When does poor actually mean poor?

There has been much coverage this year of countries like Greece & Spain needing EEC bail outs & having to introduce austerity measures. These measures attract huge protests from some of the population because pay could be cut & taxes rise. What amazes me is the seeming complete lack of common sense 50% of the human race seems to suffer from! A country's government can be seen as the head of the family, responsible for the care & wellbeing of its members in the best way possible. As in any family how well the members live is dependent on the family income & when that is reduced some "luxuries" have to go - a smaller car, less eating out, less exotic holidays, etc. If cutbacks are not made the family could end up bankrupt, losing almost everything. If the government doesn't make economies, where IS the extra money going to come from?

In the UK the situation seems to be different, though not much, with single mums being interviewed in small flats complaining about how tight money is & how inadequate the benefit payments are, when in the background, amongst the sea of kids toys, is a 50 inch plasma TV with Sky! a £1000 TV plus 20 quid a month subscription & half of Toys R Us in the house? Where, one cannot help asking, did the money come from for that little lot? I've seen other interviews on poverty & debt where the "poor" person had over ten grand's worth of DVDs on shelves behind him, many being boxed sets!

It seems people are encouraged to spend beyond their means without penalty, claim more money from the government when that stops (but can keep the goods) so expect that their government can do the same. Just WHO is paying for all this, then?

Poor to my mind means having just about enough to get by leading

an extreemly simple life style,probably no holidays, living in a council block, eating basic

simple food, having very basic interior rooms without the dressing of I pods, fancy T.V ectc.

Poverty to me means not having the recources to put food on the table and not having a proper

roof over your head....possibly living rough...as they say.

In the developed countries poverty is usually measured in terms of consumption (the costs of a basket of stuff deemed to be the absolute minimum in a society) or as a relative percentage of the median income in that society. It is a perceived comfort level, nothing more or less.

But to me poverty is extremely rare in both the UK and France. Yes, there are people living on the streets, but (I know this sounds harsh) more-often as a result of their own past choices (debt-accumulation, lifestyle, alcohol and other drugs etc but also choosing to immigrate to these countries with no real perspective on a legal status or let alone a job). If you're able to complain that you're poor, whilst having a roof over your head, clean water, heating, food etc. mostly provided for by your government then there's something seriously wrong with you..

Like Brian I've seen my share of poor peoples in the non-developed world. And the biggest difference between these peoples and those in the UK and France is that the first group will fight to build up a reasonably existance. An existence that is still extremely poor, compared to what we are used to in the Western world but I've seen also a lot of happiness there because they could make things work with the little they had. In contrast, the actions undertaken by the large part of the poor in the UK and France will consist of claiming more money and support from their governments.

But I do think nevertheless that a categoryI has the right to claim something from the government: those pensioners who worked all their lives and, due to the pension system, end up with an alms for income.

If a government should take care of their citizens, the "best way" to do that is at its best a subjective criteria. But nevertheless: "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats it's weakest members". So if you have, besides your basic needs also your large flatscreen and ditto DVD-collection covered then you don't belong to the "weakest members"

Well, got that of my chest :-)

Looking at the word poor in a dictionary it says "People living off welfare"

In essence right Mark, but a little simplisitic. The droughts and other natural disasters were too easy to latch on to, but the massive land clearances that have forced people into urban sprawls around big towns and cities are too many, too big and have genuine poverty within them. They, rather than the more temporary effects of natural disasters, are a major problem in several parts of the world. That is not to say that rural people are not poor too. Those who have been induced to adapt to modern farming methods and growing cash crops particularly, often do not make it above the 'poverty line'. Either way, that we have people like teachers in Spain and Portugal who live below the level economically indexed as 'poverty' on this continent makes a mockery of it all.

I think you have it, Tanya. There is a tendancy to label many Central African countries as poor because many people do not live in brick houses, own cars or TV sets & live off the land. Traditionally they manage without a concept of money, sustaining themselves by careful farming & using a barter system, but by the western worlds standard they are poor because these people do not have what we regard as essentials & if we had not messed with their culture in the first place would still be happy to do so.

