Why Is Carlos Slim The World's Richest Man?
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Bill Gates and Carlos Slim

Recently, there's been much discussion about all the advantages of being able to check up on other people's phone calls, such as being able to blackmail politicians cheating on their spouses, or get early hints of mergers and acquisitions.

Perhaps that line of thought can help illuminate a conundrum about the contemporary world. As we all know, to prevent Mexicans from immigrating to the United States is virtually a crime against humanity, since Mexico is so utterly impoverished. But, as we also know, on and off over much of the last half-dozen years, the richest man in the world has been a Mexican national, Carlos Slim (currently ranked #1 in the world by Forbes with $73 billion).

You might think that would be a pretty interesting subject to explore, but Slim owns, at last report, 8.1% of the agenda-setting New York Times, so there's not much media interest in exposing Slim.

Besides Slim's near monopoly within Mexico, he sets extraordinarily high rates on calls between America and Mexico, giving him vast profits off illegal immigrants. Not surprisingly, both Slim and the New York Times favor amnesty and increased immigration for Slim to exploit.

But while you can make a lot of money off over-charging poor illegal immigrants, there might be other ways to profit off dominating telecom within Mexico, such as keeping an eye out on what Mexico's rich and powerful are up to.

To paraphrase Mel Brooks, it's good to be the monopolist, but perhaps — just speculating irresponsibly here — it's extra-good to be the telecom monopolist who keep the records on who calls whom.

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