You make a vital point about relative poverty always being psychologically more keenly felt than absolute. In fact, it was not until Victorian England became wealthier and the standards of absolute poverty rose significantly, that reformers began tackling the problem of poverty in earnest. (Gertrude Himmelfarb wrote a great book about this--The Idea of Poverty).

Today, we find ourselves in a similar situation in America where the official thresholds of poverty are about $20 per day per person for a family of four. That "feels" poor relative to others and relative as well to the potential of America to provide more.

As for the global poor, I recently discovered that the claim that over a billion people have been lifted out of poverty by Western-style Capitalism was based on deeply flawed statistics.

Here's my short post on it.


Expand full comment

I recently saw the movie *Everything Everywhere All at Once* and somehow the process of viewing the past reminds me of it: Data results in clarity and connection one second but in obscure contact the next. Pinpointing even data is rife with the potential failure to connect. Yet the framework is steady and transparent, providing brief moments of genuine insight for those in pursuit of such. But for those in the past and present who approach meaning as a social construct, as affect more than effect, there is no abiding framework, only decline.

Expand full comment

Very interesting post indeed!

One thought: Relative poverty, and its accompanied sentiments, has been globalized with media.

Second: IKEA is registered in Holland, but marketed as Swedish. Its basic idea: 'The one who controls the selling will eventually control production', does have a reversed Dutch-Swedish history: The Dutch capitalist group, of which Louis de Geer was a part, monopolised iron sales. De Geer moved to Sweden, established Swedish iron industry, and became the wealthiest man in Sweden in the 18th century. The 'E' and 'A' in IKEA are referring to the little villages from where the founder's parents originated; hinting to the importance of acknowledging your history, if you want to conquer the world.

Advertising markets are now heavily concentrated, and there we are with our 'free' press.

Expand full comment