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A discussion on the standards of poverty in the united states

Chapter 2 - Defining and measuring poverty Chapter 2 - Defining and measuring poverty Poverty is essentially the lack of the means to live.

At the heart of any consideration of poverty lies the issue of what is needed to live "a decent life" and, more fundamentally, what it is to be human. Specifically, it addresses issues related to the differing definitions of poverty, the ways in which poverty may be measured and various problems that arise in any attempt to measure poverty.

These issues have been the subject of extensive debate and controversy over many decades. That this is the case is not surprising. As one submission noted 'in effect the measurement of poverty and inequality seeks to quantify a set of values, and value judgements, of a society'. One study has argued that the only point of general agreement is that people who live in poverty must live in a state of deprivation, a condition in which their standard of living falls below some minimum acceptable standard.

Poverty can be broadly defined in absolute or relative terms. Absolute poverty refers to people who lack the most basic of life's requirements and is measured by estimating the numbers of individuals or families who cannot provide for the necessities of life such as housing, food or clothing.

Commentators have generally argued that the meaning of poverty in a relatively advanced country like Australia is quite different from the absolute deprivation or subsistence which exists in many developing countries and therefore the concept of absolute poverty has little relevance to conditions in Australia.

Relative poverty refers to individuals or families that have low incomes or other resources relative to other individuals or families. Relative poverty is defined not in terms of a lack of sufficient resources to meet basic needs, but rather as lacking the resources required to participate in the lifestyle and consumption patterns enjoyed by others in the society. Definitions of Poverty Poverty is an enforced lack of socially perceived necessities.

This definition has three core elements: While financial disadvantage is an important part of the problems for the poor and disadvantaged, equally important is the inequality of opportunity.

Mission Australia Poverty includes social, psychological and spiritual dimensions, in addition to financial hardship. The inevitable consequence of adopting such an inclusive understanding of the nature of poverty is to appreciate the breadth of the impact which poverty has on a person's ability to function as a full member of society. It is not just a matter of being unable to buy things, but of being unable to participate — of being excluded and isolated from one's fellow human a discussion on the standards of poverty in the united states.

UnitingCare Australia Poverty is essentially the lack of the means to live. The Christian tradition understands that people have, in addition to basic physical needs such as food, shelter and clothing, other basic needs, such as the need for education, the need to participate in society and contribute to the common good, the need for intellectual, cultural and creative activity, the need to participate in religious activity and community and the need for rest and recreation.

Without these other basic needs being met, human beings may survive but do not flourish. Brotherhood of St Laurence Poverty is both: As noted above, ACOSS defines poverty as an enforced lack of socially perceived necessities, which has a number of core elements which it shares with other definitions of poverty.

The adequacy of resources and whether or not they are necessary needs to be gauged according to people's needs.

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Poverty is usually defined with reference to a set of basic human needs — physical survival and comfort, and the need to participate in the economic and social life of the community. This suggests that poverty has two forms which ACOSS refers to as 'subsistence poverty' — an inability to meet basic physical needs, and 'participation or social poverty' — an inability to meet social needs.

Examples of subsistence poverty include inadequate diet, sub-standard housing or denial of basic health services. Examples of participation poverty include an inability to meet regularly with family or friends, to travel to job interviews, to afford school books and excursions for children, or to complete an education. These forms of poverty are closely related but are distinct. People may have all the resources they need to subsist but lack the resources required for social participation.

Participation poverty has much in common with the idea of social exclusion, a term that usually refers to the exclusion of people from mainstream social and economic life. These are that poverty is a situation in which resources are not adequate to meet basic needs and that any definitions usually embody community perceptions of poverty in some way.

He argued that a definition of poverty as an enforced lack of socially perceived necessities captures the critical aspects of poverty succinctly. It also emphasises the fact that poverty is a situation which is forced onto people, not chosen by them. The Committee's many hearings conducted throughout urban and regional Australia provided an opportunity to hear directly of a discussion on the standards of poverty in the united states experiences and difficulties of people living in poverty and those working closely with them, especially through welfare agencies.

