The Why not tax the rich? I post has some discussion about the definition of poverty. Fair enough. The problem is whether poverty should be defined in an absolute sense, or in a relative sense. The welfare lobby likes to use the relative sense. That way, as the Christian God suggests, the poor will always be with us. Those in the welfare lobby get to keep their comfy jobs in a first-world environment. Whereas if they really wanted to do something about the poor, they would move to those rather uncomfortable developing countries and take a huge pay cut too.
Jim, in comments, linked to this great BBC article.
Australia is indeed a rich country but the people living in poverty there are by no means as poor as many people living a much less wealthy country – Ethiopia, for example.
Not even the BBC (!) thinks there are poor people in Australia. I suspect the ABC would never make that statement. Here is the thing (emphasis added):
In order to make international comparisons, you need to measure poverty in absolute terms – and the most common measure of absolute poverty is living on, or on less than, $1.25 a day.
Orme says this absolute poverty measure is the best for international comparisons, “because it’s a constant across countries, it’s useful because you can look at that measurement regardless of what country you’re in”.
That BBC article also points to a recent ACOSS report into Australian ‘poverty’. There are some great graphics.
Yep – avoid ‘poverty’ by getting a job.
Be in a relationship – avoid being a single parent as best you can. Having children and getting divorced are choices.
Unfortunately ACOSS doesn’t indicate ‘poverty’ by educational status but I would add get an education (in Australia education is very highly subsidised), save for your old age (ACOSS does have data here).
The one area that I do see where lower incomes are a problem relate to disabilities. But other than that my initial point about Jenny Macklin remains:
The whole kerfuffle arose when Macklin was asked if she could live on $245 a week and said she could. She probably can’t; but that isn’t the point. Jenny Macklin, over her life, has made choices that means she doesn’t have to live on $245 a week. She doesn’t have to live on charity.
Bad choices drives a lot of ‘poverty’.