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Old 12-07-2009, 09:01 PM
 
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Why the heck in the US, Americans are always whining about how little money they are making? I live modestly, but I still feel well off. I have seen the harsh living conditions in the slums of Africa and Central America as a college student. However, people that have never been abroad see their situation through the lense of their small world. First, is it that simple that Americans (except those who have been abroad) only compare themselves to their peers? Secondly, does the whining about how "poor" some working class people are who own their own home, running water, cars, TVs, etc. make you sick? I have lived with people who have a family of four in what is no larger than a studio apartment, dirt floor, no running water, no toilets that flush, a roof that is a thin sheet of metal, and walls that are meager cement blocks. Why cannot people compare themselves to that instead of whining about how they are not the super-rich. By international standards, middle class Americans are rich. Hence, I am tired of the whining. I am not saying that our economy is in the tank and that this doesn't mean much if you do not have health insurance. But, I have heard this whining from peopel wIWTH medical insurance and a realitive;y nice home (though modest by US standards). Should, I be sick of the whining? Or should I understand that they have never been anywhere? I am sorry for the venting, but I would like to hear from others.
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:30 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
7,091 posts, read 10,488,886 times
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Well of course people complain, they don't get to buy all the stuff they ever want.

If they come close they realize that credit cards and bankers actually want those loans back.

Compared to the worlds poor and destitute, even those on welfare are wealthy. Try living in places like Haiti, where they pound dirt with shortening to make a cookie like "Meal" that is hard to afford for many. I had a friend in the Peace Corps that came back from Ghana, where the villages she was trying to help were being decimated by things that have been eradicated in the US. In places like India, Welfare is any family that can tolerate you...if you have no money there is no government assistance or health care.

People don't look at how it can be worse, they are just jealous of those who have it better.
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:07 AM
 
Location: Las Vegas
13,433 posts, read 24,210,764 times
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I have lived abroad and at least visited most of the world at one time or another. I think it's just human nature to want whatever we don't have.

Once upon a time, I sat on a beach talking with a young man on Moorea, Tahiti. His dream was to relocate to the US. He thought it was the answer to all his prayers. Where did he want to go? Chicago. This nice young man had no concept of what it would be like to live in Chicago. He just wanted to experience what he didn't have. I found it impossible this man was willing to give up paradise for.....Chicago. On Moorea, there's no reason to work unless you want to. If you are hungry, pick some fruit or spear a fish. And you get to live in the most beautiful place on the planet. But he was willing to leave. He wanted to experience life in Chicago first hand. I often wonder if he made it to Chicago and what he might think of his whole experience after getting a boatload of reality, and snow, thrown at him.
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:48 AM
 
260 posts, read 493,121 times
Reputation: 229
If you think, you are unhappy. . ..

If you think your salary is low. . .

If you think you don't have many friends. . .

When you feel like giving up . . . .

If you think you suffer in life,

If you complain about your transport system . . .

If your load is too hard to bear . . . .

There are many things in your life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart...Be thankful for what you have...

Last edited by Beretta; 12-10-2009 at 04:15 PM.. Reason: cleaned up post
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:16 AM
 
5,610 posts, read 6,482,099 times
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Firstly, yes, of course people compare themselves to those around them. I do share your sentiments, very very very few people in the US have it as bad as so many in the world do. I think that people complain because they watch others around them get filthy rich and they feel jipped. I make enough money to live to a decent standard, but when i see people making 3 times as much it can be hard to put things in perspective. I work as a permatemp, which makes it even harder. People at my temp agency are raking in 6 or 7 figures based on nothing more than skimming 5 - 10 dollars for every hour I work. Yes, when you look at the big picture, most americans have it pretty darn nice; but it is hard to put things in perspective, which is why you have so many people complaining.
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Old 12-08-2009, 10:04 AM
 
