is a lack of logic to his argument, which in my belief there truly is not. Also, I believe those obstacles mentioned are quite real, but Dry. Hellfire places minimal importance on the individual. Some people remain poor because they would rather do drugs, not work and overall not be self-sufficient. I do not think this is the majority of poor individuals by any means, but I do believe it is a factor Dry. Hellfire does not emphasize.