Years ago, sociologist Herbert Gans asked the question, "Does poverty have functions to explain its persistence?"
His answer: The poor are job creators.
Poverty keeps the fields of penology, criminology, social work, and public health in business. It creates the need for social scientists, social workers, journalists, and other 'poverty warriors.' Poverty provides tenants for run down housing, gamblers for the gaming industry, employees for Walmart and recruitees for the peacetime army.
Because the poor are required to work at a low wage, they subsidize a variety of economic activities that benefit the affluent. The poor also pay a larger share of their income in property and sales taxes.
The poor also play a role once filled by minorities, giving upper and middle class people someone to look down upon.
"Not only does the alleged moral deviancy of the poor reduce the moral pressure on the political economy to reduce poverty, but socialist alternatives can be made to look unattractive if those who will benefit most from them can be described as lazy, spendthrift, dishonest, and promiscuous."