Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Why the Third World is Catching Up With the US

In a totally random, completely unscientific survey of the many places I have traveled to, I have noted a number of reasons that the people of many third world countries are catching up with, and in some cases surpassing, the people of the US in a number of areas.
  • They save money. In China, the average rate of savings is 30% of household income. The average rate of savings in the US is -.4% of household income.
  • Industrial nations have the highest overall levels of cancer.
  • The US has the most obese and overweight people (64%) in the world. This means more medical costs and less productivity.
  • Singapore has a higher life expectancy than the US.
  • A greater emphasis is put on a college education in many poorer countries. The kids truly appreciate their education and put this education to work serving industrial nations while also improving the economic levels of their families and communities.
  • The countries where citizens are bilingual (with English being taught in schools as well as their native language), the people have much better access to work as the world gets smaller. Some of the best writers and techies I know are from the Philippines and India.
  • Common sense. The US is so regulated by laws, rules and litigation, that common sense often seems to be lacking. In developing nations, there are not so many rules and laws and litigation is practically unheard of at the individual level, therefore people rely on their common sense to keep them healthy, safe and secure.
  • Mostly because they have no other options, people in developing countries eat a more basic diet (read: no fast food), get more exercise (ie: they walk because they can't afford a car), and have a more laid back attitude (they don't stress over every little thing like Americans do).
  • A business sense. In many developing nations, you can't walk more than a few yards without seeing a small family business, a small family farm, or a grandmother selling trinkets on the side of the street. Unlike the US where the citizens are brainwashed into being good little worker bees, many people in third world countries know what the bottom line is--buy low, sell high, and make a buck.

OK, before the hate mail starts to flow in, there is hope for America. Many people have already begun to take steps to move away from the typical American brainwashing system. Here's what you can do:

  • Being in debt isn't cool. Save money! Aim for 20% savings of your household income.
  • Take care of yourself. You have the best medical care available and the best medical information available. Make good choices and improve your health.
  • Get the most education you possibly can. Formally, informally, it doesn't matter. As long as you have education and skill, you can use these tools to increase your income and make a difference in the world.
  • Learn a foreign language. Chinese may be a good choice, ditto for Spanish. As the world gets smaller, you will no doubt be running into more people who speak a language other than English. Who do you think a Chinese businessman wants to do business with? Someone who only speaks English or someone with the same credentials who can also speak Chinese?
  • Use common sense. Just because you can sue someone doesn't mean you should. Learn lessons as they come (both good and bad) and move forward. And if you are in a marked crosswalk and a big truck is quickly coming your way, get out of the way whether you are in the right or not.
  • Don't do things just because everyone else is doing it. If you don't need a 4500 square foot house, don't buy it just to show off. If you don't mind riding the bus, leave your car at home. Mostly relax, Americans tend to stress out about the smallest things.
  • Develop a business sense. You should always be able to make money without having to kiss up to a boss. You may enjoy your corporate job, however it doesn't define you. As the book says, make yourself You, Inc.

No comments:

Post a Comment