Where do you rank on the dung-heap?

Any time I get feeling down about not being able to help our in-laws in their developing-nation struggle, or afford the new deck on the house, or take Jack on a trip to ride steam trains in South America or drive the new Millau Viaduct in France, I comtemplate where I come on the dung-heap that is the human race.

On the back of an envelope:

There are about 400 million in North America and Europe each. Say 300 x2 = 600M of them are middle class or better. Chuck in another three hundred million from China and India combined, and an assorted three hundred million from the rest, and you get about one-and-a-quarter billion living comfortably, out of about eight billion.

So if you are reading this on a home PC in a developed-nation-middle-class standard home, or better, you are already in the top 15% of the human race for prosperity.

Follow this line of reasoning for your own situation, and the majority of my readers will end up feeling pretty good.

You may be quite poor by local standards but you think the country you live in is one of the best, so look at your country's population as a proportion of the world total (this doesn't work so well in India or China). Me I live in New Zealand, and just about everyone in the world wants to live in New Zealand. We have 3M people so already I'm in the top 0.03% !!!

Then you can add time as a dimension to the calculations. Even though each generation is better off, and the bulk of human history has involved lives that were "nasty, brutish and short", one assertion by experts is that over half the people who have ever lived on the planet are alive right now. [Thus arguing that reincarnation is the product of fevered imaginations]. So adding in all those who have gone before doesn't change the numbers as much as you might think. Allowing for a few people who were nicely off in the past, call it a total of 14 billion instead of 8 in your divisor.

At the other extreme a number that gets bandied about is 40 billion total. Use that as a divisor to make yourself feel real good.