where the billionaires live

I was re-reading a book I love last night in bed and it got me thinking ‘Where do the top 100 richest people in the world live?’

So at midnight, armed with a list from Forbes and Google Maps I marked them on the map.

A few things caught my attention.

1) There are a lot of very rich men who call Moscow home.
2) There was only one in Japan and he was near the bottom of the list.
3) There was only one African in the Top 100 billionaires
4) There are a surprising amount around Mexico City.
5) The owners of Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Google are all there.

But two things are very noticeable
1) There are women represented but their wealth has been inherited or passed on. There are no self made female billionaires on the list.
According to Forbes ‘only 19 of the world’s billionaires (or 1.6%) are women who earned their money’.

I’m not sure why that surprised me, but I guess it did.
If money or wealth represents power, then power is male.

2) The other thing that stands out like a sore thumb is the US of A.
According to Forbes
‘There are now billionaires from 58 countries including ones from Peru, Morocco and Georgia. The U.S. is still home to more billionaires than any other nation, with 425, a dozen more than a year ago. Russia and mainland China follow behind. They have 96 and 95, respectively, down from 101 and 115.

So the USA can claim nearly 35 % of the world’s billionaires, Russia 7.8% and mainline China 7.7%.

If money/wealth represents power, then power is American. They’ve even increased the number of billionaires during all the stuff that has been going on with the economy.

The reason why I wondered is that I’m trying to work out if the USA really is the Roman empire of our day, the place where power is concentrated and controls the world or is just because I’ve been reading certain types of books that suggest that and are unbalanced.

25 ways to subvert the system

Sometimes I get so worked up about things I don’t like about the world that I neglect the things I do like about the world or the things I should do about the world. Here is a list of things I’m working on.

1 Get off Facebook

You don’t like corporate control in any other area of your life except Facebook, Amazon, ebay, Twitter. You won’t shop at Tesco on principle yet you’re always stuffing your face on Facebook. Don’t let yourself become a marketers dream.

2 Walk More

Get the blood pumping and take the time to learn your place.

3 Grow Herbs

Read the Wendell Berry essay ‘The Reactor and the Garden’ then go out and plant some coriander. You will save money next time you make a curry.

4 Buy from small,local retailers

If possible to keep diversity in your community.
The empires and systems want to homogenize us.
Which is why you should also get off Facebook. We’ve been homogenized and it’s not healthy

5 Bake Bread

Gain an understanding that it’s not Tesco or Hovis who provide our daily bread, it’s God. Touching the raw ingredients of bread makes you realise how we dependent on grace and farming and ultimately God

6 Name the Beasts

Or name the systems that oppress us. If we name them they have less power over us. The unknown has more power as we can’t define it.

7  Look for where power is Centred

Where are the HQ’s of the IMF, the WTO, the World Bank, Tesco, Google, Apple, corporate power? Don’t fail to see the actual people behind the shiny logo.  Look for where the lords hang out.

8 ‘All Roads lead to Rome’

Work out where the roads of empire lead to these days. Not to Rome but to Arkansas with WalMart or the HQ of BP or Royal Dutch Shell.

9 Read your Bible

If you’re Christian learn the Big Picture. Learn the real story of what is going on not just for the sake of reading it.

10 Jesus

As above. Follow the master

11 Say Grace

Relearn that it isn’t our technology and super markets that supply our daily bread, it’s something far more precious and fragile. Pray to God ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ and mean it

12 Write about Food

Again, learn that there are few things more important and vital to us than food and be grateful for it. It’s there to be enjoyed.

13 Make a Lunch Box System

When you’re out and about make it easier to grab something better for you than a Mars Bar to Tayto.

14 Draw and Dream Alternative Images

Try to imagine different possibilities

15 Write, Perform,Educative and Subversive Poetry

Undermine the tag lines and mission statements, take the piss out of them

16 Seek First the Kingdom

Ignore the claims of other kingdoms

17 Read some Irish Poetry/Legends

Learn about the culture of your homeland

18 Write Songs

It’s easier to slip truth through with a subtle lyric and tune

19 Read about Permaculture

So that you can place less demands on your home patch and be more like Adam was called to be in Eden

20 Ethical Clothing

Cloth yourself when possible with clothes that have been made by people who where not exploited for economic gain.  Choose fabrics that place less demands on economic systems.

21 Urban Farming

Try to encourage urban farming if possible. New Jerusalem sounds like a city garden with an orchard, bring heaven to earth.

22 Theology of Housework

See how you might be glorifying God when cleaning the toilet or washing grease pans to keep yourself sane.

23 Wormery

Turn vegetable waste into compost and use the worm casts to grow herbs and salad leaves. Be proud to have worms

24 Listen to good Music

Listen to all that good music you couldn’t afford to in the past with Spotify. Note the songs you like and why they are quality. Have a special place in your heart for protest songs.

