When talking of poverty, we should remember that we are generally talking about people with mobile phones and TV sets, not people in rags

A street in Lambeth, 1865 (Photo: Alex Werner and Tony Williams)

Of course some people are in genuine need, but it is nothing compared to previous generations — who would kill to be poor in today’s society.

The word “poverty” is bandied about as never before. Labour politicians, columnists for The Guardian and The Independent, representatives of charities such as Oxfam, use the term repeatedly, suggesting that poverty in Britain is a major and even a growing problem.

Very rarely does anyone on radio or television dare challenge this idea. But what do we mean by the word “poverty” today? And how does our idea of poverty compare with that of the past?…

  • But many do not have iPhones and must make do with Android phones!

    • Frau Katze

      It’s a rough life!

      • North Korea or South Korea – make a choice, where would you rather be poor?

        • Even in South Korea where the state is not a welfare one as one sees in North America, one still has a better chance. Many North Korean defectors bemoan their lot in life in South Korea because, though they are not starving and living in as much fear, they have little wherewithal to make a new life for themselves.

          • North Koreans who have made it to South Korea still carry the imprint of North Korean brainwashing.

            The lessons humans learn in their first few years of life are the most important.

            That is why the imprint of Islam is so insidious. Islam (as a system) has perfected the fine art of brainwashing children from the beginnings of human lucidity.

          • I don’t think the stain of North Korean tyranny entirely leaves them but they know they’ve been snowed over once they watch South Korean soap operas. A rice cooker in every household is a dream come true.

            I wonder at people who leave Islam. It must take great mental fortitude to do so.

    • Clink9

      My family shame as well.

  • Alain

    So true. A friend who is a devout traditional Catholic, not of the Vatican II group, volunteered a few times at a Catholic run food bank but said never again. He ended up being so disgusted with even the very concept of a food bank due to people rolling up in very expensive vehicles and carrying their iPhones, all things he could not afford. When he pointed this out to those in charge, he was told they must not discriminate. He had no problem with the idea of providing for those who aren’t Catholic or of any religion, but he had a serious problem with the wrong people taking advantage of free handouts. He now believes that the very idea of a food bank is wrong, as it would be better to assist people personally known who are in need.

    • I have long avoided assisting food banks. They have very often skewed usage to falsely portray a bigger demand than exists.

      • simus1

        They often tend to become fast track high visibilty fronts for political pimps with delusions of grandeur.

      • Clink9

        They gots to keep the food bank people in business. Like any welfare program.

        • Petey

          Exactly. It’s just another industry, the poverty industry, the hunger industry, unemployment industry, the welf are industry , the disability industry. And all taxpayer-funded.

          In my personal experience only about half are the truly needy. The rest are just lazy scammers. Thieves.

    • andycanuck

      Yes, my father spent several years volunteering for the St Vincent de Paul Society but he left too because he was ticked off that it was the same people always coming there and none were trying to better themselves.

      • Petey

        Why would they have to? A small few do, yes, but the rest? Why bother when you’ll fund their lifestyle?
        Honestly, you’re just paying for their beer and smokes.

    • Exile1981

      My mom used to volunteer till the people coming in had nicer cars than her and one lady threw a can of pie filling at her because the lady got a ham instead of a turkey.

      • Drunk_by_Noon

        The beggars can get astonishingly picky sometimes.
        I had a friend who used to volunteer at her church’s food bank.
        She said it was always the black welfare queens that bitched because they didn’t always get name-brand products in their free boxes of food. One even threatened to not come back!
        She only occasionally saw whites in there and they usually had something obviously wrong with them.

        • Exile1981

          In our area it was usually the recent immigrants from the middle east that where picky, though the ham lady was native.

    • Bingo.

      I’ve seen and heard of such things. It makes me so angry.

  • jayme

    Poverty in Ottawa is not like most places there are public sector workers who are making $80,000 a year and they claim there living in poverty sure they live in Kanata Lakes avg home $700,000 they have a cottage in the Gatineau Hills but there living in poverty.

    • eMan14

      “We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt.”
      Hilary Clinton
      It’s all a matter of perspective. Some people have no shame.

