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Sunday, May 23, 2004

Are you a loser?

That's the question I'm going to try to answer today. Don't worry, if you are slightly psychotic, I don't literally mean *you*. I have not tapped your telephone, I'm not watching your every move. I'm just trying to prove a point today.

That point is simple; with the exception of a very select few, we are all losers.

There are around 6.5 billion people on the planet right now (Source: World Population Clock) and growing.

For starters, if you don't live in western Europe, north America or in a major city anywhere else, your quality of life is probably not that good. We can automatically label this very large group of people as "losers" right from the start. Let's face it, if you don't have access to clean drinking water, sanitation and sewage disposal or regular meals, that would make you a loser, wouldn't it?

The same could be said for the homeless, they wouldn't have easy access to water, waste disposal or regular meals, would they? Certainly we think of them as losers, as we pass them on the street, maybe giving them some spare change, maybe not.

In my case, not. I find it all too uncomfortable because of all my liberal, hippy guilt to actually think that tossing some spare change at someone will make a difference. It doesn't, unless you think being 50p closer to a tin of Export makes a difference.

So if society's outcasts and third-world residents are losers, what about the rest of us? We have jobs, homes, we eat regularly, drive our own cars, run up credit card debts to pay for plasma tv's and even holidays. Surely we can't be losers!

Ah, but we are losers even though we have attained a small modicum of material wealth. It's simple, really, in the "developed world" we are all allowed to have a certain level of basic necessities plus some luxuries, but that's it. The standard of your living may be good in comparison to the third world, but it does not compare to the really wealthy.

I saw a feature on television this week on the world's largest yacht, built here in the UK. The hire cost is a mere £100,000 per week. Can you afford that? Can I? Well, who then?

According to Forbes magazine, there are around 470 people in the world with assets over a billion dollars each. Out of 6.5 billion people, that's precious few. You can see for your self here..

Are you one of those 470 people? If you are, why are you wasting your time reading my blog? More importantly, if you're really one of them, would you like to give me some money? It's not like you'd miss it!

These are life's real winners, at least in terms of how we measure success. If you are not one of them, then you are a loser. You might drive a Mercedes, live in a nice suburban detached house, eat steak and lobster every night, but you are still loser. Do the math.

You'll notice I used billionaires for this little example, because being a millionaire is not that big a deal anymore. I've just done a quick search on Google and there are so many that no one is even trying to count them anymore.

A million dollars (or pounds, or euros) is nothing. It wouldn't actually change your life that dramatically. You won't get a giant country estate with it, you won't have hot and cold running servants, you won't score that elusive BJ from Britney.

Don't get me wrong, if I hit the lottery for a cool million, I would certainly be happy, but I appreciate that the changes to my life would be subtle.

I could stick all the money in the bank and collect about £50,000 a year in interest, which means Mrs. Hippy and I would not have to work as hard. We'd still have our mortgage payments, as this scenario does not allow for us to pay it off in one go. It's not even that big of a mortgage by today's standards.

Like most things, success is all about perspectives. "I felt bad because I had no shoes, then I saw a man with no feet." I forget where that's from, but it means there is always someone worse off than you. The reverse is probably true as well, unless you are Bill Gates, that there is always going to be someone doing better than you as well.

So are you a loser? Here, take my simple hippy "yes or no" ten-question quiz:

1) Do you always sit in the front of the plane when you fly? Yes / No

2) Do you avoid the perils of public transport? Yes / No

3) When you need to go someplace locally, are you driven by someone else? Yes / No

4) Are your meals prepared for you by someone else, all the time? Yes / No

5) Paying your monthly bills is never a problem? Yes / No

6) Have you had any sort of cosmetic surgery or procedure? Yes / No

7) You can't hear any noise from your neighbours? Yes / No

8) You've never served in the military? Yes / No

9) You don't bother with tests like this? Yes / No

10) You've had a blow-job from Britney? Yes / No

If you've said "no" to any of the above questions, you are most certainly a loser. Don't worry, I'm one too. Almost everyone in the world is....
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