Repost from iflizwerequeen

Yes, Eloise, cat food is cheaper.*


Poverty can be defined in many different ways. Some attempt to reduce it to numbers, while others argue that a more ambiguous definition must be used. In the end. Most economists and social workers today use a combination of two ways to define poverty: social and statistical.


Prior to using a statistical tool to measure poverty, many make a good case that you must first determine if you want to measure income or consumption amounts.  Income refers to the amount of money someone makes while consumption refers to the monetary value of the goods that person actually consumes.  If you earn $4 a day but are able through some other means such as food stamps to consume $5 a day, your yearly income would be $1440 but  your yearly consumption would be $1,860.

Relative Poverty Measurements

One example of the statistical method is the “relative poverty” index, which the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) uses. The poverty line is set at about one-half a country’s median individual income. If your income falls below that line, you are considered poor.

Relative poverty measurements can be fine can be fine for country-wide measurements if the country is small, but it has some obvious major drawbacks in global use or even in uses in countries as large as the USA.

Absolute Poverty Measurements

Absolute poverty defines poverty as the state of living under a certain, pre-determined amount of income or consumption. The international poverty line for absolute poverty set by the World Bank in 1990 is $1-a-day.  People living at or below this level are said to be in extreme poverty. [Interesting, isn’t it, bankers defining absolute poverty.]  The $2 a day limit is the world standard for poverty.

$14.40-a-day Poverty Line: The absolute poverty line sometimes used in industrialized nations instead of the $1/$2-a-day lines used by the World Bank. The line is set at $14.40 to adjust for different standards of living between industrialized and developing nations.  [NOTE:  In the USA we have 48 possible poverty thresholds that vary according to size and age of members of a family.]


Social definitions of poverty are delineated according to a lack of essential items such as food, clothing, water and shelter. At the UN World Summit on Social Development, the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’ described poverty as “…a condition characterised by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education, and information.” When people are unable to eat, go to school, or have any access to health care, then they can be considered to be in poverty, regardless of their income.

There are also those who say that “you are as poor as you feel.” A Japanese ministry’s survey asked people if they considered themselves as being poor and 59 percent answered “yes,” a new record. That may not qualify as “poor,” but it’s got to mean something as writers Phillip Brasor and Masako Tsubuku pointed out.  [Source]

It’s interesting that almost 2/3?s of the population of Japan consider themselves to be poor. My guess is that if you asked a representative sampling of the US population, in spite of the fact that 77% of us live from paycheck to paycheck, that not even half of them would consider themselves as “poor.”  I think in great part this is due to the excellent propaganda system of the corporate sponsored mainstream media here in the USA that keeps alive the myth of “making it big someday.”

Empowerment is another factor to consider.  This refers to the ability of an individual to make choices regarding his or her life.  Often the poor are not empowered.  They are forced to work at certain jobs or do certain things and often this state of existence can be linked to poverty.  When people are disempowered, many times they are in poverty. Speaking of disempowerment of the poor, I hope that those who persist in thinking that there is a difference between Democrats and Republicans will remember that a Democratic majority in BOTH houses voted in 2010 to defund ACORN on the flimsy evidence of a known right-wing operative, James O’Keefe. ACORN’s only crime is to empower the poor by registering them to vote and informing them of their Constitutional Rights.


* You probably have noticed by now that I question everything including motives and statements from everyone, even my friends. At Firedoglake, a site whose bloggers I agree with at least 90% of the time, they have been closely following and taking a highly proactive stance on monitoring and speaking out against proposed cuts to Social Security.  Updates on these activities are filed under “The Cat Food Commission”. Today, I asked myself:  ”Is cat food really that cheap?”  Several of my friends have cats and complain about how expensive cat food is.  I did a little research this morning and found out that the answer is “yes it is” — cat food is cheap if you are comparing it to human food. Even using the absolute poverty measurement for extreme poverty of $1 a day, one could have a can of cat food from Trader Joe’s at 60 cents a can, eat some grass from the local park, drink water from a public fountain and still have 40 cents to save for a rainy day,

Addendum: Don’t take that free water from a USA public fountain for granted.  It could well be privatized  [monetized] in the future and in order to get a drink one might have to deposit a quarter in a slot on the fountain.

Liz Berry

Liz Berry