The key issue is how can we push the public and the political system to take a broader view of what matters and whose interests count over the long-term. Right now the interests of foreigners are basically absent from our political debates, even over issues like trade, climate, migration, and war where the relevance is obvious. It’s also obvious why that might be. But few people are prepared to explicitly defend the proposition that foreigners’ interests don’t count. And that gives me hope that better thinking can emerge over time.
So.... is Yglesias talking about trade or climate?
James Fallows reminds me of a site I’d seen before and forgotten about—Global Rich List. What you do is you plug your income in and it tells you where you fall on the international distribution of income.
This is pretty much impossible to do in a really methodologically rigorous way. But the broad message it sends is clear enough. Pretty much everyone in the United States of America is doing pretty damn well by international standards. An income of $50,000 per year, for example, puts you in the top one percent internationally.
Ah, we should be comparing our salaries to the Third World's! This must be why David Brooks was telling us we should be happy making $50,000 a year instead of expecting more. (Never mind that a lot of people would be delighted to make $50,000 a year.) It's now the magic number that the middle class should aspire down to. We are sure that the elite would be delighted if we started comparing our salaries to middle class Indian or Chinese salaries, but we silly Americans expect to live in America and not a foreign country, and therefore prefer to compare ourselves to our fellow Americans, a few of whom now have so very much more than they had before this elite-driven economic collapse.
We also wonder how Yglesias is managing on his $50,000 a year salary, which he surely must have settled for since he recommends it so highly.