Monday, August 19, 2019

Reality Asserts Itself

When I was a kid, I was growing up in a nation which touted itself as having the highest standard of living in the world. We bragged about having 5% of the world’s population and using 25% of the world’s resources. And we didn’t just state it as an abstract fact, we bragged about it as if it was some sort of accomplishment.

I forget the precise numbers, but I do recall thinking at the time that maybe we shouldn’t take such pride in them. My parents were certainly not anything approaching socialist in their thinking, but they did teach me a basic sense of fairness. More important, they along with our education system taught me to stay in contact with reality.

We assuaged whatever little shred of conscience we had by assuming that the rest of the world would someday pull themselves up to the same standard of living that we enjoyed. I viewed that assumption with a somewhat jaundiced eye, since the numbers seemed to me to indicate that there weren’t enough resources for that to happen, and that if the world’s standard of living were to equalize then ours would have to drop a bit.

Logic kind of bites idealists in the ass when they touch base with reality. In the real world, when the standard of living is the same everywhere, then 5% of the world’s population can no longer consume more than approximately 5% of the world’s resources. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

And that process is happening now. The standard of living all over the world is rising, and it’s rising pretty fast. We are trying to maintain “economic growth” and it’s not happening, and we are pointing fingers everywhere. All the finger pointing is useless. It’s an effort to avoid maintaining contact with reality.

The world’s standard of living is equalizing, and for it to do so our standard of living has to decline a bit. I don’t know why we’re complaining; we did it to ourselves when we shipped all those manufacturing jobs overseas.

It had to happen. If it wasn’t that it would have been something else. The world wasn’t going to sit back and let us hog all the good times forever. Eventually, reality asserts itself.

6 comments:

Always On Watch said...

The world’s standard of living is equalizing, and for it to do so our standard of living has to decline a bit.

Ugh. That's not good for me personally. I've certainly never enjoyed an at-the-top standard of living.

I'm not whining: it was my choice to make a living the way I have done (private school teacher, homeschool classes teacher -- while living in the smallest house in this greater neighborhood and, at the same time, caregiving my husband since his major stroke in 2009).

Still, it would have been nice to travel abroad just once.

Jayhawk said...

It doesn't mean that any one individual's standard will drop, only that the overall standard will. Those who live at the top are going to experience major change. Those who live small will only experience less envy.

Always On Watch said...

Jayhawk,
Envy, huh? Not my schtick. Just sayin'.

Jayhawk said...

Sorry, AOW, was not intending to accuse you. Just suggesting that this whole "economic inequality" thing is lagrly hype based on envy. The ones doing the yelling are all proposing that we take money away from the rich, and none have any realistic suggestions for making the lower rungs more economically powerful.

Always On Watch said...

Jayhawk,
No worries. I didn't take what you said as an accusation.

I am wary of anything close to the idea of global wealth distribution.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jayhawk, a few days ago i was watching some videos about China. They are building like crazy; problem is, those big beautiful buildings are just ticky-tacked together - and within two years, the roof is already leaking, and so are the pipes. As the walls crack, and the beautiful sliding glass doors go off-track, because they were opened and closed a few times, repairs are slow in happening - that's if repairs happen at all. The people, even the well-to-do, are way in debt. It is not uncommon for a building to last a couple of years, only to be torn down and replaced with another building - i guess it's rinse and repeat. First thing that popped into my mind, was the megatons of natural resources so mismanaged.

When we were kids, America had every right to use that 25% of resources. i can still remember how stuff was used over again - clothing was made decently, now it's just pitched, after about four washings (because it was shoddy from the start). i may be wrong, but i read that Americans have, traditionally, longer work-weeks than do the other nations. In short, our parents and grandparents acquired all that nice stuff, because they worked long and hard for it.

i am just one of those annoying people who adamantly refuses to feel guilty for having been born here in the, still prosperous, US of A. And i am keeping that gas-guzzler parked in back - it has BIG tires, wahoo ;)

Post a Comment