An article titled “The Most Corrupt Politicians of All Time” caught my eye the other day. I figured it would be rife with U.S. notables but was surprised to learn that we are rank amateurs in the international world of redistributing wealth and ill-gotten gains.
At number twelve was Spiro Agnew, Vice President under Richard Nixon, notable perhaps due to his position more than his $100,000 in bribes. Randy Duke Cunningham pulled in at least $2.4 million and $300,000 for Budd Dwyer, who, the day before he was scheduled to be sentenced, January 22, 1987, shot himself during a news conference in front of reporters.
Now we move on to the professionals: Alberto Fujimori the President of Peru, Sani Abacha the former Nigeria head of state, Mobutu Sese Seko the president of the Congo from 1965 to 1997, Islam Karimov the first president of Uzbekistan, and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo who has been President of Equatorial Guinea since 1979.
President of WHERE?
I guess I don’t get out much. I’m sure Alex Trebek has been asked countless times, “What is Equatorial Guinea?” but I had never heard of it.
“Equatorial Guinea, officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea is a country located in Central Africa, with an area of 11,000 sq mi. Formerly the colony of Spanish Guinea, its post-independence name evokes its location near both the Equator and the Gulf of Guinea. Equatorial Guinea is the only sovereign African state in which Spanish is an official language. As of 2012, the country has a population of 1.6 million.
“Since the mid-1990s, Equatorial Guinea has become one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest oil producers. With a population of almost two million, it is the richest country per capita in Africa. However, the wealth is distributed very unevenly and few people have benefited from the oil riches.”
Apparently “the few people benefiting” means its President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, one of the world’s wealthiest heads of state. It seems that money from oil companies such as Exxon Mobil go straight to the president. The UN says that less than half of the population has access to clean drinking water and that 20% of children die before reaching five.
The country appears to have a “Trickle Up” economy.
A “Trickle Up” economy is best visualized in the old joke about three Men-of-the-Cloth who were discussing how the Offering should be divided. The joke derided one particular faith but I can’t remember which faith it was so instead of referring to the men individually as a Minister / Reverend / Rabbi / Cleric / Brother, I’ll let you insert whichever, wherever.
Preacher #1 said: “I draw a circle on the floor and toss the contents of the Offering Plate into the air. Whatever lands inside the circle is for The Lord, whatever lands outside the circle is mine.”
Preacher #2 said: “I use the circle method as well. However, I reverse it. Whatever lands inside the circle is mine, whatever lands outside the circle is for The Lord.”
Preacher #3 said: “My method is much simpler. I toss the contents of the Offering Plate into the air. Whatever The Lord needs, he grabs. What lands on the floor is mine.”
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea works the same way, I guess. He keeps what the people don’t take. Wikipedia adds, “Despite its oil wealth, the nation is among the worst countries in the world for life expectancy, at just 50.8 years, and for primary education enrollment, at just 56.3% of the relevant population.”
Also from the Wikipedia article (here) is a picture of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and his wife, along with some visitors.
That’s quite a smile.
Here’s another Obama photo-op with a Head of State.
Well-seen his priorities.