Thursday, August 14, 2008

Just enough for the city


crayons, originally uploaded by your neighborhood librarian.

Like many people, I send half my paycheck directly to Verizon. Oh, now, that's not true of course. But between the home phone, the cell phone, Internet access at home, and the cell phone's Internet access, not to mention the only partially "free" phones I seem to have to buy from them every couple years because they seem to bust right about at 22 months... well, I just hold my nose, shut my eyes and pay.

Fuck it.

So when the guy called the library looking for the name and address of the CEO of Verizon, I thought to myself, "Right on, sir. Give that motherfucker a piece of your mind for me, too."

Out loud I just said "Ivan G. Seidenberg, 140 West St., New York, NY 10007. Is there any other information I can find for you? You're welcome. Have a nice evening."

That's my job. Don't you love my job?

But while I was on the corporate info page, I happened to notice that Verizon's annual sales are, and I quote, "$93,469,000,000".

93 and a half BILLION dollars.

What's 93 and a half billion dollars, on a global scale?

It is more than the Gross National Product of Egypt. Egypt! Not an insignificant country. It is more than the GNP of Nigeria, even with all that Nigerian oil that keeps getting everyone killed. It is, in fact, more than the GNP of 175 of the world's 224 nations.

Who else makes less than Verizon in a year?
Romania.
Slovakia.
Iceland.
Kuwait.
Peru.
Kenya.

Here's a poor country - Democratic Republic of the Congo. DRC to you and me. DRC's GNP is 6.89 billion dollars. That's less than Jamaica, which is an island. Less than Afghanistan.

DRC is a LARGE country. It's that big squarish one right bang in the middle of the continent. It's all equatorial forest, teeming with life, most of which is trying to kill everything else.

DRC's top industry is mining: diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt - this is straight from the CIA World Factbook, y'all - and coltan zinc, which is that shit all those new-every-two cellphones need in order to run. Coltan sells at prices resembling what some junior exec on West Street might pay for coke.

I had a great-uncle who made a fortune in DRC back in the day (back when it was Congo LĂ©opoldville, before it was Zaire, which is before it was DRC). He invented a process that precipitated the silt out of the muck in the mines, so that the pumps wouldn't get jammed. He was basically just a chemist and he made a fortune. That's a lot of money underground in southern Congo.

Maybe $93,469,000,000.