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Joel and Amy’s Blog

Wealth and Poverty

July 25th, 2009 Posted in Abu Dhabi, Essay

I read an article today that concluded Americans, for all their egalitarianism, don’t truly want everyone in the world to be treated equally. The premise of this was that Americans know that microwaves, iPods, housewares, you name it, aren’t naturally cheap items to produce. They are cheap to the western world because there are men and women, hidden from our view, who make outrageously low wages to produce these items for us.

This got me thinking about wealth, poverty, and the distribution of wealth.

Prior to leaving the US I never really grasped the idea of poor. I’ve worked in missions, soup kitchens, etc., but never truly seen the poor. Here in Abu Dhabi I work with men who make 500 AED per month… that works out to about $137 US. I make almost two orders-of-magnitude more than that! For some of these guys though, this monthly salary is an improvement over what they made in their home country.

men

The funny thing is that until I left the US, I never really grasped the idea of rich either. Now I’m working on converting an airbase to a VVIP airport for Sheik’s and other dignitaries. In addition, I’ve seen things here that just blow me away in terms of wealth.
Case in point… the Lamborghini Reventon. There are only 21 of these cars in existence and they carry a $1.4 million price tag. Here’s a pic of one we saw, right here in Abu Dhabi.

reventon

Note the license plate number… 10. Here in the UAE the locals will pay exorbitant amounts of money for unique numbers on their license plates (12345, 444, 121, etc.). This number, 10, almost certainly represents a member of the royal family.

In the US I’ve seen Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s, etc., but not nearly with the same frequency as I have here. Not to mention the fact that I’m certain I’ll never see a Reventon in the US. This single car captures the extreme wealth of some people here in the country.

There’s not really a point to this post… just sharing some thoughts and observations. I will say that we Americans, for the most part, don’t seem to get a chance to witness true poverty or true wealth as it exists in the world.

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