Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Indignant? Be Thankful You Can Afford To Be

That's the message in this piece from the great Thomas Sowell, who notes:
..many leftists were born with a silver spoon in their mouths and, instead of being grateful, are venomous against American society. Conversely, there are people like yours truly who were born on the other end of the economic scale and think this is a great country. No one has really explained either phenomenon. Maybe a painful early confrontation with the facts of life makes it harder in later years to get all worked up over abstract issues that seem to preoccupy the left.

Once you have ever had to go hungry, it is hard to get worked up over the fact some people can afford only pizza while others can afford caviar. Once you have had to walk to work from Harlem to a factory south of the Brooklyn Bridge, the difference between driving a Honda and driving a Lexus seems kind of petty, too.

Would a poverty-stricken peasant in Bangladesh find the difference between the average American's standard of living and that of a millionaire something to get excited about? If he had a choice between a certainty of getting the first and a 1-in-2 chance of getting the second, would he take the risk to go for a million bucks? I doubt it.
Indeed, poverty is a heartbreaking thing...and it's relatively rare in our society (true poverty, I mean, in Sowell's sense). So we have the luxury of getting up in arms about who Bush's Supreme Court nominee will be. That wouldn't be the case if we were wondering where the next meal was coming from...

And speaking of relative prosperity, even among industrial nations, care of the Instapundit, here's Tony Blair on abandoning the 'European social model':
"Some have suggested I want to abandon Europe's social model," Blair told the European Parliament last month. "But tell me: what type of social model is it that has 20 million unemployed in Europe, productivity rates falling behind those of the United States; that is allowing more science graduates to be produced by India than by Europe; and that, on any relative index of a modern economy -- skills, R&D, patents, IT -- is going down not up."
I tell you, this Tony Blair, he's alright with me...

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