Photo: This isn’t what you think it is. This is in Mongolia in the western part of the country.
I get so tired of the media telling us stories with only part of the needed information.
When the income of a person living in another country is mentioned, it is often used to make us feel sorry or guilty for or about something.
Remember, you cannot use our living standards as a yardstick for any other country. We North Americans live in a very special place.
We have freedom to start a business, we have political freedom and a stable, safe environment. All of these things make living and doing business easier.
If I might use myself as an example, here goes.
1-Utility bills and payments. I live in a very small place and in a part of the country where the climate is temperate. I need little heating and have no air conditioning. Many others are not so lucky and pay more for utilities. Others pay nothing for utilities because they live without them. Are they happy? I think so, in many cases. The weather is the main factor, of course. Would they like electricity and other comforts? Of course, but they need much less money as they do not have them.
2-Paying for a mortgage. Many people in the world live in expensive housing. I do, but I have lived here for ever and have paid off my property. Many people in other parts of the world build their own housing cheaply or save for years to build. They often build as they save their money, one room at a time. Many times it is done with the help of extended family. It is different from the North American experience.
3-Food. Many people are farmers and grow most of their own food. Cash is not needed to eat. They do need other products for survival and purchase them from the sale of their produce. Sometimes acquiring food is by barter and no money need change hands, but once they have sold their crops, they can purchase most of what they need to “survive.”
4-Travel by car. Many people don’t own a vehicle. The reasons are varied. In some countries most people ride animals or walk. The populace can’t afford a car. Many people ride bicycles or motorcycles. But remember, no vehicle means no insurance, repairs, or gas needed out of the budget.
For many in the world, a car is not needed to survive. Would they like to own one, perhaps. But that comes with time and acquired financial security which many nations don’t have yet. Think about life insurance. Life insurance is usually only available when a population has created a middle class and they have extra income. Likewise with a car.
These are just a few of the examples that quickly came to mind. Do these people deserve the same standard of living as the first world. I would say yes, but that comes with political stability and honest government. I understand how luck is involved also. I live in a great country where even I succeeded.
Just remember how lucky you are to have what you have. We can try to help others gain those same things through smart giving. This is done through helping cultures gain mass education and growing opportunities with established charities and programs, and that isn’t an easy task.
Look what America has given to the world. We have given billions and trillions of dollars to many countries and it has seemingly done little. Why is that, one might ask?
The governments are bad at distribution, one might say, but the truth is more difficult to learn. Greedy rulers and corrupt governments come to my mind, quickly and often.
The next time someone mentions those “poor people,” think about what they really need in the way of money to have rich, fulfilling lives. I have been to many places with a very low income by our standards and the people have wonderful lives and close family ties. Can you say the same about your life? I hope you can.
The trick is in how you measure success and happiness.
The first world standard does not apply everywhere. Please remember that.