Toting Up Carlos Slim
August 28, 2007, 05:36 AM
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The New York Times ran an opinion piece Monday with some interesting observations on Mexican wealth and inequality, a subject that should concern Americans more than it does. (For example, Bush is planning to send a robust aid package of American taxpayer dollars to help Presidente Calderon fight Mexican narco-traffickers despite the fact that Mexico has plenty of money and can well afford to pay for its own anti-drug efforts.)

Billionaire Carlos Slim recently surpassed Bill Gates as the richest man on earth, and Mexico's monopoly-based economic system figures strongly in how Slim accumulated that wealth ($59B). But a simple dollar comparison leaves out the true scope of Slim's vast fortune...

To put it in perspective, Mr. Slim's treasure is equivalent to slightly less than 7 percent of Mexico's total production of goods and services - one out of every 14 dollars' worth of stuff made by all the people in the country.

The income distribution in the United States may be fast approaching Mexican levels of inequality, but in relative terms, Mr. Gates isn't even in Mr. Slim's league. His $58 billion fortune is less than 0.5 percent of the nation's G.D.P.

Indeed, by this measure, Mr. Slim is richer even than the robber barons of the gilded age. John D. Rockefeller, America's richest man, was worth the equivalent of about 1.5 percent of the nation's G.D.P. [Mexico's Plutocracy Thrives on Robber-Baron Concessions, New York Times 8/27/07]

Mexico scholar George Grayson criticized the corrupt economic system that allowed Slim's ascent to Numero Uno:

[Slimlandia is] not a reverential term. Many Mexicans hoped privatization, which began in the early 1990s, would create competition and drive prices down drastically. That hasn't happened. "Slim is one of a dozen fat cats in Mexico who impede that country's growth because they run monopolies or oligopolies," says Grayson. "The Mexican economy is highly inefficient, and it is losing its competitive standing vis-? -vis other countries because of people like Slim." [...]

"He made his billions because of an extremely close and advantageous relationship with the Salinas government," says professor Grayson of William & Mary. [Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world, CNN Money 8/20/07]

An economy built on oligarchy has a lot of similarities to the growing corporatism replacing representative government in this country. Is that aspect of Mexican society more appealing to Mexichurian George Bush than even the endless supply of inexpensive labor? Bush's plans for a North American Union may have more to do with importing Mexican business culture than cheap workers.