  • ntt1

    Most poverty pimps are talking about the lowest 20% of income in Canada. that is light years from true poverty.

  • It’s the “oh, poor me” kind of poverty. You know, the kind where you just can’t get up in the morning and go to work.

  • alexb

    This kinda sums it up.


  • To be fair, it’s probably too much to expect someone scrabbling out a poverty-level existence to compare themselves with a Victorian slum dweller, or a Calcutta street person. They don’t see them, but they do see everyone around them at the present, & draw their conclusions accordingly. The poor’s liberal enablers are another matter, of course.

    • Alain

      In my view what you describe in the West isn’t poverty, it is envy which is always cultivated by the neo-marxists.

      • Every society no matter how rich or poor is always going to have a bottom quintile, and that bottom quintile is never going to be entirely content with their lot.

  • simus1

    NGOs poverty whoring and crooks vote whoring make the perfect tag teams.

  • The Butterfly

    Cell phones, giant screen TVs, air conditioning, cars, cable/satellite TV, PlayStation, Blu-Ray and DVR, and obesity. All paid for by others.

    Poverty my ass.

  • Clausewitz

    It’s impossible to erase poverty in Canada because it is based on the lowest 20% of incomes in the nation. The stats are not based on an absolute dollar value but on a rolling bottom 20%. That’s why many impoverished people have AC, Cars, Mobile Phones, Internet, and never go hungry.

  • WalterBannon

    With the exception of the few mentally ill homeless people, who are only on the streets because liberals banned institutionalizing them, there are NO people living in actual poverty in Canada

    • Petey

      But we’ve a lot of complainers.

  • Everyone Else

    That’s why all the professional complainers talk about INEQUALITY, they know that by any concrete measure virtually all people in the developed world are getting by.

  • 5Cats

    Several years ago, here in Manitoba, the “child poverty” people decided to simply raise the $$ level of what they called “poverty”… for no stated reason.
    Then a few months later? Decried how “child poverty” had risen by 11% (or some BS number) in the past year… HELLO! You changed the level! But of course the MSM (CBC et al) played right along…
    In fact it had been dropping, but that doesn’t get donations and government funding. Solving problems never does, eh?
    Poverty = TV, DVD, telephones & KFC…

    • The Butterfly

      I can’t even afford KFC any more, it’s gotten so goddamn expensive.

      • 5Cats

        Coupons, or I eat rice & beans!
        When the minimum wage went up recently? ALL fast food went up 20%. Every single burger or piece of chicken cost more, ALL food in the stores went up soon after. Yay!
        On a fixed income like me? The minimum wage hike just dropped your spending power by about 10%… thanks! Poverty is good business for some…

  • Clear Thinker

    The main cause of child poverty is divorce and the statistical tomfoolery that follows when the family income is halved for mathematical purposes. But I do love the 60 tv’s and satellite dishes that I find in government subsidized housing. I dont have satellite, maybe that is how the Sioux got me???!!!

    • Alain

      Yes, in a few cases the reason may be divorce, but I suspect it has more to do with a great number of what we used to call unwed mothers. They so often have several children with no two being sired by the same man. Once again this is a product of our so-called great welfare society.

  • Clink9

    Take a field trip to the underground parking of the Toronto Community Housing buildings.

  • If one can live off of the largesse of the state, one is not doing too badly. Try living in a country where there is no such a luxury.

    Forgetting the usual suspects, there are people who are genuinely struggling. As they have a will to emerge from their difficulties, no one really talks about them because they are not as electorally useful as the Obama-phone crowd.

  • Mickey Oberman

    Today poverty means if you can not extract enough money from your country of birth then move to a wealthy country that is willing to dole out to you just about all you ever imagined. A country where you merely plead impoverishment to get more than you ever dreamed of having.
    Almost all the European countries have succumbed to such pleas and are approaching the end of their treasuries and their independence by catering hand and foot to these poor mendicants.
    I believe Canada is aware of and is reacting, even if too slowly, to these dangerous beggars.

  • Gary

    Canada has the richest poor people on Earth right in Regent Park and Jane/Finch.

    • jayme

      Same in Ottawa some of the so called poor area people are living very well