25 Read some affirming Books

Read something you wouldn’t normally bother with, don’t neglect the novel and short story either in favour of non-fiction. Read some classics, read something different

bad language,creating new jobs, unemployment pt 1

So there I was sitting in a coffee shop in Lisburn with one of those silent flat screen TV’s stuck on Sky News and ‘headlines’ scrolling across the bottom minding my own business when my eye caught this headline

Subway to Create 6000 Jobs Over the next Three Years’

which I filed away alongside the announcements over the past couple of days of

Asda to Create 5000  Jobs in 2012′

and

McDonald’s says 2,500 new jobs a lifeline for young unemployed’

Bloody hell, that’s great news isn’t it?

New jobs in a time of recession for the young unemployed who are fighting for jobs! A spark of hope in a time of gloom! All hail McDonalds, Asda and Subway!

Well not quite. At the same time I was reading this bit in Colossians Remixed

‘If we want to find abusive language and identify the discourse of violence of our time, we are terribly short-sighted if we don’t look beyond the obscenities of the street or the schoolyard. It is in the double-speak of corporate executives, the spin of politicians, the come-on of the advertisers, the cultural lies of the pharmaceutical companies and the biotech firms…’

That’s just it isn’t it?
We’ve a very short sighted view of what makes abusive language.

For instance a good Christian man or woman will probably not like my use of ‘bloody hell’ a few sentences up and would like it even less if I said ‘shit’ or fuck’. It’s bad,violent, offensive language, unclean and rude and a sin by all accounts so cut it out

It’s also a classic when you’re watching a film at home and your parents walk into the living room just the point the F-bomb is being dropped all over the show during some violent scene.

We don’t like hearing violent language on a personal,intimate level.

Yet so much violent language just slips past our sensors and worse than that is thought of as normal, good language.

I was thinking about this with relation to the  ‘_____ create thousands of new jobs in 2012’  headlines from the media and PR departments.

Yes, I’ve no doubt that McDonald’s, Asda and Subway will create new jobs but at what expense?
Are the creation of these jobs an unquestioned good or is there violence in what they say as well?
Is the phrase ‘____ creates a 100o new jobs’ an unquestioned good?

For instance McDonald’s might create loads of new jobs for young people but many of those jobs have been created by young teens eating in McDonald’s. (‘McDonald’s UK does not publish like-for-like revenues, but it posted underlying sales growth in the “low teens” in its fourth quarter after an “outstanding Christmas” – The Independent.’)

Creating new jobs ‘good’.
Younger teens eating junk food more often in McDonald’s maybe not so good?

I’m not saying kids shouldn’t enjoy a McDonald’s every so often like we did,
it’s just the language of  ‘creating new jobs’ mightn’t be the unquestioned good it sounds like on Sky News with some politician grinning on a podium saying it’s brilliant news.

What about the types of jobs created? Or is this even worthy of consideration?
Will they be good, healthy jobs or will young people be homogenized and  turned into McDrones with some spin coming out about the qualifications they have earned?

My mum works for one of these companies by the way and it hurts me to see the way that she is treated by managers and the systems. You’re really just commodity or a resource to be used to earn maximum profit for the company. But if you’ve worked somewhere like that you probably don’t need me to tell you that.

When you say jobs do you mean full time jobs or do you mean part time, flexible jobs? What kind of jobs do you mean?

Also, what about all the jobs that will be uncreated by one of those three stores moving into a locality?
Do you expect me to believe that if an Asda moves into a community it won’t have knock on effects for other retailers in the area?

Maybe a more accurate headline would be  ‘____ creates 1000 new jobs but wipes out ____ old jobs’

What about the uniqueness and character of a community being obliterated under the wheels of  ‘well that’s just the way things go..’?

Anyway, that’s the way it goes I guess.
It feels almost pointless mentioning this stuff as I know that I’m very much in the minority and people need jobs and money to work (me included) and part of me wonders if I’m just finding ways to justify laziness or sloth. What I should really be doing is going out and sending my CV to McDonald’s, Asda and Subway and competing to get one of these jobs.

But another part of me doesn’t think it’s pointless at all.
We don’t have to live under the Roman Empire but we not stupid enough the think that there isn’t some type of ‘Empire’ over us and sucking us into it’s hole?
The Bible would probably call it ‘the World’.
A phrase I heard once heard to describe it was ‘corporate evil

Why have we assummed for so long that we don’t live under some type of  system that blinds us and bind us to the way things really are?
And do we just have to suck it up and get a job with companies we fundamentally disagree with just to earn enough money to put bread on the table?

I’ll finish this later, I’m starving!