Category Archives: Current Events

Capitalism Clashes With Socialism: Is “internet.org” The Solution or a Problem

The merits and demerits of socialist and capitalist styles of government have been a cause for heated debate for as far back as one can think to. I think it is hard to come forward and say that one style is necessarily better than the other, as we have seen economies run by socialist and capitalist governments alike exhibit tremendous strides of progress economically and in other regards.

We currently live in a world where the mantra is fast becoming “be yourself”. Everywhere you look these days, be it in a fashion magazine, or financial services advert, we are slowly but surely being fed this belief that it is better to be different than to blend with the crowd. It seems to me that in this age that we live in, to successfully sell an idea or a commodity you need to emphasize its ability to bring about greater individuality to the final consumer. In this new “environment” that we find ourselves, it would be counterproductive to choose one thing over the other as being the better option. Each idea, person, object is unique and elegant on its own merit, with its quirks and flaws even making it that much more valuable as an individual unit to be celebrated. Individuality encourages us to seek for validity from within rather than from the outside, easier said than done right?

This post isn’t about styles of government or the topic of individuality; it is about Facebook’s new initiative called “internet.org“.

To be very concise, “internet.org” was created out of a need to spread the many advantages that come with using the internet. The founders hope to give access to certain websites at little or no cost to the user, while the site owner pays the bill. There has been a backlash against this this new initiative. The crux of the argument centers on the fact that it does not go in line with the concept of net neutrality.  Detractors point to what they consider as a plan by Facebook to “colonize” the internet and make it less profitable for publishers and the likes who are not subscribers to the “internet.org” initiative.

Personally, I love technology. I am always eager and excited to see how technology can be employed to make tasks a lot more tolerable, and also enhance the life of people who come in contact with it. I recently started to learn programming with python. The words “Hello World” never excited me until I was typing in the code in to the python interpreter to have it printed on the screen once the code was executed. Learning to program has given me a new found appreciation of a computer. Before, I always thought of computers as these “god-like” machines with a mind of their own that was too hard to understand. Spending a few weeks with python, I see computers from a difference perspective. Computers are blank, fast and efficient tools that are desperately reliant on input from humans to do great things.

I believe that if we can put computers and internet in the hands of more people, especially in places like Africa, the human race as a collective unit would be propelled on such an unprecedented scale to a greater level of civilization.

The proliferation of the internet as prospected by Facebook is an excellent idea and should be encouraged.

To be entirely honest, I see reasons to the point of the marginalization of non-members of the “internet.org”.  My input in this regard is for Facebook to limit the inclusion of webpages to essentials. When I say essentials, I am referring to those sites that help to keep people informed and educated. Websites that offer healthcare solutions to people who otherwise won’t have it. Websites that share knowledge about a myriad of topics that enable students research and learn. Websites that connect city merchants with rural suppliers of labor and raw materials. If Facebook is truly dedicated to its philanthropic intentions, it should exclude overzealous sites that are littered with Ads that distract from and ultimately ruin the experience of the end user.

(I guess this should serve as my advice to Facebook and its detractors)

 

The inequality in Gender Equality: A simply case of “Ladies First”

Gender inequality is as old as time itself and although great effort has been exerted over the decades to end, or at least minimize it, there exists subtle nuances that underscore its presence. I don’t want to go in-depth in to the literature of gender bias, quite frankly I haven’t got the time and plus I believe I can still make a compelling case even without literal back up. There are certain social conventions that have been ingrained in the minds of people which are supposed to engender equality among the sexes, but sometimes the very nature of them makes you wonder if their purpose is in tandem with intrinsic meaning.

Some might argue that gender equality has been greatly diminished and that we currently live in a society of greater freedom for women. On the surface of it, it might appear so because we see more women in the workforce, more women in leadership roles, for one thing; women in America at least can now vote. From an aerial view all seems to be at place, but the truth is that much like other problems that challenges the human race, gender inequality has evolved alongside the species. This evolution has also meant that the way it is perpetuated has also evolved as well, that its current state of sophistication makes it that much harder to detect.

There is a phrase that is very pervasive in human social interaction, especially interactions involving both sexes. This phase is seen as sign of respect and decorum that is “ought” to be accorded by one sex to the other. That phrase is “Ladies First.”

I have often said this phrase without giving it much thought, because like I said it is what is expected of you as a respectable member of any civil society where people have mutual respect for each other. Recently though I was somewhat accosted for not obliging with the usual “Ladies First” when I was at a door.

