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  1. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    America's Definition of Poverty

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by JJ_Maxx, Sep 13, 2013.

    So, according to a new report by the US Census Bureau, 80.9% of households considered 'poverty stricken' have cell phones along with their landline phones, and 58.2% have computers. 96.1% have televisions, and 83% have some sort of DVR.

    Meanwhile, poverty stricken families around the world are literally starving to death in the streets.

    Is it time to re-define poverty from a global perspective?
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, that is true -- we often talk about poverty in relation to the society within which the people live. We are lucky to live in a country that does provide at least the very basics to survive, even to kids who are poor. Really, though, the answer is to bring the rest of the world up, not to make the U.S. citizens live in garbage dumps and starve to death on the streets. A big contributor to worldwide poverty is overpopulation. Climate change will make it even worse.
     
  3. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    NEWS ALERT: Poor people in America are better off then poor people elsewhere.
     
  4. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    I understand this may not be earth-shattering news but the question remains: Why is one humans suffering different than another's? Why should the people labeled 'poor' in America live as kings compared to the people that are truly destitute.

    Also, don't forget that labels mean money. Once you classify a group of people, the money starts flowing. When you give money 'to the poor' do you really want to give money to the guy with the flat screen DVR'ing Monday Night Football?
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Poverty is relative. The average standard of living in the US is better than in third world countries, so people living in poverty here should be better off than people living in poverty elsewhere. I don't think redefining poverty is going to help anyone. IMO the best thing to do is to find a way to bridge the gap between the wealthiest in a particular country and the poorest. Sadly, I don't think this is ever to go happen. Poverty will always exist, and reason will continue to grapple with this issue for as long as humans are around.
     
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  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would guess that the population that actually _is_ living in the streets in America is pretty under-represented in the Census. I realize that the Census does its very best to count everyone, including the homeless, but I can't imagine that they're catching the same percentage as they catch of people with fixed addresses.

    You say "cell phones along with their landline phones". Does the census actually say that these people _have_ landline phones in their homes? A land line can often require decent credit, a deposit if you don't have decent credit, and of course a fixed address. And what percentage of those people bought those consumer goods new, as opposed to used or free? Consumer goods like those are no longer an expensive luxury, one that allows you to assume that the person's other needs, like housing and clothing and healthy food and health care, have been taken care of. They're throwaway items these days.

    I'd be more curious to see what percentage can afford to take their kids to the doctor if they get the flu, what percentage live in home that are free of bugs and vermin, what percentage are confident of being able to make next month's rent, and what percentage can get to a store that will sell them a fresh tomato.
     
  7. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Exactly what I was going to say... only much better.
     
  8. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    As a child who grew up with a household income of 14,000, well below the poverty line, and who now gets by on considerably more, I have some input.

    First, having a cell phone is nearly an employment necessity. Your boss wants to be able to get a hold of you, and you want to be gotten a hold of so that you can work extra hours if you need to.

    The computer is similarly necessary, especially if you have children, or are going to school yourself. Some modern public schools use the same structure that online classes use, so having a computer is a must.

    Is a TV important? Probably not, nor the DVR. But what you probably don't realize is that these things are usually purchased in the "feast" period. Around the first of the year the poorest do their taxes the very first thing, so that they can get their refund as soon as possible. Usually this means paying off the Christmas presents, assuming the family has good enough credit to have a credit card. But that influx of cash is quickly spent and then it's back to "famine" until the next year.

    This article has an interesting perspective on poverty
    http://www.cracked.com/blog/4-things-politicians-will-never-understand-about-poor-people/
     
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  9. MsScribble
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    MsScribble Member

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    As thirdwind said, poverty is relative to a country's standard of living and there can be many different meaning about this word, even within the same country. I live under the poverty belt in my country. Luckily I won a geographical lottery by being born in Australia, which gives me a disability pension so I can pay my rent and electricity, buy food, keep my old car (for now!) and even have the internet on.
    If I lived in America, I would be homeless. Speaking of America, I understood the poverty there as being very real - many people can't afford medical assistance, even life-saving medical assistance, and many are homeless and die on the street due to weather exposure.
    In Australia many of our indiginous people live in third-world conditions and have health problems and mortality rates that shouldn't happen. Two examples of poverty within the same country with different meanings.
    Anyone who doesn't have their head in a drawer and their brain in a jar understands - at least in an abstract way - the difference between these examples and the real poverty which exists. So I don't think we need to re-define the word. Its not like people don't get it. They're just using the words poverty and poor in different ways.
     