Their collective insights were particularly valuable and provided a useful reference point for framing many of the Committee's approaches to poverty alleviation. A number of these individual contributions are provided below. What it Means to be Poor A lot of people that have been here have spoken of how they came to be in poverty.

I am speaking as someone who lives in poverty. It does not matter how a person comes to live in poverty, and it does not matter what it says in the dictionary as its definition; poverty is everything. You cannot afford basic needs.

The first thing that you let go of is yourself. Then you add rent on to that. That is not having a car — which is a luxury, I believe — or a telephone, because it is not a necessity. The needs of life are not covered by what is put in. It does not matter whether you are on unemployment or a pension. You break it down: I live in a moderately middle-class suburb. It is not totally affluent but I know some people around me in the cul-de-sac and up the street who cannot afford heating.

They go to bed at dark. They cook their dinner early, they turn on their electric blanket and they take their dinner to bed with them so that they will not have to turn on the heating. They cannot afford wood.

Poverty: Not just a state of mind

They cannot afford their oil heater and their oil heaters are sitting there unused and going rusty. That is not a discussion on the standards of poverty in the united states one or two people; there are many. People say, "What a good idea!

These are people who have worked hard all their lives. They are not on pensions, they are not eligible for a pension, but they cannot afford heating. What I hear is absolute pain, the pain of poverty. Let us not walk away from that: I am still haunted by the story of a person who did not appear at but whose story was told at a recent Just Jobs conference.

This was a man who lived in the Huon Valley who had become totally isolated by his poverty, to the degree that he did not leave or very rarely left his home. He remained shut up in his house because of the shame, the feelings of rejection and the sense of isolation from his community.

When we have people who are shut up in their homes because of the experience of poverty, people who are not interacting with others, then I think we have a serious problem on our hands.

Like millions of other low-income Australians, I am one of the hidden poor, just keeping afloat. We are flat out treading water out here. We are making very little headway towards our aspirations, and we are one crisis or catastrophe away from the poor box.

We are living on the edge. We live in the shadows of the dismal statistics. We are not mad, bad, sad or totally dysfunctionally overwhelmed by our life circumstances. Many of us are highly skilled and well educated.

We are all doing what we can to contribute to society a discussion on the standards of poverty in the united states the resources we have. Our poverty is poverty of resources, services and opportunities. I want to stress in relation to this delegation that we are not policy experts but we are experts on the lived experience — the lived experience of these people who have suffered the pain and heartache of poverty in the city of Sydney. It is clear from the stories we will hear today that poverty is on the increase.

I have a clear example of this. I am a coordinator of our night patrol service. In 1998 we worked with 23,000 cases. In 2002 we worked with 43,000 cases. That is a 20,000 increase in the number of people we work with every year.

I am not just talking about men with alcohol and drug addiction, I am talking about men, women and children. Only last Tuesday an unregistered Commodore car followed us around the back of Kings Cross.

It was a family of three children and a single father, looking for something to eat and for some kind of support from us. I move on to poverty. Personal family stress, constantly juggling finances or being in debt, no spare money to cover unexpected expenses, like the broken-down fridge or hot water service, even birthdays and celebrations, never being able to make lifestyle choices like going to the movies or going out for dinner.

Because of those sorts of things people never develop a real sense of hope. My memory of one instance of real poverty, which I guess is why we are all here today, relates to a call for assistance we had from a client.

We got a phone call from this fellow and I said, 'Before we come and see you, what's your problem? His answer was, 'Seven loaves of bread, some pasta, some vegemite, some cereal, three litres of milk, some meat sauce and a couple of incidentals. So we went around to this chap's place in Pottsville, which is a pretty nice area to live, but it was a run-down place.

It was I guess earmarked for redevelopment. We went inside with the client — and let us call him Trevor — and he was there with his two young boys. These kids were perhaps 10 and 12. We walked in with the bags of food and their eyes just lit up. We sat down at a battered camp table with four chairs — you know the fold-out gear — put the bags of food on the table and then started to talk. The kids straightaway got the bags of food, looked inside them and started to put the food away.

Chapter 2 - Defining and measuring poverty

So we were there and we were asking what else we could do for him. There are more deserving people. That guy had pride. He did not want any further help.