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Why Is Life Hell For 93% Of The World And I Have Everything

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Posted by Richard Ruquist on June 16, 2003 17:16:39 UTC

For Leesa and Harv,

I wish to comment on the state of people living in the third world from my limited perspective. I have to start a new thread because the thread that the title of this post came from is hidden from me.

So... My family sponsored most of the Cambodian refugees that came to Lexington Massachusetts up to when Reagan stopped allowing them to come to America. The only Cambodians we did not sponsor were those sponsored by Cambodians we originally sponsored. It started with two separate families who lived with us for a few months each and then went out on their own to be replaced by families of their relatives.

After a while, after sponsoring and living with a couple dozen Cambodians entotal, they began sponsoring themselves and the last couple dozen Cambodian refugees went directly into apartments rather than living with us.

The reason for painting this picture is that we got to know quite well about four dozen Cambodians, and that eventually spread out to their friends and relatives who came to other communities. We heard the same story from all of them.

Life in the United States is very difficult. Everybody has to work here to make ends meet and even then assistence is necessary.

Life in Cambodia before the Communists came was very much easier. One professional person could support a very large extended family. Now these statistics are skewed as all of the Lexington Cambodians came from the professional class. In fact, they were all of Chinese ancestry except one family.

So since the inflow of Cambodians was turned off by Reagan in the very early 1980s, these refugees have struggled to eat and pay the rent and send their kids to the good Lexington schools and to invest what little they could save, with every member of each family having a job when old enough.

The kids all became star students at Lexington High School, which I might add is full of the children of Harvard and MIT professors and the other professionals that are naturally attracted into Lexington because they think the schools are so good. Having taught in LHS I can say that the school system is not exceptional. What is exceptional is the quality of the students. Genes count.

So some of the Cambodians kids are still in LHS or college or grad school. But about half of them are out working, mainly in the computer industry.

When I lost my military research job in 1990 and bounced around for awhile, it was a Cambodian who I sponsored that hired me into the computer industry in 1995, which I am now retired from.

So the Cambodians have become very successful. But they still all say that living in the States requires much more work than in Cambodia. They have never had to work so hard as in the states, except maybe for digging ditches for the Khmer Ru, as they all had to pretend to be illiterate to survive. But even then they did not work day and night as they had to here.

It's paying off for them now. It's almost as easy as in Cambodia now, but still much more stressful. You never know in this country how long a job os going to last. Some of them are becoming real estate tycoons. They most all own their own home.

So bottomline, I have no idea if is life Hell for 93% of the world. Perhaps that is true once a country tries to develop. But it is clear to me that before Communism, life in Cambodia was very pleasant and the Cambodians were quite happy.

They had everything compared to us. Every house was made of teak. No painting. No upkeep. Food was plentiful and cheap. Everything was inexpensive. Living was easy.


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