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Good question

Written By: - Date published: 9:22 am, September 16th, 2015 - 66 comments
Categories: Ethics, poverty - Tags: , ,


In New Zealand the figure is 24%.

66 comments on “Good question”

  1. Detrie 1

    I’ve been watching a few of Bernies old interviews and statements from the 80s and again in the US senate since 1990. His predication of what will occur in the middle east, following the Bush invasion into Iran and Iraq is uncanny. It proves again the violence begets violence. Note that he was a lone voice of reason in the Senate that day, others blindly following the wims of the US war machine. A man of principle and huge insight.

    • save NZ 1.1

      +100 Detrie Everyone should watch it!

      • AmaKiwi 1.1.1

        Sorry, Detrie. I missed the last 2 minutes because Hillary made me so seasick with bullshit I barf all over my computer.

        Note that in 2003 Bernie Sanders identified the US’s single biggest fiasco in Iraq: how will the US govern and rebuild Iraq.

  2. infused 2

    Well when the definition of poverty is set in a way where there will always be people in poverty, that kind of fucks the argument doesn’t it.

    • Hanswurst 2.1

      Only if it is set so that those people will always make up 20% of the population.

    • Sabine 2.2

      define poverty then. At what stage are people poor, and as a consequence are the children poor?

    • adam 2.3

      Your just in fine Boll Weevil form this morn.

      Poverty is relative and real – your amoral wise cracks just go to prove how ungodly you are. How far down the road to embrace the deceiver do you have to go?

      I would recommend you go back and read the Gospels son. And get a bit of love in to your heart.

      • infused 2.3.1

        remove the emotion and you might be able to think straight.

        • adam

          That it.

          Well one day you might understand what it means to be a real human being. See people, unlike automatons – have emotions, feeling and this little thing called empathy.

        • Paul

          Empathy is an emotion.
          You don’t have it.
          2% of the population are psychopaths.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.4

      “the definition of poverty is set in a way where there will always be people in poverty,”

      No, it isn’t. You’re just demonstrating your ignorance, and possibly statistical illiteracy.

      The set of possible number series where all n>60% of the median, is infinite.

      • weka 2.4.1

        “The set of possible number series where all n>60% of the median, is infinite.”

        How is that helpful?

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          The definition of poverty is income <60% of median. Infused believes (or is lying about it) the definition ensures that someone will always fall below. He's wrong, as has been proved many times.

          • McFlock

            So many times, in fact, that I suspect “ignorance” and “statistical illiteracy” were long ago replaced by “being a fucking liar who doesn’t care who knows it”.

            • infused

              The way our current system works will always cause the probability of there being no one under 60% of median zilch.

              • Lanthanide

                Yes, that’s why the current system needs to be changed.


                Such changes to the system include:
                * UBI
                * Taxing the rich more
                * Increasing the minimum wage
                * A government-organised programme of employment
                * Changing labour laws so that the maximum amount paid to any individual in a company can be no more than a certain multiple of the minimum anyone at that company is paid (CV seems to like a 40x multiple), meaning that if the CEO wants a pay rise, the lowest paid workers must also get a pay rise.

                There are many other possible changes too. Note that I am not advocating all of these, just saying they are ways the system can be changed to eliminate poverty.

                Your approach is simply to change the definition of poverty. But that doesn’t actually help improve the quality of life of anyone who is in poverty – and that’s the actual goal of lifting people out of poverty. Changing the system does.

              • McFlock

                You said:

                the definition of poverty is set in a way where there will always be people in poverty

                Now you say:

                The way our current system works will always cause the probability of there being no one under 60% of median zilch

                See? You’re being intentionally deceptive. Replying to my comment with an unrelated statement is a shallow attempt to divert people from the obvious falsehood of your first comment.

                The disease of poverty is well-defined and easily preventable, contrary to your first comment. The causes of that disease are what need to be addressed in order to prevent it, as you point out in your second comment.

              • Foreign waka

                To Infused: Whilst so many argue that poverty is a relative term, just lets be very clear about this: if you cannot afford a roof over your head, cloths on your back, food on the table – all at once of cause – and being able to get to work if you are employed – you belong to the group of being in severe poverty. If you can do all of the above but nothing else you are poor. If you have a bit more than that you have lifted yourself out of poverty but it will take a lot more to provide the children with a decent education so that the cycle can be broken. I hope this will help with some demarcation lines that do not allow for any relativity.
                Unfortunately, poor people are becoming the majority not just in NZ but the world over.

