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Old 10-20-2005, 06:57 AM   #61
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I have personally known people in America who had no indoor plumbing. They washed their kids' hair and brushed their teeth in the bathroom sink and Burger King. They weren't poor enough for welfare, but too poor to pay for the major repairs needed to the pipes inside the walls. I also have personally given food to people who were too poor to feed their kids, their electricity was out and tjeir car that didn't run. It is worse to be poor in America where most people aren't, it's humiliating to the kids.
I can believe it. I lived in America for a while and that country does an appalling job of taking care of its poorest citizens -- it's utterly disgusting that while some live in fucking mansions in Orange County others are living in motel rooms and struggling to put food on the table every night. None of which is to say that other rich countries do anywhere near enough to take care of the poorest in their societies, but no story about poverty in America would shock me given what I know about the level of disregard those who hold political power have for the poor and disadvantaged.

Rant out of the way.

U2Kitten, I honestly understand what you mean when you talk about the humiliation of being poor. It is humiliating to be poor, it's humiliating to explain you're late for work because the bus didn't show up, it's humililating to have to make excuses to avoid a night out because you don't have money, it's humiliating to wear clothes that you bought five years ago from a charity shop (thrift store in the US, I believe), it's humiliating to have friends or family come to your home and see that your shower doesn't work and there's no wallpaper in half the rooms but you don't have the money for repairs. I've been there, I understand all of this. (Which, by the way, should answer your later comment about the "lecturing types" who don't know real poverty -- I'm not turning this into a I'm-poorer-than-you discussion, but believe me when I say I've been there.)

But, can't you see that for all the humiliating and degrading experiences which being poor in America brings, it is a million times better than living in the sort of absolute poverty millions of people in poorer countries live in? I might feel humiliated when people laugh at me for drinking water when I go out for the night because I can't afford a drink, but that's a million times better than having to walk twelve miles to even have clean water to drink. I might feel humiliated that I don't have pretty new clothes like many of my friends but at least I have a coat to keep me warm in winter which is more than can be said for the millions of people living on two dollars a day. I might feel too embarassed to invite friends to my house because of the mess it's in, but at least I have a home, at least I have a roof over my head, at least it's safe and relatively warm and that is so much more than the millions of people who live in shanty towns or refugee camps.

I'm poor compared to most people in the UK and yet I have so much more than the vast majority of people in the world. I went to school for thirteen years free of charge when most children in the world are lucky if they receive two or three years of education, which in many countries costs their family a significant amount of money. If I'm ill I get NHS healthcare at either no or very little cost -- compare that to the millions who die of preventable diseases everyday, compare that to the millions who never receive vaccinations which could prevent those illnesses, compare that to the millions dying of HIV/AIDS with no prospect of receiving treatment. If I'm unemployed or unable to work I'll get state benefits, they might be pathetically inadequate but at least they'll provide me with food and a place to stay which is more than can be said for people unable to find work (or only able to find extremely low-paid work) in the world's poorest countries -- there's no state welfare system to stop them from quite literally starving to death.

I would never underestimate how horrible and humiliating it is to live in poverty in a rich country, but I would hope that both you and I can agree that for all the humiliating experiences we might have, those are preferable to living in the type of poverty experienced by those living in the world's poorest countries. Nobody pretends that being poor in a rich country is easy, nobody wants to understimate how horrible it can be sometimes, but at the same time we need to recognise that there is a huge difference between our experience of poverty as citizens of wealthy countries and the poverty experienced by those living in poor countries. And I do believe we can say one is worse than the other -- I know that for all I feel unhappy or humiliated by my own lack of money, I wouldn't for a moment want to exchange that for the kind of desperate, life-threatening poverty that millions of people experience everyday.

In summary: it sucks to be a poor citizen of a wealthy country, but it's nowhere near as bad as being a poor citizen of a poor country. (And sorry for the very long rant, when all I really needed say was summed up in the preceding sentence.)
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Old 10-20-2005, 10:19 AM   #62
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But, can't you see that for all the humiliating and degrading experiences which being poor in America brings, it is a million times better than living in the sort of absolute poverty millions of people in poorer countries live in?
Good ole Fizzies! I have missed our conflicts since being banned from FYM (not really)

I like I keep saying, I am trying to explain that it's like a 'per capita' thing. Like Richmond, VA does not have near the amount of murders that Detriot, MI has, however, for Richmond's population, they have per capita just as high a rate. So some might still sit there and go, oh but they don't have the amount of murders Detroit has! But based on their population and situation, it's bad for THEM.

That's all I've been trying to say!! I have said from the first post it's wrong to compare industrialized nations to third world nations because they standards of living are so different, the level of poverty is different compared to what you have to live around. I am not saying that people in Africa don't have a worse life or are not technically poorer! I'm saying that for an American who has to live in a society where everyone lives in a big house and drives a big SUV and the prices are high because most people have money, being poor here is on a different level and you can't really compare.

Okay, I'll use an example even inside the US. I know a town in WV where everyone is so poor that the prices are low and two story houses go for $40,000. This is because most people are poor there. Now in another US city, most people are more affluent, prices are high and the same comparable house goes for $240,000. A person living in this area, but having only the income of the person in the poor town would find it almost impossible to survive, end up in a crack apt. getting shot at, and the crack apt's rent would be the price of a good house in the poor town. So while this person would be very poor in the higher priced area, they are not in the poorer area.

And you know NO kid is going to go 'my coat is ugly but it keeps me warm' when all the better off kids laugh at them for wearing junk! That's not realistic.

My Dad grew up poor in the depression with 12 siblings, and his father died young. He told me that he didn't know how poor he really was until he went into the army and traveled around the country and the world, and some black guys from Mississippi told him the same thing. If you live in a poor area around poor people, you make do, people help each other out, and you don't sit around going, oh gee whiz sure wish I had that fancy stuff, because you aren't exposed to it. That's how it was then because there was no mass media, and people lived in a small world. That's how it is for the people in poor countries, if nobody tells them how bad off they are they would likely just consider it a normal life by their standards. But in the US today, a poor person has a hard time because most people aren't poor, and nobody cares about you.

If you walked up to one of my ex neighbors who had no friggin toilet and had to sneak their kids into the Burger King bathroom to wash them, humiliated and living in fear of someone finding out, and told them they were better off than someone walking 12 miles, they'd punch you in the face, and I wouldn't blame them. Just because someone somewhere far away is worse than you doesn't belittle your plight by the standards of your own situation.
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Old 10-20-2005, 10:34 AM   #63
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Old 10-20-2005, 12:21 PM   #64
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Originally posted by FizzingWhizzbees


I can believe it. I lived in America for a while and that country does an appalling job of taking care of its poorest citizens -- it's utterly disgusting that while some live in fucking mansions in Orange County others are living in motel rooms and struggling to put food on the table every night. None of which is to say that other rich countries do anywhere near enough to take care of the poorest in their societies, but no story about poverty in America would shock me given what I know about the level of disregard those who hold political power have for the poor and disadvantaged.

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Old 10-20-2005, 03:26 PM   #65
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You are in the top 7.22% richest people in the world.
There are 5,566,727,941 people poorer than you.
How do you feel about that? A bit richer we hope. Please consider donating just a small amount to help some of the poorest people in the world. Many of their lives could be improved dramatically or even saved if you donate just one hour's salary (approx $20.83)

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Old 10-21-2005, 03:23 AM   #66
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I'm rich!

Well, for a couple months anyway!
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Old 10-21-2005, 08:05 AM   #67
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Old 10-21-2005, 08:11 AM   #68
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