I hear the term "Standard of Living" and wonder if it can ever be an agreed upon value. When I have traveled outside of the United States I have noticed little things that show how far Americans are from being able to understand. In Walmart, I have seen people not bother to bend over to pick up change that they accidentally dropped. This is a store used as an example of a haven for low wage earners. If there was anywhere you would think every penny would count, it would be there. While overseas I never saw stray coins on the ground. Here it is not unusual to be able to pick them up from parking lots.

When I was younger and lived in an apartment in Connecticut, we had three floors in our building. On the banister post on the second floor we had nailed the bottom of a two liter soda bottle. In this plastic cup we tossed spare pennies. It was a simple way to judge the people that visited the building. Some would add their own, some would exchange pennies for nickels or dimes and others would pocket a handful of change. Since there was not a lot of traffic, you could get a good feeling for who might be the culprit when things turned up missing around the apartment. I don't believe this could exist in many countries.

We can read in the news about kids working all day to make mud bricks to sell for food. Whereas here you see news of homeless people with flat screen TV and unlimited text on their cell phones. I remember one about this poor woman that was having to eat English muffins for supper because it was the end of the month and her food stamps had run out. Nobody questioned why she had spent money on them in the first place.

It is not unheard of for homeless people in the northeast to commit a petty crime to be thrown in jail during the winter. United States prisoners live better than average people in many countries. I know of people who have immigrated and are working in a restaurant, sharing one bedroom between several people. Where as most children of even poor families expect their own room.

We have people that hop a plane to a nearby city just because they know a good restaurant there. That have their own house on the coast, near the resort, at the beach and in the other city. They don't think anything about what something costs, just about not attracting unwanted attention. The classic "let them eat cake","let them work like me" mentality exists. Not because they are cold hearted or uncaring but because they are so far away from subsistence living that they can't relate to it in a meaningful way.

It would be very difficult for the typical American to relate to subsistence living. The shortage of migrant farm workers makes this clear. People collecting long term unemployment are not willing to sacrifice their comforts to do the work that others are no longer allowed to. That these comforts are basic entitlements is no longer even questioned. I believe we cannot determine "Standard of Living" when we no longer know how to read the scale.

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