As a matter of fact, I do feel lucky…

…but not for the reasons that CNN Money implies:

The United States holds a disproportionate amount of the world’s rich people.

So where do these lucky rich people live? As of 2005 — the most recent data available — about half of them, or 29 million lived in the United Statesanother four million live in Germany. The rest are mainly scattered throughout Europe, Latin America and a few Asian countries.

The implication, of course, being that we Americans and Germans, and other western societies have achieved wealth through nothing more than “luck”.

As I said in the title of this post, I do feel very lucky (I actually prefer the term “blessed”) to have been born into a society that fosters personal achievement and success and not into one of the cesspools that punishes it.

But that’s as far as the luck goes.  It isn’t “luck” that has resulted in the success of the western world, it is a superior economic, governmental and societal model.  I’m very blessed to have been born into that superior society, but the success that free-market, democratic societies enjoy over other societal models has nothing to do with luck.

As a side-note:  Saying that the US has a “disproportionate amount of the world’s rich people” is like saying that bodies of water have a disproportionate amount of the world’s fish.

OF COURSE you’re going to find a “disproportionate” amount of things in the places that make it possible for them to exist.  That this would be surprising to the geniuses at CNN money says more about their biases and ideology than it does about the “distribution of the world’s wealth”.

2 thoughts on “As a matter of fact, I do feel lucky…

  1. It also doesn't hurt that when people emigrated here, the resources of an entire continent were virtually untouched, and we didn't have two major wars level all of our economic base twice in the last century, and the Soviets rob half the continent of riches for nearly 40 years.
    Despite those two wars and the Soviet occupation, it is interesting to see that the Germans have done so well.

  2. I'm not sure about the validity of the "untouched resources" aspect. The resources we consider valuable today were pretty much untouched anywhere in the world at the time that Europeans began colonizing the Americas.

    I would say that North America in general and the US in particular are blessed with abundant resources, but there are other parts of the world that are similarly blessed (if not more-so) that just can't seem to get it together when it comes to taking advantage of those blessings (big chunks of Africa and South America come immediately to mind).

    As far as the wars…your statement pretty much proves my point: In the societies that embraced individual liberty, even if not to the level of that of the US, and even after two devastating wars within half a century, the societies prospered and became rich, relatively speaking. Meanwhile, countries that have discouraged individual liberty and promoted collectivism (or feudalism, or totalitarianism, or any other form of governance) have failed time after time.

    I would contend that the US has prospered even over the rich countries of Europe because European countries didn't embrace individual liberty as readily as the US.

    Yes, the devastating wars could be pointed to as causative of the disparities, but any analysis of that wouldn't be complete without considering the fact that the US had a large hand in rebuilding those countries after WWII and the often overlooked side effect of the devastation and subsequent rebuilding of the industrial base of both Europe and Japan:

    When their industrial bases were rebuilt (at no small cost to the US), it was with current, state of the art technology, factories, machines and techniques. There are some who posit that this was a large part of the subsequent quality advantages that Japanese and German auto makers and other manufacturing enjoyed over the US in the decades following WWII.

    With regard to your observation about Germany: interestingly, I work for a German company.

    Although Germany is much more socialistic than than the US, it is probably the least so of the EU nations.

    They still believe in fiscal responsibility, hard work and rewarding success.

    It's no coincidence that the second highest number of the world's richest 1% reside in Germany.

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