Can Wealth exist without poverty ?

Jan 2010
4,357
Atlanta, Georgia USA
#21
It all depends on where you start measuring 'poor' because I started at homeless which is a bit different from lowest 20% based on income (where income does not equal wealth). Also I think you might have missed that part where is said " $24, 638 or less" so the TOP of the lowest 20% have incomes around $2k per month- that means almost everyone in that 20% actually has incomes less than that.

Here is a better measurement of the distribution by quintile. As you can see the average income in the lowest 20% of income is less than half of what the top part of the lowest 20% earn.

Household Income Quintiles
There are lots of poor people in the US who are not homeless. In 2017, it was estimated that about 0.17% (554,000 people) were homeless on any given night.

And thanks for reading my comment closely enough to see the statistical problem. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any reliable statistics for anything except the threshold.

But you and I are talking past each other: In my view, poverty is something to be eliminated and theoretically it could be if society provided the right combination of policies. But in your view, it appears that poverty can never be eliminated because it is, by definition, the lowest fifth of the income level. In other words, in your view poverty is relative, and in mine, it's absolute.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,860
Sydney
#22
a good measur of poverty is the amount oftime it take to get the food to stat alive
poor spend 80% of their income on food
well off spend 10 % of their budget on food
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#23
@pugsville

A coop you say?

I did know a guy at work who lived in a coop. I found his description of his living arrangements most unappealing; I'm far too selfish. He was a fervent Trotskyist. He sneeringly dismissed me as a pluralist., which is true enough. My basic life position is self interest. I believe that is also the basic position of human beings as a species. I have a deep distrust of ideologues, who I find naive at best, dangerous at worst. (no offence intended)

"Some sort of reformed anarchist" ?Sounds intriguing . I have never bene able to understand how simple anarchy is meant to work in an industrial society, which tend to haver a very complex division
of labour.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,515
#24
There are lots of poor people in the US who are not homeless. In 2017, it was estimated that about 0.17% (554,000 people) were homeless on any given night.

And thanks for reading my comment closely enough to see the statistical problem. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any reliable statistics for anything except the threshold.

But you and I are talking past each other: In my view, poverty is something to be eliminated and theoretically it could be if society provided the right combination of policies. But in your view, it appears that poverty can never be eliminated because it is, by definition, the lowest fifth of the income level. In other words, in your view poverty is relative, and in mine, it's absolute.
I used homeless because I think there is a bit of an issue with considering someone with a house, car, several material possessions and steady paycheck as 'poor' because this entire thread is about poor in an absolute or relative sense? In western society homeless is about the lowest point a person can be since many people are way past the value of their assets in debt- they are not homeless despite negative networth. Poverty is as much about the perception of status and worth as wealth.

75-80% of full-time workers in the U.S. live paycheck to paycheck which to me indicates more often a spending problem than an income problem. That said once a person is in debt especially if they have dependents it can take several years to get out of debt and several more years with no accidents or unexpected costs to accumulate any real savings so people in the lowest quintile are the most vulnerable because they have very little room to fall. High middle income even living paycheck to paycheck likely has some assets that can be used when in need or a network of friends/family where a few hundred dollars each can stabilize many situations where the poorest in western society tend to be the most isolated and have the smallest (and also poorest) networks.

Finding real number is hard because the numbers are always in transit while quintiles is relatively arbitrary and assumes the lowest 20% of society is 'poor' which is the relative definition. About 12% of household in the U.S. or roughly 40 million Americans live below $12,800 household income which is the official U.S. government standard for certain means-tested programs though Medicaid has a higher standard at $16,400 where about 15% of households qualify for Medicaid. There are several U.S. cities where household income has to be above $70,000 to afford the average 1 bedroom apartment.

If you can not afford a 1 bedroom apartment I think most people in the developed world would consider that 'poor' even though in an absolute sense it is very difficult to say anyone with an income over $70,000 can be considered poor still paying $2,000 a month in rent or an additional 1k for 30 year mortgage leave a bit less than 10k disposable income after taxes. So that person IN that environment IS relatively poor and would perceive themselves that way in most cases.
 
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Likes: bboomer
Jan 2010
4,357
Atlanta, Georgia USA
#25
I used homeless because I think there is a bit of an issue with considering someone with a house, car, several material possessions and steady paycheck as 'poor' because this entire thread is about poor in an absolute or relative sense? In western society homeless is about the lowest point a person can be since many people are way past the value of their assets in debt- they are not homeless despite negative networth. Poverty is as much about the perception of status and worth as wealth.

75-80% of full-time workers in the U.S. live paycheck to paycheck which to me indicates more often a spending problem than an income problem. That said once a person is in debt especially if they have dependents it can take several years to get out of debt and several more years with no accidents or unexpected costs to accumulate any real savings so people in the lowest quintile are the most vulnerable because they have very little room to fall. High middle income even living paycheck to paycheck likely has some assets that can be used when in need or a network of friends/family where a few hundred dollars each can stabilize many situations where the poorest in western society tend to be the most isolated and have the smallest (and also poorest) networks.

Finding real number is hard because the numbers are always in transit while quintiles is relatively arbitrary and assumes the lowest 20% of society is 'poor' which is the relative definition. About 12% of household in the U.S. or roughly 40 million Americans live below $12,800 household income which is the official U.S. government standard for certain means-tested programs though Medicaid has a higher standard at $16,400 where about 15% of households qualify for Medicaid. There are several U.S. cities where household income has to be above $70,000 to afford the average 1 bedroom apartment.

