Sunday, November 06, 2005

Poverty - defined and defied?

...I've been thinking a lot about poverty lately, about the state of families on low incomes in the UK, and about the atrocious conditions so many people globally are forced to endure.

The other day, I was talking about poverty to a white African person and she completely shot down the idea that there was poverty in the UK. Now clearly, the issue is different and radically worse in Africa, and many other places around the world. The suffering of those who have nothing is vastly different to the situations here in the UK.

I really don't think that its wrong though to describe people in the UK as living in poverty. defines poverty thus;
  1. The state of being poor; lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts.
  2. Deficiency in amount; scantiness: “the poverty of feeling that reduced her soul” (Scott Turow).
  3. Unproductiveness; infertility: the poverty of the soil.
  4. Renunciation made by a member of a religious order of the right to own property.
When I think of children in dreadful housing, or older people dying of cold, its hard to believe that that doesn't count as poverty. To me, its poverty. The situation in the developing world (is developing world the right term? it doesn't sound right. Those we have fucked over, perhaps?) is beyond this. The simple term poverty to me doesn't go far enough.

But perhaps I'm over simplifying, or over sympathising. Perhaps lots of people in the UK who don't have much have made some bad decisions (as suggested by some dreadful article I can't find the link for). For me, poor people in the UK live in poverty. In the rest of the world, its hell.
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