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Is Costa Rica Heaven on Earth?
My dear friend Andreas Lundström who helped me make my new E-book God vs Inequality also made this video for me. It’s based on this blog post about how Costa Rica is a good example of a country that combines a long life expectancy with a small ecological foot print. Most people are quite happy to live there, and they are managing to do so wighou destroying the environment very much. Also, their GDP per capita is about the same as the gross world product per capita: 13,000 dollars a year. If everybody lived like the average Costa Rican, wealth would be evenly distributed, while if everybody lived like the average American, we would need five planets.
As I have shown people this clip, some have been skeptical. They dig up facts about inequality within Costa Rica, or its horrible sex tourism, or its crima rate, and argue “look Micael, Costa Rica isn’t much of a paradise, is it?” And of course I’m not arguing that it is a sinless state, because such do not exist – the only perfect country is the Kingdom of Heaven. But you can’t get away from the fact that Costa Rica disproves the idea that you need to be rich to have a long happy life, or that it’s impossible to enjoy life without trashing the planet. This is also the case with Kerala in India, a state that combines good health care and education with very low GDP per capita.
The point of the video is that rich countries must get poorer and give away much more of their money to create a fair and sustainable world. Many rich people don’t like this biblical idea because the love for money is a root to all evil (1 Tim 6:10), but Costa Rica show us that low GDP doesn’t mean that you’ll die when your 40 – Costa Rica has a longer life expectancy than the United States! So if you want a fair and sustainable world, live on less than 13 000 dollars a year and give the rest of your money to the poor. God bless you.
Seven Deadly Sins of Europe 4: Activist Sloth
As the election to the European Parliament gets closer, I want to highlight some of the biggest European sins that unfortunately are not very present in the political debates.
Sloth means, according to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, “disinclination to labour or exertion […] The narrow way stretches wearily before [the slothful] and his soul grows sluggish and torpid at the thought of the painful lifejourney. The idea of right living inspires not joy but disgust, because of its laboriousness.” Sloth is sinful laziness, the slothful is ignorant of the needs of the world and passive when other need their help. It isn’t rest from activism, but refusal to even start being active in the first place. And this is definitely something the European Union is guilty of when it comes to foreign aid.
When discussing aid giving, we have to remember that according to Jesus, generosity shouldn’t be measured in how much you give but how much you have left. While others were impressed of the big money the rich were able to donate in Luk 21:1-4, Jesus pointed out that the two coins a widow gave was all she had, and thus she gave more. It easy to think that the rich give a lot when you see the big numbers they are able to spare, but if you look at what they still keep for themselves it’s usually not as impressive.
According to Concord Europe, the member countries of the European Union gives around 50 billion euros every year to foreign aid. One could think that’s a lot of money – and indeed it helps a lot of people – but since the total GDP of the EU is 16 trillion euros, the amount of aid is actually minimal. Many European countries, together with other rich nations, pledged in 1970 that they would give at least 0,7 % of their GDP, but 40 years later only a few keep this promise.
How to Create Global Economic Equality: The Costa Rica Solution
I found this weird clip today where Canadian capitalist Kevin O’Leary says that it’s fantastic that 85 rich folks owns the same amount of money as the 3,5 billion poorest people on earth. Yeah, he literally says that he “applauds it”, because then the poor gets the motivation to become like the extremely rich. The reporter is stunned, she stands in silence and then just says “really?” O’Leary affirms his crazy applause of global inequality and says “don’t tell me that you want to redistribute wealth again, that’s never gonna happen!”
O’Leary’s statement is incredibly stupid on so many levels, but the thing is that many people in the West do agree with him. Many thinks inequality is not so bad. I’ve debunked many of their arguments in Seven Reasons Why Inequality Sucks, but if I am to comment shortly on O’Leary’s line of thought I would just want to say that:
- Firstly, everyone cannot become as rich as the richest one percent simply because there aren’t enough resources – if everyone lived like the avarage American we would need five earths.
- Secondly, poor people often work harder than rich people, so there is no correlation between hard work and wealth – a lot of wealth is inherited either financially or socially.
- Thirdly, economic inequality is contrary to a belief in that all human beings are equal and have equal rights to a descent life – if we truly believe that all people are created in the image of God, we cannot tolerate economic inequality.
As this clip shows, global economic inequality is enormous. 2 % of the world’s population owns half of its resources. The world’s rich countries are taking more money from the poor than vice versa due to unfair trade rules and tax flight. This is contrary to the Biblical vision. Luke 3:11 says that the one who has two of something should share with those who have nothing, 2 Cor 8:13-15 says that the goal of charity is equality, Acts 2 and 4 shows us that the early church practiced economic equality through community of goods. We need global economic equality. But how should we achieve it?