If you can not afford a 1 bedroom apartment I think most people in the developed world would consider that 'poor' even though in an absolute sense it is very difficult to say anyone with an income over $70,000 can be considered poor still paying $2,000 a month in rent or an additional 1k for 30 year mortgage leave a bit less than 10k disposable income after taxes. So that person IN that environment IS relatively poor and would perceive themselves that way in most cases.
I agree with most of what you say. The only thing I would take issue with is the apartment affordability.

If someone cannot afford to rent an apartment in the city where he or she wants to live, he or she should adjust goals. I would love to live on Manhattan Island but my income would never permit it. Hence, I live in Atlanta (or rather a suburb of Atlanta.
 
Oct 2013
13,548
Europix
#26
"The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau as taken from various government reports:

  • 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning. In 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • 92 percent of poor households have a microwave.
  • Nearly three-fourths have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks.
  • Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite TV.
  • Two-thirds have at least one DVD player, and 70 percent have a VCR.
  • Half have a personal computer, and one in seven have two or more computers.
  • More than half of poor families with children have a video game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation.
  • 43 percent have Internet access.
  • One-third have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV.
  • One-fourth have a digital video recorder system, such as a TiVo."
Thank You, it's an interesting list.

Aside the information in itself, the list can also tell a bit on the relativity of the concept of "poverty" linked to ownership and it's evolution in time.

For example, car ownership is in a lot of cases an absolute necessity for being able to work, get the kids to the school, shopping. Sometimes a family needs for "surviving" 2 cars.

Another example would be internet access, smartphone, personal computer becomes an absolute priority in some places, as one can't even make a payment, or receive an official paper, or an invoice.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
2,872
Las Vegas, NV USA
#27
In a free market consumer based economy the "new rich" rise out of the middle or working class by providing access to goods and services that the population need or want at affordable prices. The problem is that inherited wealth does not necessarily contribute to the public good which some use as justification for graduated income and "death" taxes with redistribution of wealth by the state. In principle there is no necessity for poverty to exist. It's almost non existent in Singapore, Norway, Luxembourg and a few other countries.

EDIT: There will always be people who cannot or will not take care of themselves. This is a social, not economic problem. A well functioning economy can alleviate this problem. People don't choose to live in poverty because they are "lazy". Criminals will always exist and will be treated as such.
 
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Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#28
I worked for Federal Social Security for 25 years. The offices in which I worked dealt with 'the working class poor' with a sprinkling of petty career criminals.

When mobile phoned became small enough to be worn on a belt, but still too expensive for me, i noticed that around every second male I saw had a mobile phone on his belt.

I liked the comment that the US paycheck-to-paycheck situation is more of a spending problem than an income problem. I think that is almost certainly the case, perhaps for millions. -The US is the world's largest debtor after all.

However, not a complete explanation; the US has a vast underclass of illegals, who work for less than the minimum wage, and an even greater number who work several minimum wage jobs to survive.

Those two problems are more to do with the willingness of large number of Americans to exploit illegals, and the appalling minimum wage.

Stats: "As of 2017, FAIR estimates the number of illegal aliens in the US to be approximately 12.5 million. This number is slightly higher than FAIR’s previous estimate of 12 million in 2011."

How Many Illegal Immigrants Are in the US? | FAIRus.org

The US Federal minimum wage is 7.50 an hour. IE $300 for a 40 hour week.

The Australian minimum wage is $18.93 an hour, $757.20 for 40 hours.

It cannot be assumed that a minimum wage employee works at any given job for 40 hours a week due to the casualisation of industries such as retail and hospitality. In Australia, to work for McDonalds is called "having a McJob", as the company is seen as exploitative.

I think it's fair to say addiction to credit is certainly an issue,(here too) but illegals, the minimum wage and casualisation are also factors in the existence of relative poverty in the US.

This is anecdotal: I read somewhere that it is not uncommon for some older Americans, surviving on Social security to be forced to choose between food and essential medication. (?)

As with most serious social problems, as far as I can see, there is no simple explanation or simple solution to poverty. Apparently, the issue was too complex even for Jesus :)

King James version . Matthew 26:11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
 
Oct 2013
1,283
Monza, Italy
#29
If I think about Scandinavian societies, the idea of a necessary cohexistence between wealthy and poor seems very weak. Just for the record: capitalism - among other things - is not a zero-sum system.
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#30
If I think about Scandinavian societies, the idea of a necessary cohexistence between wealthy and poor seems very weak. Just for the record: capitalism - among other things - is not a zero-sum system.
Have never been to a Scandinavian country. However, it is my understanding that they have excellent social justice systems.

I think the notion of coexistence is a bit odd; as if people have a choice. In terms of sustainability it depends on just how oppressed people feel (self perception). This is especially true for the bourgeois, because it is they who foment revolutions.

People are far more likely to feel satisfied with their lot if they feel they are being treated justly. Historically, this has little to do with the capitalist power paradigm. It is through government via political pressure or self interest ,that social justice is obtained.

A simple way of measuring levels of social justice is to see how a country treats the poor, the old, the sick, children and any marginalised group. Have a look at a country's systems of health, education and welfare. Yep, I mean what some would see as a type of State socialism.

I am not a socialist However,. it is my contention that a government should be the servant of the people. A government has no money of its own; It's all ours, and should be spent on the well being of every citizen. That seldom happens because the seriously rich are also seriously greedy. They use their wealth to maintain the status quo. In most modern democracies there is also a powerful, sophisticated and corrupt lobbying system.

In my country we have the notion of 'the affluent working class'. Ask an Aussie to identify his own class, the majority of the population see themselves as middle class

Capitalism may not be a zero sum system,, but it has come close. Examine working conditions, wages, housing and the other factors I mentioned from the beginning of the Industrial revolution, until after WW2.
 

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