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A short note on the relativity of wealth.

by MarekNYC Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 05:29:45 PM EST

Thank you Marek, for putting things into perspective! From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

I came across a stat today that I think illustrates just how much poorer 'emerging' countries like Poland are compared to the West: In Poland individuals with over 100,000 zl (c. $30,000) in pre tax annual income constitute under 0.5% of the population.  To put it differently, a person with a typical working class income in a rich country like Germany, France, or the US would be in the top one percent in Poland. Yes, cost of living is different, but nowhere near that different.

It is really hard to compare wealth and well-being levels across societies.  Despite being relatively wealthy, a lot of Americans are seriously screwed over by our crappy health care system which even the moderatly rich can find devastating.

But I would like to present the most extreme example - the hunter-gatherer problem.

Hunter gatherers have (had, really - there aren't any "pure" HG societies left in the world) a per capita net income of $0.  Yet, they work on average little more than 10 hours a week, eat a varied and balanced diet, are adequetly housed, and are physically fit.  They also have full participatory rights in their political system.

Are they poor?      

by Zwackus on Thu Sep 29th, 2005 at 09:11:41 PM EST
thinking about posting a note, and some quotes, from Walden, by Henry David Thoreau.  He has a couple of chapters that elaborate on your point, but brought up to the 19th century, as opposed to the first few days of mankind.  But the point is really the same, how we put requirements on ourselves for housing, clothing, work, clothes for work, etc., that then require money, debt, and all that stuff.  I think in America, maybe everywhere, we've forgotten how cheaply we can really live, and how much time is really available to us.

Is that along the lines of your thoughts?

But of course neither the HG's nor Thoreau had 80 year expected life spans, so I think the healthcare discussion is another one.

by wchurchill on Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 01:42:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, I remember that now that you mention it, and that is exactly along the lines I was thinking.  If you set the bar low enough, you can get by without quite a bit, and rather well.
by Zwackus on Sat Oct 1st, 2005 at 03:21:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Poland ranks 52nd by nominal GDP per capita and 53rd by GDP(PPP) per capita, but its GDP(PPP) is twice its nominal GDP. The individual making 100K zl is making the equivalent of $60K, and 15 times Poland's average. $60K is not a typical working class income in the US, and 15 times the average GDP in the US is almost $500K.

Statistics are nasty little critters.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 01:30:58 PM EST
Well I did mention that cost of living is lower in Poland. However, there are huge regional variations in cost of living in Poland.  Most Poles earning over 100,000 zl live in high cost areas and I even have a vague memory of an article saying that a majority of high income Poles live among the c. 2.5 million greater Warsaw area population. Not sure about now but back when I last lived in Warsaw (five years ago) it was more expensive than Berlin. That's not just anecdotal - COL adjustments for grad research fellowships were better for Warsaw than Berlin. So yes, stats are nasty not to mention  slippery and malleable critters and easily manipulated in various directions. But my point was simply that Poland and other middle income countries are a hell of a lot poorer than the US or the wealthier West European countries. It's a point I find is often missed. Some people seem to take offense when I say that while the level of poverty in the US is scandalous for such a rich country, but that in absolute terms things are much worse in most other countries.

NB Average earnings for an individual with full time employment in the US are about $40K. Median US household income for a family of four is about $65K

by MarekNYC on Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 02:28:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll say the same thing I said last time we had this argument -- dying in the US from starvation or exposure is no different from dying of those things in any other country.  Your point about averages and medians has no bearing on who is or is not poor.

As I recall, the last time this was discussed here was because of a UN report which said the US has third-world poverty.  You seem to not believe that.

I believe it's true and I believed it before the report.  I believe it because I've seen it.  You say people (like me I'm assuming) "seem to take offense." That's probably because people make arguments like yours to deny the reality of what we've seen and experienced.

What is the point of your argument?  It seems to me you're trying to "prove" that the US poor really are better off but just don't know it because they haven't experienced real poverty as it exists elsewhere.  I believe that you are absolutely wrong and you've said nothing here to convince me.