          • Bob

            You are correct OAB, which is why North Korea has no poverty…wait, does that mean we should all follow North Korea’s lead to eradicate poverty?

            Can you not see why the current measure of poverty is fucked? If not, perhaps it is you that is statistically illiterate!

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Are you so benightedly stupid that you dribbled that drivel without first reading the whole thread?

              Wipe your chin, and read eg: Naturesong’s comments.

              That mendacious trash Infused told lies about the measure and got what they deserved. You want to be associated with them? What a fool.

    • tracey 2.5

      39 minutes

    • tracey 2.6

      “Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the ministry was already measuring child poverty, and the commissioner’s report was just “repackaged” government figures.”… and those figures?

      “265,000 children live in poverty, defined by income.

      1 in 3 Maori and Pacific children live in poverty.

      1 in 7 European children live in poverty.

      1 in 6 struggle to afford basic necessities such as healthcare and clothing.

      1 in 10 suffer from severe poverty, lacking basic necessities and adequate income.

      3 out of 5 will be living in poverty for much of their childhood.

      51 per cent are from sole parent families. 60 per cent are from beneficiary families.”


    • AB 2.7

      Here are two income distributions, The total in each one is $50

      Distribution 1:
      $17, $13, $10, $6, $2, $2.
      Median is $10, 2 people are living in poverty as they earn less than 60% of the median.

      Distribution 2:
      $12, $10, $8, $8, $7, &5.
      Median is $8. Nobody is living in poverty as nobody is earning less than 60% of the median though the $5 guy is close.

      So when you say “the definition of poverty is set in a way where there will always be people in poverty” it is not true.

      • infused 2.7.1

        Yes, but this will never happen.

      • Hutty 2.7.2

        Your example shows how unequal incomes equal poverty. Is this “actual poverty”?

        The left say poverty is “inequality”. The right say poverty is “when people/families go without essentials”. The argument will just go around in circles until an agreeable definition is agreed. But I doubt that will ever happen…

        • maui

          No, the left say poverty is when people are going without what’s required for a decent standard of living. The right say this isn’t happening, because they don’t have any relationships with people who aren’t at least middle-class.

          • Lanthanide


          • Naturesong

            Actually poverty is not merely the absence of a decent standard of living. It’s a measurement of deprivation.

            It’s not being able to provide breakfast for your children. It’s about not being able to clothe and shoe your children. It’s about children that are denied the opportunity to reach their potential as adults.

        • Naturesong

          Weirdly, poverty is actually “when people/families go without essentials”, as you say.

          Please have a look at the way poverty is measured in New Zealand.
          That way, next time you publish your self rightous ignorance, everyone will know it’s because you are a lying piece of shit and not just an ignorant fuck.

          The OOC EAG recommend that the govt collect startistics on the following measures:
          – Fixed-Line Income Poverty Measure
          – Moving-Line Income Poverty Measure
          – Material Deprivation Measure
          – Severe Poverty Measure
          – Measure of Poverty Persistence

          BTW, the Material Deprivation measure you assert is not measured, is.
          And it’s 17% of all children growing up in New Zealand – 180,000 children who will grow up in material deprivation. In a country rich with resources.

          • Hutty

            Appreciate the constructive response Naturesong.

            Agree with the fact that 180,000 is a number far to high. Are the any trends on this or has this data only just being collected?

            However 180k is lower than “a quarter of all children” in NZ. Why don’t we just stick to this one definition that most parties seem to agree on? (Material deprivation). Then the response can target the people who have the most need. Wouldn’t this be a better situation than dragging everyone to the same outcome?

            Look forward to your eloquent feedback

            • Naturesong

              This is from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner Expert Advisory Group Child Poverty Monitor 2014 Technical Report

              It is the second annual report so it’s difficult to map trends directly at this point. However we are able to can see more general trends in poverty by comparing similar historical statistics. (the trend has been increasing poverty over the last 35 years)

              One of the big issues is that the govt refuses to measure child poverty.
              As a result, in order to fulfil his obligation as Commissioner Dr Russell Wills has had to go cap in hand to outside parties like J R McKenzie Trust and Otago University.

