One World, Two Regimes

President's VW

President’s VW

RT News“Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica is widely seen as one of the world’s most down-to-earth leaders, who has often emphasized the need for people to love one another and not focus on the material.

“A president is a high-level official who is elected to carry out a function. He is not a king, not a god. He is not the witch doctor of a tribe who knows everything. He is a civil servant. I think the ideal way of living is to live like the vast majority of people whom we attempt to serve and represent,” he once told Al Jazeera.

As for addictions, the only one Mujica says matters is “love.”

He added, ‘Human beings have a bit of fetishism; we need certain material symbols,” and added that he still keeps his father’s old hammer and shovel: “They are little things to the world, but are worth a lot to you.'” 

Mujica is said to be the world’s poorest President. He owns an old iconic 1987 VW Beetle and lives in a humble farmhouse on the outskirts of Montevideo. RT News also stated that “as far as official declarations of wealth go, Mujica earns a comfortable $11,000 a month, 20 percent of which goes to his political movement. He reportedly donates most of the rest of his salary to charities supporting the poor.”

Reuters / Andres Stapff

Reuters / Andres Stapff

At first glance, most people would say that it is not a fair comparison of Mujica’s lifestyle. It may just be his choice of living without exuberance. Living a spartan life is his personal preference. It is also his choice to give away his wealth, if any to the needy in his country. They are his countrymen and he has no qualms in having that sacrifice in his high office as President. That is his belief and principles and he is prepared to make and example of humility so necessary in high public office. Sadly, such principles and ideology is so lacking today.

Now compare Mujica with another country that is at the other extreme end of wealth and riches. Take Singapore for example. In contrast, Singapore is said to be the richest country in the world while Uruguay is at the other end of wealth. The President of Singapore is probably the highest paid President in the world while Mujica is the poorest. According to Yahoo News,

The Singapore Parliament has approved a 26 per cent increase in the President’s salary as well as higher salaries for his personal staff for the fiscal year of 2010.

The President’s salary, also known as the Privy Purse, is now set at S$4,267,500, up from $3,376,800.

The amount for staff salaries is increased to $4,532,400 or $473,600 higher than that of the year before.

The President’s entertainment allowance remains at $73,000.

The revision is part of an overall increase in the manpower expenditure for the Office of the Istana, which is staffed by 62 personnel.

The annual entertainment allowance of the Singapore President is almost what Mujica gets as his salary, making that miniscule salary he receives looking like pocket change. Singapore’s politicians firmly believe that paying public officers high salaries will stamp corruption and is therefore justified. If that argument goes, the implication is that Mujica must be very corrupt and may have hidden huge sums of corrupt money somewhere. The verdict is still out there.

The following  infographics give a succinct picture of the two countries key indicators. IMF ranked Singapore as #3 in GDP per capita (2013) while Uruguay ranks #56. Perhaps these numbers will put things in perspective.

Singapore vs Uruguay

Singapore vs Uruguay

Matthew 6:20
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.


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