If you're making these same arguments with other people, that is why they are taking offense -- people who have experienced poverty are probably not going to react well when you tell them that, statistically, they are well off.

Further, statements along the lines of "in absolute terms things are much worse in most other countries." are, in my experience which is now backed up by UN studies, both wrong and offensive.  Why is it so important for you to believe this?  Who are you trying to help or what are you trying to accomplish with this argument?

Last time you and I went a couple of rounds on this, you conceded that dire poverty existed, but then argued that it was not on the scale of other countries.  That may be somewhat correct, statistically, but not merely the bottom 1% you stated.  Again, I'll ask what you're trying to accomplish?

Because here's the thing -- this subject comes up often when politics are being discussed.  I'll usually speak up because I'm trying to promote understanding about the political situation in the US.  Why are we so afraid?  Why have so many turned to religion?  Why do we have such a huge prison population?  Why the anger and disillusion?  

And it seems to me that our economic condition has direct bearing on the answers -- we're a country that tolerates extreme poverty and this can only be accepted by good people by promoting lies and prejudice, by saying there's some reason for letting our neighbors suffer.  So by allowing it to continue, we foster a dysfunctional political climate.  We breed fear and superstition.  These correlations have been shown to exist historically, across all cultures and time periods.

So I believe it's important to address this.  I believe that we're in the political situation we're in -- which affects the whole world -- because we've allowed cruel and intolerable poverty to exist in our society.  We've allowed others to gain great power in this way.  In my view, this can be corrected only by taking some of the power from the top and dispersing it to the bottom, equalizing things, restoring some balance, and asking the politicians who represent the people to actually work for the people, give a voice to the people, and understand the conditions the people are living in.

So I believe this to be extremely important, maybe the most important political fact in this country.  But when I'm trying to bring attention to the issue, to promote understanding, I keep running into arguments like this one whose sole purpose seems to be denying these conditions even exist.  How are we supposed to correct them then?  If we don't like the symptoms of a rigid, fearful, irrational society, shouldn't we work to change the condition that breeds those symptoms?  If that condition is poverty, is it helpful to keep denying it exists here?

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 03:28:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I spent 4 years in Riverside, California. Back in tyhe 1890's it was one of the wealthiest counties in the whole US because of its citrus wealth. Today it is one of the poorest.

I was a student, and European. I rode the bus. The buses were ridden by sick, the destitute and the elderly (the drunk were not allowed on by the drivers). People with serious dental health issues. Black and latino children (until they became 16 and could drive) on their way to school and back. And me, a Male White European HIspanic Ph.D. student.

One day I thought to myself, "it would be a real education for middle-class Riversidians to ride the bus and see this part of the American Dream turned nightmare". Then I thought better: their reaction would be to think "I don't want my tax dollars to pay for these bums' bus rides".

In my time there I was fortunate to see it all: from bussing with the poor and walking through the barrio at dusk to visiting friends' million-dollar home. It was a real education for me as well. In many ways, the level of economic inequality was on a par with what you could see in Mexico.

The American ethos is one of bold individualism and a 'can do' attitude. The flip side is an utter lack of solidarity, which is expressed in an extreme form in Bush's pathological lack of empathy. Here in Europe it is frowned upon to stick out, even positively, which leaves us with a worse-scenario "can't do" attitude. But there is a more widespread feeling of solidarity.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 05:46:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you, Migeru.  It's nice to hear that someone besides me and the UN can see this. ;-)

Seriously, though, you're right about the buses in southern California.  If anyone spent any time riding around, Los Angeles or Riverside on the bus, they'd change their minds pretty quickly about our poverty being relative.

The wealth disparity and average wealth in Riverside is an interesting case, too.  One element that's contributed is the balooning real estate costs in LA -- where can the poor afford to live?  Many of the ones who had the means to move, moved to Riverside.  A lot of single mothers who qualified for HUD moved out there, too, as an alternative to the really bad inner-city neighborhoods in LA.  