Location: Planet Eaarth
8,957 posts, read 17,005,188 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lentzr View Post
Why the heck in the US, Americans are always whining about how little money they are making? I live modestly, but I still feel well off. I have seen the harsh living conditions in the slums of Africa and Central America as a college student. However, people that have never been abroad see their situation through the lense of their small world. First, is it that simple that Americans (except those who have been abroad) only compare themselves to their peers? Secondly, does the whining about how "poor" some working class people are who own their own home, running water, cars, TVs, etc. make you sick? I have lived with people who have a family of four in what is no larger than a studio apartment, dirt floor, no running water, no toilets that flush, a roof that is a thin sheet of metal, and walls that are meager cement blocks. Why cannot people compare themselves to that instead of whining about how they are not the super-rich. By international standards, middle class Americans are rich. Hence, I am tired of the whining. I am not saying that our economy is in the tank and that this doesn't mean much if you do not have health insurance. But, I have heard this whining from peopel wIWTH medical insurance and a realitive;y nice home (though modest by US standards). Should, I be sick of the whining? Or should I understand that they have never been anywhere? I am sorry for the venting, but I would like to hear from others.
I have to wonder what you expect from a population that is constantly bombarded with commercial nonsense that they have a right to the good life which is often defined as "The American Way of Life".

Poverty doesn't sell well so it's ignore in America.
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Old 12-08-2009, 10:13 AM
 
Location: Mid-Atlantic east coast
5,120 posts, read 9,416,029 times
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I know what you mean.

I, too, long for the day when we've come to realize that true wealth is measured by a richness of friends, a warm and sharing community, freedom from illness and wholesome, nourishing food without additives and chemicals.

Add in a roof that doesn't leak, a comfy bed, lively conversation, fulfilled creativity and IMHO, that's a person who is rich beyond dreams.

And as I've come to discover, lately, is that it takes not a bunch of money to achieve this...only a willingness to explore the possibilities.
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Old 12-08-2009, 10:27 AM
 
1,738 posts, read 3,883,570 times
Reputation: 4566
Let's play a little devil's advocate.

I grew up in a US territory, which is as close as an American citizen can say they have experienced what it is like to live "abroad" without outright having dual citizenship or being a naturalized individual. What most people who begrudge the american "whining" miss is that America is, in aggregate, designed and accustomed to expecting over-productivity out of their proletariat. This is to say, Americans work their hump off for no explicit reason other than they are expected to. In the territory I grew up in, productivity was not viewed as an inherent virtue. Mainlanders call that "lazyness", but it is they [mainlanders] who are the dupes working 60 hours a week for a "middle class" living.

To put it in other terms, Americans live to work. In order to attain the relative material wealth that Americans have come to expect as "deserving compensation" (yes, Americans have a sense of entitlement, but it doesn't come from vacuum) for their quality-time-depriving working lives, they need to work said quality-time-depriving working lives. It's a catch-22. Though it doesn't have to be, philosophically at least.

I would love to wake up one day and tell my employer "I don't feel like busting my hump, I'm just gonna work hard enough not to get fired, 30 hours a week for me". That's great, but it'll get you fired and automatically underemployed. That wouldn't get you fired in Spain, nor make you underemployed, but it does in America, with the outright excess capacity of unemployed labor we got, govt kool-aid fixed unemployment figures be damned. So there's your difference.

Now, let's make an even more preposterous assumption and say said employer won't fire you for such "moral bankruptcy", which is how the refusal of over-productivity is viewed in this country. You now negated the comparative advantage of living in the United States. This is to say, now a comparably employed european has a greater quality of life, time off and aggregate purchasing power than you do in the land of the free. Now you're merely surviving on the meager wages of underemployment. You just defeated the purpose. This is why Americans partake in the rat race. It's not necessarily because Bill Gates is immorally rich (though he is), it's because throttling back in this country lands you in the poor house, and it shouldn't be that way.

To put it in context once again. Making 50K is not hard in this country, yet it is still above the median individual wage. The problem is that 50K gets you survival for a household of 4. Food, mortgage, clothes, medical insurance, and the one night at applebees. To keep that 50K, you got it, 60 hours a week for you and don't dare to raise your voice. I don't need to bust my hump like that to 'survive' in Costa Rica. And they don't. Therefore, there is no incentive for an individual to bust his/her hump to 'just survive' when the opportunity cost of throttling back somewhere else and still attain survival is lower. Ergo, americans don't deem the rat race a worthwhile opportunity cost for just surviving, it is only worthwhile to capitalize on. The problem is that, per our marginal returns concept, when X effort is expended for the average Joes to attain the proverbial 50K, to double that income, statistically and physically, it requires NOT X+X, it requires a non-linear input, say exponentially for instance. We call this "live to work".

