Third World Areas In the United States

I’m not sure about wood burning stoves. There are attempts to provide oil to some. But so many of the uninsulated houses acually have no heat at all through the winters and the cold wind is very brutal from the plains. The people live in terrible conditions. They need everything that one can think of to keep warm.


Nobody said we should dismiss them - we said they live better than they would in a refugee camp in the Sudan, which is true. Pretty much everybody in the US, no matter how poor, lives better than poor people in failed states. It’s a no brainer.

You’re the first person to bring up refugee camps in the Sudan, or failed states. There’s a lot of middle ground between a refugee camp and middle class American suburbia. I’ve lived in a couple of the countries the IMF has declared to be “developing”. I had easy access to food, shelter, I had running water (usually; couldn’t drink it, but I could bathe), electricity (usually), etc. I even had running hot water when I lived in Bulgaria, although I had to heat my house with a wood-burning stove. There are very poor places in the US where people probably have a quality life equivalent to what I experienced in those countries - although there are also plenty of people in both of them where some people, especially members of minority ethnic groups, live in really terrible conditions, far worse than I did.

In my experience there is nothing elsewhere in the developed world to compare with LA’s skid row (circa 2004 when I was staying in a nearby, quite fancy, hotel). The only places I’ve encountered that are comparable are in the developed world.

That said, I’m sure the residents of slums in the developing world would swap places with skid row residents any day of the week (and on the other hand there are well off areas of the developed world that would be comparable to beverly hills).

I don’t know of anything in the US that is comparable, in scope, to what you’ll see, for example, outside large urban areas of Latin America. That is, miles of rigged up housing with pirated power (where they have it) and what amounts to open sewers. And I understand India is worse.

Just for the record, the Mexican border seems to have a bigger influence on the USA than the USA has on Mexico. US border towns are almost (but not quite) as disgusting as their Mexican neighbors. What’s really curious is the fact that both of the border towns are crap; the rest of Mexico – less the poverty which we’re discussing – can be quite nice.

Mexican border towns–not so much US border towns. How many years have you spent in El Paso or McAllen?:dubious:

I think you’re missing an “un-” or “-ing” somewhere. As written, these two sentences contradict each other.

I get your point that I shouldn’t have over-generalized, but then there’s Laredo, Nogales, and so on. I actually really, really liked Eagle Pass and the little that I saw of Piedras Negras looked pretty decent.

When I was in Calcutta, there was a woman living on the sidewalk with 2 kids.

She had a pot cooking chicken feathers. No meat, skin, or bones. Those would have been way above her budget for dinner.

My wife and I gave her some money (she was not begging). We just happened to be walking by where she was living.

You’ll not find those kind of conditions in the US, not even close.

The fact that you won’t find them doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

They’re not nearly as prevalent or obvious.

But there are people in the US who collect discarded packets of fast-food ketchup to make into soup.

It’s out there.


There is poverty in the US, I don’t think anyone is saying there isn’t. But it’s not on the same scale as it is in developing countries, and there are only very rarely safety nets - outside of community or family support - to help them. The US has lousy social welfare compared to most other industralized countries, but it’s pretty fantastic compared to developing countries. In the US, if you can’t afford to feed your kids, you can get welfare, you can get food stamps, there are a lot of NGOs and religious organizations that can help you. In developing countries, not only are governments often unable to help, non-governmental organizations are thinner on the ground. Moreover, even when those organizations do exist, there are often other significant obstacles that can prevent people from taking advantage of them, for instance: illiteracy, women not having the right to make decisions for families, lack of transportation to get to government offices from rural areas, high levels of official corruption, inefficient bureaucratic processes (you think going to the DMV is a pain the US? Try dealing with bureaucratic institutions in a really poor country sometime), higher levels of illness, etc.

Agreed. I believe that’s what I’ve been saying here, if what we’re talking about is scope. But there are small pockets of poverty just as severe. I mean, when you get down to it, nothing is nothing.

Well, it’s not just the severity or the scope. What I’m trying to say is that in the US, if you have nothing, there is a greater than 0 chance that you will be able to avail yourself of services that can help you to go move to “something”. In many developing countries, that doesn’t exist. In the US, you lose your job, you can go to the unemployment office and get temporary benefits. In, say, India, you lose your job, you’re fucked.

In my opinion, the very existence of that level of social welfare makes even very poor people in the US better off than poor people in developing countries. You may disagree.

Yeah, you can often avail yourself of something, but surprisingly (or perhaps not) there are folks who don’t. So the reality ends up being that there are pockets of poverty as bad as anything you’ll see anywhere else. But it’s not nearly as widespread.

I mean, in Haiti, you’ve got entire communities living off what can only be called mud pies.

Outside Mexico City you’ve got slums that make Cabrini-Green look like Trump Plaza.

But btw, it’s not always true that there’s assistance for folks out of work. Sometimes there’s not, or if there is, it runs out pretty quick. And if you’re illiterate, or don’t know it’s there, or were working for cash or barter under the table in the first place (which is typical in much of Appalachia) then you got nothing.

There are indeed folks in the US who have nothing, and no access to anything.

But on the whole, yeah, poverty in the US is nothing like poverty in, say, the hinterlands of SE Asia, or southern India, or the creeping desert lands of Africa, or the slums of Central America.

I don’t think there are anyone “illiterate” in the USA in the sense they can’t read or write even their names other than the mentally retarded and very old folks.

I did notice that almost all the poorest sections of the country have little-to-no land wealth (minerals, good soil, desirable climate), tend to be far from any significant urban centers (medium-size and up) and have very low population density. More or les, in the U.S., you don’t get too far down the poverty ladder until there’s simply no economic network at all.

The percentage of people in the US who are truly illiterate is very very small, but there is a higher percentage of people are who “functionally illiterate”, meaning that reading is difficult for them and they perform at a poor level.

TheFatKid, I don’t think we’re actually in disagreement over anything, we’re just highlighting different issues.