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  10. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    We have disability pensions here too, and welfare (or "assistance" if you prefer). It's not much (my father lost his left leg and was too sick to work so his disability was part of the 14,000) and you'll need food assistance to back it up.

    But you definitely wouldn't be homeless. At the very worst you could get a job as a Wal-mart greeter.
     
  11. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Actually, most homeless die from substance abuse or heart disease.

    But still, can we really say that a family in Juarez, Mexico living on nothing and a family in El Paso with a cell-phone and TV working at Wal-mart should be defined the same? Aren't we all human beings living on the same planet? What does a temporary man-made line on a map have to do with quality of life of mortality rates?
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    People who are deprived of health care and at risk of losing their housing are poor, in my book. I don't care what luxuries they may have; unless they can trade those luxuries for the health care, housing, and other essentials that they don't have, they're poor. Yes, other people are poorer. If you want to send money to help the family in Mexico, that's great; do that. But I'm not going to say that the poor should give up their cell phones in order to maintain some required standard of misery.
     
  13. DPVP
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    DPVP Active Member

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    in the end its all relative. i remember when the occupy wall street thing was going on and i found out how low the income was to be one of the 1%. to me it seemed so low and easily obtainable, and a lot of older people i knew made that. living in new York that type of income does not seem special

    now if i am out in other regions a person just making six digits seems a lot more wealthy.

    like wealth poverty is probably better looked at as a scale. with those that cant miss work or they will not make their budget to living in the dumpster.
     
  14. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Surprisingly enough, man made lines have a lot of effect on mankind. Funny how that works out. It's like we made them for a reason of something.

    In this case it means that the families in Juarez Mexico are Mexicans, and if they want infrastructure, economy and technology on par with the rest of the world they will have to get help from other Mexicans.

    Making the U.S. population poorer so that it can provide for people whose governments can't help them is like giving out toothbrushes on Halloween. Except you give out so many tooth brushes your children can't afford to brush their own teeth. Also some of the other children want to kill you for giving tooth brushes to households they don't like.
     
  15. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Huh? I mean, I think I know what you're saying, but this analogy is kind of bent. Fun, and seasonal, but bent.
     
  16. GingerCoffee
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    Excuse me JJ but your data dump isn't really specific enough. Help me out, my hand's in a cast and I'm one hand alternating between the mouse and the keyboard.

    I get it you don't believe poor people in the US need help, that it's all their fault, whatever confirms your bias that you believe in the standard Jesus philosophy and whatever you do for the real poor is consistently Christlike.

    But data can be so easily manipulated, forgive me if I don't believe your claims at face value.
     
  17. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    If you question the data, then take it up with the US Census Bureau. I put a link in the OP, so you can take a look if you want but you don't really need the data to know that there are people in the world who are actually poor, and they do not have televisions, cell phones, computers, DVR's, refrigerators, jobs and houses. My question was only to question whether it's time to look beyond borders and begin acting like a global society.

    I'll ignore your second sentence because you make assumptions I never said and attack my religion to support a false narrative you've created. I'm looking for dialogue and open-mindedness, not attacks. If your going to be an instigator, then please leave this thread, but if you have your own opinions or thoughts, feel free to share them.
     
  18. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Bent means really good analogy, right. It must because that was an excellent analogy.

    My answer is a resounding "No". We don't have the resources, the time, or the popular opinion. We can't even muster the masses to stop Assad from killing the shit out of his people, a problem certainly more important then poverty. Keeping gays from being beaten on the street in Russia, or Baha'is from being murdered in Iran doesn't appear to be on your agenda. Why is the poverty of the globe suddenly a pressing concern? And why is it the job of the United States to prevent it?

    It's worth asking, "How do you intend to pay for, 'global poverty relief'?" Do you know what you would be asking Americans to giving up? It would probably be money, and I've got some news for you, we don't have enough to make our own budget."
     
  19. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Again, this wasn't meant to be a debate, just an open discussion on poverty as it applies globally and the differences, I didn't say I had an answer to global poverty or even that America should fix it. I also never said the things you mentioned aren't a problem, I was merely discussing this particular issue in light of the numbers recently released by the Census Bureau. Why can't people discuss things without trying to turn it into an argument? Sheesh.
     
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  20. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    So where do you draw a worldwide poverty line? If we were all measured by the poorest family on earth, possibly war-torn refugees on a mountainside fighting over the last slice of goat's tongue, then a huge percentage of the world would be just dandy. I'm sure many govts would love to use that mountainside goat eating family in their election brochures - "You won't be this bad under us!".

