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Capitalism: A Success Story -- The World's Richest Man in an Impoverished Country

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Message Grant Lawrence
Mexico's Carlos Slim, named the world's richest man...has amassed a fortune of $53.5 billion, beating Microsoft founder Bill Gates to top the list of the world's richest people, according to a new ranking published by Forbes magazine.

Congratulations to the world's richest man -- Carlos Slim -- for picking himself up by his bootstraps and being able to take advantage of monopoly capitalism in Mexico and around the world. I am sure Slim is able to have a lot of good meals and enjoys many fine mansions. He can also afford to buy off the political machine that serves him and other multi-billionaires of Mexico well.

But what is wrong with this picture?

Mexico is a country that is in the midst of a drug civil war fueled by poverty and tremendous inequality. While Carlos Slim enjoys the reputation of the world's wealthiest man, his fellow citizens have enjoy little to nothing of the wealth of Mexico. For example...
...The Mexican standard of living is way below the US or Europe. The minimum wage is 46 pesos per day, about 2.20, or $4 US Dollars. There is little or no welfare state and no unemployment benefit. Mexico is one of the four worst countries in Latin America for income distribution. In 2007, Forbes magazine published an article indicating that Carlos Slim had a personal fortune of 53.1 billion dollars and was fast catching up on Bill Gates as the world's richest man. Many billionaires were created after the privatization of Mexican banks and telecoms in the 1990s.

...The bottom 40% of the population share only 11% of the wealth and are considered to live below the Mexican poverty line. Many families live in total poverty and children are compelled to work on the streets in order to supplement the family income.
Things are only looking up if you are one of Mexico's billionaires. But if you are like most Mexicans -- between 1994 and 1996, the poverty rate in Mexico climbed from 52 to 69 percent due to a deep but short-lived global economic recession that broke out in this country. Now this country is experiencing another depression, which originated in its northern neighbour, and that will last at least until 2010.

All of this likely means little to the average American. After all, we have our own economic problems. But Americans should pay close attention to Mexico. The United States, over the last several decades, has embraced monopolistic disaster capitalism, and that is great for America's 360 or so billionaires. They are thriving even in the midst of the Great Recession/Depression. But as they thrive the rest of America rots.

This is not an accident. Capitalism, according to its system, will grow fantastic wealth at the very top. The massive wealth of Carlos Slim in a terribly impoverished country is not an accident but a product of unregulated capitalism.

Alarmingly, though, America has embraced the exact same economy of Mexico, yet expects different results. But that ain't gonna happen. I'll let you in on a little secret. The people at the top -- America's wealthy elite -- know that ain't gonna happen too.

By creating government policies to encourage the privatization of nearly all the wealth into the hands of the very few and by taking away much of the wealth and resources for the public good, then you get what they have in Mexico and what we are beginning to see in the United States. In short, you get a free market conservative's dream, or nightmare, depending if you are one of the hundreds of millions of people or one of the hundreds of the economic elite at the top.

The infrastructure of the country will decay, the cities will disintegrate, the citizens (or consumers as we like to call ourselves now) will descend into poverty, and the country will face civil unrest and turmoil.

So Carlos Slim is truly a success story of capitalism. But for the people of Mexico and now the United States, capitalism has turned into a nightmare.
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