In closing, yes americans are materialistic and our standard of living is about to take a nose dive. That said, I would LOVE to throttle back at work, not get punitively affected in my finances and job security, and enjoy the "better perspective" of these proverbial european and south american peers, college and non-college educated alike. I also know that clicking my heels won't take me to Oz nor bring me the money I need not to worry about money in America. So plainly blaming americans for being consumeristic without placing context on the socio-economic dynamics of why americans chase a buck, versus force a societal change where productivity is not viewed as a God, is simpleton and visceral and doesn't quite gain you any insight.

And now...GET BACK TO WORK! *national anthem plays in the background*

Edit to add: And let's not quit the discussion there. There will be a plethora of expatriate retirements in the future for a lot of Americans for this very reason. Put simply, there are two reasons americans live to work. #1 is they recognize having this working lifestyle is not worth it to just tread water and survive, it is only worth it to capitalize at the end. And #2, they believe it IS STILL POSSIBLE IN AMERICA to realize that capitalized state with the aforementioned hump busting. The problem is that #2 is no longer true, which is why we will see a visible reduction of quality of life in america and the recognition by millions that working 60 hours a week in a job you hate to end up treading water at the level of a 30-hour-a-week copacetic Brazilian is not quite what anybody bargained for.

So there will be three camps in 30 years. The expats who say 'screw it' and go preserve a semblance of quality of life by continually going where the going is cheaper (alas temporarily), those who will continue to seek ways to minimize their exposure to the ills of over-productivity (I'm in that camp) and lastly the dupes who will continue to profess America is still the land of milk and honey and will continue to buy into the mantra of living to work. The first two will still deal with dissapointment, but it is ultimately the third one who will really disfunction and have it the hardest.

Last edited by hindsight2020; 12-08-2009 at 10:46 AM..
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Old 12-08-2009, 12:07 PM
 
Location: Las Vegas
13,433 posts, read 24,210,764 times
Reputation: 24745
Quote:
Originally Posted by hindsight2020 View Post
Let's play a little devil's advocate.

I grew up in a US territory, which is as close as an American citizen can say they have experienced what it is like to live "abroad" without outright having dual citizenship or being a naturalized individual. What most people who begrudge the american "whining" miss is that America is, in aggregate, designed and accustomed to expecting over-productivity out of their proletariat. This is to say, Americans work their hump off for no explicit reason other than they are expected to. In the territory I grew up in, productivity was not viewed as an inherent virtue. Mainlanders call that "lazyness", but it is they [mainlanders] who are the dupes working 60 hours a week for a "middle class" living.

To put it in other terms, Americans live to work. In order to attain the relative material wealth that Americans have come to expect as "deserving compensation" (yes, Americans have a sense of entitlement, but it doesn't come from vacuum) for their quality-time-depriving working lives, they need to work said quality-time-depriving working lives. It's a catch-22. Though it doesn't have to be, philosophically at least.

I would love to wake up one day and tell my employer "I don't feel like busting my hump, I'm just gonna work hard enough not to get fired, 30 hours a week for me". That's great, but it'll get you fired and automatically underemployed. That wouldn't get you fired in Spain, nor make you underemployed, but it does in America, with the outright excess capacity of unemployed labor we got, govt kool-aid fixed unemployment figures be damned. So there's your difference.

Now, let's make an even more preposterous assumption and say said employer won't fire you for such "moral bankruptcy", which is how the refusal of over-productivity is viewed in this country. You now negated the comparative advantage of living in the United States. This is to say, now a comparably employed european has a greater quality of life, time off and aggregate purchasing power than you do in the land of the free. Now you're merely surviving on the meager wages of underemployment. You just defeated the purpose. This is why Americans partake in the rat race. It's not necessarily because Bill Gates is immorally rich (though he is), it's because throttling back in this country lands you in the poor house, and it shouldn't be that way.

