Poverty (also called penury) is deprivation of common necessities that determine the quality of life, including food, clothing, shelter and safe drinking water, and may also include the deprivation of opportunities to learn, to obtain better employment to escape poverty, and/or to enjoy the respect of fellow citizens. According to Mollie Orshansky who developed the poverty measurements used by the U.S. government, “to be poor is to be deprived of those goods and services and pleasures which others around us take for granted.” Ongoing debates over causes, effects and best ways to measure poverty, directly influence the design and implementation of poverty-reduction programs and are therefore relevant to the fields of international development and public administration.
Although poverty is generally considered to be undesirable due to the pain and suffering it may cause, in certain spiritual contexts “voluntary poverty,” involving the renunciation of material goods, is seen by some as virtuous.
Poverty may affect individuals or groups, and is not confined to the developing nations. Poverty in developed countries is manifest in a set of social problems including homelessness and the persistence of “ghetto” housing clusters.
The US government has this to say about poverty…
Poverty: 2007 Highlights
The data presented here are from the Current Population Survey (CPS), 2008 Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC), the source of official poverty estimates. The CPS ASEC is a sample survey of approximately 100,000 household nationwide. These data reflect conditions in calendar year 2007.
* The official poverty rate in 2007 was 12.5 percent, not statistically different from 2006.
* In 2007, 37.3 million people were in poverty, up from 36.5 million in 2006.
* Poverty rates in 2007 were statistically unchanged for non-Hispanic Whites (8.2 percent), Blacks (24.5 percent), and Asians (10.2 percent) from 2006. The poverty rate increased for Hispanics (21.5 percent in 2007, up from 20.6 percent in 2006).
* The poverty rate in 2007 was lower than in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available, while statistically higher than the most recent trough in 2000 (11.3 percent).
* The poverty rate increased for children under 18 years old (18.0 percent in 2007, up from 17.4 percent in 2006), while it remained statistically unchanged for people 18 to 64 years old (10.9 percent) and people 65 and over (9.7 percent).
Poverty 2007 Highlights.
When I started thinking about this subject I figured I would just do a fairly standard blog entry with a few links out to other sights for more info. Since then, the world has found itself feeling a little more impoverished on a daily basis. From what I am seeing, many more of us will have the opportunity in the next few years to feel the effects of poverty.
A few years ago I read a post by John Scalzi that really told the story of what being poor in America feels like. That post touched me more than practically anything I have ever read on the subject. It starts like this…
Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.
Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV.
Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they’re what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there’s not an $800 car in America that’s worth a damn.
Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.
Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends’ houses but never has friends over to yours.
Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won’t hear you say “I get free lunch” when you get to the cashier.
Growing up in a one parent home, we never had much in the way of luxury items. Most of the time it was a stretch to put food on the table. We learned early to make do. But you know what, I didn’t think we were poor. Poverty was what those folks up in the Appalachians lived with. But if you look at it, my Grandfather was a sharecropper. As the youngest of twelve, my daddy grew up to be the first in his family to go to college.
While in all likelihood I spent time in poverty growing up, I really don’t remember feeling poor. But, we were. And from the looks of things today, many of us will learn to live with those feelings again as the world corrects for the excesses of the past couple of decades.
Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so.
Being poor is knowing how hard it is to stop being poor.
Being poor is seeing how few options you have.
Here is hoping you and yours never learn what “being poor” is all about.
- Hunger and World Poverty -Poverty.com
- US Census – Poverty
- Global Issues – The Causes of Poverty
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