              Also, the reason my language is blunt is because when someone is presented with a humanitarian disaster whose effects will be felt for generations responds with “I don’t like how one of the stats is gathered so it’s all a mirage” (paraphrased) I know I’m dealing with evil.

              As for using only one statistic to measure poverty; Read the report and you’ll begin to understand why using only a single measure will not reveal the extent of the problem.

            • Naturesong

              Additional reading for you: Solutions to Child Poverty – Evidence for Action 2012.

              In it they state their preference for how poverty should be measured

              Children living in poverty are those who experience deprivation of the material resources and income that is required for them to develop and thrive, leaving such children unable to enjoy their rights, achieve their full potential and participate as equal members of New Zealand society.

              • Draco T Bastard

                That’s actually a really good definition. People living at subsistence levels may have food on the table and a place to live but they don’t have enough to thrive, to be creative.

                • weston

                  cant really agree there draco creativity prob not dependant on income in fact lack of income ordinarily makes a person more creative hence the phrase necessity is the mother of invention

                  • KJT

                    Creativity comes from the middle classes.

                    Enough income for leisure to create, and to fund startups.

                    But, not so much money that the can live in idleness on rentier income from others.

                    • weston

                      i guess thats a kinda townie definition of creative then whereas i tend to think of it as designing yourself a nice solution to a problem usually to do with the physical world

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    That’s a load of BS.

                    When you don’t have access to the resources to produce anything you cannot possibly be inventive.

                    • weston

                      well since i dont know the particular hypothetical situation you have in yr mind draco i hesitate to call your last statement bullshit but it certainly sounds like something you might read in a sociology paper …no ideas of your own ?

      • Phil 2.7.3

        So when you say “the definition of poverty is set in a way where there will always be people in poverty” it is not true.

        Well, it depends. Yes, you can contrive an income distribution (like your example #2) that means no one is in poverty. However, that’s a hypothetical example.

        In practice, there is no advanced country in the world today (even those with extremely generous social welfare systems, like the Scandinavians) with policies that are redistributive enough to functionally produce an outcome where no-one is in poverty.

        • Lanthanide

          I’m pretty sure the Scandinavians don’t have UBI. So there’s an obvious first-step they could take to try and eradicate poverty.

          Just because “no country has done it”, doesn’t mean that *we* shouldn’t *strive*, and in fact that other countries can’t do better than they are.

        • Draco T Bastard

          In practice, there is no advanced country in the world today

          Well, then, they’re not particularly advanced countries are they?

        • KJT

          We used to be very close.

      • Phil 2.7.4

        Here’s distribution 3:
        $45, $1, $1, $1, $1, $1.

        Median income is $1. No-one is earning less than 60% of the median. So there is no poverty. Hooray?

        • Lanthanide

          Correct, there is no poverty.

          There may be social unrest for other reasons, however. Those at the top when the social unrest occurs, may have rather preferred to have ‘lost’ some of their money to redistributive taxation, rather than losing their heads.

        • Naturesong

          You have correctly pointed out the flaw in relying on only one measurement of poverty.

          Which is why the OOC EAG recommend that the govt collect statistics on the following measures:
          – Fixed-Line Income Poverty Measure
          – Moving-Line Income Poverty Measure
          – Material Deprivation Measure
          – Severe Poverty Measure
          – Measure of Poverty Persistence

          Your example would likely feature quite high on the following;
          – Severe Poverty Measure
          – Material Deprivation Measure and likely the
          – Measure of Poverty Persistence

          • Phil

            Your example would likely feature quite high on the following;
            – Severe Poverty Measure
            – Material Deprivation Measure and likely the
            – Measure of Poverty Persistence

            I totally agree with you that this stuff is really important but the discourse in NZ, so far, has been based pretty much exclusively on fixed-line income definition, which as we’ve debate in this thread is looking pretty lousy and far too blunt to be useful.

            Even the 24% figure used in the OP is based on a ‘60% of median income’ definition.

            • Naturesong

              I get that you don’t like the 60% of median income measurement.

              It has limitations that are widely recognised. This doesn’t prefvent it from being a useful indicator.
              It’s essentially a proxy measure of poverty. Without validation from direct measures of people’s living standards, it is arbitrary – which is why the OOC has several other measures to ensure the complete picture is represented.

