Friday, October 14, 2011

#4 Move to a Country with a Lower Standard of Living

It seems ingrained in American culture that getting rich is the goal of life. The American Dream(or more likely the outdated American Dream) is to work your way up until you can live a house in the suburbs with the white-picket fence, a nice car, and a bunch of other unnecessary stuff. When I was a kid(in the 90's) we had more or less won the Cold War, decimated the Iraqi army in Desert Storm, and the economy was soaring. The U.S. was at the top no question about it. Those that could afford it bought new cars, new computers, new TV's, new EVERYTHING. Everyone was better off in the country poor to rich. And then it happened... September 11th.

In the span of a few hours that fateful day everything started to change. No one knew what was going to happen. There were reports gas would skyrocket to $5 a gallon. After that security was increased to near schizophrenic levels, we invaded Afghanistan(yes we were actually there first and with a legitimate just war reason), then Iraq. We didn't win quickly this wasn't like before this was different. Mired in two costly wars the housing bubble burst and banks started failing.

The Great Recession(which is rather clever because if it was called a Depression people would panic and make it worse)had come. Despite this in general Americans haven't changed their ways. They are still buying the newest gadgets, cars, and houses because that will fix the economy. Sure it will in the short run, but deeper issues exist(I'll get to them later). Therefore, I believe that the "Great" American Economy is based entirely on consumerism the more Americans buy the better the economy. It is ingrained in our culture as even the government does it. Each Christmas people buy more, more food is better(talking to you Sam's Club), it's always more.

Since this culture of stuff exists Americans as a whole think of countries outside Western Europe as places undesirable to live. They call it the third-world like it is some place you should never go. Third-world actually is dated and means the countries that were neither Communist(Soviet Union influenced) nor Capitalist(United States influenced). Developing is a better way to contrast and although I generally hate political correctness this one is actually useful. However, what most Americans seem not to understand is that standard of living is not equal to quality of life.*

I can say money doesn't bring happiness a thousand times and people would agree, but then they'd go to work 60 hours a week at a job they hate. I know this isn't everyone, but more and more are like this. In my opinion people are the most important thing in life they make it more fun, more worth living. I've seen people in dire poverty in Juarez, Mexico that didn't like their situation in life, but were happier than most Americans because at least they had each other. Thus, although Uruguay has a lower standard of living than the U.S. it doesn't mean that it is worse off. Other factors such as closer-knit families, more relaxed living, healthier food, etc. shows that it might actually have a higher quality of life.

*I believe that money you have v. how happy you are put on a graph follows a bell curve. As you get more and more money you becoming happier up to a point where you have plenty and more actually makes you unhappier as it creates problems such as over-working or social separation.

What do you think about the difference between standard of living and quality of life? Please Comment Below.

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