"Before, when I lived in the dorms, I was on the meal plan," the 20-year-old said. "Now that I'm in the apartment, I have to pay for food, and I have to pay my cell phone bill. I don't make enough to pay for both."
Adam Smith put his finger on the problem back in 1776. In The Wealth of Nations, he wrote: "A linen shirt, for example, is, strictly speaking, not a necessity of life. The Greeks and Romans lived, I suppose, very comfortably though they had no linen. But in the present times, through the greater part of Europe, a creditable day-labourer would be ashamed to appear in public without a linen shirt. ..."
Smith's point is not that poverty is relative but that it is a social construction. A person can lack the money necessary to participate in society ... [people] become poor if something they cannot afford—such as an Internet connection—becomes viewed as a social essential.
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