a wicked double decker bus?

Oh world, world, world.. *sigh*

I was reading yesterday that the combined wealth of the 85 wealthiest people in the world, that is 85 ordinary men and women who will one day die like us all and who would easily fit on a double decker bus (not that they are likely to get on a double decker bus!) have the same amount of wealth as the 3,500,000,000 poorest people on planet earth.

If we wanted to put all those poor people on double decker buses it would take 41,176,471 of them, which is 41 million double decker buses.

These figures are a bit like trying to count the stars or comprehend the mysteries of the galaxy:- they are almost incomprehensible.

I was finding it hard to sleep last night so to kill the early morning hours I tried making a map marking on the 85 richest people.
85_Richest_People_-_Bing_Maps_-_2014-01-21_12.21.25

What I noticed about the people on this map is that lots of them are no spring chickens (average age 74ish?). Moscow seems to have quite a few while the country with the most is unsurprisingly the USA

I was also thinking about a verse from Psalm 73:-

‘This is what the wicked are like—
always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.’

Is there something wicked about amassing wealth?

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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.

Jesus and supermarkets (or something like that)

My mind is swirling about corporations and supermarkets after reading ‘Shopped‘ by Joanna Blythman over the weekend so be prepared for a series of supermarket based rantings. They might be a pile of rubbish but I’m just trying to work out why supermarkets and corporations wind me up so much while at the same time being impotent to escape their clutches and also often enjoying their products and services, or even earning some money from them.

However I find there is something particularly creepy about the way supermarkets conduct their business, something which gets me worked up in ways I don’t really understand.

I realised tonight that it may have something to do with supermarkets dealing and trading with one of the essentials of life, food.  Supermarkets have a huge say in the distribution of ‘our daily bread’, they provide for us and would like to be seen in that way by their grateful subjects. They want to be seen and worshipped as our benefactors, as the ones who provided manna at dirt cheap price, or an artisan olive manna at affordable prices. Which I find a bit creepy, especially from a Christian point of view. Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury, Marks and Spencer literally want us to look to them to provide our daily bread. They want to be seen as our providers, our benefactors. Ultimately they want to take the place of God.  If that sounds a bit melodramatic then you should listen to what a supermarket like Tesco freely admits is it’s core purpose.

‘Our Core Purpose is to create value for customers
to earn their lifetime loyalty.

They want my lifetime loyalty and they want your lifetime loyalty. That is their core purpose in life, to do whatever it takes to make little Tesco disciples.

Is it going to be any different with any supermarket or any corporation? And we probably have to remember that the core values, mission statements, visions of companies are made for a reason, which is basically to make the company as profitable as possible, which more than likely means ‘make as much money as possible for whoever owns the company’. As the introduction to ‘Shopped’ mentions

‘Let’s be clear that large supermarket chains are companies whose aim is not, first and foremost, to meet society’s interests…The bottom line is that they are stock market-driven corporations whose overarching goal is to keep their shareholders happy’

Surely the god at the top is Mammon, or money which drives the whole thing from top to bottom, bottom to top?
At the top you have the supermarket trying to get more and more profit/money each year, growing and growing.
At the bottom you have someone like me who might be impressed that I can save money and get more and more profit by shopping in a big chain. Money is driving the whole thing.  I think Coolio said it best

‘power and the money
money and the power
minute after minute
hour after hour’

Or maybe not. More some other day when I’ve chilled out a bit. Maybe not:)