'This is not a charity issue, it is a justice issue' - these words of Bono are often used to inspire campaigners to rid the world of extreme poverty.
I don’t often read newspapers but today I read an article in the Daily Mail. The headline was ‘So rich you want to slap them.’
The article sub heading says;
‘The City (London) is awash with obscene amounts of money but the men who work there are too busy to spend it. So meet the wives who throw £1 million birthday parties and go shopping by private jet.’
The next article I read was how thousands of older people in Britain with early dementia are unable to have a drug that costs £2.50 per day because the government cannot afford it.
Next there was an article about how Romanian orphans are still in orphanages (76,000 children) almost 20 years after the discovery of the scandal of inhumane living conditions for children in care under the Nicolae Ceausescu regime. It seems things are better but still far away from meeting the aspirations of those who had a vision to eliminate poverty in the new democracy in Romania.
Then I reflected about how I was told earlier this year that 20,000 people die every day – mostly children – entirely due to extreme poverty.
Please don't misunderstand. I am not a spoilsport or a party pooper. I am a great fan of individuals in business pushing themselves to get on and make a real difference.
But I have to voice my concern that something is surely wrong when we have such obscene wealth and extreme poverty on the same planet that is given to us free.
Maybe I am an idealist. Maybe fairness means there will always be extremes.
I would rather believe that we can all do something by keeping these issues in the spotlight and shaming us into doing something if indeed shaming is the only way.
Maybe I am just in a particularly reflective mood but look at some of the extracts from the article about ‘obscene wealth’ and ask yourself whether we can justify this sort of thing whilst there is such suffering in many parts of the world including on our own doorstep in Britain;
- ‘Back at home his mother picked up the telephone to call her project manager to enquire waspishly on the progress of the family’s plans for a basement swimming pool, paid for with her banker husband’s latest £1 million bonus.’
- ‘A record 4200 City high-fliers will collect bonuses worth more than £1 million each in the next few weeks – 40 per cent more than last year.’
- ‘Forget the £1 million home - £2 million is the norm for these people. For £5 million you will get a property with a bit of class, £10 million for real luxury. For a London home with a large garden that pretends it is in the country investment bankers and hedge fund managers think nothing of spending £20 million plus.’
- ‘Major players in the City are taking home as much as £75 million per year.’
- ‘These extremely glamorous women will employ an average of ten people to help them keep an immaculate home, look wonderful, take care of their stressed husband’s needs and bring up the children.’
- ‘Michael Spencer’s wife Lorraine organised a party for his 50th birthday at their St Tropez mansion hiring Robbie Williams at a reported £1 million to sing to 300 guests’’
There are many more extracts but I think you probably get my point by now.