Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Wages of Sin? Making "The "F-List," Chingaso!

When I was working on my doctorate, I was accorded the (de facto) status of "consulting American" for many of the international students as they struggled to come to grips with "america," along with the mysteries of English and the arcana of our shared studies in "Curriculum Theory." I had the reputation in the department as an internationalist--who was interested in and conversant about world affairs--and a relativist. I was always flattered when another student, usually African, Asian, or Indian, would seek me out in my office to ask advice or just to air their ideas.

I always enjoyed it, primarily because it afforded me an opportunity to rgard my own 'social' situation from perspectives that were occasionally discordant with my own, but also were antagonistic to what they were perceiving.

I mention this as prologue to what follows not because I or anyone I know or have ever known was on the list of Forbes' 225 Greatest Fortunes--no, there was a Saudi princeling named Ali, and a woman who was related to the Thai royal family. But I do think it behooves to regard what we 'strangify' those things to which we have become the most complacent.

Like "wealth."
(shamelessly cadged from Watching America):
Forbes’ Affront
By Ernesto Lopez Portillo
(Translated By Brandon Brewer)
13 March 2009
Edited by Katy Burtner

Mexico - El Universal - Original Article (Spanish)

When we look at the Forbes billionaire list, it inevitably reminds us of the world in which we live. The 225 greatest fortunes amount to almost half of the world population's income.

The Gross National Product (GNP) of the 41 poorest and most indebted countries, comprising 567 million citizens, is less than the total possessions of the seven richest people in the world.

The personal assets of the 15 most wealthy individuals is greater than the GNP of all the Sub-Saharan nations combined. The money spent every year on cologne, perfume and cosmetic products in the U.S. is equal to half of the economic aid sent to developing countries. A board director in the United States earns 400 times the salary of the average worker. This is the outcome of voracious capitalism.

The root of all immorality lies in this inequality that makes social justice the biggest myth of modernity.

But startling us with the economic and social asymmetry of the globe was not sufficient for Forbes; it now informs us that one may also access the billionaire club via illegal means. Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, a judged and convicted criminal, who is perhaps the icon of organized crime in Mexico, is a recent addition among the elite of the famous magazine.

Here is how Guzmán met the criteria to be considered for the list: Mexicans and Colombians laundered between 18 and 39 billion dollars in 2008, money obtained from the wholesale of drugs shipped to the U.S. El Chapo Guzmán probably earned 30-50 percent of these profits, which would be enough for him to pocket billions of dollars during his criminal career and, in turn, secure a place on the list.

This causes me to react in two very different ways. On one side, I see it as a grotesque offense. The symbolic importance of including a criminal in the most prestigious list of the wealthy is enormous.

The implicit message could be the following: economic power is amassed through legal or illegal means, and, in any case, if you accumulate enough then you have a spot reserved in our little club. Whether Forbes even questioned the validity of the calculations of Guzmán's fortune is beside the point - suspicion is obligatory when it comes to organized crime. They made a profoundly cynical decision upon putting aside all ethic considerations relevant to the source of his earnings.

Luisa Kroll, editor of the publication, explained that the decision was based on the individual's success rather than taking into account his sinister persona. Forbes, then, is saying to the world that the success obtained by amassing a fortune is one thing while the manner in which one does so is another. For a global audience of incalculable dimensions, the message could not have been clearer: even wealth built over rivers of blood is justified among the elite.

The other reaction is a very different one: Forbes did nothing but recognize a fact. In this world, organized crime has free rein and operates with increasingly greater economic, social and political power. It's about the inclusion of a major-league drug dealer who travels the world after having escaped a maximum security Mexican prison.

From this perspective, the magazine jolts us with another indisputable reality: organized crime challenges the state, occasionally defeating it, and also amasses personal fortunes equal to the world's richest. It is not difficult to understand: both legal and illegal markets produce millionaires.

In Mexico, the news hits hard at the worst of times. I can imagine the anger and pain of those who, having witnessed first hand the brutal force of this character, now see him sharing the fame with the world's most successful businessmen. Think of those who have given or risked their lives to investigate and hunt down the networks that depend on Mr. Guzmán. No one deserves this. Forbes’ billionaire list is a disgraceful and unnecessary affront.
The author is this hombre:

Object lesson in the nature of capital formation, nest paw? And you already KNOW it's the 'dirty fucking hippie potheads' who are going to be blamed for ALL the violence and the bloodshed at the Border...

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