This got me thinking, when men say “Ladies first” to a lady is it because they see her as an equal (hence gender equality) or do they see her as a lesser being that needs to be given an advantage to progress for fear of being trumped? Men are naturally very competitive animals and when you want him to see another creature as an equal in competition, it doesn’t help to make him give that “competitor” an advantage. This is because then you have made him to see that creature as obviously being weak in some regard therefore needing to be given support to come to par with him in competition. It is very easy to say “Ladies First”, but then it is hard to see beneath the surface to catch a glimpse of what is really happening.

My hope isn’t to come-off as chauvinistic or anything of that nature, but I just would like people to think carefully about certain social conventions and see if they truly mean what they stand for. As an educated individual your number one priority is to challenge statics or dogmas as they come your way. The aim isn’t to win arguments or shove agendas in peoples face, on the contrary I would like to be intelligently challenged in ways that would give me a better understanding and if possible change my own views in some way.

(This is one of the things I was most scared of doing, writing a piece that might come off chauvinistic Frightening )

How Much Do “Ivy Leagues” Figure?

As someone who just recently went through the daunting process of Grad School application (and succeeded, I might add), the whole experience got me thinking. Is it the school that makes the students, or the students make the school?

Most of the schools regarded as “Ivy-League” get tonnes of applications from students every year, which in turn gives them the privilege of picking the brightest and best students before any other school does. So when I see that students from those “Ivy-League” schools test better on standardized tests and tend to get employed faster than others, the question nags me; is it really the school who is to be thanked or the individual students themselves? “Ivy-League” schools pride themselves on having the best faculty and resources etc. but I hardly think that is the real reason for the success of such schools. If you ask me, I think that such schools already have half or more of their jobs (educating) already done for them. If an “Ivy-League” school really wants to prove to me that it has got the best of the best when it comes to faculties and other resources, let it go ahead and pick up the average Joe and make him a superstar in the eyes of employers and then I would start to believe them somewhat.

Just a thought.

MY “TWO-CENTS” ON ABORTION

Daily Prompt: A House Divided I decided to take a side that most wouldn’t 

 

These days the media has been saturated by a tonne of debates surrounding the rightness/Wrongness of abortion. Both sides have brought forward credible points to back their claim as to the legitimacy of the act of committing abortion. But I don’t think that the Propriety of abortion is as black and white as some have purported it to be.

To start things of I would like to disclose the nature of my own fundamental views, because I realize that my fundamentals play a very active role in crafting my opinion of the issues of life. I am a Liberalist by nature. I believe in letting people fashion out their own rules and regulations in life. I also believe that as much as people want to accentuate their individuality they should also apply an appreciable level of discretion in order not to infringe on the existence of others. I also believe in the “Golden Mean” by Aristotle which postulates essentially that people should try to avoid extremes in every situation. For instance it is said that courage is the mid-point between two extremes, Cowardice (low limit) and Recklessness (upper limit). In a nutshell, I support freedom of the people as a singular unit and also the protection of people as a collective unit, Hence the need to be discrete about our own actions and how they affect others.

The most popular point I have heard against abortion is that life begins when the eggs are fertilized by the sperm, and thus the abortion of a fetus whether fully/partially formed is murder and axiomatically wrong. Another interesting point I have come across is that unborn children have emotions, much like their born counterparts, and that killing a being with emotion is wrong. Of course there is also the religious angle which blatantly denounced the act without any reservations. There are a multitude of points that have been raised against abortion for as long as this debate has been on. These are all cogent points, but I feel as though the freedom of choice of the individual (The mother in question) is overlooked in all of this. Most of the points raised against abortion all focus more on the baby and very little attention is paid to the welfare of the mother involved. What about her opinion on the issue? I mean, she is going to end up bearing the task of carrying the child for the entire gestation period, go thru the daunting pains of child birth and, more often than not, carry the cross when it comes to the child’s development. I don’t want to seem callous to people on the opposite side of the table, but shouldn’t the opinion of the mother (who wants abortion) count significantly?

