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Twig or your own toothbrush? How can you help change the economy of another family?
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How much is too much, and when is not enough not enough? How should the resources of the world be distributed? In a recent Time magazine, Anna Rosling Ronnlund writes of how economics, not geography, dictates lifestyle. I paraphrase some of her comments.
*** Take toothbrushes, she writes. The poorest people in the world use a twig from a tree, or even just a finger and mud. But with a small rise in income the family can afford a shared toothbrush. With another small rise in income, each member gets their own toothbrush and toothpaste. Those in the top bracket get electric toothbrushes.
*** Or houses. The homeless sleep on the street or in a common shelter. I was in El Soleil in Haiti and saw a house about 9 feet by 12 feet shared by 10 people. They slept in shifts on the floor. Most of the world sleeps several to a room. Years ago at a Jimmy Carter work camp, I saw two little girls utterly thrilled because they would each have “my very own room.” Those at the top have several houses.
*** Take door locks, simple things. The poor do not even have doors, just spaces, with perhaps a gunny sack hung down. With a rise in income, a plank door with a wire hook may be possible. One thing the new homeowners of Habitat houses prize so much are the doors that lock. The gift of a key is the gift of security. The wealthy can now lock and unlock the doors to their home from miles away.
*** Toilets? First, the field or timber, then an outhouse shared by many, then perhaps one’s own. The rich have several in one house, and even have toilets that wash and dry one.