04 July 2006

True Poverty = Starvation

There is some confusion regarding definitions used in discussing poverty in industrialized countries. Proponents of minimum wage laws and welfare refer to the number of people considered to be "in poverty" based on some arbitrary definition of a poverty line. Aside from discussing whether their proposed policies help or hinder "the poor" - usually, legislation to help the poor has quite the opposite effect of its intent - I take issue with the basic definition of poverty.

Poverty is fundamentally a question of basic human needs. Truly poor people are not obese, they're under-nourished. In America, like most industrialized country, there are relatively few who are truly poor. The very fact that there are so few truly poor people in countries which have better-defined property rights and more capitalism is itself a strong hint as to the true solution to poverty (http://fte.org/capitalism/introduction/). While it is not uncommon to hear disparaging comments about the alarming degree of poverty in America - including rising obesity - I would entreat such commentators to remember that the poor do not include the fat.


  1. Are we then to believe that the "rich" aught not to include the skinny?

  2. Quite the contrary. One might even expect the rich to be on the lean side. Inasmuch as their wealth is derived from self-discipline and hard work, those traits may carry over into their maintenance of better health.

  3. Hi Mr. Surkan, this Sai Boddupalli, one of your students when you taught at Challenger Meridian. I hope all is well with you, and I saw a program about your class, which I shared with a few Challenger alums. Where do you teach now? When did you get back from Scotland?

    Email is the best method of keeping in touch with me, so if you could shoot me one at think182@gmail.com, I'd love to talk to you!

    -Sai B.