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Thursday, 20 November 2008

Why is life so unfair?

We all think the world should be fair but know that it isn't. Why are some people so talented that they can do almost anything they want? Some people are even multi-talented. David Beckham can play football well and he also is handsome enough to be a world class male model. The Oscar winning actor Jocham Phoenix, star of Ladder 49, and Man in Black recently said that he was giving acting up to become a singer, so again he has at least two major talents. Likewise, Angelina Jolie has also recently said that she's giving up the same profession in order to do something else, probably become a permanent UN Ambassador, so what hope is there for the rest of us who are scraping by on a measley 'Mr. Average' lifestyle?

When I was a lot younger, I questioned how the world must work. I soon figured out that my gain must be someone else's loss. If I become a rich man, then I am in some way taking away the resources of someone else e.g. in the form of food, or money for education or for some other purpose. I still believe that today, and I rationalise it by the fact that the world only works for so long when it's in some kind of harmony, some kind of equilibrium. Once you upset anything in nature, from a bee's nest to an Australian reef, you upset it for good, and it can never be the same as it was. So, if I take not just one resource from a place, but a lot more than I actually need, and waste it on my own personal enjoyment, I am ultimately doing something that is inherently detrimental to the total welfare of the planet. Like the poet said, 'No man is an island unto himself.'

It is in this context that I saw on the news yesterday that those car ('auto' if your American!) executives from Ford, Chrysler, and GM, who went to Washington with their begging bowls almost like Oliver Twist, 'Please can I have some more?' The were asking for a princely sum of 25 billion US dollars. One would have thought that the very least they could do would be to try to find their own ways of reducing their costs, but they apparently all flew in privately owned corporate jets, one of which apparently cost over 36 million dollars! And they had the temerity to ask for (a) free handouts (without any business plan or conditions attached) and (b) that their employees accept that there will be job losses, redundancies, and pay cuts!? Um...the world really is unfair isn't it when people like this can, after all the chatter about the Wall Street banking executives being scourged in the media for their over-the-top bonuses, crowd around the corporate trough? When you think about the greed of these people, and the Bushes, and the Saudias, you can't help thinking about that famous Will Durant quote - 'The political machine triumphs because it is a united minority acting against a divided majority.' That's what the Bush years were all about: the Neo Cons were the minority and us the majority, and we allowed them to turn the world into a giant business run exclusively for their benefit.

Warren Buffet is the second richest man in the world after Bill Gates and said the following which I think is also very clever.

Warren Buffet's opinion (more about how things should work) which I've always loved:

"Let's say that it was 24 hours before you were born, and a genie [magic person] appeared and said, 'What I'm going to do is let you set the rules of the society into which you will be born. You can set the economic rules and the social rules, and whatever rules you set will apply during your lifetime and your children's lifetimes.' And you'll say, 'Well, that's nice, but what's the catch?' And the genie says, 'Here's the catch. You don't know if you're going to be born rich or poor, white or black, male or female, able-bodied or infirm, intelligent or retarded."

If you had that the wish granted by the genie, what kind of world would you create and why?

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