What’s the difference? Simple – freedom. If you’re in a low caste in India or living under the Communists in Vietnam, you have little or no freedom of opportunity. You can’t just decide to start a business or learn new skills and expect to get a better job. If you tried, there are people who would prevent you or come and take what you have from you. You might get arrested or beat for going outside of the place in society where someone else has decided you belong. If you’re in a Communist society and not part of the party, those in the party may just decide to take what you have earned or give the job you want to a person who is clueless about the job but is loyal to the Party. It is possible that you could improve your life substantially, but it might take a revolution to gain the freedom needed to do so.
Many people in America and other first-world countries think that what people need in remote villages in Africa is a well, or a latrine, or seeds to start a garden. So they come in, build something, then leave feeling that they’ve just changed people’s lives. Unless that well is maintained, or that latrine is used and cleaned, or that garden protected so that the next group of mercenaries doesn’t just burn it down or steal all of the crops, nothing will change. With freedom and the drive to make their lives better, the people in those villages could dig the well, create a sewage system, or build great farms themselves.
What they are always missing is the freedom to do so. What is always present is some dictator, socialist party, or warlord who keeps those people from being able to create and secure property. Without the ability to do so, there is little desire to improve things. Why build a great farm that produces lots of food if people just come and take it from you? Who has time or the desire to dig a well when rival factions are coming through your village periodically and stealing your resources and perhaps your children?
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People living in that sort of situation, just like those living in the United Colonies of America back in 1774, have the choice to band together and fight for the freedom they need to prosper. Without doing so there is little chance their lives will ever improve. But that takes a great deal of courage and sacrifice by a large number of people. One or two people can’t decide that they want freedom and expect to be successful in attaining it. And for many peoples and cultures in the world, freedom is just not in their DNA. Even in America, the large number of people who supported Bernie Sanders during the last election shows that people would be willing to give up their freedom in exchange for what they think is free goods and services. Because they haven’t had the experience of the colonists in seeing what it is like living under the control of a tyrant, they think that they can just expect the government they install to take from others but not eventually take from them as well.
So if you were born into a place where you have freedom, and you are old enough to not have a parent or guardian who is keeping you from succeeding and not permitting you the freedom to improve your life, stop griping about the issues you face. You have the ability to succeed – it is just a matter of the choices you make and the work you’re willing to put into making your life better. And how do you make your life better? You spend your time and efforts providing for others willing to do things for you in return. The better the job you do of meeting other peoples’ needs and the more people whose needs you meet, the more wealthy you can become.
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Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice. It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA. All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.