America Is A Poor Country In A Gucci Belt

How American poverty looks to a Sri Lankan
4 min readFeb 10, 2022


I was talking to someone on Twitter and then they revealed that they were homeless. This was confusing to me because… how are we talking? Homeless people in Sri Lanka are not on Twitter.

The usual idea is the Sri Lanka is poor and America is rich, but this isn’t quite true. Americans are poor with consumer goods. Sri Lankans are poor with public goods. It’s just different, and in many ways America is worse.

Broke With An iPhone

When we watch American TV it’s confusing because everyone has iPhones and cars but their lives are grindingly shit. They have individual debts that would crush entire villages. Then, being movies, they’re hustling and doing crimes.

In Sri Lanka if you make enough to afford an iPhone, you’re rich as shit. You’re eating seven curries for lunch and someone else is cooking them for you. If you get hit by a bus, that’s the problem, not the bill. You don’t have that much debt because no one will extend that much credit.

The average America is over $90,000 in debt while the average Sri Lankan household debt is $400. While Americans might have higher (inflated) assets, in reality most American people are themselves assets to banks. It’s a nation of debt peons, distracted by trinkets and toys.

America has a much higher GDP, but what is that even measuring? All those crushing interest payments show up as revenue on some bank’s book. All those $100,000 healthcare bills show up as revenue to some private company. All these increases to human misery show up as increases to GDP. And none of it actually increases productivity.

It’s like burning your house down to increase the temperature. Technically it works, but your fucking house is on fire.

The country has all the appearances of wealth with none of the comfort or securty. It’s not just public goods like healthcare or education that even poor socialist(ish) countries like Sri Lanka has, it’s also basic stuff like family.

Home For The Holidays

It’s confusing watching American ‘home for the holidays’ movies because A) do they only have two…



Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at, or just email me at