American Prosperity Is Greater than Most of Us Realize
Traveling was once a luxury for the rich, but today even working-class people enjoy vacations. In America, people have gotten so wealthy that planning summer vacations is a priority for many families. Living standards have improved so tremendously that elite amenities are now commonplace. Nearly 90 percent of American homes rely on air-conditioning, and 92 percent of households have access to at least one vehicle.
Relative to the globe, most Americans are high-income people. People who are considered poor in America would be rich in developing countries. Compared to other rich countries in Europe, America is also doing remarkably well. A 2019 study published by the think tank Just Facts shows that after accounting for all income, philanthropy, and noncash welfare benefits, the bottom 20 percent of Americans have a higher level of material consumption than all citizens in most rich countries. From 1990 to 2015, consumption per capita in America increased by 65 percent, whereas Europe registered a paltry growth of 35 percent.
Some worry that consumption inequality is on the rise, but such fears have been allayed by research observing that the rise in overall consumption inequality has been rather small. Rising income inequality is a frequent complaint of the Left; however, the consumption of poor Americans exceeds their incomes by over 5 percent. Despite their social class, Americans live so lavishly that analysts are imploring them to shop like Europeans, and poor Americans are not different.
Poverty is relative to the development of a country, so poor Americans are seen as such because the country is so affluent. Further, poor Americans have seen major increases in income when compared to their counterparts. In fact, income inequality in America has been stabilizing due to the surge in wage growth for the lowest-paying jobs. Poor Americans are getting richer faster as the rich become more prosperous.
Moreover, notwithstanding the uproar about plummeting income growth and a declining middle class, incomes have been growing steadily in America since the 1970s. Americans of all classes now have greater access to wealth-creating opportunities and superior social amenities. The real median incomes of Americans are higher than they were in 1980, and millions of Americans have encountered social mobility. Indeed, the American middle class is shrinking, but this is because people are getting richer.
Additionally, empirical evidence contradicts the argument that America is systemically racist, observing that black adults made the greatest progress up the income ladder from 1971 to 2021. Black Americans have been recording significant gains in employment and income, especially in the Midwest. Between 2010 and 2019, the median black household income increased in all Midwest states. Trends are also looking favorable for Hispanic Americans, whose total economic output is estimated to be over $2 trillion.
On the other hand, East Asians surpass white Americans in income and professional success. The Asian American and Pacific Islander community accounts for 7 percent of the American population but represents 10 percent of the country’s affluent population. Americans are doing well by global metrics, and many assert that its economic prospects are favorable. Therefore, it’s possible that American pessimism is being driven by social comparisons. People care more about relative status than absolute status; hence, Americans might feel that they are regressing if they drive an old car and their friends are traveling in a Benz.
But such inadequacies can only be remedied through self-improvement. Complaining is fashionable in America, but doing so only leads to stress and anger. Americans are better off than most people on the globe and should seize opportunities available to them instead of complaining about the struggles of life.