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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Two Levels of Poverty

When Jesus spoke of “the poor always being with you,” he was likely describing people who were reduced to begging for their survival. By that standard, few of us can claim to be poor as in actually destitute. But more and more Americans are becoming financially stressed to the point of being unable to make ends meet, resulting in increasing numbers of people foreclosing on mortgages, having to default on credit card and other debts, and/or filing for bankruptcy.

How do these two kinds of “poor” compare?

Third World Style Poverty              The Financially Stressed Poor

 - Few possessions, only bare             - Often have too much stuff,   
    necessities                                               storage can be a problem

 - Cars, cable TV, cell phones, etc.,    - Cars, computers, cell phones, TV,
    often out of the question                    etc., are seen as necessities

 - Medical and dental care are often   - Health care generally available
     unavailable                                           but not always affordable

 - In debt mostly for food and            - Often in debt for general
    necessities                                             consumer purchases

 - Frequently without food needed    - Weight control a frequent problem
    for good health and body weight      due to overuse of convenience and
                                                                     fast foods

 - Per capita income may be under     - US poverty line is $10,000 a year
    $1000 per year                                   for an individual, $20,000 for a family
                                                                   of four

     While most financially stressed Americans have much to be grateful for, and have more assets than they realize, harder economic times may mean we could all join the ranks of the truly destitute in the not so distant future. We need to think creatively and generously about how to best help each other, and others, in a way that offers a hand up and not simply a handout.

P. S. Check with your local church and other agencies about ways of alleviating poverty in your community. And here are some agencies through whom you can provide urgently needed help for people in drought-stricken and war ravaged parts of the rest of the world.  
http://www.care.org/
http://www.mcc.org/
http://www.oxfamamerica.org/

You might also check out my posts on "Welfare Waste Versus Warfare Waste,"
and "What You Can Do For Your Country."

Click here for another informative take on this topic.
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