This happened to such an extent that it was a rather common "joke" in the 90s for people in Los Angeles to retort when someone would bring up public or HUD or low-income housing -- oh, we have that.  It's called Riverside.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 06:12:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 In the US 12.5%% people are below the poverty line. For a family of four that means $18,810. Even adjusted for cost of living that's a nice middle class income for Poland. Think about that for a second - your solidly middle class Pole has a living standard that would place them among the poorest of all Americans.

The actual poor in Poland are a different, and much uglier story.  One third of all Poles live on less than $25 per week. Adjust that for purchasing power and that gives you  an equivalent of about $50/week in America. Think about what life in America would be like at $200 a month and tell me again that America's poor are equivalent to those of Poland.

And the worst of it is that Poland is not a Third World country, it is a relatively prosperous one.  Yes economic inequality is close to that of a country like Mexico, but inequality is a purely relative concept, as the overall wealth is so much higher what passes for poverty in the US is nothing compared to what it is in most of the rest of the world. Worse than Western Europe does not equal Third World.  Reading your and Migeru's comments makes me wonder if you have ever been to poor areas in non-wealthy countries, let alone actually know any poor people in such places.

by MarekNYC on Sat Oct 1st, 2005 at 01:18:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Honestly, Marek, what are you arguing?  I'm not arguing that third-world poverty isn't horrible.  I'm not arguing that poverty in Poland isn't widespread.  I admit that these are terrible problems.  But we also have terrible poverty in the US -- what's the point in denying it?

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 1st, 2005 at 02:55:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not denying that there isn't poverty in the US - by US standards. And as it happens relative poverty tends to have a stronger correlation with happiness than absolute poverty. What I am saying is that rich countries are better off across the board. My initial post concerned the most fortunate in society. I later added a response detailing that it is also true for people at the bottom of the economic ladder. Rich, middle class or poor, if you're American or West European your living standard is much higher than your equivalents in most countries in the world. That doesn't apply when you compare America to slightly poorer countries in Western Europe where the poor and lower middle class are better off than their US equivalents due to the robust welfare state and lower levels of income inequality. But all of these are rich countries. And yes, I get a bit testy when someone seeks to brush away the simple fact that a single mother earning minimum wage in the US has  a better standard of living than one third of the Polish population.

My aim in posting is also to bring this issue to the attention of the many West European readers we have here.  Poland and the other new members are now your problem as well. Reading the West European press I often get the impression that few in the West realize just how bad things are in much of Poland, somehow imagining that Warsaw is typical of the country - it isn't, Poland is also millions of people living as subsistence farmers - Europe's own little piece of the Third World.  Reading the posts on a left wing economic program I feel that they are starting off on the basis of what has been achieved in the West, forgetting that it is a different world in parts of the new member states.  What does a redistributive tax system mean in a country where less than one percent earn over $30K a year? How are these proposals relevant to people who are about to start spending the Polish winter huddling in the kitchen around the coal fired stove, eating their stored potatoes and cabbage? People for whom the decent quality free basic medical care is a bit abstract since they have no way of getting to the clinic, people for whom free education is a bad joke because there is no transport to the school? What does reforming the CAP so that it no longer subsidizes the big farms mean for subsistence farmers?

by MarekNYC on Sat Oct 1st, 2005 at 04:53:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well you've certainly made excellent points illustrating conditions in Poland, but that doesn't explain your need to "prove" the US isn't so bad.  Again, what's the point?  

Does poverty existing in the US somehow take away from Poland's problems?  If you proved your point would it add to the discussion or help Poland in any way?  If you want to talk about Poland, good -- I admire your passion.  But there's still no real reason to keep "proving" one is better or worse than the other.  It dilutes your point and is extremely offensive.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 1st, 2005 at 03:03:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not perspective, it's statistics.  Again, I question the purpose of such persistently presenting such "perspective."  If it is to prove that there is more wealth in the west, fine.  That's a well-established fact.  

If it's to demonstrate that poverty in the west is a) not real poverty; b) isn't widespread; or c) not as harsh as other poverty, then it doesn't accomplish the task.  None of these things are proven or shown which begs the question -- what point is being made?

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 05:41:46 PM EST
btw, I should've added a winky thing to my subject line.  I just realized I may be sounding more aggressive than I mean to be.  I'm not mad, but my questions are serious.  I really would like to know the answers.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 06:03:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, as you may remember, my kids' school has a Porsche dealership just across the street, so I keep seeing all the Porsches (and all the people in BMWs, Mercedeses and the odd Ferrari that come to trade in), and I wonder who all these people are. I have the comfortable life of a salaried banker and yet I could not afford any of these cars. Where are all these people coming from, and why do they make me feel so poor?

Poverty is relative? Really? Only if you care about short term perceptions. There is no conceivable way that I can be considered poor under any definition. Similarly, there are people in Western Europe and the USA that cannot be considered anything BUT poor under any definition, even if their measured "wealth" seems high. That comes only because a lot of things are "valued" a lot more (in monetary terms) in rich countries. Having access to a roof and something the nourishes you already amounts to a big number of dollars in the West, and to not much in Poland, and yet the two situations are not so different. The rural Poles probably have less difficulty to feed themselves than urban poor elsewhere.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Oct 1st, 2005 at 03:55:43 AM EST
Depends on what you believe "affording" a car is.

I am two years away from paying off the five-year note on my Volvo S40 ($21.5k, as it was a "dealer loaner"). While test-driving, I cautiously asked how much I needed per year to qualify for a loan from the dealer (I ended up going through my credit union, as the terms were much better).

"Oh, about $30k."

I was stunned. Why on earth would someone be so foolish as to take out a car loan that was over 2/3 their GROSS income? I felt a bit foolish doing one for less than half.

Many Americans making less than I do drive cars that were far more expensive. A Toyota 4Runner, a very popular vehicle among the young and somewhat overpaid set in the States, was going to be far more expensive than my "luxury" car, yet plenty of people making about what I did (or less) buy them. My car was right at the average American new car price was at the time, and I was making above the American average, with no dependents. American ideas of what constitutes "affordable" are different from your own, I'm pretty sure.

On the flip side, some Americans and many Europeans who make more than I do drive cars that were less expensive and/or are 15-20 years old. Germans seem to be especially good at keeping up a car so that the paint looks brand new years after the odometer has passed 200k or 300k kilometers. My landlord has a shiny Mercedes that he bought 30 years ago. I had no idea it was that old until my boss, who lived in that building previously, told me. Even though it was quite expensive when he bought it, my landlord has spent less on cars over the past 30 years than most people buying much cheaper cars do.

Being a banker, you're probably a bit more sensible about how much money you're going to sink into something that is only going to lose value than most people are. If you really wanted a $50,000 auto, you could certainly get a loan for one and make the payments (under the American financial system, anyway), even without a down payment.

by Texmandie on Sat Oct 1st, 2005 at 04:17:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How would life sound in a rural area without being able to afford even the cheapest used car, let alone the gas to drive it?
Food for the poor is quite cheap if you want to live the way the poor do in Poland - how much does bulk flour, bulk rice, bulk onions, and bulk lard cost?

On housing you are right, it is cheap - read free - since the peasants just keep on living in the houses they've had for decades. Heating that house in the winter is a different story.

by MarekNYC on Sat Oct 1st, 2005 at 05:09:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the main difference between the very poor in the US and the poor in Poland is that the poor in Poland live from the fruits of their land. They do  gardening, raise animals and cook (excellently, BTW) to feed themselves. America's poor seem to eat junkfood bought with food stamps. I don't see much gardening for self consumption by the poor in the US. America's poor live in public housing projects or in rented mobile homes in trailer parks. You still have to pay rent for the trailor or a fee for the land the trailor sits on. In Poland the poor can't move around and they live somewhere where in the house they grew up, which is the house their family members grew up in, I believe. I don't know how land and house property was handled in communist Poland and how it has changed.

But it seems as if the poor in Poland eat and house better or as well as the poor in the US, even if a good trailor might be "more advanced" than a rural old house in Poland. We will say what kind of story it will become to heat your house or mobile home in the US winters to come. I guess Polish people might be more energy independent, as they might have more old fashionen coal- or wood burning stoves?

by mimi on Sun Oct 2nd, 2005 at 10:26:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What hasn't been mentioned here at all, while comparing US and Poland with regards to their respective poverty conditions etc., is the fact that Poland had all the awfully sad, but understandable reasons to be poor (WWII, communism etc.) whereas one alwasy wonders why the US has still its poor underclass.

Nobody imposed its fascist, communist or otherwise authoritarian ideology with military force upon the US, still they have a substantial underclass and for the time being a middle class who is spiraling downwards in the last years.

Whereas many people expect from a former comunist country that its population is poor compared to a democratic Western European county or vis a vis the US, most people don't expect to find pretty constant and mostly overlooked poverty and usually denied by the media and all of the people, who don't count themselves as poor in the US. The US poverty is self-made, self-inflicted by its specific political system of a federal democracy and its history, I think, whereas Poland was overun and exploited by outside ideological forces that were imposed on them for several decades.

You think I am about right in this?

by mimi on Mon Oct 3rd, 2005 at 03:18:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the last few years a few very nice appartment buildings have been built near my family's flat in Madrid. These medium-sized units cost over €1M per square metre. You need several €10M down payment to afford one of these. Where are these people coming from?

There is currently a diary about the Spanish "economic miracle" which I strongly disagree with and I should post comments to, because it might give you the impression that those flats are actually affordable. The number of people who can afford to buy a flat in Madrid number in the thousands, really, out of a city of 4M. Pretty pathetic. People live with their parents until they are 30, and not by choice.

By the way, in many ways it might have been an economic mistake to admit the new 10 EU members at the time and in the (rather unjust) way that they were, but I think politically it was the right thing to do. Poland is the most significant addition, and it should rightfully be part of a Spain-France-Germany-Poland "backbone". In many ways Poland is like Spain was when it joined the EEC in 1986. But this is a topic for another diary.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 1st, 2005 at 06:04:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you know how high the percentage of Poland's poor is who get a higher education (university level). Do you know how much it costs them to get that education? Do Poland's poor have health insurance?

There a many polish immigrants in Germany who work on the black job market. I don't know if they regularly drive home to Poland or not, but I think they do and I think they bring the money earned in Germany back into Poland.

by mimi on Sun Oct 2nd, 2005 at 10:13:27 PM EST
Technically there is free higher education in Poland. In practice not really. What has happened since 1989 is that the number of university students has multiplied severalfold while the number of free spots has declined as universities desperately search for funds. Unless you are extraordinarily intelligent, getting a free spot requires either private tutoring or bribes. And poor students from outside the university cities can't really go even if they get one since housing and other costs of living are prohibitive. So in practice it is much more difficult for poor students to go to university in Poland than in the US, unless they happen to live in a university town.  Health care is technically free as well. That is generally true for basic care, not so much for anything more where bribes are often required. In any case it is very difficult for people in rural areas to get to clinics since there is no public transport. If they live in a town or city, though, the poor in Poland do get a measure of free health care, though that is also true of the poor in the US through Medicaid.  And yes, plenty of Poles work abroad. But the are often not the poorest ones. Plenty of students and young university grads do so, as do skilled workers.  Poland's 1980's baby boom is now reaching working age and there are few jobs available for them.

On your earlier post - housing is on balance worse in Poland than the US. Urban housing about the same - crumbling plattenbaus. Rural areas have decrepit cottages. They do almost certainly eat better during the summer and early fall, worse in winter.  The urban poor tend to get their food from private charity, often provided by the Church.

by MarekNYC on Mon Oct 3rd, 2005 at 12:20:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Marek, you're gonna make my head explode -- do you really want that?!?

Seriously, while it's fascinating to learn all of this about conditions in Poland (and I do mean that honestly) again, there's no real reason to keep making these statements about it being "worse" than in the US.  Your statements about the US aren't accurate.

First, what you say about education is also true here -- for all intents and purposes, higher education is simply out of reach for a big chunk of people here.  I've noticed the same things you speak of in Poland -- the really exceptional kids can make it sometimes.  Also, especially in the inner-cities, it's difficult for kids to even remain in high school.  I read recently that New Orleans had about a 40% illiteracy rate.  As you say, think about that.

Healthcare here is non-existent for a lot of people as well.  We have 45 million uninsured.  That means not on Medicare or Medicaid either.  Although those technically cover "the poor," it is difficult to qualify for them.  More and more frequently, even on one of those you can't find doctors who accept the coverage.  Healthcare is probably our most egregious failure.

I don't know how widespread the housing problem is and how it would compare.  In my county in the Pacific Northwest, we estimate over 8000 homeless on any given night.  I haven't kept up on the situations with HUD and public housing, but I do know that some of the drug laws are disqualifying more and more people from the little asisstance available.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 3rd, 2005 at 01:22:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Izzy, the Polish situation for higher education is a bit like what America would be like if there were no student loans or other financial aid except for the top tier universities and if even that only covered tuition.

In the US a little under two thirds of the non elderly below poverty line population has insurance - almost all government provided. In the next group going up to 2x poverty line the figure is over seventy percent with much of that also provided by the government. Overall 12.4% of all Americans are on Medicaid, another 13.7% are on Medicare.  according to the most recent figures. 15.6% are uninsured. Poland is rather different in that basic health care is truly free. If you live within reach of a town then you have it (even small towns have clinics), if you don't you're screwed, but most people do. So in that sense it is certainly better than the US. Beyond basic care things turn into a lottery. If you're lucky you'll get good doctors and the right drugs. But if you're not you'll either have to pay bribes - a bit difficult for the destitute - or just get by without it. Plus the sector has suffered from underinvestment for a long time now, stretching back into the late communist period leading to crumbling infrastructure and medical equipment. Several rounds of 'reform' have made it even more disfunctional.  A fundamental problem is that it is very difficult for a middle income country to provide high quality health care beyond the basic stuff. While we're on the topic, in the US it isn't a problem with how much the government spends but rather how inefficiently that money is used. Public sector per capita health expenditures are higher in the US than France for example.

by MarekNYC on Mon Oct 3rd, 2005 at 03:34:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the statistics you quote are the same as mine -- I said 45 million uninsured and you say 15.6%.  The most recent data says the precise figures are 45.8 million or 15.7%.  Here's the link for anyone interested:

US Census Bureau: Health Insurance Data

Specifically what I was responding to was this statement:

If they live in a town or city, though, the poor in Poland do get a measure of free health care, though that is also true of the poor in the US through Medicaid.

The data clearly shows that, as I said, there are many poor without any health insurance -- 45.8 million.  From what I can tell, Poland has just under 39 million people.  You'd have to take away all of their medical insurance and add 7 million more uninsured for it to be "worse" than the US.

You also said:

So in practice it is much more difficult for poor students to go to university in Poland than in the US, unless they happen to live in a university town.

When I questioned this, you explained:

Izzy, the Polish situation for higher education is a bit like what America would be like if there were no student loans or other financial aid except for the top tier universities and if even that only covered tuition.

I don't see how you can come to that conclusion.  As I said before, many in the US cannot get an education.  Many, even if academically qualified, are eliminated from loans and grants through credit and legal restrictions if nothing else.  What's the basis for your assertion?

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 3rd, 2005 at 02:17:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From the nick name I understand that Marek might be of Polish descent and live in NYC ? If my guess comes close to what Marek's experiences are and who he/she might be, I think it's pretty normal that he/she compares the two countries, if he/she has so much insight in both. It's a human and almost unavoidable condition, you can't stop comparing. It might not be helpful to your emotional health, but still most people can't help doing it. Don't be angry with him/her.
by mimi on Mon Oct 3rd, 2005 at 03:00:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by mimi on Mon Oct 3rd, 2005 at 03:23:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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