Globally Speaking, All Americans Are Privileged


U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa of California is the target of much anger today for his CNN conversation on income inequality in America.

He admitted the problem but noted that “America is the richest country on Earth because we’ve been able to put capital together, and we’ve been able to make our poor, somewhat the envy of the world.”

Now maybe it was because he’s rich, or a Republican, or a white man, or whatever group people choose to dislike him for being a part of, but the richest man in congress speaking about the upside of being poor in America didn’t go over too well.

So I wade into murky waters by contradicting the reactions of all the angry people by saying that Issa may be a rich, selfish SOB that only says these things to forgive his own extraordinary wealth.

But he’s also right.

I’m here in Thailand. I look around, and I realize that all the talk about inequality and privilege back home in the U.S. today is 100% accurate–but it’s also zeroed in our relatively small corner of the world. The fact is, virtually everyone in America is privileged simply by being in America.

This isn’t just about the dirt-poor poverty I see here in the hills of Thailand. This is about what I see in the cities.

Just as the richest in the U.S. can stay atop their pedestal by leveraging the consumerism of the lower classes, so does the entire U.S. by leveraging their foothold of commerce in all the world: electronics, dotcoms, food, film and music as pictured below in a Thai department store.





Swaths of wealth are generated for the U.S., because the world uses what Americans create. This allows any able-bodied American to get a job–white collar, blue collar–that pays enough for them to own cars, a house, travel, and live a lifestyle that indeed most of the world could only dream of.

Things in the U.S. may not be what they once were, and I’d like to see things change for the better as much as anyone. But it’s also healthy to scale back and see how good Americans have it and why.


1 Response

  1. Andrea Erickson

    I was blessed to have had the opportunity to study at the CCIDD: Cuernavaca Center for Intercultural Dialogue on Development I learned a lot about poverty and income inequality. Brandon is right: even the poorest of Americans are rich compared to the poor in most countries. (BTW: Cuernavaca had both extremes in their city- a rich, walled neighborhood that was guarded by men with machine guns, and squatter village that got its electricity -and its name La Estacion- from an abandoned train station.)

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