As I wrote earlier this year:
It's good to bear in mind that even if you're at the poverty line in America, you are rich beyond the wildest dreams of the vast majority of humanity. You are richer than 99% of humans who've ever lived. In terms of sheer comfort (money mostly buys comfort), you are far better pampered than any historical king or emperor, with your indoor plumbing, central heating, automobile (and highway system), overabundance of food and entertainment, nearly-assured personal safety, EMS, and broadband Internet. Julius Caesar would have swapped places with you in a heartbeat.Need proof? Just try to get someone to do something - anything - for fifty bucks. Seriously, try it. No American at this point will scratch his ass for fifty bucks. Fifty bucks is the errant penny not worth stooping to reclaim.
Remember this the next time you notice someone has a bigger TV or nicer apartment than you, making you feel "poor". You're not poor. You're just slightly less fabulously wealthy.
The poorest person I know, a buddy who was recently evicted from his home and also had his business evicted from its shop (I had to help him move stuff to storage because he couldn't afford a mover), who sleeps on the floor because he can't afford a mattress, and who is actually quite a hard-working fellow, just turned down $35/hour yard work from me on Memorial day....because it's a holiday.
I'm not saying my friend's life is particularly comfortable or enjoyable. But that's not poverty. What he's experiencing is discomfort. America is so rich that we mistake mere discomfort for bona fide poverty.