"The American poor are incomparably more lucky than those in Asia and Africa and the Middle East who die by the hundreds in the streets. The American poor live better than the average citizen in many an underdeveloped country. They are better off in important ways than the rich of a hundred years ago and royalty of the Dark Ages. But poverty is not measured by history. It is measured by the standards of a man's own community. If most of America is well-fed, the man who can't find three meals a day for his family is poor. If most of America has modern weather-proof housing, the man whose home is leaky and has no piped water is poor. If most of America has enough medical care to stay alive until age seventy, the man who can't afford to live beyond age fifty-five is poor. Such a man is poor statistically. But he is poor in a more damaging way; he is a failure in his neighbor's eye and in his own."
"In the Midst of Plenty: The Poor in America" by Ben H. Bagdikian
This is just one perspective among many, but I am touched by the undeniable truth of these lines:
"...poverty is not measured by history. It is measured by the standards of a man's own community.
...he is poor in a more damaging way; he is a failure in his neighbor's eye and in his own."
Not everyone can keep up with the Jonses. Not everyone even wants to. A poor person can feel like the richest muther around, so long as value is given to an affluence that isn't an inventory of material wealth.