              The threshold’s importance is that it does show how the poorest members of society are doing in relation to others, it can be tracked over time, and allows comparisons between different countries.

              It’s also a very useful way to measure the extent to which government targets are being met – in other countries that have govts that actually address poverty.

        • AB

          Indeed – the statistical definition of poverty has clear limitations. I never said it didn’t. Here’s an example just as absurd as yours – if everybody earned $0 there would be no poverty either.
          I was pointing out Infused’s obvious and probably deliberate mistake. And also that flatter, more equal income distribution means less relative poverty.
          In the end I think it’s an ethical argument – that something more like distribution 2 is ethically superior to distribution 1.
          Which I think was really Bernie’s point anyway.

          Oh – and anticipating strawman responses – I entirely accept that the neuro-surgeon who helped my son walk better should be paid heaps more than me working for a dumb-arse corporate that produces nothing of enduring social value. Though I don’t think this applies to our currency-speculator PM.

        • Andrew Murray

          @ phil…Your deliberately simplistic example fails to observe that in such a situation the market response would be to price goods such that 80% of the population would still buy products ie could still afford them… so yeah no poverty but maybe a failure in modern consumer capitalism.

    • Hi infused,

      I responded a while back to a commenter who made a similar claim.

      In fact, it’s wrong.

      Relative poverty is usually defined in terms of some measure relative to the median income. For example, a household income less than 60% of the median household income.

      Given that kind of a definition it is perfectly possible to have no-one in relative poverty. All it would take is for all the incomes below the median to be greater than 60% of the median.

      I’m not sure why this confusion is still around.

      All that’s needed is a clear understanding of what a median is (50% of ‘scores’ above and 50% below the median – the middle – ‘score’ which, in this case, is the middle income if everyone were lined up in order of their income).

      • Puddleglum 2.8.1

        I should read the entire thread before commenting. Others have already said it.

        As for infused’s original comment – which was presumably directed at the quote by Sanders – then it is especially wrong, and not because of anything to do with a misunderstanding of relative poverty.

        The United States Census Bureau uses absolute measures of poverty, not relative ones.

        Here’s a summary of the 2012-2013 Bureau report on poverty rates.

        The overall poverty rate (measured using absolute and relevant measures of poverty) is 15.8% below the poverty line and 20.6% either below or no more than 25% above the poverty line (i.e., at risk of falling into poverty).

        Unfortunately, it doesn’t break out the child poverty rates though, at a guess, I’d imagine that the absolute measures used would make families with children more likely to fall below the poverty level. Sanders’ 20% figure therefore sounds reasonable.

        • Puddleglum

          Well, I’ve found the official figure that Sanders will be using.

          See Figure 1 on page 4 of this report about the use of a ‘supplemental poverty measure’ versus the official figure. The bar of the official rate for those under age 18 is almost exactly at the 20% level.

          There’s also some interesting discussion of the alternative SPM measure (also graphed in the figure). Curiously, while it usually provides poverty estimates higher than the official figure (and overall gives a higher level for the US), it provides a lower level for those under 18.

          ‘Interesting’ for stats wonks anyway.

          • Puddleglum

            At the risk of looking like I’m carrying out a conversation with myself ( 🙂 ), in Table 2 on page 5 of the same report it shows that the official poverty rate for those under 18 is 20.4% – about 15 million of the roughly 74 million Americans in this age group.

            • weston

              all these arguments seem to be about statistics ,,,,glad your still up puddleglum im always having conversations with myself ! …why isnt anyone talking about how to live happily on very little money ? it is possible so long as your not between a rock and a hard place such as impossibly high rent or mortgage happiness is surely more about your relationships than anything else what u think ?

    • KJT 2.9

      Infused, is statistically confused!


      Again, for the mentally challenged.

      60% of average income works because prices within the country tend to reflect the average income. Which is why, in Vietnam, you could live like a King on $NZ200 a week.
      Whereas, in New Zealand, it is barely enough to survive.

      Made worse in New Zealand by house prices artificially inflated by demand from offshore.

  3. Coaster 3

    When you have to start arguing about the definition of poverty, youve already lost the argument.

    Its realy very simple, would you be happy living on 60% or less of the median wage?. If not, its probably immoral to expect others to.

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  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
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  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
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