HI there

What is poor.. agree with most of what has already been said. There have been times during out married life, especially when the children where young when I though we were poor. However can you be poor if you have a roof over your head, food albeit basic on the table and are clothed all be they second hand. I don't think so. I think today it is not being about poor it is about not having "stuff". Not to say there are not "poor" but I do think there is an attitude of its my right.

hope these ramblings make sense!

As usual Brian the words flow and the detail is there.

I do ask how someone who is grossly overweight, smoking heavily and always having a drink on the go

can plead poverty.

Nurses earn very little...but I would never have linked teachers to poverty.

Poor - now I could really run with this one, but i shall not.

I have worked mainly in the 'South', which is to say those societies not part of our northern hemisphere, 'western' variety. Although on our doorstep we have Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and even Kazakhstan and Kurdestan where I have worked, which are included. By degrees, the countries in South America, Africa generally and South and SE Asia have populations who live hand to mouth. Sometimes they have nothing in their hand at all, including food. I was in Ethiopia, not at the time of Live Aid when it was at its worst, but during the next but shorter bad spell after that. Also, much of my early career involved being in massive South American 'shanty', squatter settlements and where those people came from in the rural hinterlands. India, I think little needs to be said. Poverty in those places is grinding. The difference between life and death is sometimes merely how deep in poverty, particularly food poverty, one has sunk. I think we have seen enough news coverage and so on about that not to go further.

European poverty is a politically as well as economically constructed concept. It allows for people in professions such as teaching, nursing and so on to live in poverty because their income is below a certain line. Yet we have exclusions where people are exempt from all forms of support and benefits for various reasons who do not form part of the western picture. It is a conceptually loaded concept, because one might well have somebody who is grossly overweight, smokes heavily, always has a drink on the go and their kids all have a DS, and so on eyt pleads total poverty.

The South and North do not correspond, so the one we know in the north is oxymoronic and needs rethought and rephrasing. It also needs a strong and convincing political debate as well as long overdue high quality social and economic research that do more than scratch the surface and fuel the fire of popular debate that takes us nowhere.

So these people as j just said are the poor, very rich.

Oh to be so flippant with money.....

I used to think that being poor meant not being able to afford the economy size packet :-))

I also get worked up when I see people, who say they can't make ends meet, with expensive electrical and electronic goods, continuing to smoke, buy their kids the latest computer game ...

Recall a couple of former colleagues who were forever complaining that they didn't have enough money. The children of one of them were members of the most exclusive tennis and riding clubs in town and he took the entire family on an extended holiday to L.A. where he hired a stretch limo for his wife's birthday. The other went on holiday to Thailand.

Could they not do without these things to save money for more important things like food, I asked. No, apparently. The kids had a "right" to be in the same clubs as their more well-off friends, to wear expensive designer clothes so they didn't feel left out. They both also felt it was their "right" to have an expensive holiday.

What section of the human rights charter does that come under, I wonder.

What did the Beatles sing "Money dont buy me love"
Was I the only poor kid on the block?

Poor ....YES I remember being poor...as a child.

My father did work and the bills were paid but there were no

luxuries...I was not over poor...IF you can understand.

There was always very simple food and occasionaly something sweet.

But staying on past O levels was not an option.

That was a luxury....So no chance of a university education ....most of you

have enjoyed that.

Not dissapointed really.....I had a very special life in spite of not going past go.

I have done more things than most rich kids have done.

Lived in a council block....drunk in a pub which entertained the Krays and lived

close to so many fascinating people. I have no regrets about being poor.

No fridge...smallest TV....tiny presents at xmas...
Being poor brought me closer to appreciating everything which rich people took for granted...

Eating and cooking great food....and I did this with the best of the bunch.

Living here amongst a great mix-bag of people.....just like a huge jar of

liquiorise allsorts...just keeping meeting new people all the time.