1 in 4 kids living in poverty? Nope

Apparently poverty has increased in New Zealand as the bludgers advocates release their annual whinge about poverty. Their stats reckon that 1 in 4 children live in poverty.

Peter Cresswell explains why their measure is complete rubbish.

Poverty instead is measured today in relative terms, being defined by advocates as living in a family with less than 60% of the median household income. The median, of course, is the middle figure in any list of numbers. So by the definition chosen by poverty advocates, these poor will always be with us.

As of June, 2013, the median monthly household income from all sources increased by 4.1 percent since the previous year, to $5,884, or $70,616. So the line of “relative poverty” is set by advocates at a household income from all sources of less than $3,530 per month, or $814 per week.

To be brutally frank, this is not poverty, and the advocates for this cause do themselves no favours by adopting this ruse. 

The absurdity of the figure can be seen by realising that a rise in household income tends to increase the level of poverty, suggesting prosperity itself generates poverty.

This is not to discount the difficulty many NZers do have making ends meet. But it does make it difficult to trust that  poverty advocates are more serious about actual poverty than they are about using whatever poverty they can find to promote their agenda of bigger government and more state intrusion in people’s lives.

Because in truth, what constitutes poverty today is not even what poverty was when these anti-poverty campaigners began their project. The poorest 20% of the New Zealand population now have expenditures that equal, in inflation-adjusted terms, what median incomes were in the 1960s. Things are not easy, but they own—or many do—houses, cars, colour televisions, Sky subscriptions, DVD players, stereos, automatic washing machines and automatic dishwashers. (And fully 96% of households have just managed to afford to switch over to digital television with seemingly very little reported distress.)

For those who do enjoy these comforts, while they may be relatively poor compared to folk on higher household incomes, they “live lives of unimaginable luxury compared to the industrial tycoons of the 19th century or the royalty class of the 18th, who didn’t have electrification, indoor plumbing, automobiles, etc.”*

And instead of growing malnutrition—aside from famine, which one of the biggest problems in pre-industrial societies—the biggest health problem today, according to advocates, is obesity.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.