The 80%

I liked Jim West’s post today. If you are in the United States or Western Europe, you almost certainly live at a level of luxury that is unknown in much of the world. They are the 80%

This isn’t a criticism of the Occupy movement. It is a reminder that the issues of social justice that movement is highlighting are even more severe on a global scale than they are in the experience of most Americans and Europeans.

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  • Chris

    Great post, great reminder!

    Regardless of what side you fall on the God/No God debate – one thing we can agree on: ALL of us DON’T do enough.

    Far more often, than not, we are more than “happy” to carry on with our day-to-day lives and forget that there are many in this world who are lacking_______(insert here).

    A good reminder, when our pizza comes to cold, our restaurant services is a bit slow, the traffic doesn’t move, our hotel room doesn’t have a nice view, etc…

    One thing I try to remind myself when I get a bit selfish about my “problems” – there’s more than one person who will gladly trade problems with me.

    For those interested there are lots of ways to help. is a great way to lend a hand UP than a hand OUT. – while Christian, I can’t find a more effective organization.

    Or just help around your neighborhood.

    We are fortunate…and sometimes it does appear to be a bit silly the issue we argue about on here – while some child is dying because of malnutrition. 

    Dis/Proving God/Evolution doesn’t help that child one bit in the long run…

    But don’t worry, I’m pointing the finger of blame directly at me too, actually two of them!

    I may be Christian, but I ain’t perfect! (Thankfully, perfection is not a requirement for Jesus)

    • Ian

      Amen Chris

      Another way is to vote, and write your representatives to say you’ll vote, for policies that do not attempt to lock wealth in individuals (lack of inheritance tax), institutions (tax, again) or countries (immigration, trade restrictions).

      “ is a great way to lend a hand UP than a hand OUT. – while Christian, I can’t find a more effective organization.”

      Amen. in the UK as well for a religious charity more than deserving of atheist money.

      “Dis/Proving God/Evolution doesn’t help that child one bit in the long run…”

      Sorry, I could resist. Using evolution, quantitatively, is essential for both agriculture and medicine. Both of which have saved countless millions of lives.

  • Just Sayin’

    “This isn’t a criticism of the Occupy movement.”

    Which is the problem with West’s post — his is a criticism of it.

  • Michael Wilson

    Thanks for the post. For some reason poverty is defined by some as making 50% less than the median of your nation, hence hypotheticaly if the median income of your nation was one million bucks (maybe some small island in gulf or a European pricipality) poverty would be $300,000 a year. In america the median is about $28,000 so our poor are those making less than 14,000 like me. Compared globaly our poor are richer than the median of Portugal, and about equal with Israel. Our neigbor to the south gets by on less than 5000 median income.

    The absolute rates here are more telling, and frankly even our homelss are wealthy by those standards.

    • Ian

      This may be just making stuff up. But I remember back as an undergrad, being taught that although there are basic standard of living increases with income, a large proportion of someones standard of living metrics are defined by the wealth gaps in their society, rather than the absolute wealth.

      So, of course, below a certain level, there is just a black hole of trying to survive. But there isn’t so much difference between the standard of living of someone at median income over a quite a broad range of countries.

      It sounds vaguely plausible. But it also sounds like the kind of thing that a rich white westerner might say to make him feel better for being in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. So I put it out here as much for ridicule as possible truth.

      • Michael Wilson

        of course in poor counties prices of goods and services are often cheaper, but there is an absolute limit to this. Where they make $3 a day bread may not be $2 a loaf as in America, but it aint 20cents eithier. some items are less flexible, like manufactured goods, and so the different leves of reletive poverty means americas poor own more cars and gadgetts than many of europes middle class. of course europes middle class live in much nicer neighbor hoods than mine.