When I was growing up my dad used to play one particular Jimmy Cliff Album a lot. I used to hate it so much that whenever we got into the car I would immediately put on my ear phones so I could not hear the songs. But the annoying thing was that because I usually sat at the extreme right of the back seat right in front of the speakers, the song would still make its way into my ear in the slightest way. One day I decided to take off my head phones to listen and I heard this song “Who Feels It, Knows It”. I was about eight at the time and did not really understand the lyrics. But as I grew older the true meaning began to sink in. Unless you have experienced a certain situation/thing, you can never really appreciate it for all that it is. If you have never been pregnant, there is not pregnancy book, podcast, or seminar that will give you a proper sense of what is involved. Only a cancer patient call tell you what chemotherapy is about, no book can give you the raw emotion that are experienced by the patients.

If freedom of the individual is a given, then a woman should be free to abort a baby if she so wishes. Some might want to further probe the intentions behind an abortion decision, but that would further complicate the issue and would lead to the infringement on human freedom to choose.

As Christians we are told not to judge, and that we should leave that task to the “higher Authority”.  I am quite certain that other religions also have such provisions like this one. So if we know this why do we bother ourselves with a task that is not ours.

If you feel that abortion is entirely wrong, as strongly as you feel opposed to it, leave the task of “retribution” to the “higher authority” to handle. In such a complicated and cosmopolitan world that we live in today, everyone is some way is committing an atrocity to the “higher authority” no matter how small or insignificant we may think it is. It is only fair that we keep our judgments to ourselves.

Let Us Live And Let Live.

How The Search For The Dead Rat Turned Into A Full-Blown “Feng Shui Attack”

So this morning we walk into the office and we are immediately greeted with the tedious, nauseating and horrid smell which resembles that of a dead rodent (e.g. rat). What could it be? Where could it be coming from? As I walked further into the office towards my desk, this odor was becoming more intense. I thought to myself “this is a very terrible way to start the week”. Joined by my equally irritated colleague we began (Mission: Find The Dead Rat). It started calmly; checking file cabinets, underneath tables, behind air-conditioning units (and even inside them as well), soon it snowballed into a full on “Feng Shui Attack”. At this point we were emptying our entire drawers and reorganizing, throwing out old table calendars and exhausted note-pads. We got so engrossed in this that we actually stopped looking for the rat and focused more on re-organizing. When we were done, we sat back on our seats, slightly tired out by the mini-marathon cleaning we had just engaged ourselves in. At this point we realized that the dead rat was still at large. Fueled by the Bible teaching that says “we should ask, and we shall be given”, and in a last resort form I said: “I hope the lord will lead me to the place where this rat would be”.

We settled down to work. This was obviously made impossible by the rather imposing stench of the dead rat. About five minutes later after giving up on the search, I was hit by another “Feng Shui Attack”. This time around I made sure that this energy was channeled solely on finding the rat. Bolstered by the small file drawer, I started to venture into the roof region. I figured if we can’t find it down, the only other logical place to look would have to be up. I started to shift those roof tiles one by one (you know those ones that act as a buffer between the actual roof and the room itself). While all of this was going on, we kept going to bathroom to spit out intermittently like pregnant women laden by morning sickness. I don’t think any of us had ever experienced such torture. In fact the last time I experienced something similar was when a neighbor of ours came over to our house to visit, and while she was there the baby needed a change. The smell was achingly overwhelming, the good thing about that situation compared to this one was that I had the option of leaving the house and going over to a friend’s place (obviously to one where there were no infants in sight).

After a couple of futile attempts searching the roof, I called in the help of our security guard. He got on the drawer and started to search as well. I was down, giving him direction based on the intensity of the smell I perceived for every tile he moved. (I am sure you must be wondering why I was doing this given that he was right up there with his own nose to work with, but the thing is that I believe the guy may have mild anosmia or something. He kept telling me that he could only smell burning wire. I was puzzled by this, because I could not reconcile how “burning wire” could have a similar odor to “dead rat. Or maybe my own sense of smell was quite keener than he’s given the agitation). A little while later I noticed a yellowish/greenish patch on one of the tiles we had not inspected. I thought to myself this must be it. I immediately summoned him to move the tile and behold, there it was in all its dead and smelly glory the reason for our attack, dripping with eager maggots, cloaked in the most nauseous of scents. It was disgusting. I almost threw up.

Ok now I have just realized that someone might have started reading this in order to get some perspective on how to find an elusive dead rat. I apologize for truancy with respect to your need for knowledge. Well I guess the only advice I can give is that you should really keep your living area quite “spacey” (I need to clarify the meaning of that word in this context. When I say “spacey” I mean keeping an area uncluttered so it’s easier to search for “hard to find” things). Also if it ain’t down on the floor, search the roof.

