They say money is a perfect way of keeping score on life. Every year, Forbes magazine publishes that score for people to see, and in recent years–this list has been segmented by region (as the total list is pretty much dominated by American billionaires).
The list of 40 takes the booby prize among the region’s rich. As a group, wealthy Filipinos are actually the poorest, when compared to their brethren in Indonesia, Malayasia, Singapore and Thailand. They had the smallest total net worth, $16 billion; fewest number of billionaires, just three; and lowest minimum net worth, a mere $25 million
The nation’s historic political instability certainly hasn’t helped, nor has the fact that the Philippine Stock Exchange has the tiniest market capitalization, an estimated $50 billion, in the region.
Still the country is showing signs of life, according to Forbes. Its stock market is up a third, making it one of the best performers in Asia this year. And foreign investors and businesses are more welcomed than in the past, thanks to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s policies.
See the complete article here.
In this time of financial crisis, it is interesting to reflect on the scoring system of our present capitalistic society that we participate in. The Financemanila article contains some brief profiles on the members of the list, and the temptation is strong to look for common traits amongst the wealthy to see if there are patterns amongst them. Apart from age (as most of the list are above 60), the range of businesses and interests that the wealthy have used to gain their ranking are quite varied.
This now posits an interesting conundrum when compared against the values that our existing society promotes through other structures apart from the monetary system: i.e. what religion, culture, tradition promote.
Is it possible to win in the capitalistic game, but lose everywhere else? Conversely is it possible to be “right” as far as religion, tradition, social graces, and principles, but be penniless? I posed the same question to some friends recently: the money question. How come money seems to gather or flow to where you don’t normally expect it to.
The answer, if the sparsity of the Forbes list is a clue: is a definite yes. Seems like everything in life works one way–but money works in a completely different manner. Unfortunately, we are all tied to the monetary system by default, and we depend on it for survival. Which creates for us a dual-reality. One reserved for all of life’s pursuits–higher thinking, physical activity, fun, enjoyment, reflection, passion, morality–and the other is the reality of money, which doesn’t care about all other realities. If you are poor, you can still be happy–but perhaps the rich people have more reasons to be happy?