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Slim and trim

6 July 2010

HEY, TELMEX installed my phone early! I guess I owe Carlos Slim one.

Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world (or at least our corner of it), draws 300,000 pesos a month for personal expenses.  Felipe Calderón, along with Supreme Court Justices and Federal Elections Commissioners can draw on 500,000 pesos for personal expenses.  OK, so Slim can pick up his suits at stores he owns (and does — he’s a Sac’s Fifth Avenue guy) and he can get lunch at his own restaurants (I saw him once coming into one of his joints), but can’t the Elections commissioners brown bag it like everyone else and save the Mexican taxpayers a little money?

The median INCOME for a Mexican worker is 1,500 pesos. Carlos, in other words, has 200 times what José Lopez gets for food, clothing and shelter for himself, his spouse and two point one children what Carlos Slim has to spend on for lunch and work clothes.  José may get a company uniform, and Carlos does in a way… to his credit he buys his own clothes off the rack, from his own department store.  Perhaps, if José has a really good employer (like Slim’s restaurant chain, Sanborn’s), he gets lunch.  Slim DOES have to buy his own lunch… but he owns not just Sanborns, but several even tonier joints like Café L’Opera (where I could barely afford a coffee on my one and only visit when Carlos came waltzing in surrounded by his well-armed, but low-key, posse) —  and a couple of snack food companies if he feels peckish of an afternoon.

Carlos Slim could certainly draw more if he wanted … after all, it’s his money, but he has no reason to spend it.  Among the powers that be (or want to be) in Mexico, probably the one who feels the most kinship to Slim is, of all people, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.  In his latest blast at the rich and corrupt, La Mafia Que Se Adueño De Mexico…y El 2012 ,”The Mob That Took Over Mexico — and 2012″) he hints that he and Slim are both those rarest of all things — Mexican puritans:

Slim is quite simple, although the richest man the world.  He doesn’t wear fancy suits or go in for extravagance. And he’s sensitive. On one occasion, in my old City Hall office, he began to reminisce affectionately about [recently deceased mutual acquaintance] and  ended up weeping. ..”

Maybe the Prez and the Judges and the Commissioners should think about taking José Lopez and 332 of his compadres out for a decent meal.

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