Is poverty always about being poor?

3 Responses

  1. Jeff says:

    It would seem that you would always need to use a sliding scale for poverty with the continual improvement of way of life. But the simplest thing I can think of is work versus reward and work versus free time and ultimately, survivability rate.

    • Charles says:

      By your first two measures hunter/gatherers may be/have been among the wealthiest people in history…there's an estimate that nomadic American Indians worked about 14 hours a week.

      I'm with you though. I think it's tough to describe poverty in monetary terms, or even access to particular "services", though access to clean water is critical. But it's hard to take a "poverty line" seriously when a family of four making $42K is considered "low-income" in the US.

  2. Jeff says:

    Yeah, by that standard I have been dirt poor all of my adult life and yet I have never had to skip a meal (except voluntarily) and I have always had access to shelter, clothes, power, indoor plumbing, air conditioning, a plethora of electronic goodies, and health services.

    Here is another complication to the issue: one of my buddies posted a link to this article ( With technological progress in just the last century, I have a better quality of life than a millionaire (when that actually meant something) at the turn of the last century. If you wanted to get really technical, you would have to include how many levels away from basic survival you are, i.e. specialization. Something like: level 1, farming, hunting; level 2, clothing; level 3, simple tool making; level 4, building construction; level 5, infrastructure; etc. And this is where work versus reward gets really hairy. If I make $10,000 a year and that gives me enough for the basics of food and shelter and even simple entertainment, I am still living at a level much higher level than the kings of old could ever dream of. Which gets me to thinking that when people are talking about poverty, what they are really talking about is power, both over others and over the elements. That might make for a much simpler metric.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *