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The solution to poverty

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  • #2


    Graces7 wrote: »
    One point; define " poverty"?
    It's a very good question.

    Obviously, you can have things like spiritual or emotional poverty, but that's not what we're talking about here, so lets put those to one side. Let's talk about material poverty.

    Material poverty is the condition of not having enough possessions or income to meet your needs. But obviously there's an awful lot wrapped up in the words "enough" and "needs".

    Obviously, you have absolute poverty; someone who cannot feed, clothe and shelter themselves and their dependents to the level needed to sustain life.

    But you also have relative poverty; someone who is not absolutely poor in the sense just described, but who is nevertheless so poor, in comparison with others, that they suffer social exclusion. We're social animals; we have a need for social relationships; social inclusion; participation in the community. o if we are deprived of those kind of connections and relationships because we don't have the money required to pursue them, we are in relative poverty.

    In your own case, you have a low income but you also live, by preference, a simple life which doesn't consume a lot of resources, so you're happy in life. Which, obviously, is good, and important. But being happy is not the same as not being poor. The fact remains that there are certain choices that you couldn't make, because you don't have the money to make them. You are fortunate that they are choices that you don't want to make, so your inability to make them doesn't lead to unhappiness, but if they were choices that somebody else might need to make in order to live a life with adequate social inclusion, the inability to make those choices would represent poverty.

    There are places in the world, for example, where your ability to live a fulfilling life and to make and maintain ordinary social connections is crucially dependent on having, or having access to, a private car. In those places, if you can't afford to keep and run a car, you're poor. There are other places in the world where this is not true. It's increasingly the case that if you can't afford a smartphone, or otherwise to access the internet, this is going to impose significant social limitations on you and will represent relative poverty.

    Note that "social limitations" doesn't mean just the inability to socialise with friends. Your lack of a car or a smartphone may be a huge limitation in looking for a job, or in the range of jobs that you can take, or it could similarly limit your educational opportunities - you can only go to the college that's accessibly by bus; you can't take online courses. The smartphone, note, was invented less than 20 years ago, and in that time has gone from luxury status symbol to basic necessity in many societies.

    Obviously, what represents relative poverty depends on how rich a society you live in, since social inclusion depends on your being able to do the things that it is normal in your society to be able to do. Therefore we have the bizarre circumstance that someone living on a certain income will be in relative poverty in a first-world countty, while someone living on a much lower income in a developing country will not be in poverty at all. That's a reflection on the inequality of the world we live in, but nevertheless the poverty of the richer person in this example is real.


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