What Does The Term "Third World" Mean Today?

My suggestion is that we just stop using the term "Third World" and "Lesser Developed Country" altogether.

There are certainly places with incredible poverty.   Like, say, the poverty I knew about in the Ozarks as a kid.  Not that I suffered it, or even that many people I know suffered it.  But it was in our rear view mirror, through our parents and grandparents, who lived in the Ozarks during the Depression and before electricity, running water, and hospitals were commonplace.

I've posted a few times about my mom's father, Clarence E. Fisher, pictured above. This was a photo I took as a teenager.  He had a tractor, but had gone back to his mule ("Jenny") for old times sake and found that he really liked ploughing that way.  He was a subsistence farmer and an excellent carpenter and painter.   And someone who convinced me it was going to be really important to me the rest of my life to know how everything worked, and how to fix stuff.

He passed away at age 90 and left his wife, Lauradean, over a million dollars.   I show my kids that the main way he did that was never to finance a car.  By the time he was 60, every car he ever owned he had saved and bought with cash, and repaired himself.  There were other factors, but on cars alone, if you own 6 cars over 50 years and borrow to make monthly payments of $400 at 5.99% APR rather than put that exact same $400 into an interest bearing mutual fund, the difference between interest you paid vs. interest you earned (especially at 1960-1995 interest rates) brings you pretty close to $700,000.

His generation learned to save money and go to a big city like Memphis or Chicago or St. Louis, and try to buy a used car from someone who didn't know how to fix one.  If you could find someone buying a new car because they didn't know the sound of a bad timing belt, that was your lucky mark.

So back in my mom's day, the USA had big cities that would get the USA labelled "OECD", and back alley slums in some cities, and subsistence rural mountain places.

Africa and Asia and South America have cities that are more "OECD" than Taney County Missouri was when the OECD was formed.  And Africans, Asians, and South Americans are getting their infrastructure - the critical mass of users - the same way the Ozarks got paved roads.  When enough people had bought ("imported") a used car from a big city fella, and they were happiest (got the best deal) if they could buy one cheap cause it warn't workin' good, and apply the fix they knew.

And then they saved all the money, didn't waste it, if they were smart.

I'm lucky not to have grown up in poverty.  But it's a different way of seeing "privilege" when you grew up at every Thanksgiving with people who were poorer than most people most of us meet from Cameroon or Ghana or Mexico or Guatemala or Malaysia etc.  And yet, who considered themselves blessed.

There are city mice and country mice everywhere in the world.  And Basel Action Network has no credibility appointing themselves the trade police if they don't understand the economics of buying something for cheap which you have the skill to repair rather than buying something new, or even something the rich person fixed (fully functional) themselves.  They are good people working there. They just don't understand economics of the poor.  

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