Poverty and the poor satisfy American because it is useful to their society. Without the poor who would do all the dirty work The first, second, and third functions that Herbert J. Hans mention deals with the economy. Every society has jobs that the poor would work for. Some of the dirty work can be dangerous, temporary, and underpaid. Society can change all of this by filling the jobs by paying higher wages than for the clean work.. Since the poor are required to work at low wages, it makes life for the upper-middle and upper classes easier.
Poverty creates a lot of jobs for different occupations and professions that service the poor. The fifth and sixth functions deal with the social function of poverty. Even though the poor are about as moral and law-abiding as anyone else, they would still be recognized as lazy and dishonest compared to the middle class. Also the poor are thought to enjoy sex, alcohol, and narcotics more than the middle class. The seventh function would be considered a cultural function of poverty. Sometimes when a culture is created by or for them it is adopted by the more affluent.
For example, a lot of Americans listen to the blues, Negro spirituals, and country music, which all originated with the poor. Poverty also helps to guarantee the status of those who are not poor. In the American society people need to know where they stand. The poor function is used for permanent measuring not for status comparison between the different classes of people. The ninth function explains on how the poor have entered the middle class through the profits from provision of goods and services in the slums.
The last three functions deal with political functions. The poor are the ones who do all the backbreaking work and today they are pushed out of their towns just to make room for progress. The poor are powerless and they do not have any control on what the government does. The political system often ignores the poor because they vote and participate in politics less than other groups. There are also a group of the poor that are unwilling to work or it can be considered inferior because they must accept charity on welfare in order to survive.
Poverty survives because it is useful to our society. Societys dirty work could be done without poverty by paying the dirty workers decent wages. If the poor were more affluent they would make less willing clients for upper-class philanthropy. Many of the functions served by the poor could be replaced if poverty was eliminated. Poverty will only be eliminated when the poor the powerless can obtain enough power to make a change in todays society.