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"No Way We Could Do It," Say Leaders of Wealthy Nations

Monterrey, Mexico ( — At a United Nations conference last week to address world poverty, dozens of leaders from the planet's wealthiest nations concluded they were "totally in awe" of the 1.2 billion people who reportedly live on less than $1 a day.

   With no medicine, sanitation, or food, the poor do it anyway.

"Lord knows I couldn't do it," U.S. President George W. Bush told a roundtable of colleagues Friday. "The mortgage on my ranch alone is $5,500 a month."

"I think the hardest part would be keeping it up," added South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel. "Every now and then I'd have to sneak out for a nice meal with my wife, or maybe a movie."

But truly poor people, several delegates noted in wonder, never do that.

"How often do you see a really poor person splurge for a steak dinner, or an upgrade to first class on an airliner?" said French President Jacques Chirac. "I tell you, these people are incredible."

Said Bush, after a momentary pause: "I'd like to propose that the world doesn't just have a billion poor people, it's got a billion heroes."

However, some attending the International Conference on Financing for Development respectfully suggested the leaders, while apparently no longer indifferent, were missing the point.

"The poor don't have mortgages. They don't have houses," said U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. "Most days, they don't even have food."

"Oh heavens no, I'd have to eat," replied World Trade Organization chief Michael Moore. "I could maybe skimp on dessert, but that's it."

As the meeting adjourned, a spokesman for the World Development Movement announced that almost half the earth's population — 2.8 billion people — lives on less than $2 a day. The attendees stood in unison to cheer until it was explained to them that these people wanted money.


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