Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Game of Monopoly

It's been a tough year for the richest people in the world.
Last year there were 1,125 billionaires.
This year there are just 793 people rich enough to make our list.
The world has become a wealth wasteland... [Read on]

Really? And we're supposed to empathize with them? As far as I know, the world has been a wealth wasteland from the day man started to gauge his existence on the mound of gold under his feet. Sadly, only a few can amass an Everest.

When I wrote one blog on the onset of the financial crisis, I thought that the world can go on bankrupt; afterall it was the common term one can hear over the news back then. I thought the money went up in smoke. I stand corrected. A friend of mine dropped a comment on that blog:

"Dude search and download for Zeitgeist and Zeitgeist Addendum on the torrent sites. That will explain where the money went. Wealth is never lost, it just get transferred to a few people who control the world's economy."

Haven't watched those downloads though; I'll save them for later, and maybe for another blog. But interesting to note is the fact that the wealth of the world is still in the hands of these few people. The news on the fall of AIG didn't solicited empathy for long when its top executives went on celebrating with a lavish party of champagne and caviar at the posh St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Southern California, just 2 weeks after US taxpayers bailed out the insurance corporation for $85 billion. It's funny to think–and you don't see me laughing–that Forbes is saying that the world's richest are also a lot poorer. Well, technically they are indeed poorer with the topnotcher Bill Gates' fortune from $40 Billion down to $18 Billion; more than 50% loss. Indeed it's a different and lofty bar and you'll see the rest of the world gazing at the stars, driveling. But most of them, starving. Yes, 50% loss is a lot. So what if Gates lost this amount of money? Maybe those people in the financial institutions that knows how this works might argue that in having a sound business or a healthy economy, one should not have losses in his account books. They might have a point. But then, really, will Gates be unable to pay his bill after he lost that amount? Will he die of starvation? Maybe he can die of depression, but that would be foolish. Now imagine a homeless man with less than a dollar in his pocket and 50% of it is lost, he has been depressed all his life and the only thing that separates him from an impending demise is the will to live; a will that can't be sustained for long with an empty stomach.

Social and economic inequality has been here since time immemorial. Well maybe after the fall of man from the Garden of Eden. And I don't think I can see Utopia in my lifetime. It will be hard for mankind to realize this perfect world where society's central role is played not by money, but rather by the need for transcendence. The world is not fair as we know it today, and it is a reality that greets me every morning on my way to work here in Ghana. I came to this African country as a consultant yet there are a lot of Ghanaians that can be educated to do the same things I do in my work. But I see them in the streets instead. If those Forbes' richest have the monopoly on the world's wealth, I reckon I'm part of a group that has a monopoly on one of the opportunities that can give a better life. Especially now that the world is on recession, companies abroad are somewhat picky on people they hire as expatriates; taking those with more experience. I bet there are lots of monopolies out there. One faction may be covetous of the other's monopoly and the others may go on envying everyone. I envy Bill Gates but envy is a sin.

Monopolies will not last forever; the game has to be over soon.

GMT 0 Accra, Ghana

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