To put it in context once again. Making 50K is not hard in this country, yet it is still above the median individual wage. The problem is that 50K gets you survival for a household of 4. Food, mortgage, clothes, medical insurance, and the one night at applebees. To keep that 50K, you got it, 60 hours a week for you and don't dare to raise your voice. I don't need to bust my hump like that to 'survive' in Costa Rica. And they don't. Therefore, there is no incentive for an individual to bust his/her hump to 'just survive' when the opportunity cost of throttling back somewhere else and still attain survival is lower. Ergo, americans don't deem the rat race a worthwhile opportunity cost for just surviving, it is only worthwhile to capitalize on. The problem is that, per our marginal returns concept, when X effort is expended for the average Joes to attain the proverbial 50K, to double that income, statistically and physically, it requires NOT X+X, it requires a non-linear input, say exponentially for instance. We call this "live to work".

In closing, yes americans are materialistic and our standard of living is about to take a nose dive. That said, I would LOVE to throttle back at work, not get punitively affected in my finances and job security, and enjoy the "better perspective" of these proverbial european and south american peers, college and non-college educated alike. I also know that clicking my heels won't take me to Oz nor bring me the money I need not to worry about money in America. So plainly blaming americans for being consumeristic without placing context on the socio-economic dynamics of why americans chase a buck, versus force a societal change where productivity is not viewed as a God, is simpleton and visceral and doesn't quite gain you any insight.

And now...GET BACK TO WORK! *national anthem plays in the background*

Edit to add: And let's not quit the discussion there. There will be a plethora of expatriate retirements in the future for a lot of Americans for this very reason. Put simply, there are two reasons americans live to work. #1 is they recognize having this working lifestyle is not worth it to just tread water and survive, it is only worth it to capitalize at the end. And #2, they believe it IS STILL POSSIBLE IN AMERICA to realize that capitalized state with the aforementioned hump busting. The problem is that #2 is no longer true, which is why we will see a visible reduction of quality of life in america and the recognition by millions that working 60 hours a week in a job you hate to end up treading water at the level of a 30-hour-a-week copacetic Brazilian is not quite what anybody bargained for.

So there will be three camps in 30 years. The expats who say 'screw it' and go preserve a semblance of quality of life by continually going where the going is cheaper (alas temporarily), those who will continue to seek ways to minimize their exposure to the ills of over-productivity (I'm in that camp) and lastly the dupes who will continue to profess America is still the land of milk and honey and will continue to buy into the mantra of living to work. The first two will still deal with dissapointment, but it is ultimately the third one who will really disfunction and have it the hardest.
Great post and quite true. I would also put Japan, speaking globally here, in the same bucket with the live to work Americans. Americans DO work too hard and have too little time off. People in other countries don't work as hard as we do. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. In other places people seem to have more family and social life than Americans.

It's our own doing. We are taught to always work harder for that American Dream. Keep reaching for that elusive glimmer of success that's unattainable for the vast majority. What will happen when people finally figure out they have been sold a load of horse hockey? It's be bad for productivity but I think we need to find balance and start living. That dream we were reaching for hasn't really existed in a long time.
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Old 12-08-2009, 12:19 PM
 
10,706 posts, read 20,126,250 times
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Originally Posted by hindsight2020 View Post
That wouldn't get you fired in Spain, nor make you underemployed, but it does in America, with the outright excess capacity of unemployed labor we got, govt kool-aid fixed unemployment figures be damned. So there's your difference.
That's because most of Europe has very strong employee protection laws. Just look what happened in France when the government tried to change them. Massive riots.

What that leads to is higher unemployment (around 2x the US) and employers tend to hesitate in hiring people because they get stuck with them for life (firing workers is very hard to do). The economy stagnates, and the country has very little progression. Lots of social welfare.

And you are wrong on the Spanish unemployment rate. Our rates in the US are significantly less than Spain, which has now hit over 17%.

Quote:
More than four million Spanish people are out of work. According to the country's National Statistics Institute a record high figure of 17.4 per cent were unemployed in the first quarter of the year.

Spain's unemployment rate leaps to record high - Times Online
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