What is poverty?
It’s a good question since the left-wing likes to claim that some number of children live in poverty. They constantly bang on about poverty and child poverty.
But the reality is that in New Zealand there is no real poverty. Poverty has simply been redefined to suit their agenda to control the narrative.
James Bartholomew looks at the same redefinition of poverty and what it is reality in the United Kingdom.
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?
Flora Thompson experienced poverty in late 19th-century Britain and later described it in her famous trilogy of books known as Lark Rise to Candleford. She was brought up in a small village in rural Oxfordshire, the daughter of a labourer. In that village “some of the cottages had two bedrooms, others only one”. If there was only a single bedroom, a curtain or screen would separate the parents and the children. The cottages were often “a tight fit, for children swarmed, eight, ten, or even more in some families although they were seldom all at home together”. The only way to pack them all in was for “beds and shakedowns” to be “closely packed” so that the “inmates had to climb over one bed to get into another”.
There was no running water and, of course, no electricity. The only lavatory for each household was “either in a little beehive-shaped building at the bottom of the garden or in a corner of the wood and toolshed known as ‘the hovel’ ”. It was “a deep pit with a seat set over it”. Once every six months the pit would be emptied creating such a stench that it “caused every door and window in the vicinity to be sealed”. As for food, “fresh meat was a luxury only seen in a few of the cottages on a Sunday”. People mostly depended on bread and lard. “Fresh butter was too costly for general use” and “milk was a rare luxury”.
Shoes and boots were barely affordable, to the extent that “how to get a pair of new boots for ‘our young Ern or Alf ’ was a problem which kept many a mother awake at night”. Obtaining clothes was “an even more difficult matter” so that “it was difficult to keep decently covered”. Labourers sipped their beer slowly in the evening because they could only afford half a pint. The girls were sent out to be servants in richer households when they were between 11 and 13.
Going back further in time to the beginning of the 19th century, many ordinary people could not afford shoes at all and wore clogs instead. People died of starvation in 1846/47 in Scotland as well as in Ireland during the potato famine. Indeed, Britain was affected by more than 95 famines in the Middle Ages, such as the one in 1235 when about 20,000 Londoners died of starvation and many resorted to eating tree bark in an attempt to survive.