Have a good week everyone. I hope your week started up better than mine (on a less smelly note, that is).

Heaven And Hell As I Think It

Daily Prompt: Drawing a Blank

“When was the last time your walked away from a discussion, only to think of The Perfect Comeback hours later? Recreate the scene for us, and use your winning line.”

This is a comeback for two conversations I had at some point, one about world end and the other about sexuality. This was published back in Dec 2012

We have been informed by the Mayan calendar that the world would come to an end today, December 21, 2012, which I took with the proverbial grain of salt. But to be clear I don’t believe that any human on earth can accurately predict when the world would come to an end. Human civilization has constantly evolved over centuries and technological advancement has followed in the same vein. We can now predict the simple ones like rain and the tough ones like hurricanes, earthquakes etc.  But are we there as to be able to accurately determining our apocalypse? I think not. Don’t ask me how I know this, because I can’t really explain it. All we can do is to keep guessing.  I was watching this show recently “Doomsdays Preppers” and it made me laugh profusely. I just thought it was ridiculous that people were actually preparing for the end of life. It just did not make any sense to me. It’s not like getting ready to travel to your hometown, putting toothbrush, shoes, clothes etc together. Do we really know what will be needed when the end comes? Again I think not.

All this talk about world end has got me thinking about heaven and hell. I was born into a somewhat strict catholic household, so the idea of heaven and hell, good and bad was embedded in me very early. It was simple, Do good things: you go to heaven. Do bad things: you go to hell. At the age of five it seemed like a very straight forward and easy rule to follow, the line between good and bad was made very apparent, it appeared quite clear at the time. But as I grew older and got exposed to the complexities of the human existence, it dawned on me that this moral line of good and bad was actually more blurred than I ever imagined. Certain things that I was taught as being good were considered as taboo by other people (e.g. eating pork meat was good, but my Muslim friends were taught that Pigs were dirty animals and should not be eaten).  And certain things I was brought up to write-off as bad were in fact not so bad after all (Homosexuality has always and still is described as the worst thing that can ever happen to you). Still on the issue of homosexuality, when I was growing up, I was taught that homosexuals are spawns of the devil and that they never succeed in life because of the path they have chosen. First off, I have come to learn that sexual orientation is not something a human being gets to pick, like choosing teams during soccer practice. Second is that I have seen a couple of people who are gay and their lives are pretty great. They have good jobs, pay their taxes, live in comfortable houses, have kids (and responsible ones might I add), generally they live like any other heterosexual would. It doesn’t seem to me like they are suffering any type of punishment. In fact the only punishment that they suffer is the one meted out to them by heterosexuals. Living in such a world with a plethora of moral complexities how do we know exactly what takes you to heaven and what takes you to hell?

Usually when people want to refer to the location of heaven, they would point in the upward direction and hell to the downward direction. But is this really the truth? Again I think not. With the privilege of an enlightening western educational background, I know that above the different layers of the sky as we know it, troposphere, mesosphere etc, it is just space. Just free flowing, gravity-less space. And the last time I checked, no Astronaut came back to earth with enough evidence to show that there is a “God” out there in space. Now turning downward, that’s just the earth’s core. Much like space, it is most likely not habited by any spiritual being. But given the normative definition of hell that we have been taught (a place beaming with heat) it is not hard to see why people consider the earth’s core as hell; this is because the temperature of the core is almost equitable to that of the surface of the sun.

My idea of heaven is a place (note: when I say place, I don’t mean a physical location, I am referring to a magical transcendental state) of eternal rest after our struggles here on earth. A place where you just sleep forever and the only time you are active is in your dreams (beautiful dreams). It’s like the reverse of being brain dead, your body is dead but your head is very well active. Many people might not agree with my own idea of heaven, and I do apologize if you find this description of heaven offensive, but that is the way heaven appears in my head when I think about it.

Like I mentioned earlier, this state of moral confusion in which we have found ourselves makes me wonder if the path to heaven or hell is really that black and white. The bible says thou shall not kill. We humans have translated this law to only cover our fellow humans, leaving out the animals. Which begs the question: is it a sin to kill animals for meat? According to the same bible God created all animals and trees and essentially everything around us, and liked them and was quite happy with what had been created. So when you kill a cow to serve as a protein source for yourself and family, is it a sin? Bear in mind that Animals have a mind of their own, they have blood running through their veins, they feel pain and to an extent they are quite capable of exhibiting emotion. These are all attributes that humans also have, so what justifies killing an animal? The answer to this question holds in itself the true nature of the path to heaven or hell.

