Wednesday, May 30, 2012

We're Number One!

In child poverty, anyway. Except for stupid Romania. Damn Gypsies!


  1. Wait, wasn't Iceland broke just a few years back?

  2. Key phrase = ".. with equivalent income lower than 50% of national median."

    USA national median is MUCH greater wealth than 90% of most of the others listed. Poor in America = upper middle class in many other countries. Plus "poor" is USA is very often transitory, compared to life-long poverty with no chance of improvement in other countries.

  3. That may be true of countries in Africa or South America, but if you look at countries on that list you see Britain, Austria, Norway, etc. Besides, even if that's the case, why should our larger overall national wealth somehow justify more children living in poverty? Are you saying collective wealth somehow justifies individual poverty? I don't see the connection.

    Does a poor kid in the U.S. have it so much better than a poor kid in Slovakia? I'm not so sure. Drive through an American inner city once, or ride along with cops on the beat.

    The U.S. also has some of the lowest social mobility in the world as well, as been recently documented. I grew up poor myself, so I know first hand how hard it is to "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" in a country that loves to kick the poor when they're down. Try paying for college. Try getting reliable transportation. Try going for job interviews and competing with suburban kids who've been given every advantage since birth. Did I mention one of the boss's kids just got another position at work?

    1. Good point about Africa vs Europe. But I am not saying we accept children living in poverty, just that the definition of "poverty" differs country by country.

      And yes, I ~do~ think a poor kid in Wisconsin has it much better than a poor kid in Slovakia. A poor family earning $20k in the US (plus receiving food-assistance, etc) does have it better in many ways than a poor family making the equiv of $10k in Slovakia. (<< yes, I totally made up those numbers, but you get my point).

      I would have to disagree with you on the social mobility in the USA issue. You state that you yourself grew up poor, but obviously you are now quite literate (college education?) and posting on the internet (computer ownership?) and competing with the boss' kid (implying you are a job-holder with upward mobility potential). I recognize that you are just one example, but those are 3 things that may not even be fathomable in many of the countries on the list.

  4. I’m not sure I’m the best example of success. Although I’ve been lucky so far, given my lack of a Master’s degree in my field, which I was not able to get due to my circumstances, I doubt I’d ever be able to work again if I lost my job. I’ve already been laid off once and lost everything. But we do what we can. I think I've hit the class ceiling.

    Cross-country comparisons are always tricky. We’ve been very fortunate in this country. But as an American, I’m saddened that a country that has always been a beacon of opportunity, and with so much wealth and resources, is sliding to the bottom of every scale of human development. And why? I’d like to go back to comparing us to Germany and the UK rather than Slovakia and Romania (which I’m sure are both lovely countries :).


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