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.: May 2007 --> What will $1 a day buy?

What will $1 a day buy?

» Dollar a Day. Even the poorest of the poor manage to find money for extras, but they are hobbled in their efforts to better themselves by red tape. A dollar a day, by the way, is measured in US purchasing power.
 [ 05.04.07 ]


red tape... not the half of it... 300 rupees to the doctor at the gevernment hospital before he will look at your child, 100 rupees to the junior engineer at the electrical board before he will send a lineman to look at the failing connection, and the lineman will want a hundred before he goes up the pole, the money to the principle to get your kid in school, ... the way the middle class feed on the poor is unbelievable... something in the tone of the article made me think that "scientists" and "researchers" are also feeding in a kind of way, feeding concepts that actually are just culturally based, derived from the cultures of the researchers... and in a way difficult to quantify, poverty is not poverty, it is more like a mind-set, and also not always the bad thing we think it is..

I agree that poverty becomes, over time, something of a mindset, but I will disagree with you that it is "not always the bad thing we think it is".

I have never been *this* bone-grindingly poor, but I have been rather poor by US standards (a job, leaky roof over my head, enough for basic food; not always enough for the bills, no extras). All I can say is that it doesn't "build character", it's terribly, terribly demoralizing. It gets inside you until you believe that's all there ever will be for you. It wears you down.

Having enough for basic needs with no extras is not a bad life, but having too little for the things you need just to survive is terrible.

i have been living in a small village next to a small town in south india for the last 6 years... and i will say that as to day-to-day happiness, you never saw so many smiles, and so much warmth, and poverty is not what we think it is... "demoralzing" is perhaps a function of expaectations and comparisons... there are almost no demoralized people in my village, no matter what happens... i am back in america after many years, los gatos, and was in seattle last week... we have abundance here, but no monopoply on happiness, despite all the stuff available in home depot or costco... there is another way to perceive life than through the eyes of "wealth" as measured by the western cultural system... i could go on for a few pages, this is something i have been thinking about for a long time... an aside, did you ever post your china trip experiences? maybe i missed that, was looking forward to your views... thanks for your great site, gregory

To be clear, I wasn't demoralized by a lack of things, I was demoralized by the constant worry, by the knot in my stomach every single time I went to the grocery store - with a budget of $20/week, if I needed a box of tampons, for example, I was instantly over budget. It wasn't comparing myself with others that caused me pain, it was running out of heating oil in the middle of winter, and not having enough money to buy some more. And - one of those times - it was having someone hand me the money to buy more oil and not being able to say no.

I never did write about China. (In fact, we're still sorting through the pictures.) It was an intense, interesting trip, and I'm glad I went, but I don't think I'm going to have time to write about it here.



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