I was reading The Onion when this little doozy of an article struck me. The article, "$11,000 a Year Doesn't Go As Far As You Probably Think", is somewhat funny, but what makes it interesting is the context. Here's a paragraph from it:
To illustrate what I'm saying, let's break down the $11,000. That's $915 a month. Right off the bat, my rent and utilities take $350 out. I realize I could live someplace a little cheaper, like the boarding house or the Y, but I work hard, and I choose to reward myself with a nice efficiency. So already we're down to $575.
Now, believe it or not, rich guys gotta eat, too. And the sad fact is, Shurfine macaroni and cheese ain't free. So that's a good $26 down the hopper each month for food, more if there's a holiday and I decide to treat myself to some primo Kraft stuff. That, I admit, is one of the dandier perks of wealth: If I feel like it, I can buy some premium-brand macaroni and cheese, and the money will be there. But I have to work for it, you know: My life isn't just lounging around and sipping daiquiris by the pool, if I had a pool!
On one hand, we might look at this article as an absolute knee slapper. On (in) the other hand, we have the book Globalization and its Discontents, by Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz (former chief economist and senior vice president for the World Bank). Here's a choice quote from him (page 5 in the paperback edition, if you're interested):
A growing divide between the haves and the have-nots has left increasing numbers in the Third World in dire poverty, living on less than a dollar a day. Despite repeated promises of poverty reduction made over the last decade of the twentieth century, the actual number of people living in poverty has actually increased by almost 100 million. This occurred at the same time that total world income increased by an average of 2.5 percent annually.
In an endnote for that paragraph, he noted that in 1998, the number of people living on less than two dollars a day was estimated to be 2.801 billion. In 1998, the world population was almost 6 billion. That means that almost fifty percent of people all over the world live on less than two dollars a day.
For anyone inclined to point out that there expenses are lower, I have two words for you: "try it". They often don't have access to clean water, health care or education. They often lack adequate (if any) housing and are constantly trying to find food. If they could read the article from The Onion, they would be amazed at what a wonderful life can be had in this country for $11,000 a year.