I'm sure many of these people have worked very hard for their money, but do you really believe that the CEO is working 380 times harder than his average employee? Not his lowest-paid employee, not the janitor, but the average earner in his company. The average worker needs to work more than a month to earn what the CEO makes in one hour.
Of course our country's economic narrative is incredibly complex, however, this well-illustrated 6 minute video explains what I think is one of the most significant roots of inequality in modern society - wealth inequality.
Skyped with my good friend in South Sudan this afternoon for a brief bit. He is coordinating the logistics required to move tens of thousands of returnees from Sudan and further afield back to South Sudan.
This business is fraught with challenges. My friend has been working directly with this program since January this year. In the most recent operation about a month ago, nearly 6,000 returnees boarded several barges to head up the Nile to uncertainty and new homes. He is now in the midst of orchestrating the return of over a thousand more.
This week he was informed that the returnees are refusing to leave unless they can leave in a much larger group - not something that is always possible in a remote backwater in rural Africa. In the mean time, a particularly virulent form of cerebral malaria has broken out in the midst of the ongoing rainy season. 30 people have died this week, as the disease seems to be drug-resistant and is not responding to any of the typical pharmaceutical cures.
It seems the only "cure" is to wait out the rains and count causalities at the end of September, a grim conclusion for sure. My friend was told, "The deaths in the camp are on [your] head." Meanwhile, people refuse to move out of the camp. These are the interactions that suck the joy out of the valuable and theoretically exciting international mandate of assembling the citizens of a new nation state.
"Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first."
~Friedrich Engels, The Part Played by
Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man
Selous GR (Paul Shaffner - 10/2006)
You can mine high value natural resources in a game reserve in Tanzania, but you can't do so in a world heritage site. Ezekiel Maigi, the Tanzanian Minister of Natural Resources, is therefore lobbying to de-gazette part of the Selous Game Reserve so that uranium can legally be mined. He is seeking approval for the boundary change from the UN, but told the BBC "the uranium project will go ahead." Only 0.68% of the reserve is slated for de-gazetting, but in such a huge reserve, this still amounts to over 300 km2.
The southwest corner of the Selous is one of the most rural and inaccessible areas of Tanzania, which makes accountability more of a challenge. Have local communities had a say in this decision? Who will hold Mantra Resources and the Tanzanian Minister of Natural Resources accountable for their promises to remit five million USD a year toward the management of the Selous (which is still only 2.5% of the expected annual profit of the mine). Even if this money does materialize, I wonder: How much money will actually end up in the southwest where the mining is occurring, since most tourists visit the more accessible north? How much will be invested in projects that directly benefit tourism (like roads) versus projects that directly benefit local communities (like addressing human-wildlife conflicts)?
I guess most of my questions center on rural empowerment, who has a say in decisions, and accountability for promises/environmental responsibility. I'd love to make a visit to the area if I make it out to Tanzania to do fieldwork next summer.