At the risk of bordering on the “Moral relativism” or even the blasphemous path, I dare to say that there are more ways to heaven than we think. Believe it or not we live our lives in one way or another that is not worthy of heaven in the normative sense. Even those who think they are living a totally pure life (the clergy included) are in fact in the littlest ways living in sin. Going by the staunch prescriptions of most religions, we are all living in sin, and we are all to perish in hell as retribution for all the atrocities we have committed here on earth. But I refuse to believe that “God” is that punitive in his ways as to condemn every person on earth to eternal misery. “God” as I realized on my own, is a lot more forgiving and merciful than we think.  I believe that everyone’s transcendental faith is carefully considered on a less draconian basis. I would not be surprised if it turns out that a man like Gaddafi (Late Dictator leader of Libya, in Northern Africa) might end up in heaven even after all the atrocities he has committed here on earth, and not hell according to public opinion. In a grander scenario, we might all get some type of “global pardon” and all will be let into heaven regardless of the past.

It’s Not A Job

Towards the close of business today, a couple of my colleagues at work somehow all found themselves discussing various issues in my department. Our schedules are so busy that it is quite rare for us to converge in one location at a time and discuss for such a long period of time. Initially we were only three, but as the discussions progressed, one by one a few others joined in. I can’t really remember in detail all the issues we talked about, but one particular topic sparked a heated debate among us. We were talking about the roles of women in relationships, specifically the married ones. I should warn you that of the six people having this debate, only one of us was actually married. So forgive me if you do not share my view point on what I am about to share.

 

The heated debated was kicked off by a particular statement made by one of the single ladies. One of the guys asked her what she thought about wives washing the undergarments of their husbands, and she reacted with a quick sense of disgust. I think she said something like; “Eww….How can I do that, Am I his slave?” and “why would a man expect me to do that for him?” Immediately everyone jumped in and had an opinion to voice out. Two other single ladies also supported her saying that; “If he doesn’t wash mine, then I can’t wash he’s”. The married lady among us was particularly annoyed at her answer, and she wasted no time in expressing this. She was of the opinion that things like washing undergarments were just few of the various ways you show your spouse that you care and also a deterrent for keeping your husband from getting distracted by other women outside( funny but somewhat true I guess). She went on to emphasize that it was the “Right” thing for a woman to do, and that any woman who doesn’t help out her husband it a terrible wife. I agree with her (The married one), in the sense that a woman is supposed to do her very best to keep the flame in her marriage/relationship. There is a saying that goes: “A wise woman builds her home, while the foolish woman tears it down with her own hands”. Before I get a barrage of responses slamming me for sexism, I also believe that men also have a role to play in keeping the relationship going as well. But I also disagree with the normative nature of what she prescribed as the way to having a successful marriage. The word “Right” incites the idea that there are set rules for marriages and this I think is wrong. I think it is up to the married couple to decide on what works best for them and grow with it.

 

My main reason for writing this post was that I felt the three young ladies had a wrong impression about some fundamentals of marriage. I am not yet married, but I have spent time with enough married couples to know that whatever you do for your spouse should be from the abundance of your heart and not be seen as a job. The first single lady later went on to say that she would actually wash it, but she would not expect it to be a regular occurrence. The responses the ladies gave implied that such a task, to them was a chore that they could not condone. When you truly love a person, you find that you would, without any eternal push, want to go the extra length to make the other person happy. Even at the cost your own happiness.  Why do you wait for him to ask it of you, if you see his undergarments dirty, I think you should instinctively know to help him  out with it, without being asked to. This is not slavery, it is called love. Some modern women have blown the Women’s Rights movement out of proportion that they see simple things from a chauvinistic point of view, which is not right. When your husband asks you to do his laundry, it doesn’t mean he wants to turn you into his slave, he is just asking you the way your brother or father or mother would ask you for a favor as well. Ladies need to calm down and be more patient, understanding and loving. It’s not a Job, It’s Love.

Political Anomaly: The Peculiar Case of Jose Mujica

 

Daily Prompt: Pat on the Back JOSE MUJICA DOES INFACT DESERVE A PAT ON THE BACK

When you see a picture like this, what sort of sentiments do you get? If you are me then you would have thought that the man in the picture was homeless. But on seeing the car, then I thought a homeless man is less likely to have a car so he must be a poor old retired factory worker on his way to collect his monthly pension benefit or something like that. But I was pleasantly shocked to find out that the man is Jose Mujica, the incumbent president of Uruguay.

