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Comparing Poverty in India and America May Surprise You

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/08/03/comparing-poverty-india-and-america-may-surprise-you

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Both countries have a religious basis to explain their poverty:

In India, lower Hindu caste members were born to their fate.
In the US, capitalist meritocracy explains our lot in life.

Fuck both religions.


“it is precisely the cost and difficulty of housing that makes for so much misery for so many Americans”

Rent and housing prices are a matter of supply and demand. If the government were to implement a massive increase in the housing stock, directly or by incentives, where the need is greatest, then rent and housing prices, availability, and homelessness could be bought way down.

However that would constitute a conflict of interest between those who would benefit from such an undertaking, and those existing homeowners and landlords who would see a corresponding reduction in the market value of their homes or reduction in the income and value of their rental properties.

So, such a massive undertaking is unlikely to happen. In the long run however, I think more would be better off if housing took a much smaller share of our income. Maybe something could be phased in.

  • Homicides: Numerous sources report a higher homicide rate in the U.S. than in India.
  • Suicides: Numerous sources report a higher suicide rate in India than in the U.S. (although WHO shows a higher male suicide rate in the U.S. than in India).
  • Alcohol Abuse: All sources report a higher alcohol-related death rate in the U.S. than in India.
  • Homelessness: Based on the best available data, the U.S. has a slightly higher rate of homelessness than India. The numbers may be understated for both countries.

America is a class society, rich vs poor; white collar vs blue collar; and as Chris Matthews put it: “those who shower before going to the office and those who shower after work.” It is more difficult to live in a society where there are vast differences between the standard of living.

No one should be homeless. In some European countries it is illegal to be homeless. The government is required to provide housing for the homeless – not arrest them. Substance abuse, mental illness, etc, treatment is provided by the government. (And why not? Everyone benefits.)
No one should have to work 3 jobs to support themselves/family. No two people are the same. Everyone has different talents, skills, and dreams. Work, especially low-paying work is often seen as punishment one deserves for “not doing better” in America. There are no jobs Americans would not do and do well – if they paid enough for a decent standard of living.
Deaths of Despair (suicides in the US): “The twin trends — an increased probability of death in midlife and a population-wide reversal of longevity — set the United States in stark contrast to every other affluent country in the world. (JAMA).”

This day will come:

“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”
― Buckminster Fuller
(emphasis mine)


but we had 140 billionaires in New York alone!

In the US, Christianity is the base for capitalist meritocracy. Especially those denominations and sects that teach you are damned from birth, unless you’re a member of The Elect, as shown by god showering riches upon you. The rest must accept their lot, both here and after death. And allow the Elect to kick you out of their way, to force you to work for them with little pay. Clever ruse by the powerful of the time to put down the numerous Peasant rebellions exploding all over Europe and England. Capitalism crept in, allowing well-to-do merchants and businessmen to earn their bread by their skills. When the making of goods transferred from individual villages, each family producing its part, to large factories in urban areas, that made poverty eternal, classism embedded in society, and religion very happy. No matter what denomination, you got your tithe, your manse, your rents, and the support of the nobility who controlled all property.
Poverty is a sin as well as a crime in Amerikka. It proves you’re immoral, have no control over your base instincts, and are a drag on the rest, who are good, upright citizens with their exurban McMansions, your hyper-sized vehicle, and who work doing…what? They define it-hedge funds, investment banking, stock trading…certainly not taking care of the sick, the homeless, the poor, or the elderly. They pay others who are less poor and needy than those who need care.
It is true-When the last king(dictator, president, CEO) is strangled with the entrails of the last priest(minister, religious leader), then mankind will have peace.


Romney got caught on video dividing Americans into two convenient categories, “makers and takers.”
A sadder reduction of 99% of us to the status of parasites couldn’t possibly exist.

The rich believe they deserve the right to make wads of cash through passive investing.
Their great religious breakthrough was convincing everyone else that we deserve our measly crumbs.


Actually, I was once dirt poor. I was raised on a sudsistence farm and worked hard for my parents there. My father committed suicide on that farm due to marital problems and I was on my own at age 19. No money to my name nor an education I took what I could get for work. I took a course in carpentry and apprenticeship back in the 70’s here in Canada and learned how to build a house. First working for others, then I began to build. Then sell what I built. I’m by no means truly wealthy but have achieved independent security. No one who takes life seriously and has physical energy and is able needs to remain hopeless. God helps those who help themselves. I should add one needs to treat their body well. Good food, good rest and no drugs or excessive alcohol are important to accomplish self made success. Above all let yourself never to be taken advantage of. The world is indeed full of trickery.


I admire what you were able to accomplish but this is a different world now and you sound a little like Nancy Reagan. Just say no. If you live along a drug corridor, “water, health and wealth” has been replaced by,“murder, meth, and auto theft”.


May I suggest Fern, that if you live in such place to for Heaven’s sake just get the hell out. Go somewhere out into the country and out of there. Small towns offer a simpler life though it may seem hard at first for a city person

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Well thanks garry, but I live in a growing use to be farming community. It is on one of the many drug corridors but it fares slightly better than some other places. My point is if you live in one of the many slums, there is slim to no possibility of life getting any better. If people just leave and ignore it, it only gets worse.

For instance there have been 158K covid-19 deaths, last year there were 67K drug overdose deaths, not a lot of personal happiness in those communities.


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Again, from what you’re telling me, I’m certain I’d leave such a place. Are there no places left in America where wholesome living still exists. In a way it is ultimately up to the individual how he or she chooses to live. I live not far from a city in Canada where drugs and drug and alcohol abuse are common. Nevertheless I have children in their mid thirties who have stayed clean living in this area, got university degrees and they work as Registered nurses now.


