Happy New Year! Perhaps in all the holiday madness, you failed to notice the Economic Policy Institute's December report on the gap between rich and poor in the United States. The upshot? Said gap is at its largest since the survey began in 1962. Notably, the richest one percent of American households has 225 times as much money as the average household. Back in the 1960s, the figure was a mere 125 times.
Life isn't all peaches and cream at the top, however. The global recession has had some impact on the wealthy: in 2009, the richest one percent had an average wealth of only 14 million dollars -- 27 percent less than in 2007.
Now, it's true that the average household was hit harder, experiencing a financial worth decrease of 41 percent. But let's be honest. How many people really have the wherewithal to be among the truly wealthy? If you deserved to be rich, then you probably would be. And really, your life is so much simpler because you're not. Oh, sure, everyone whines about not being able to pay their bills or take their kid to the endodontist, but what you don't hear much about are all the ways in which being impoverished can improve one's life.
Top 13 Most Awesome Things About Being Poor
1. Easier choices: Decision-making is stressful! Should you buy the chevre or the asiago? The Danskos or the Uggs? The Prius or the Passport? With no money, you can't buy anything, so you're spared those tough decisions. Hence, less stress!
2. Health: Most Americans are overweight. With so little money for food and even less for car repair, you'll find yourself eating less and walking more -- just what the doctor ordered! Not that you'll be able to see a doctor, which brings us to ...
3. Your time is your own: No dealing with the annoying wait in the doctor's office. Think of all the hours saved by not having to fill out those invasive questions on all those pages of medical forms. No sitting around in cold, sterile rooms wearing paper robes. That's for suckers.
4: On a related note: no dentists! I mean, have you seen Little Shop of Horrors? When your teeth get bad enough, you can just have them yanked out old-school-style -- whiskey and pliers. Hey, if it was good enough for our forebears, the very people who created America and Liberty, it should be good enough for you. You ever hear of George Washington complaining? Our troops aren't fighing for freedom so that you can eat solid foods.
5. Less obligation: Without funds for birthday, anniversary and holiday gifts, you're sailing almost obligation-free! No more wondering what to get for that friend who has everything (answer: nothing!) or finding just the right something for that special someone. Forget about flowers and chocolates. In fact, while you're at it, best to forget about having friends and lovers (aka "moochers") altogether.
6. Family closeness: Since you can't go on any vacations and have jettisoned your friends, you'll be able to spend all your time with your family at home. Get crafty! Invent your own "bored" games with old photos and flattened cardboard boxes. Bottle caps make great backgammon pieces. If the kids complain, remind them that children in Africa don't even have families.
7. Improved sex life: After the cable and Internet get cut due to lack of payment, you'll have little else to do but take pleasure in the age-old refuge of poor people. You've already lost your stature in society, now lose your inhibitions! Did you know the Humboldt County Library stocks The Complete Kama Sutra? You do now! (Note: Planned Parenthood offers vasectomies and other forms of birth control for free or cheap, so get on that before getting it on.)
8. Environmental superiority: You're not buying stuff, so you're not contributing to global warming or the garbage problem. Go ahead, lord your betterness over others. It's pretty much your only shot at being righteous. Well, outside of getting religion ...
9. Religious awakening! Get all "Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" on everybody's ass. Did Jesus own a Kindle? No. Clearly he was not a douchebag and neither are you. Also, church suppers.
10. Artistic credibility: If inviting Our Lord and Savior into your life is still too much for you, instead assert your identity as an art purist. Ill-fitting clothes sporting holes and stains say you're not concerned with shallow presentation of self. Nay! You seek authenticity. You need only your own blood and sweat to create! (Because you can't afford paints and brushes.)
11. Musical opportunity: Everyone expects rock musicians to be slovenly assholes. Exploit your impoverished appearance and explore the worst parts of your personality at the same time. If you're not actually in a band, no worries. Just walk around with a guitar case on your back -- given the number of transients with instruments, they must not be that hard to come by. Another bonus: You know the difference between a total scuzzbag and a rock star? One gets laid.
12. Enlightenment: With such a bleak past and hopeless future, your only hope for sanity is living in the moment. Which just happens to be, like, totally Zen! Carpe diem!
13. The Simple Life, O.G. edition: Henry David Thoreau -- embraced nature, practiced thoughtful reflection, sucked the marrow out of life. Paris Hilton -- embraced diamond-clad chihuahuas, practiced pouty face, just sucks.