This is not a political site. This is an anti-political site. Our purpose is to advance civil society and the freedom philosophy and perhaps have a little fun while we're at it.

9/4/13

An Interesting Perspective - Illusion Economics

A few years ago (Oct. 2009) I wrote a piece titled The Best Place to be Poor. It is one of the most popular posts the blog has ever had. Unfortunately, I think most of the readers stumbled upon it while doing a web search for a geographic area to retreat to because their money wasn't going far enough. To this day it still gets a number of hits every month. (It certainly wasn't because the writing was compelling, it was/is awful and I think I may do a re-edit on it.. but I digress.)

Anyway, our guest contributor, Seth from Our Dinner Table , has written a post which is more current and expands on some of the points made by my earlier essay. Following the links he provides also leads to more interesting reading about the perspective an Indian college student studying in America has about our society. I found it to be a fascinating way to enjoy my coffee this morning.


Illusion Economics


One game plan for liberal politicians (and some conservatives) is to first convince you that you have it bad so they then can make the case that they can help.

There is a good example of this in my previous post. Graphs might lead you to believe one thing, but that’s blackboard economics. Look out the window and you will see a different story.

Thinking you have it good or bad is a matter of perspective. Poverty, itself, is a matter of perspective. Sure, if a politician compares the life of a poor person in the U.S. to a rich person, the poor person might feel slighted.

But, the observations from a student from India (via Instapundit) might help poor people in the U.S. find a better perspective:
[The U.S. is] An almost-classless society: I’ve noticed that most Americans roughly have the same standard of living. Everybody has access to ample food, everybody shops at the same supermarkets, malls, stores, etc. I’ve seen plumbers, construction workers and janitors driving their own sedans, which was quite difficult for me to digest at first since I came from a country where construction workers and plumbers lived hand to mouth.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the conveniences and standard of living the wealth of this country affords all people.

This reminds me of a news magazine show I saw long ago, when Brad Pitt was still courting Angelina Jolie. He said that on one of his visits to Africa he asked why they don’t have grocery stores and pharmacies on every street corner filled with remedies for basic ailments — ailments that kill people in poverty in other countries.

Capitalism is the answer. They don’t have much of it and we have more. Here’s why capitalism ensures we have ready access to the thousands of things that help improve our standard of living in ways that we are too spoiled to recognize.

Live in a country where the government or thieves (often one in the same) are going to take your stuff as soon as you have appeared to add value to it (like building a water well or fence to keep livestock) and you quickly learn that it isn’t worth expending the effort.

So, while the graphs Daniel Little uses and the speeches that politicians use may convince many that they are being slighted, in reality all of those people have a standard of living that is unsurpassed ever on this planet. Little’s charts don’t measure the value of having quick, easy and cheap access to basic rubbing alcohol that can easily prevent scrapes and scratches from becoming infected, life threatening injuries.

PS.. I also thought it was funny that the student from India thought we drank way too much coffee and thought it was crazy that we would spend so much on it, when we could brew it so easily and cheaply at home. But, I think this goes back to his comment on the classless standard of living. We are generally so wealthy that we choose to hire others to make coffee for us.

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