Monday, November 02, 2009

Birthdays for MOBALS

When he visited Bridgewater recently, geographer extraordinaire Harm de Blij spoke of three kinds of people in the world space-economy. "GLOBALS" are the 15 percent of the world's people who are relatively wealthy because they were born to parents in rich countries. Even the relatively poor GLOBALS are relatively rich by world standards. "LOCALS," de Blij said, are the vast majority of the world's people, born into relative poverty and likely to remain pretty close to where they were born, both in terms of location and in terms of wealth. Finally, the "MOBALS" are those people who move readily between the two. They serve an important function in the operation of the world economy, and they are rewarded richly for it.

Writing in the Boston Sunday Globe, Kate Darnton writes eloquently about one such group of MOBALS and how they exhibit their wealth. Her article on children's birthday parties in Vasant Vihar, New Delhi is both entertaining and distressing. One risk of being a MOBAL, apparently, is the temptation to adopt all of the most garish and least sustainable aspects of the lifestyle of the GLOBALS. Just as we try to reign in our own instincts toward over-consumption, the elite in the rest of the world take our bad ideas to entirely new levels.

And as if over-pampered children in India were not enough, the same edition of the Globe mentions the Prombron Monaco Red Diamond Edition -- an SUV for elites in Russia. Mileage figures are not available, but the excesses of this vehicle put Hummers in the same category as a Prius or a bicycle. See Worst Vehicle Ever for the sordid details.

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