And since we're sharing articles, I'm going to be a dove and share one of my favorites. Originally published in The Economist. Fair warning, there probably bigger words and loftier ideas than what you'd see in your average Rolling Stone article:
"When Americans hear the words "poor" and "white", they think of someone like Mr Banks. He has half a dozen cars in varying states of disrepair parked outside his trailer, car-parts everywhere and a pile of crushed Pepsi cans below his porch.
He "draws" $521 a month in supplemental security income (a form of cash assistance for the elderly, poor and disabled). He laments that the authorities deduct $67 a month because he won $3,600 on the slot machines. Why, he asks, won't they
take account of all the money he has lost gambling? It is a fair question. If middleclass America had this problem, accountants would surely find a way round it. Mr Banks also complains that he cannot draw food stamps. In order to qualify, he would
have to sell his truck, which he cannot bear to part with.
Mr Banks would probably be surprised to hear that, thousands of miles away in central Africa, there lives a prominent surgeon whose monthly income is roughly the same as his. Mbwebwe Kabamba is the head of the emergency department at the main public hospital in
Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. After 28 years as a doctor, his salary is only $250 a month, but by operating on private patients after hours, he ekes it out to $600 or $700. Given the lower cost of living in Congo, one might guess that Dr Kabamba is better
off than Mr Banks. But the doctor has to support an extended family of 12, whereas Mr Banks's ex-wife and three sons claim public assistance. Indeed, the reason Mr. Banks split up from his wife, he says, is because they can draw more benefits separately. She still lives in the trailer next door.
Why juxtapose the lives of a poor man in a rich country and a relatively well-off man in a poor one? The exercise is useful for two reasons. First, it puts the rich world's wealth into context. A Congolese doctor, a man most other Congolese would consider wealthy, is worse off materially than most poor people in America. That, in itself, is striking."