Monday, May 09, 2005

Poor, Poor Pitiful Me

On the sidebar at left is a little box offering to help you discover how rich you are. Created by a London-based company called "Poke", the calculator takes your yearly income, in dollars, euros, etc., compares it to the incomes of the rest of the world's earners, and then tells you where you rate in the wealth hierarchy:
"The Global Rich List calculations are based on figures from the World Bank Development Research Group. To calculate the most accurate position for each individual we assume that the world's total population is 6 billion and the average worldwide annual income is $5,000."
Although I think my income is pretty modest, my results showed that I'm one of the top 0.899% richest people in the world, and richer than more than 5 billion, 9 hundred and 46 million other folks. What motivated Poke to do this?
"We are obsessed with wealth. But we gauge how rich we are by looking upwards at those who have more than us. This makes us feel poor.
We wanted to do something which would help people understand, in real terms, where they stand globally. And make us realise that in fact most of us (who are able to view this web page) are in the privileged minority.
We want people to feel rich. And give some of their ‘extra’ money to a worthwhile charity."
Americans do a lot of poor-mouthing and indulging in self-pity when they can't afford a car for their kid or the size house they want. And it's true that even the worst-off of us is generally better off than the rest of the impoverished world.

In a world where, as they say, the 225 richest people now have a combined wealth of $1 trillion--equal to the combined annual income of the world's 2.5 billion poorest people--can anyone with the privilege and access enabling them to read these words not afford to give? They provide a direct link to enable donations to CARE International, their particular pet charity, but the message is, "Just pick one and give, whatever it is."

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