I tiled this post “Political Anomaly” because usually this is not the way you would imagine a politician to be like. This is not the appearance you would expect from the mayor of a small town let alone the leader of an entire country. Mr Jose is a pleasant abnormality which everyone can relate to. He is the human equivalent of a White Lion, unique and very hard to find. His selflessness is so exemplary and definitely worthy of emulation. The house you see in the picture on the top left corner is of his wife’s farm house where they both live. He donates $12,000(which happens to be 90% of his monthly salary as president) every month to charity, leaving him with just about $1300. I learned of his story in an article on the BBC website with the title “Jose Mujica: The world’s ‘poorest’ president”, When I read the entire article I was a bit annoyed. My annoyance was essentially focused on the title, why was he labeled as the “poorest” president? It should have read something like this: “Jose Mujica: The President with the biggest heart” or any other sentence more glorifying. Jose Mujica personifies the ideal president that every citizen, regardless of country, craves for.

I come from Nigeria, one of the 16 countries in West Africa, and I can tell you that our leaders have a lot to learn from Jose Mujica. Over here in Africa, Politicians have a very despicable tendency to turn politics into a full time money gushing career. They have this unrivaled propensity to cheat and steal, they amass so much wealth and live such ostentatious lifestyles that essentially make them totally disconnected from the plight of the common man. The majority of countries in Africa are supposed democracies, but the situation at play is totally divergent. In school I was taught that Democracy is “Government For The People, By The People” and also that leadership is about selflessness, charisma and always putting the interest of the people before yours. But now I have graduated to find out that the rules, as prescribed in the textbooks, have been totally annihilated. Every day you open up the newspapers in Nigeria, you cannot help but notice the stories of massive corrupt practices. Today this governor steals $ X billion, tomorrow a senator loots $ XX million etc., there is always a bad story. These days, I almost do not want to read the papers because seeing such stories just disgusts me and makes me want to just shot someone. It’s so enraging, because there are millions of people who live on less than a dollar a day on this continent. Jose Mujica’s story prompted me to look into the economic affairs of some countries for which I could get information for, focusing on things like annual Income of the leader, Per Capita Income (PCI), Leader’s Salary As a % of PCI, % Of Population below the Poverty Line:

Note The Last Column is “% Of Population below the Poverty Line”. After publishing I noticed the column was cut-off a bit.

Leader Country Annual Income of Leader Per Capit Income (PCI) Leader’s Salary As a % of PCI % Of Population Below The Poverty Line
Hamid Karzai Afghanistan $ 6,300.00 $ 1,000.00 530% 36
Jose Edwardo Dos Santos Angola $ 60,000.00 $ 6,000.00 900% 40.5
Cristina Fernandez De Kirchner Argentina $ 51,380.00 $ 17,700.00 190% 30
Heinz Fischner Austria $ 393,443.00 $ 42,400.00 828% 6
Julia Gillard Austria $ 520,837.00 $ 42,400.00 1128% 6
Iiham Aliyev Azerbaijan $ 225,000.00 $ 10,300.00 2084% 11
Elio Di Rupo Belgium $ 162,885.00 $ 38,200.00 326% 15.2
Boyko Borisov Bulgaria $ 26,929.00 $ 13,800.00 95% 21.8
Sebastian Pinera Chile $ 191,126.00 $ 17,400.00 998% 15.1
Xi Jingping China $ 39,720.00 $ 8,500.00 367% 13.4
Juan Manuel Santos Colombia $ 121,284.00 $ 10,400.00 1066% 37.2
Mohamed Morsi Egypt $ 47,485.00 $ 6,600.00 619% 20
Francois Hollande France $ 311,393.00 $ 35,600.00 775% 6.2
Angela Merkel Germany $ 270,600.00 $ 38,400.00 605% 15.5
Pranab Mukherjee India $ 32,316.00 $ 3,700.00 773% 29.8
Susilo Bambang Yuhoyono Indonesia $ 124,171.00 $ 4,700.00 2542% 12.5
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Iran $ 3,000.00 $ 13,200.00 -77% 18.7
Karim Masimoz Kazakhstan $ 56,953.00 $ 13,200.00 331% 8.2
Ralia Odinga Kenya $ 427,886.00 $ 1,800.00 23671% 50
Pakalitha Mosisili Lesotho $ 57,826.00 $ 2,000.00 2791% 49
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Liberia $ 90,000.00 $ 500.00 17900% 80
Felipe Calderon Mexico $ 315,573.00 $ 14,800.00 2032% 51.3
Armando Guebuza Mozambique $ 55,241.00 $ 1,100.00 4922% 54
Hifikepunye Pohamba Namibia $ 150,588.00 $ 7,500.00 1908% 55.8
Mark Rutte Netherlands $ 177,253.00 $ 42,700.00 315% 10.5
Frederico Franco Paraguay $ 40,000.00 $ 5,500.00 627% 34.7
Jose Socrates Portugal $ 120,884.00 $ 23,700.00 410% 18
Vladimir Putin Russia $ 114,519.00 $ 17,000.00 574% 13.1
Jacob Zuma South Africa $ 313,222.00 $ 11,100.00 2722% 50
Recep Tayyip Erdogan Turkey $ 73,500.00 $ 14,700.00 400% 16.9
David Cameron United Kingdom $ 221,867.00 $ 36,600.00 506% 14
Barack Obama United States $ 400,000.00 $ 49,000.00 716% 15.1
Jose Mujica Uruguay $ 15,600.00 $ 15,300.00 2% 18.6
Michael Sata Zambia $ 82,632.00 $ 1,600.00 5065% 64
Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe $ 18,000.00 $ 500.00 3500% 68