The leaderships of both countries and their failed “opposing party” that failed to stop their descent into failure should all resign.

Way back during the Internet Bubble years India propossed that we give up on educating our young and simply hire Indian outsourcing firms to do their jobs instead.


The Clinton Administration basically agreed. Why own when you can rent (workers) Unfortunately, trade agreements are designed to be so difficult and costly to reverse they basically are “forever”.

Now we’re getting sued in a trade tribunal because the jobs haven’t been delivered up yet. US right wing think tanks and the entire global neoliberal community are all rooting for them.

If they win it will be the end of the US middle class as we knew it. A large number of skilled work will become precarious labor, done by migrant laborers with master degrees, some questionable. Wages are officially supposed to be at least a legal US wage. However the firms take out money for housing (people live 4 to a room) food, etc. Also many jobs expect people to work 60 hrs a week. So people end up with very little…

Is this the future of work in America? Two studies have estimated that 26-41 percent of our jobs could end up being done this way within just a few years. Its so much cheaper.

It will kill Social Security because so much less money will be going into the system.

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Most of the people stuck in these parts of the country cant afford to leave. Also, suppose they did make it to some more economically diverse area and cash in hand, tried to rent an apartment. What landlord would rent to them? Not having perfect credit and theree times the monthly rent in income. People have no idea.

Things are going to become much worse for the semi-professional middle class. large scale outsourcing of entire categories of jobs is about to pull the rug out from underneath them. thats Bidens job if he gets in, implementing whats already planned. Trump knows that and he’s taking advantage of what he knows, but make no mistake, if he wins he will do it too.

See my other post in this thread on jobs. Temping firms in India fully expect to be doing those jobs here in the US in a few years.


There is no god. This reads suspiciously like the Prosperity Gospel mantra. Telling people to just “move away”. Gee, that’s what was told to the poor in Europe by the powers that be, and they invaded Turtle Island, the land where my people lived for thousands of years. And told us the same thing-hard work, learn a trade, be prosperous. Luckily, we heard Iktomi’s words and didn’t fall for it.


The expected rise in the cost of energy due to allowing export (which had been prohibited for 40 years leading to the US having the lowest natural gas prices and so also among the lowest electricity prices in the world.

This subsidy, as the WTO puts it is about to end as export capacity comes online. Once the exporting starts it cant be stopped until its gone. Something similar could also happen with fresh water and other precious and monetarily valuable commodities. Mining of fresh water is already a big thing in Australia of all places, the water is being shipped to places in Asis, Mining it and shipping it is apparently cheaper than distillation.

This is supposed to lead to a lot of job losses as energy-using businesses close their doors. Instead the energy companies will get to sell our natural gas in other parts of the world where they can get three to five times more. The increased cost in heating large multi-family buildings, is expected to result in the demolition and redevelopment of a LOT of existing postwar era multifamily housing in US cities.

The media should cover this because its expected to result in a lot of housing churn and likely, homelessness. People will have to rent new apartments, which usually requires their monthly income be three times the monthly rent.

Thats wont be possible for around 90% of the current residents of many cities.

The price of natural gas, and so likely also electricity which tracks natural gas, may triple or more. Where will people live? The loss of so much housing for the poor and middle class will be a boon to real estate developers like President Trump. never before will so much real estate be made available but at a terrible and tremendous human cost. I thought about this this afternoon when I saw two fawns, two out of the three fawns I had been seeing sheltering in my back yard for a few hours every few days, for several weeks, there without their smaller sibling. Their mother seems to see it as a safe place to leave her babies and it is. The only thing I could think of that mignt have happened was that their younger sibling had died. There has been a war going on against the poor and middle class in this country for a few decades now, waged by both our rich parties. You cant wage a war against people without there being casualties. Why is our government doing this? We cant all be rich.


One method that I see of reducing the cost of housing would use tax policy to significantly reduce the incentive for people and organizations to own vast amounts of property. Because the upper classes are able to own enough of the housing supply to significantly control the availability of it to the working classes they are able to profit from this by driving up rents and property costs to profit further by lending us the money to buy the ever higher priced assets.

Currently property is taxed locally, usually based on the “fair market value” of the property, and the income and wealth of the property owner is not part of the property tax equation. As a consequence a property tax that is onerous to the poor is quite bearable to the wealthy who mostly pass the annoying cost on to others through higher rents.

Suppose instead of taxing the property based on fair market value that we tax the property based on its size and use and on its owners income. We might tax an average single family dwelling at 10% of the owner’s income for the year. If I owned three of these average single family homes I would then be paying 30% of my income as property tax. I would have almost no incentive to own ten or more houses. And this is the purpose of this proposal to base the property tax on the size and use of the property and the owners income, so that it is not economical for the wealthy to monopolize the ownership and control of property. Involving the owners income into the calculation of the property tax would reduce and constrain housing costs, and largely push the wealthy out of the housing markets except for the buildings that they occupy.

As always, the Devil is in the details, however my point is that things need not remain organized as they currently are and it is past time we considered some changes in how this society is organized.


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Since we have foreign investors in rental housing in the US trade agreements may prohibit us from building any more public housing. Its llke health insurance, its forBiden because it devalues the monetary value of commercial offerings. If the government delivered housing as part of its core function and there were not private providers of housing and it was free then we could have public housing again.

Sorry. This is what our elected leaders wanted, it was signed December 8, 1994 and became aw on January 1, 1995.

Now I have some market rate housing over here if you are interested, only $4500 a month, balcony and parking included. You wont find a comparable deal anywhere else around here.