If you live in the United States, you are wealthy beyond what most others dream of. Your salary is 99% higher than of the world population. Visit areas like India, and Africa, and you’ll see what real poverty looks like. If you moved there, you could live like a king! Don’t believe me? Visit Global Rich List and plug in your yearly salary.
So what exactly does it mean to be wealthy anyways? It’s all relative to the environment you live in. What might be considered below the poverty level in the USA ($22,050 for a family of four), might be considered well off when living in say Uganda. According to the Global Rich List even at the US poverty level, you still make more money than 89% of the world.
If you look at the Wikipedia chart, you will see the USA has the most wealth compared to any other country (including Japan). No other country comes close to the USA. So while you may not feel wealthy comparative to what you see in the media, you still are better off than 99% of the world population. In terms of average income, the USA is only 13th in the world, but we still have more stored wealth than any other country.
Stop complaining that you can’t afford that new Lexus you lust for. Many people around the world don’t even own a car! They get from place to place by bicycle. It’s true you may not live like a rock star, famous actor, or business titan, but you live better than most.
Most people in the United States have:
- Enough food to feed themselves daily
- A dry, heated and enclosed shelter
- Enough clothing to wear for one week
- Reasonably affordable health care and this is before ObamaCare
- Even if you can’t afford health care, you still will be treated by Medicaid
- What was once considered luxury items only 10 – 20 years ago, most people own multiple luxury items
How many “poor” people in the United States have items like a TV, computer or a cell phone? These luxury items most people in our country now have and are commonplace. It’s not so bad being poor. One time in history flying the friendly skies was considered only available for the elite few. Today, because air flight is so common, it’s one step above bus travel. This once luxury item is now available to most of the population, and with capitalism, at a low price.
With all of this talk about comparing yourself to the world, I’m not saying you shouldn’t strive to better yourself. Instead, be thankful for what you have, compared to the world population.
MORE, MORE, MORE
It’s part of human nature to want more, and unfortunately in some circles it is frowned upon. It is known as the evil G word, greed. Gordon Gekko said it best:
“The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed — for lack of a better word — is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind.”
You see greed will always exist regardless of the “ism”. If you live under Socialism, Communism, and especially Capitalism – greed is still there. The thing is with Capitalism, despite its flaws, still appears to be the best economic system to work with human nature.
Milton Friedman said it best:
“What kind of society isn’t structured on greed? The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm; capitalism is that kind of a system”
So why are we better off than 99% of the world population? Why are we economically better off? The only logical conclusion is because of capitalism and the free market system we have. Even with our recent setbacks questioning capitalism, no better system exists. Capitalism is still the best method to raise people out of poverty.
Be thankful you live in a society that allows you to exploit greed. In the process, you not only improve your living conditions, but also helped your neighbors in the process. That’s the magic of capitalism. History has shown the United States has raised its living standards to be better than 99% of the world population. We have capitalism and free markets to blame for our success. It has been shown, the more freedom people have in society the more wealth is created. The USA may have creeping Socialism, but we still have much more freedom than many other countries.
If you want to decrease your living standards, continue to approve the path the US government is heading towards. As history has shown, more government intervention and less free market solutions will lead to a overall poorer nation.
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About the Author: Sam began investing his own money ever since he opened a Charles Schwab brokerage account online in 1995. Sam loved investing so much that he decided to make a career out of investing by spending the next 13 years after college working at Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse Group. During this time, Sam received his MBA from UC Berkeley with a focus on finance and real estate. He also became Series 7 and Series 63 registered. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34 largely due to his investments that now generate roughly $150,000 a year in passive income. He spends time playing tennis, hanging out with family, consulting for leading fintech companies, and writing online to help others achieve financial freedom.
Updated for 2016 and beyond.