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Thursday, July 31, 2014

What Is Your Scale for "Enough"?

One of the nice things about living is a small town is the small town press newspaper that is published once a week.  I enjoy all the photos and the stories that don't really make the national news; I like reading about all the local news. Newspapers like this make one feel really connected to the town you call home.

There was a very interesting article in my local press this week ( by a woman who wondered "How Much Is Enough?"  "Enough" means different things to different people, and her article featured several people she knows who went through their closets, cupboards and garage storage areas with the express purpose of eliminating useful items, in good condition, that were donated to help those in need.

I heartily applaud their efforts.  Each time we moved house we got rid of more of our "stuff".  All was donated except for the washer, dryer and refrigerator. Those items were sold on Ebay, so they went to people who could not afford brand new appliances.  It made us feel good to be able to help others with useful items we no longer needed.

While thinking about this subject I began to wonder just what "enough" is based upon.  It seems to me that the concept of having enough is determined by what is perceived as "poverty".

In my research I found seven types of poverty that affect people:

  1.       Economic poverty: lack of food, clothing and shelter
  2.       Bodily poverty: lack of health and hygiene, malnutrition
  3.       Mental poverty: lack of thinking and education
  4.       Cultural poverty: lack of cultural activities and practices
  5.       Spiritual poverty: lack of mental peace and feeling of brotherhood
  6.       Political poverty: not casting one’s vote, lack of development
  7.       Societal poverty: lack of unity and neighborliness
In his book, Eric Jensen gives us other poverty points of view:

"What Is Poverty?  Teaching with Poverty in Mind
by Eric Jensen
The word poverty provokes strong emotions and many questions. In the United States, the official poverty thresholds are set by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Persons with income less than that deemed sufficient to purchase basic needs—food, shelter, clothing, and other essentials—are designated as poor. In reality, the cost of living varies dramatically based on geography; for example, people classified as poor in San Francisco might not feel as poor if they lived in Clay County, Kentucky. I define poverty as a chronic and debilitating condition that results from multiple adverse synergistic risk factors and affects the mind, body, and soul. However you define it, poverty is complex; it does not mean the same thing for all people. For the purposes of this book, we can identify six types of poverty: situational, generational, absolute, relative, urban, and rural.
1.     Situational poverty is generally caused by a sudden crisis or loss and is often temporary. Events causing situational poverty include environmental disasters, divorce, or severe health problems.
2.     Generational poverty occurs in families where at least two generations have been born into poverty. Families living in this type of poverty are not equipped with the tools to move out of their situations.
3.     Absolute poverty, which is rare in the United States, involves a scarcity of such necessities as shelter, running water, and food. Families who live in absolute poverty tend to focus on day-to-day survival.
4.     Relative poverty refers to the economic status of a family whose income is insufficient to meet its society's average standard of living.
5.     Urban poverty occurs in metropolitan areas with populations of at least 50,000 people. The urban poor deal with a complex aggregate of chronic and acute stressors (including crowding, violence, and noise) and are dependent on often-inadequate large-city services.
6.     Rural poverty occurs in nonmetropolitan areas with populations below 50,000. In rural areas, there are more single-guardian households, and families often have less access to services, support for disabilities, and quality education opportunities. Programs to encourage transition from welfare to work are problematic in remote rural areas, where job opportunities are few (Whitener, Gibbs, & Kusmin, 2003). The rural poverty rate is growing and has exceeded the urban rate every year since data collection began in the 1960s. The difference between the two poverty rates has averaged about 5 percent for the last 30 years, with urban rates near 10–15 percent and rural rates near 15–20 percent (Jolliffe, 2004)."

When you combine these two lists, you have a pretty comprehensive view of poverty today.

How do you define poverty?   How do you define "enough"?  Where do you stand?