Ok, maybe not "poor", but the Americans that people use that word to describe. What exactly is "poor" in America? Lots of definitions exist, including one tied strictly to household income - according to this study about $11k a year for a single person - but that is hardly an indicator for every place people could live in the USA, and the "poor", being people, are free to live everywhere (at least that is what I've been told).
We all know that's not quite true. People at the "poverty level" of income are often concentrated in certain locations, due to all sorts of factors. But this diary entry isn't about that.
Following up on yesterday's diary entry concerning the need to define what "fair" means, I thought this term would be a good one to do next, because the right love to tell us how good "the poor have it in America".
I suppose I'll start with a list of things that I believe anyone in the USA should have, at bare minimum, in their households. (The following is crude and I'm sure it has holes I will plug later but in the hour I have for lunch it's the best I can do for now.) Each item assumes that after you pay the bills at the end of the month, NOTHING is left over.
1. You have nothing. Destitution like we see in the worst images of poverty stricken countries. No shelter, distended bellies from malnourishment and prolonged starvation, naked but for rags and perhaps some mud and leaves for modesty and or decoration.
2. Just enough food and water and clothing to meet a bare minimum existence in a mild climate.
3. 2 plus shelter, but nothing else. All of your income goes to food, water, and shelter.
(1 through 3 assume you have access to a telephone and access to transportation - either a friend or public provided. If a person can't get access to those two things then their ability to rise out of poverty is curtailed so I don't believe we can set the bar so low that it precludes at least access to transportation and communication.)
4. 3 plus electricity. Food, water, shelter, and lights and an appliance like a refrigerator. But nothing left at the end of the month after you pay the electric bill.
5. 4 plus you have a cell phone.
6. 5 plus a computer with internet capability. Access to one, such as at a local library, would count too but many rural areas and inner city areas are finding libraries are "out of business". (Still no car.)
(1 through 6 assume you have access to public transportation so you can get to a job so that you can rise out of poverty (in theory, anyway))
7. 6 plus a car. This assumes enough income to purchase, maintain and insure the car, with nothing left over at the end of the month. For a majority of people a car is the only way they can get to work.
So without going too nutty, what do you think is a minimum for existence in the USA consumer/economic environment, that we can classify as POOR? Having no money is not automatically being poor, as you could have tons of "stuff" and all the food and care you require.
I think it's important to set the bar for what POOR is in the USA - and not tie it to strictly monetary income - so we can address factors like FAIR pay, because if person is working 40 hours a week and can't get past #7 (such as being able to afford medicine, health care, eduction and a means to increase their skills to escape being poor) then that person is not doing well. But is that person POOR?
What is POOR? Does it start at 7? 6? 5? Or 1? I think most of us know how conservative Republicans wold have this defined so I won't bother to mock them (here, anyway). They want a SLAVE CLASS of individuals who will do anything to make a buck and they probably have plans similar to this to capitalize on misfortune. They want POOR defined as #1. How about you? What is POOR to you?