Philosophy of Poverty: New Census Figures Show Shifting Markers of American Want

The definition of poverty is shifting, according to a recent New York Times article. In a recent piece titled “Voices of The Near Poor” new figures point out that 1 out of every 3 Americans are either poor or “Near Poor” The latter term is used to denote the predicament that an increasing number of people find themselves in nowadays, encapsulated by the well known phrase “one paycheck away.” The charts show that the picture is indeed worse than many experts have imagined.

After this study which finally has caught up to the long existing  reality, we can now be rid of the utterly asinine notion that a person is not in poverty if they have a refrigerator or a microwave.  While this is not new information to anyone who has been paying attention on the ground, it does signify a couple of things. One, poverty has to be more broadly defined to include lack of access as well, not just mere outward destitution.  Two, the public discourse on American poverty has to become more inclusive of the realities of the working poor. Three, by implication, the question of the livable wage has to be brought back to the table, despite a dogged insistence upon the focus on cutbacks and reducing spending. These among other things will determine how the issue of poverty must be highlighted, and any organized solutions to it as well.

Marc W. Polite


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