15 October 2008
The 15th of October is Blog Action Day and this years worthy topic is poverty; but what is poverty? I didn’t know exactly, so I went and looked around.

According to Wiktionary, poverty is:

The quality or state of being poor or indigent; want or scarcity of means of subsistence; indigence; need.

Wordnet Search 3.0 claims that poverty is:

the state of having little or no money and few or no material possessions

The Combat Poverty Agency (CPA) in Ireland goes on to say:

People are said to be living in poverty if their income and resources are so inadequate as to preclude them from having a standard of living considered acceptable in Irish society

And the US Department of Education shores up that statement by stating in a glossary entry that

poverty is based on a definition developed by the Social Security Administration in 1964 and revised in 1969 and 1981. The poverty index provides a range of income cutoffs adjusted by such factors as family size, sex of the family head, and a number of children under 18 years old. The poverty thresholds rise each year by the same percentage as the annual average Consumer Price Index.

Yet, the A Dollar a Day website counters with a list of tangible poverty absolutes; their glossary says

  • $1-a-day Poverty Line: The international poverty line for absolute poverty set by the World Bank in 1990, and adjusted for various purchasing power parities. People living at or below this level are said to be in extreme poverty.

  • $2-a-day Poverty Line: The second international poverty line for poverty set by the World Bank, and adjusted for various purchasing power parities. People living at or below this level are said to be in poverty, though not to the extent of those living under $1 a day.

  • $14.40-a-day Poverty Line: The absolute poverty line sometimes used in industrialized nations instead of the $1/$2-a-day lines used by the World Bank. The line is set at $14.40 to adjust for different standards of living between industrialized and developing nations. However, many nations (such as the U.S.) set their own poverty lines as well.

  • Absolute Poverty Line: An absolute poverty defines poverty as the state of living under a certain, pre-determined amount of income or consumption. The most common absolute poverty line is the $1-a-day line.

Wow. Can you imagine living for $1.00 a day? How about $2.00 a day? Hell, can you even imagine $14.40 a day? Frankly, I cannot. Nor, I hope, do I ever find out involuntarily what those poverty levels are like. Marita Beth & I are not rich by modern American standards; but in the eyes of nearly 50% of the world’s population, we’re rich beyond compare. We consider ourselves in the bottom portion of what we in the U.S. term Middle Class, yet those 300+ million people in the sub-Saharan section of Africa living in absolute poverty (see above definitions) would look at us in envy and disbelief at our monetary wealth.

I think that the best definition of poverty that I encountered was this one from Wikipedia:

Poverty is deprivation, the denial of access to those things which make a life of dignity possible, including not only food, shelter and safe drinking water, but also such as ‘intangibles’ as the opportunity to learn, to engage in meaningful employment or to enjoy the respect of one’s fellow

I fear that in no small measure the good ol’ U.S. of A. will see a decline in the means to “make a life of dignity possible” and see an increase in population approaching or living beneath the Poverty Line as published by the United States Census Bureau (the 2007 line for a family of four with no children over 18 and a male head-of-house was $21,203 ($14.52 per person per day)). I sincerely hope that we do not, and that we repair the 2006 Economic Policy Institute statistics that show that in the U.S. the percentage of children living in poverty (21.9% after taxes) was the highest of the 16 industrialised nations.

I find it ironic, or perhaps it was planned, that the Blog Action Day subject is poverty just as the world financial markets are suffering one of the most devastating declines in world market history. I also find it ironic, that Blog Action Day occurred this year on the same day that the IRS demands tax filings from those among us that filed extensions the first time around. We have the ability and the means to correct this; now if we can get the leadership.


~KR (Written on 16 October 2008 )

Listening to:
Bonus Track! by Corsairs
from The White One

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.025 sec (1/40)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire