Americans have less than 1,000 dollars to their name?
A recent Esquire article reports:
“In a recent survey, 56 percent of Americans said they have less than $1,000 in their checking and savings accounts combined, Forbes reports. Nearly a quarter (24.8 percent) have less than $100 to their name. Meanwhile, 38 percent said they would pay less than their full credit card balance this month, and 11 percent said they would make the minimum payment—meaning they would likely be mired in debt for years and pay more in interest than they originally borrowed. It paints a daunting picture of the average American coming out of the spend-heavy holiday season: steeped in credit card debt, living paycheck-to-paycheck, at serious risk of financial ruin if the slightest thing goes wrong.” (1)
The First Worldist has the metaphysical conviction that First World workers are exploited and revolutionary. They cannot even conceive of the possibility they are wrong. They cannot even imagine a possible piece of empirical evidence to prove them wrong. Unlike scientific assertions, which are fallible, which have the possibility of being false, the assertions of the First Worldists are metaphysical. It is rare that First Worldists ever try to provide any evidence for their beliefs. When they do try to offer up empirical evidence, they reproduce the talking points of the liberal, social-democracy. Recently, First Worldists are circulating the statistic that a little over half of the American population have less than a total of 1,000 dollars in their bank accounts. This is, for the First Worldist, an indictment of the capitalist system and it is proof that there is indeed an American proletariat, an American revolutionary class. However, reality is very different. The reality is that the recent report does not imply what the First Worldist thinks it does.
Firstly, 1,000 dollars is not the piddly sum that the article makes it out to be. This amount of 1,000 dollars is roughly equal to the median income per year globally. In other words, half of humanity lives and dies on 1,000 dollars or less a year. For example, there are more people in India making less than 292 dollars per year than exist in the United States. Even the poorest working American earns an income that makes them part of the richest 15 percent globally. Most people in the world do not have the ability to afford the luxuries that nearly all Americans can afford. Hundreds of millions live on the verge of starvation. There are 800 million people who lack access to safe drinking water. Most people in the world would be happy to discover they have 1,000 dollars or 500 dollars or even 100 dollars in their bank accounts because most people have access to nothing. Most people live as Marx described the proletariat. They literally live at subsistence or even sub-subsistence. Many look with envy at the lifestyle of Americans. Most would be delighted with the computers, phones, ovens, refrigerators, cars, apartments and houses of Americans. Most would be delighted with the conditions of the American workplace. It shows just how much privilege Americans have that nothing is good enough for them. Like the spoiled rich child, no gift is enough. Everything is an intolerable hell for the American. (2) (3) (4)
Secondly, First Worldists do not understand the role of debt in a country like the United States. Having debt is not always a sign of poverty. In fact, debt in the First World is often a sign of access to capital. Debt allows Americans to live far above their incomes. For example, Americans are able to take out loans for homes or cars and other items that give them access to a higher standard of living that they cannot pay for at the moment. For example, home ownership in the United States is 63.4 percent. (5) Such a high homeownership rate could not be accomplished without the ability to accrue large debt by Americans. Most Americans are in debt, but they are usually not worse off for it. In fact, most Americans can access more capital in the form of debt through credit cards, loans, etc., than many Third World people can earn in a lifetime. Debt is a way by which most Americans live far above their means. That nearly a quarter only have 100 dollars or less in their bank accounts does not mean they do not have access to credit in order to live above their means. Nor does it reflect the kind of home they have, car they drive, nor the amount of their luxury consumption. Looking at a bank statement is not an accurate measure of poverty or standard of living.
Thirdly, the language of the report itself shows just how privileged Americans are. The First Worldist concludes that Americans are exploited, so impoverished by debt, because — and here is the punchline — “the average American [is] coming out of the spend-heavy holiday season.” In the bizarre First Worldist illogic, Americans are too poor now because they spent too much on luxuries. Most people on this Earth will never own even a fraction of the luxuries that Americans do. It is a sign of sickening decadence that Americans consider buying too much as a sign of poverty. This shows just how disconnected First Worldists are from the real proletariat in the Third World. (6)
Are there some Americans who have a hard time? Yes, some. Does some genuine poverty exist in the United States? Of course there is some. However, the First Worldist exaggerates the condition of the few to be the general condition of Americans. The First Worldist points to small pockets of poverty as though those pockets represent all of the United States. The reality is that the small pockets of poverty that exist in the United States are too scattered, too dynamic, and too few to be a relevant social force for genuine revolution. This is true of the First World generally. There is a reason that there has never been a real, proletarian, communist revolution in the First World. The reason is that the objective conditions for revolution simply do not exist in the First World. There is no proletariat, no social base, for revolution in the First World. The proletariat is the key to revolution everywhere. And the proletariat is in the Third World. To make revolution in the First World, we must turn our practice to the Third World. The key to revolution everywhere is the Global People’s War of the Leading Light.