>an internet person I know named Cassander explained to me that the basic cause of this is that because the US is richer than Spain, the quality of our good is higher and the the cost of labor similarly so;

I disagree partially.

I would say that the pricer are higher because US is richer. You have more people in the US with more disposable income - the US residents are wealthy enough to consider a $2.5 coffee cheap, so most decent coffee places charge you $5. The higher prices in the US does not mean the quality of goods/services are higher - it only means that the US can _afford_ a higher price for these goods/services.

Example - I live in Germany, and I visited the US for 3 weeks last month. I had coffee in 5 different cities, and almost all of them (with the exception of the chain "Le Pain Quotidien" in the east coast) served me coffee in a paper cup, even when I said that I was dining in. $3-4, plus taxes and tips, for mediocre (ok this is subjective) coffee in a to-go cup. I pay 2 euros (including taxes, no mandatory tips) for much better coffee served in porcelain cups here in Cologne, Germany. In this particular example, quality was actually _lower_ in the US though the prices were higher. Ergo the high prices in the US has more to do with US being a richer country, and people being able to afford stuff, rather than actual quality of goods consumed.

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I feel weird asking a stranger about his personal life, but since we're doing this...can you talk about the role of debt, if any, in lives at this income level? I assume you're not using a credit card to cover the need for cash reserves because you either don't have one or aren't confident you can pay the money back within a month.

I've gotten richer than I used to be within the last few years, and I've noticed my appetite for risk has appreciably increased, in terms of the type of investments I make, my willingness to explore new job opportunities, my attitude to big debt-financed purchases like a car or house. This is unsurprising in some respects—if I lose $1000 doing stupid trades on Robinhood, I'll be fine, poorer people might not be fine, so it's logical that I am more willing to put my money into Robinhood. But I also think that the confidence coming from financial security spills over into a more general level of risk aversion, even for things that aren't obviously connected to money. Do rich people feel more secure in the world in general?

I have a half-baked theory that this sort of generalized difference in risk aversion is part of why poorer people favor chain restaurants more than independent ones. You know what to expect with your millionth Subway or Friday's. Class-based aesthetic preferences obviously too.

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