Curious Degrees of Difference

Man. Being sick is miserable. Heh.

It’s curious, really, how two degrees difference in the temperature under one’s tongue can humble one from running miles to agonizing over trivial distances. Huh.

I return from Duluth with a single poignant question: is our high standard of living in the West (and America specifically) built on the backs of the impoverished, manufacturing East? Or, rather, is our high standard of living a consequence of our exceptional productivity, via science and technology?

Or, asked a different way, does a sustainable pattern of living more closely resemble India with its crowded quarters, vegetarian diet and clambering auto-rickshaws, or America with its wood-built houses, red-meat diet and Volvos?

Or, asked a different way, is our prosperity a result of our vaunted Western values, or simply the exploitation of others?

About Mark Egge

Transportation planner-adjacent data scientist by day. YIMBY Shoupista on a bicycle by night. Bozeman, MT. All opinions expressed here are my own.
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5 Responses to Curious Degrees of Difference

  1. carter says:

    Once upon a time, our country was the jam diggity. We outproduced everyone, boomed in technology, grew our own food, etc. And we were good at this. And we were rewarded with having to do less work for more return. And we liked it. So then, we thought to ourselves…how could we do even less work and still get by. So we started thinking of ways to do this. Some people worked on developing better technology to increase efficiency. Some lobbied in Congress for unfair advantages. Some traveled overseas where there was no minimum wage. Some hired illegal immigrants who also have no minimum wage. As this globalization occurs, the Americans got lazier and lazier…too lazy to work on a farm, too lazy to build a house, too lazy to exercise, and too lazy to cook their own dinners. Americans got fatter, stupider, and more dependent on foreigners. Meanwhile the people overseas got stronger. They worked harder, they learned more, they learned how to build better products. Then over the years the foreigners started their own companies requiring the Americans to import their goods because they were too lazy to produce them in their own country. But these Americans didn’t realize their problem. Maybe they were too busy believing in a War on Terror. Maybe they were too busy eating fast food. Maybe they were too busy watching American Idol. So America declined and the foreign countries got stronger. The Americans started spending less money on education and more money on oil, fast food and the military. The American dollar fell in value or perhaps the stock market crashed. Then foreign companies started inhabiting America because they could charge less becausae people were desparate to work.

    Things like the Internet are only accelerating globalization. Suddenly companies can stay on the same page from locations all over the world. Things are going to get really nasty for America with our increasing reliance upon external labor and resources. Colonialization never stands the test of time, especially in today’s day where much of the goods we buy are rich in engineering, not resources. As we educate India and China we level the playing fields and today’s technology only levels these fields faster. Its great for the world, but its bad for our country.

    Look at our president. Easily arguably the worst president ever. It took 6 years for the average American to realize what a fool this man is. What does that say about the average american? I’d say that it says that we’re only getting stupider.

    So I guess the answer to your question is, once we prospered in technology and work ethic. Then we started exploiting the non-developed world. Then we got lazy. And then the country went to hell.

  2. Sagar1586 says:

    Better question: Do all your questions have to be so black and white?

    Or, asked a different way, what makes you assume the two are mutually exclusive.

    Or, asked a different way, is the true correlation between values and aspirations thus implicating both systems as relatively on a much more equal footing.

  3. markegge says:

    Don’t mistake my phrasing for shallow dualism; I recognize the two are not diametrically opposed. The question is posed, however, in a mindset where one is foundational and the other is auxiliary– say 60/40, if you will, but still one or the other.

  4. Sagar1586 says:

    Even in that case, I think its been an evolutionary process, beginning with our ambition for economic success as our foundation, and resulting in a loss of morals allowing exploitation to found our success.

  5. Quintin says:

    Don’t neglect to consider another cause for the apathetic lethargy of the people of this nation; a feeling of guilt associated with our success. It seems those that should feel deserving don’t want to accept for fear of looking greedy, and those who don’t deserve feel entitled. Relating this to mark’s earlier post, it’s a time to stop relinquishing the power contained in each one of our choices to expect things to be taken care of and designs to be already laid out, by our predecessors or those we name authorities. We are alive, and we are responsible for shaping the world culturally and economically. Expectations of guidance and governance be done with.