QUOTE=Andalublue;1062792354]It all entirely depends on whether you are talking about relative poverty or absolute poverty. I don't think absolute poverty exists very much in the western world, but relative poverty certainly does. The bottom 5% of earners in a western country may have access to goods and services that are simply unavailable to almost everyone in a less developed nation. Working in rural Cambodia just 10 years ago, the wealthiest people in a village had none of the things a poor family in Europe or NA would think were essentials, such as a phone line, a car (roads virtually unusable except by 4x4 in the dry season), air conditioning, and yet were still considered rich.
I think ideas of poverty (i.e. relative poverty) are incredibly culturally specific. For example, here in rural Spain, people will not judge a neighbour's wealth by the things they have so much as by how they display their wealth during collective occasions. The wealthiest farmer will drive around in a battered furgoneta (the ubiquitous mini-vans that are to southern Europe what the pick-up is to NA), and wear tatty old clothes that make him indistinguishable from his band of day workers, but when his son or daughter takes their first communion, or gets married, there will be 500 guests entertained entirely at the family's expense for a day or two. That's the family showing and having their wealth assessed by the rest of the community.
Many, many poor people here will have some form of transport, often a dumper truck, a 20-year-old mini-van or moped, but without any motorised transport you're pretty much stuck in your village, most of which will have one or two service buses per day, usually departing for Granada at daybreak and returning at nightfall.
So, of course you can own a car and still be relatively poor by the standards of your neighbours and compatriots. I just don't think you can be poor in an absolute sense (i.e. the inability to secure food, water, shelter and basic services) and own a car.[/QUOTE]
I agree. Our poor make the poor in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and even Thailand look very wealthy indeed.