Poverty, like most things, is relative IMHO.
I've often said that back in the days when anything over $10,000 was a good year, we had nothing; now that it regularly tops $60,000 a year, we STILL have nothing.........only more expensive
Even then, we usually had a car, a phone, and at least one TV set; we were on food stamps, so we ate fairly well (and we managed to avoid starving the last half of the month); and we always had a roof over our heads, even if it did leak a little and wasn't in the nicest neighborhood. Poor, yes; destitute, hardly.
Now I look around at our big house in the woods and see the two cars, neither of which are new; the furniture, which needs to be replaced due to age and abuse, the six TVs, four DVD players, three stereos, and several cell phones, none of which are top of the line..........and I think, holy crow, we really aren't that much better off than we were 10 years ago! We have everything we need and most of what we want, and we live in a much better part of town than we used to, but when you get right down to where the cheese binds, we aren't doing much better than our low-income counterparts.
We certainly don't eat any better than we did on foodstamps........it's hard to have the energy or the desire to cook when you work long hours. Our cars and furniture are as old and tired as we are, but to run out and buy new doesn't make any sense because a) we can't afford the high payments, and b) we still have kids and grandkids at home with their grimy, sticky hands and a propensity for leaping onto the sofa from six feet away. And of course, now that we don't have the government handing us free health care and medicine, more of our income goes toward our family doctor's golf vacation and into the fur-lined pockets of drug-company CEOs.
Don't get me wrong---I wouldn't want to go back to living on minimum wage, or something barely above it. But I think sometimes that one can be almost as poor on a decent income as on subsistence-level wages, because higher taxes, plus the higher cost of living, pretty much erase whatever benefits there are to making more money.
That said, I'd still rather be poor or middle-class here in America than anywhere else on the planet.......when you consider what poverty looks like in South Africa or the Middle East, we are blessed indeed.