March 2008

It Could Be Worse

Author: Craig Hysell

At the time of this writing, the United States is dangling its toes in the pool of a recession… or in complete denial of being in a recession, depending on which economist’s view you subscribe to. World stock exchanges shudder and dip, gas prices rise and Americans are reeling from sub-prime mortgage blunders, credit crunches and bad eating habits.

Not to mention we’re in the fifth year of a war costing $275M per day (along with people dying); property owners on the East Coast can’t get property insurance without considering selling one of their kidneys; and Britney Spears is still big news for some reason. It’s bad out there.

But it could be worse.

Let us grasp at the straws of perspective once more. As the author wonders how he’s going to pay his mortgage next month and America wonders which candidate is going to fix this mess the best, let’s all consider that, while it certainly seems bad at the moment (and the media won’t let us forget it), there are plenty of people in the world that still have it much worse—even if they’re fortunate enough to have no idea who Britney Spears is.

The 3 Poorest Countries in the World:
Let us begin by stating that “poor,” in this case, is classified by wealth only, and has absolutely nothing to do with faith, karma or well-being. Wealth will be classified using Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimates derived from the Purchasing Power Parity or PPP. The PPP was invented by Gustav Cassel in 1920 and is based on the idea that, in an efficient market, identical goods must have only one price. It is a way of balancing currencies and is often used to compare standards of living. (Got all that?)

The following was taken from Wikipedia using a CIA update dated June, 2007, using U.S. dollars

1. Malawi, Africa. The GDP is defined as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year divided by the average population for the same year. Malawi is last on the list at $600. The United States is number six in the world with $44,500. (Luxembourg is first.) Malawi is one of Africa’s most densely populated countries. Almost 13 million people fit in a country the size of Pennsylvania. Twenty percent of Malawi is made up by Lake Nyasa, the tenth largest lake in the world, further crowding the country. The lake, also known as Calendar Lake, is 365 miles long by 52 miles wide. Agriculture represents 38.6 percent of Malawi’s GDP, 80 percent of its labor force and 80 percent of its exports. The country’s primary crop is tobacco, an industry that has been taking its lumps for some time. In 2005, nearly a third of the country suffered from famine. Malawi has over one million orphans—700,000 of them because their parents died from AIDS—hardly any infrastructure, a child mortality rate of 103/1000 and suffers regularly from drought, corruption and high transport costs of its exports. The average life expectancy for both men and women is approximately 43 years.

2. Somalia, Africa. Long before there was a Black Hawk down, Somalia has been at war. Located on the Horn of Africa in East Africa, Somalia is 246,201 square miles of earth, of which only 1.6 percent is water. The country has been in a nearly perpetual state of warfare since 1884. They have had no effective national government since 1991. Its people suffer from rampant famine. In 2006, an alliance of Mogadishu warlords, known as the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism (ARPCT), joined forces with a militia loyal to the Islamic Courts Union in an effort to impose “strict moral values” on the citizens of Somalia—including the prohibition of watching movies or soccer matches in public. Hundreds of civilians died in the uprising, which is still being fought today. Twenty-five percent of Somali children die before turning five. In August, 2000, Somalia was the last African country to get Internet access.

3. The island nation of Comoros resides off the coast of Africa between northern Madagascar and northeastern Mozambique. It is made up of four islands for a grand total of 863 square miles. Ngazidja is the biggest, home to two volcanoes—one of which, Karthala, is one of the most active in the world—and is equal to the area of all the other islands put together. Much of the island chain is tropical and mountainous, its population of 798,000 crowds into agricultural and urban centers to the extent of 1000 people per square kilometer. The unemployment rate is 14.3 percent, only 62.5 percent of people can read (the United States has a literacy rate of 99 percent), cash crops like vanilla and ylang-ylang—an essential oil in aroma therapy—continue to drop in price, and cyclones devastate the country’s infrastructure twice a decade. Not to mention the occasional spewing of molten earth.

Dealing with more Britney Spears “news” doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

*All facts for this article were taken from*

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