The Least, First

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World Wealth

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Sometimes people get put out because they feel the US pays more than its share of world needs. And it is true that the raw numbers are higher from the US than from other nations.

The issue reveals something important, though: We know too little about how very rich the US is compared to the rest of the world. Look below and see a truly astonishing fact: 34% of all the wealth that exists in human civilization resides in North America.   Breathe deeply and think on that.  One third. “So what,” one might ask, “ought to be the US’ share of world needs?” [See the related post What percent of US budget goes to foreign aid?]

Read the specs:

How the world’s wealth is distributed –

the top two percent own half

Where's the money in our world?

Gizmag, in 2006, summarized a study on The World Distribution of Household Wealth by the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University:

Wealth is heavily concentrated in North America, Europe, and high income Asia-Pacific countries. People in these countries collectively hold almost 90% of total world wealth. (Figure 2: Regional Wealth Shares) Although North America has only 6% of the world adult population, it accounts for 34% of household wealth. Europe and high income Asia-Pacific countries also own disproportionate amounts of wealth. In contrast, the overall share of wealth owned by people in Africa, China, India, and other lower income countries in Asia is considerably less than their population share, sometimes by a factor of more than ten. […]

[T]he richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth. The most comprehensive study of personal wealth ever undertaken also reports that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total. In contrast, the bottom half of the world adult population owned barely 1% of global wealth. […]

Hear it?  The bottom half of our world’s people own barely 1% of global wealth.

We have no idea.

Let’s change it.


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Written by Monte

September 30, 2008 at 6:04 pm

Death by profit

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Long after midnight, some years ago, I found my son in the fetal position on the floor outside our bedroom door, in intense pain.  We rushed him to the hospital.  Pancreatitis, it was.  He received good treatment.  And in some days, he mostly recovered.

The Hurting
Image by Marquette La via Flickr

That night came to mind just now as I read these paragraphs from Sojourners:

Two weeks ago, Sam* died suddenly. He was only 21 years old, strong and healthy, preparing for a life ministering to youth. Cause of death: acute pancreatitis and previously undiagnosed diabetes. Reason for death: no access to health care to treat the incredible pain in his stomach – until it was too late. The bottom line: While angry protesters disrupt town hall meetings and national organizations spread fear-based lies, lives are lost.

The current health-care system leaves you and me just as vulnerable to lack of care as Sam was. Health-care reform is just as much an issue of justice, of preserving and celebrating life, as it is an issue of caring for the vulnerable. […]

[T]he current system “renders the best health care to the wealthiest, depletes the savings of solidly middle-class Americans, and leaves 46 million with no health-care coverage at all.” […]

[A]t Sam’s funeral there were no angry shouts or accusations. There was only shock and grief among the 400 friends and family members who attended.

Had I been born in a different situation, that death would have happened at my house; that shock and grief at my church. I would still know it today.

How long will we tolerate the fact that profits are more important than lives in America?  How did we become so hard-hearted as to turn our backs on the victims of such perversion?  What kind of monsters have we become?

sig1_100w

* Name changed to protect the privacy of his family.


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“I denied a man an operation, and caused his death”

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Former Humana and Blue Cross/Blue Shield cost-cutter Dr. Linda Peeno confesses “I know how managed care kills and maims patients,” and how her salary skyrocketed when she began cutting care that patients needed.

Think this is an exception? That this isn’t how the system was meant to be? You may be surprised when the video cuts to a tape-recording from a historic White House.

clipped from www.youtube.com

blog it

Here’s a written record of what she said in that hearing on May 30, 1996:

I wish to begin by making a public confession: In the spring of 1987, as a physician, I caused the death of a man.

Although this was known to many people, I have not been taken before any court of law or called to account for this in any professional or public forum. In fact, just the opposite occurred: I was “rewarded” for this. It bought me an improved reputation in my job, and contributed to my advancement afterwards. Not only did I demonstrate I could indeed do what was expected of me, I exemplified the “good” company doctor: I saved a half million dollars.

I contend that “managed care,” as we currently know it, is inherently unethical in its organization and operation. Furthermore, I maintain that we have an industry which can exist only through flagrant ethical violations against individuals and the public.

Some insist that health care funding is best left in the hands of private industry. I say the for-profit insurance industry is—by definition—committed to its own wealth, not to America’s health.

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Maine House of Representatives votes merger with Senate

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Is the bicameral legislature a legacy of the era of wealthy landowners?
clipped from freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com
Freakonomics - New York Times Blog

Consolidate That Government!

[…] Maine’s House of Representatives voted this week to merge itself with the state Senate, creating one unicameral body, potentially saving taxpayers $11 million each two-year legislative session. But the cost savings are secondary, supporters of the plan say, to the real goal of bringing state government into line with modern times. Maine state representative Joseph Wagner called the state Senate a “colonial legacy” of the state’s early days, in which the upper chamber was “a council of [the state’s] wealthiest landowners.” […]

blog it

That’s a pile of money saved for other things.  Wonder how the new body would be elected—like a Senate or a House—for that decision will shape who holds the power.

How does it strike you?

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Written by Monte

June 11, 2009 at 9:47 am

Posted in Politics

In it but not of it (sermon for May 24)

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An older version

An older version - with the same problem!

My first regular job was in a small jewelry store in Burlington, Iowa. I was about 15, and I worked for the princely sum of $.65 per hour.  I’ll tell you about it in a moment.

First, listen to Jesus as he prays for his followers, just hours before the mob comes to take him to his death.

John 17:6-19 (NIV)
Jesus Prays for His Disciples
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them.

They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you.

That must have driven them crazy.

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