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Subject:  Re: Friedman editorial on India Date:  6/10/2005  12:02 PM
Author:  trecer Number:  150 of 244

Why is it Indians who are poor are poor Indians
and Americans who are poor are lower-income Americans ?

You're right, there's a disparity between the terms which is probably not being well thought through by the people who use them this way. But when you think about it, the "lower income Americans" are still much better off than the "poor" Indians, no? Doesn't that partly justify the different terms being used? The term "lower income Indians" would imply those who are "comparatively not well off, but at least able to buy the basic necessities"; "lower income," in other words, while contrasting badly with the middle income in the same country, would imply at least a basic income level. But in India's case, we're talking about some really downright "poor" people, perhaps not as bad off as indigenous people in some highlands of the Andes or the lower strata of many African nations, but nonethless, "poor," and not "lower income." Of course, as I'm writing this, it occurs to me that poverty is always a relative term. I grew up in a destitute indigenous village in Mexico, and I know that it's difficult to define a point of knowledge from which one could assess all income levels in the world from the same vantage point. What would be considered "poor" in one country isn't necessarily quite experienced the same way in another (even though abject poverty involving malnutrition, disease and high mortality rates is never "relative"). I think there's also a strange resistance in the U.S. to calling any Americans "poor," even though perhaps the term would often be more accurate. We live under the propaganda that everyone in this country is enjoying the fruits of prosperity in at least some basic way, which is kind of an illusion, and increasingly more so.

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