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Ah, mimi, this is why I'm so fond of you!  You just drag it all right out in the open!  So many arguments to have!  I'm not sure I have the strength, but you do get the pot stirring!

I think we have, in various threads including poor Colman's, been comparing apples, oranges, etc.  My whole goal has been to establish that there's a pretty big poverty problem in the US and that a  lot more are struggling.  That's it.

As to comparisons, I think they are useful for finding causes and solutions and other educational purposes.  If they're being used "prove" that some people don't have it so bad or someone else has it worse -- one-upping in other words -- then I think comparisons can be detrimental to the discussion.  But I wholeheartedly encourage the former types.

And I think you're correct that income is a relative thing.  I'm not sure what subsets would be valuable to compare.  It's getting late here now and I'll be off to bed soon, but I think the recent UN report would give us some good ideas.  Plus, I have every confidence that other things will come up in this thread as the Europeans awake and I go off to have sweet dreams. Play nice while I'm gone! ;-)

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 01:08:38 AM EST
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poverty can be most feasibly defined, imho, by certain objective measures.  infant mortality, malnutrition, educational access and follow-through, security of housing (or any housing), food security, freedom of mobility, average lifespan and causes of premature death.

if you have a substantial number of people whose lives are curtailed below the national average lifespan due to causes associated with deprivation -- malnutrition, exposure, life in insecure "war zones" rife with violence and virtually unpoliced, arbitrary violence from whatever police presence there is -- then I think it is safe to say that you have substantial poverty.  

it is possible to be "wealthier" in terms of good diet, personal security, health and longevity as a cash-poor peasant in a supportive cultural matrix than as a working-poor American through whose hands more dollars flow each year.  so I would stick to actuarial stats if I were trying to figure this out.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Oct 13th, 2005 at 05:18:12 PM EST
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Thank you, DeAnander.  Somehow you've distilled the essence of the thing I howl about in a succint and practical way.

As to the part about "life in insecure war zones" (and I'll have to find the link) a study came out not too long ago showing that children in some areas of our inner-cities do suffer ptsd and all the associated problems of living in this way.

Honestly, we can talk about jobs and the economy and education -- and those are all good things -- but I think if I could choose just two things to change that I believe would help the most, I'd choose national healthcare and ending the drug "war."

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 13th, 2005 at 05:31:07 PM EST
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