    I would go with the rest and say it's all relative. Communication/Education devices such as phones, internet and even TV are basic needs. Like someone else, I'd be much more interested in figures relating to real poverty where hungry children to junkie parents are scraping the skirting boards for cockroaches.

    By govt agencies boasting that even the poorest of the poor in America have such luxuries as TV etc is just wishful thinking and more bullshit propaganda.
     
  21. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't believe poverty is something that can be remedied by flinging money at it. I'm more inclined to believe that educating people in poverty would be better. However, like I said before, poverty is never going to go away. It's a sad fact of life.
     
  22. GingerCoffee
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    My issue is not the data JJ, it's your data dump. You made sweeping generalities then linked to the census data expecting everyone to research your conclusions.

    Define poverty as you've used it. What does, "own a cell phone" mean? Because I can get a donated or thrift store cell phone and buy a block of minutes I only need refill rarely. Old computers and TVs are cheap in thrift stores. I see people at the library using the free wifi every day. You can get 4-5 channels here with rabbit ears. Some poor people owned computers and phones before they lost their jobs. Bankruptcy doesn't require one liquidate everything in your house.

    Without specifics, your claims are meaningless.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2013
  23. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I pretty much second what @thirdwind and @ChickenFreak have already said here. And while it may seem callous, I'm also more or less with @Jack Asher when it comes to caring for your own country first in terms of poverty, then, if there're resources, branch out elsewhere. Although if it's about spreading knowledge, e.g. education programmes for less developed countries, I'm all for that.

    My shrink used to say I shouldn't think that I'm not allowed to feel anxious, sad, or stressed out over money, work situation, health etc. just because kids in Africa have it worse, and I shouldn't feel bad about helping myself and the fellow(wo)man to achieve a higher standard of living in my home country, even though being poor here is very different to being poor in e.g. Eritrea.
     
  24. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    This argument doesn't make any sense and is a classic example of the "straw man" argument that folks around here love to point out and discuss. No one is actually suggesting this, nor would there be any way to make this work, even if we wanted to. However, there is an element of the OP that seems to indicate that no one should feel badly for America's poor, because there are people in the world who are so much poorer. But, even making America's poor so much worse off that they are as bad as the currently over 1 billion people in the world who are currently starving to death, wouldn't solve anything. It would also make everyone worse off (including the rich).

    A high degree of income disparity creates instability in a society and the very, very poor can become desperate. This is why, in many countries, the wealthy have to live in houses with gates and armed guards outside them, and you see armed guards outside many banks, stores, and other places of business. I am glad that we don't have that here.

    As far as having cell phones and televisions and computers, well - those things are needed if one wants any chance to get ahead here, especially when we are talking about families that include children. Getting a land line ties you to that one particular living spot, and many poor people tend to be more transient -- they might move often if rent increases, or they might be living with a friend or family member who then says that they can't have them live with them anymore, so they move in with a different family member or friend. They may be living with a boyfriend who becomes abusive, or they break up, or they may have a roommate situation and something happens to the roommate, and then the person may need to move to a smaller place or in with a friend, etc. So, having a cell phone, which is not physically tied to the location where they live makes much more sense than getting a land line (not to mention that sometimes getting a landline requires a deposit).

    Similarly, children are using and being taught in school about computers. Even as young as first grade, they're taught power point and excel, and they are directed to learning resources and search engines. There are learning programs that schools pay for that provide lessons and/or enrichment that need to be accessed using a computer. A computer with an internet connection is vital to allow these children to learn this way, because computers and online resources are here to stay. Children need to be able to use them. (Not to mention that a lot of schools have online access for parents to check on schoolwork, grades, academic progress, upcoming projects or field trips, required forms, and teacher communication.)

    Also, a computer with online access is sometimes a requirement, but in any case always makes finding employment much easier.

    Cable television can offer similar informational and educational benefits, plus a lot of entertainment options. For me, even though it's quite a bill each month, divided into per minute cost, it provides a huge bang for the buck. We don't go out to the movies that much, or to many concerts or sporting events, so our primary entertainment source is our cable television. Now, you could say entertainment is a luxury, but it would be a pretty bleak existence without any entertainment. And when people are sitting idle, that is when you tend to see trouble crop up -- kids, for example can seek other kids (who might be in gangs), they have opportunities for mischief, and criminal activity. (I'm not saying television is a cure for crime, so don't even try to argue that, but if we take away all entertainment options, idleness creates huge opportunities for many bad things.)
     
  25. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The only thing I'm kinda like "is that really necessary?" is TV. I haven't had a TV for years because the computer does everything TV used to do, and I know a lot of people who don't have it nowadays either, who don't pay for cable or 500 channels.
     
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