Over the weekend, I spent some time going through some micro-enterprise pictures of my trips to Haiti. A few hours later, I received a call from someone who spent a lot of time complaining about how tough she had it. I tried to be supportive, but a lot of what I was hearing were “first world problems.”

We are so fortunate in this country. I don’t think some people have any idea about how other people around the world live.

In a study by the Pew Research Center, as Americans, we are way ahead on living standards. I think we understand there’s income inequality in our country. And that’s something we have to deal with, but we’ve got so much here. And, yes, we still have lots of opportunity that people in other countries simply don’t have in their nations.

  • 56 percent of Americans are high income by the global standard, living on more than $50 per day.
  • 32 percent of Americans are defined as upper-middle income as compared to the rest of the world.
  • In other words, almost nine-in-ten Americans have a standard of living that is above the global middle-income standard.
  • 7 percent of people in the U.S. are middle income, 3 percent are low income and 2 percent are considered poor by the global standard.

Here are the facts for the rest of the world:

  • 13 percent of people globally are considered middle income.
  • 56 percent of the rest of the world is low income.
  • 15 percent are poor.
  • 9 percent are upper-middle income and 7 percent are high income.

People who know me understand that I’m very committed to developing market-based solutions to address poverty. At different points in my life I’ve seen the following:

  • A single mother in Haiti who had no education and survived with her son on only $2 a day. After the earthquake in Haiti, this tiny family lost the little they had. She started selling shoes after a micro-entrepreneur friend asked for her help. Long story short, she now makes over $60 a day. Her son did not have to leave school. He graduated high school and is the first in her family to go to college.
  • I’ve seen a boy who was so poor that he taped up his shoes to keep them together. I asked him what that was about and he told me that his mother could not afford to buy him a pair of shoes. He also told me that he was wearing sneakers a size or two too small.
  • I remember sitting in front of an old man and placing on his feet the first pair of shoes he has ever owned! Can you even imagine that?

Folks, we have so much in this country. Sure, we have our problems. Every society does. But, I think we can work together and fix them with commitment and effort.