Source: Index Mundi. Jose Mujica’s Salary is net of his donation to charity.

(Note: The figure shown on the PCI column is derived from dividing the GDP by the population, and thus might not be reflective for every individual in the country. There is always the possibility that a large portion of the population earns less.)

Leader Country Annual Income of Leader Per Capit Income (PCI) Leader’s Salary As a % of PCI % Of Population Below The Poverty Line
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Iran $ 3,000.00 $ 13,200.00 -77% 18.7
Jose Mujica Uruguay $ 15,600.00 $ 15,300.00 2% 18.6
Boyko Borisov Bulgaria $ 26,929.00 $ 13,800.00 95% 21.8

Source: Index Mundi.

From the tables you can see that Jose Mujica is one of the very few Leaders in the world whose salary is close to the national average, as measured by the Per Capita Income (PCI) indicator. And also you can see that a very small portion of the population lives under the poverty live. It is also worthy to note that Mario Monti (Italy) is the only leader with a salary of $0.00. He inculded himself in the wide spread austerity in the country, which is all part of the plan to cut the government’s huge deficit and thus reduce its debt.

Leader Country Annual Income of Leader Per Capita Income (PCI) Leader’s Salary As a % of PCI % Of Population Below The Poverty Line
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Liberia $ 90,000.00 $ 500.00 17900% 80
Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe $ 18,000.00 $ 500.00 3500% 68
Michael Sata Zambia $ 82,632.00 $ 1,600.00 5065% 64
Hifikepunye Pohamba Namibia $ 150,588.00 $ 7,500.00 1908% 55.8
Armando Guebuza Mozambique $ 55,241.00 $ 1,100.00 4922% 54
Felipe Calderon Mexico $ 315,573.00 $ 14,800.00 2032% 51.3
Ralia Odinga Kenya $ 427,886.00 $ 1,800.00 23671% 50
Jacob Zuma South Africa $ 313,222.00 $ 11,100.00 2722% 50
Pakalitha Mosisili Lesotho $ 57,826.00 $ 2,000.00 2791% 49
Jose Edwardo Dos Santos Angola $ 60,000.00 $ 6,000.00 900% 40.5

Source: Index Mundi.

The countries with some of the most devastating figures are the ones in the table above. And it is definitely no surprise that they are mostly in Africa, given the copious amount of corruption that is perpetuated on this continent on a daily basis. The salaries of their leaders are higher than the national average by an enormous margin. The case of Liberia is particularly alarming given that 80% of the population lives under poverty while the salary of the president is a whopping 17,900% higher than the national average.

There is an inspiring quote I happened upon a few months, it goes;

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” –Dalai Lama XIV

So this is to the leaders out there, if you cannot help the citizens with good roads, good schools, good healthcare, etc. The best you can do is not hurt them by pillaging the country’s treasury. Everyone, not just the politicians, can learn from the “Political Anomaly” that is Jose Mujica. In our own little way, let us try to better the lives of others. Let us give without recourse.