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Well, unless there's something I'm just not understanding, I fail to see the distinction.  If you cannot eat, find clothes or shelter or medical care, and you have to perform all of your bodily functions outside and die of starvation or exposure, that seems pretty third world to me.

And we do indeed have a significant population living this way.  It's hard to admit when it's here in the richest nation on earth, but it is true.  Go to any major city to the bad parts of town and look under the bridges and overpasses -- you'll find camps and whole families.  Barefoot children and malnourished babies.  

Look inside the condemned buildings and you'll find the packs of feral teenagers.  Look at the faces of the boys and girls selling their bodies on the streets, if they still look presentable enough.  This all seems very third world to me, even though the backdrop is different.

But maybe there's a component of this discussion I'm missing.

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

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 9th, 2005 at 12:47:03 AM EST
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I live in a rapidly gentrifying but still primarily black working class neighbourhood right next to one of the poorer parts of Bed Stuy (a huge black neighbourhood in Brooklyn primarily made up of a mix of solid working class and the very poor with an increasing but still small number of well off people running from escalating housing prices.) I used to live right next to Harlem before it began to gentrify. I see US urban poverty constantly.

I think we seem to be talking about two different things. If what you're saying is that the bottom one or two percent of Americans live at the level of the bottom half of a rich third world country like Brazil or bottom four fifths of a poor one like India - ok. What I was talking about was the people in the tenth or twentieth percentile - and their lives, while very bad by rich country standards, are quite different. And with the important exception of health care access the lives of the bottom one or two percent are pretty miserable in most European countries as well.

by MarekNYC on Fri Sep 9th, 2005 at 04:49:31 AM EST
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