"It is like paradise and hell. They throw our petitions in the dustbin. They have everything. We have nothing... If we protest, they send soldiers. They sign agreements with us and then ignore us. We have graduates going hungry, without jobs. And they bring people from Lagos to work here."
Eghare W.O. Ojhogar, chief of the Ugborodo community in Delta State (of Nigeria)
In describing the situation in Nigeria, Eghare presents us with a microcosm of a modern Inferno, Purgatorio, e Paradiso (about which there is little divine or comic). In the timeless struggle between the "haves and "have nots", alarming numbers of "useless eaters" ("have nots") are sliding from Purgatorio into the abyss of abject poverty's Inferno.
And what heinous transgression did they commit that necessitated their banishment into the Inferno? They were born, of course. Most of those experiencing the misery of indigence had the misfortune to enter this world bearing a losing lottery ticket.
From their birth, the psyches of the poor and homeless in the "developed" nations and those of the impoverished in the "developing" nations are battered with the hopelessness and despair of their harsh realities. (Realities carefully created and perpetuated in a variety of ways by their "betters").
After spending their formative years pitted against nearly overwhelming economic and social forces, the message many of them internalize probably reads something like this:
"Sorry, washout. You are the wrong color, ethnicity, caste, social class, or nationality. Surviving to age 40 will be no small task for you. And if you manage to do so, your chances of significantly bettering your situation are quite slim. After all, the lottery winners invest a great deal in maintaining structural barriers to hold you down. But the good news is that you can add meaning to your miserable existence by working for slave wages( or simply withering and dying) to ensure that the tiny percentage of humanity enjoying economic Paradiso continues to do so and that the shrinking number of fortunates in Purgatorio experience a degree of comfort and security."
To gain some perspective on the extent of human suffering, avarice, and depravity associated with the gross imbalance in wealth and power, weigh these facts:
1. More than half of the 6.5 billion human souls populating Earth subsist on less than $2 per day. 790 million of the deeply impoverished suffer from chronic malnutrition (while 65% of US Americans are overweight).
2. 20% of the human race does not have access to clean water and 31% of the world's population has no electricity.
3. Combining the gross domestic products of the 48 poorest nations (representing 25% of global population) yields a figure that is less than the wealth of the three richest people in the world.
4. "Developed nations" account for 80% of the world's consumption and 20% of the world's population.
5. The wealth gap between the richest and poorest countries went from 3 to 1 in 1820 to 72 to 1 in 1992.
6. Corporations account for over half of the 100 wealthiest entities in the world.
7. And most tragically: