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I've been poor, and I've been not so poor -- and not being Poor is better.

Finally after 50 years of treating those in Poverty, as a bothersome statistic, the Federal Govt has begun to acknowledge, that there ARE individual stories, in that invisible demographic group:

Federal Gov't Expands How It Measures Poverty
Frank James, NPR -- March 2, 2010

NPR's Pam Fessler summed up the changes for network's newscast:

Things such as taxes, child care, housing and out-of-pocket medical expenses, along with the value of government benefits such as food stamps, will be included in the calculation. The official poverty measure, which is based on an individual's cash income, will still be used to determine eligibility for government programs. The supplemental measure will be used to study poverty trends and the impact of anti-poverty programs. The change is something that's been long sought by poverty experts. The new measure will be available next year.

Poverty is about more than an abstract Income Level -- it's about a Quality of Life.

It's as if the Govt has looked at Poverty as a disease, a sickness, a condition --
something to be sterilely treated, but from a distance. And as mechanically as possible.

Poverty Threshold
From Wikipedia

The poverty threshold, or poverty line, is the minimum level of income deemed necessary to achieve an adequate standard of living in a given country.
Determining the poverty line is usually done by finding the total cost of all the essential resources that an average human adult consumes in one year.
In 2008, in the United States of America, the poverty threshold for a single person under 65 was $11,201 (US);
the threshold for a family group of four, including two children, was $21,834 (US)

$11K a year ???   equals a "standard of living" ???

In who's universe?  Maybe if you live in a tent, and do subsistence hunting/gathering -- but even then there are Camping fees, gas, cooking supplies, warm socks ... bear spray!

Thankfully, the Obama Administration has recognize that all Poor People -- are NOT created equally. One person's poverty, could be another person's "barely getting by" ...

Obama Administration issues another way of measuring what it means to be poor
By Amy Goldstein, Washington Post Staff Writer -- March 2, 2010

The Obama administration Wednesday issued an alternative definition of what it means to be poor, stepping gingerly into a long-running debate over whether to revise the way poverty has been measured for decades. Under a "Supplemental Poverty Measure" announced by the Commerce Department, the government is augmenting the formula used for nearly a half-century to determine how many people live in poverty, which has been based on the cost of food and the cash income a family takes in.
The new definition will take into account a wider range of both expenses and sources of income. It will, for instance, consider the amount that families spend for shelter, utilities, child care and medical care, as well as the financial help they receive from housing and food subsidies.

Blank said that federal officials have not tried yet to calculate whether the new definition will increase or decrease the number of Americans who qualify as poor.

Like in most trades and sciences, the better the measuring tools you have, the more accurate results you are likely to get, if you are really trying to fix the problem. And now finally, we may be getting some more accurate tools for measuring that little seen "State of Poverty".

It's a start, all be it, a meager one.

U.S. Plans New Measure for Poverty
By SAM ROBERTS, NYTimes -- March 2, 2010

The federal government announced on Tuesday that it would begin producing an experimental measurement of poverty next year, a step toward the first overhaul of the formula since it was developed nearly a half-century ago by an obscure civil servant in the Social Security Administration.
The original measure figured costs for two adults and two children. The new one covers one adult and two children, a family structure more prevalent these days among lower-income households, and would be adjusted to reflect living costs in different metropolitan areas.

The threshold would be adjusted to calculate the value of in-kind benefits, like food stamps, and whether homeowners have a mortgage. Tax credits would be added to the total income and benefits; taxes, work expenses (including commuting and child care), and out-of-pocket medical costs would be deducted.

I've been poor, and I've been not so poor -- and not being Poor is better. Largely because of the reduced stress. When day-to-day life, finally rises above just the "day to day struggle to survive" -- People finally may find a moment, to begin to reach out, and wonder, "What is my True Potential?"

Realizing your potential, and finally reaching it -- is a common struggle for those of us who have managed to pull ourselves out of that mire of poverty. Until then ...

you are constantly worried about where next week's meals are coming from, or how you will make the rent, or whether or not you can take your child to the Doctors.  With that backdrop, well getting that College Degree -- and "Becoming all you can Be" is usually the furthest thing from your mind. It seems an "Obstacle Course", far beyond your means, and your opportunities ...

Abraham Maslow detailed this "classic struggle", in famous theory on the "Hierarchy of Needs" -- in it he provides a Road Map on how to get from here to there,

from Surviving to actually Living!

and hopefully for brief moments, actually becoming that Self-Actualized Person, that in our better moments, most of us hope to achieve someday.

Originally posted to Digging up those Facts ... for over 8 years. on Tue Mar 02, 2010 at 04:36 PM PST.

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