Yes, yes,

I know the arguments and I know how the figures are calculated.

According to the DWP, the median weekly income in 2007/08 for a couple with two children was £601 before housing costs and £533 after housing costs.

Such a couple would be considered poor if their monthly income pre-housing was £361, or £322 after housing.

But this is hardly scrape the ground with a stick style African peasantry poverty, is it? Nor is it Dickensian. This is simply inequality, some having less than others.

I might disagree with those who insist that such inequality is a scandal, one which conclusively proves that taxes must rise to fund more redistribution, but that\’s a disagreement. What irks, if not angers, me is the co-opting of the word "poverty" to describe an income that is, by any historical or global standard, living extremely high upon that fattened hog.

5 comments on “Yes, yes,

  1. Poverty is a messy one, because relative poverty measures are almost completely useless from a policy perspective – 60% of median income being the preferred poverty cut-off point. For example, if lots of bankers’ salaries disappeared during, say, an economic crisis, the median income falls and in doing so removes thousands of people from poverty overnight.

  2. I’m think it might be you who is being strange, irksome, in demanding fixed uses of words.

    You argue there are no poor people in any developed or middle-income country. But this is clearly not how the vast majority of people use the word, saying things like ‘this is a poor area of the city’. Opinion poll data also shows that peoples view of poverty changes with income, i.e. a relative measure.

  3. How am I supposed to believe anything the guy writes when he doesn’t even know, or care, about the difference between weekly and monthly income?

  4. if lots of bankers’ salaries disappeared during, say, an economic crisis, the median income falls and in doing so removes thousands of people from poverty overnight.

    Well, prices are supposed to fall during a crisis too.

  5. Absolute poverty is easy to define, and that’s why we should ditch this relative poverty concept, which is much too slippery.

    The ability to buy sufficient, wholesome food, clean water, accomodation which is structurally sound and safe, clothing, public transport to work, school etc, and sufficient fuel for heating, and hot water to keep home and people clean. Maybe some extra to cover telephone, insurance of home and contents, and refunds of costs incurred for dentistry and spectacles, mobility aids, and children’s school uniforms and sports equipment.

    TVs, broadband, computers, playstations, package holidays, gender re-assignment surgery, are not basic essentials.

    As I write this, cases of real griding poverty are being shown on TV. Folk living in a cardboard and plastic shanty town in Paraguay.

    And as for child poverty, the touchstone of one Gordon Broon, the worst poverty afflicting our children, is the fact that single mothers are bringing them into the world only to use them as a meal ticket.

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