Re: Poverty

Ronald Kephart (rkephart@OSPREY.UNF.EDU)
Fri, 18 Oct 1996 09:54:16 -0400

In message <> Chuck Coker writes:

> Poverty measures have to factor in a lot more than just a dollar amount.
> My two cents.

Which makes me think of my Peace Corps days, spent in Carriacou in the early
70s. We got, from PC, about US$150 a month for a living allowance, which in
most parts of the US would have been abject poverty, even 'way back then. As it
was, we lived without financial fear, and even saved money for traveling around
the region. Our fellow Grenadian teachers were getting about $150 EC or less
(US$1.00 = EC$2.00 back then). Of course, we also got free medical care, etc.
from PC. And, when our fellow teachers didn't get their pay because the Grenada
govt had run out of money, ours kept coming. On the other hand, teachers who
didn't get paid could rely on kinship and other networks, as well as their own
occupational multiplicity (farming, fishing, taxi-driving, etc.), to see them
through. People in Carriacou take pride in helping each other out. (In 1979,
when the first Cuban doctors arrived, they told me they were amazed at how well
fed even the "poorest" children in Carriacou were; they had expected to see a
lot of malnutrition. Povert really has to be defined within a context.

> PS: As far as which countries are listed, if the point is to make sensational
> headlines, like the Los Angeles Times is so fond of doing, any country
> with a higher poverty rate would have to be deleted from the list, i.e.,
> the US has to be the worst.

I think I recall the newcast saying that the figures were restricted to the most
industrialized countries, which still makes me wonder why Japan was apparently
left out. And what about Russia, where people appear to be sinking deeper and
deeper after the introduction of the so-called "free" market? By the way, have
y'all seen a little book titled "We're Number One"? As usual, I don't have the
full ref here, but it's very interesting.

Ron Kephart
University of North Florida