Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Points of Reference

This year's topic for Blog Action Day? Poverty.

Some people approach defining poverty within the context of material goods. Do you have enough to eat, drink, and a roof over your head? Yes? Then, you, according to some Americans, are not impoverished.

In an attempt to understand "American Poverty," I did what any Internets junkie would do, I googled the phrase "american poverty." This took me to a site called The Heritage Foundation, a self described think-tank, whose mission is to

formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

This foundation takes issue with recent statistics from the Census Bureau which suggest that 14% of Americans live at or below the poverty line. "Poverty," writes an author on the site, "means destitution...[lack of] nutritious food, adequate clothing, and reasonable shelter."

Based on this definition of poverty, only about 2% of this nation's population are actually impoverished.
There's more in this article suggesting that the poorest people in our nation live much better than the majority of the world's middle class.

So, this is our new paradigm? Am I to understand that this position suggests that as long as the bottom 14% of this nation lives better than the middle class in, say, Sierra Leone that poverty is just not an issue in our nation?

Personally, I believe that American's should examine poverty as a function of disparity and access rather than material goods.

What do you think? Do you think American poverty should be defined relative to the rest of the world? Or do you think that it should be evaluated within the context of America itself?

***BTW, I'm doing a guest post at Avitable's blog on Thursday, October 16. If you're interested in reading a "NSGA (not suitable for general audiences) Faiqa", check it out!

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Blogger sybil law said...

I think this country is poor in many, many ways, not the least of which is that assumption that our poorest are better off than the rest of the world. We need to take care of every last human here in our country, because if we're "the best", it should just BE that way. Sadly, though, with so many administrations, people are tossed aside for some "greater good", which usually ends up being monetarily related.
I have no idea if what I am thinking came out right. Fricking allergy meds! They make me so screwy!
But my short answer is no - poverty in the US should not be held in comparison to another country.

Thursday, 16 October, 2008  
Blogger Slyde said...

within the contexts of america, surely. Its really apples and oranges, when you define what makes someone improvrished here as opposed to some other places in the world..

Thursday, 16 October, 2008  
Blogger Avitable said...

If there wasn't disparity, who would I look down upon?

Thanks for the guest post - you were awesome!

Monday, 20 October, 2008  

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