Some presidents need an entourage, luxury cars, and expensive suits, not to mention a fleet of high tech jets, to roll in style. However the president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, has decided to take a more humble approach and gets to work every day driving his 1987 blue Volkswagen Beetle.
Jose Mujica, also known as “The World’s Poorest President”, has been the president of Uruguay since 2010, and it seems like he cares about what really matters – his people. President Mujica donates more than 90% of his $12,000 a month salary to charity.
Having foregone the Presidential Palace as his residence, turning it into a museum instead, the President continues to live on his farm with his wife and three-legged dog. When he gets the chance, he still grows and sells his own flowers.
Yet frequent mockery of his clothing and gestures doesn’t seem to have stopped this president from getting on with his job. In the last few years, Uruguay has proven to be very open-minded and socially liberal, passing several pieces of legislation key to the progressive agenda.
President Mujica had a rough life before getting to where he is today, and he has fought tirelessly for his people over the past several decades. He even spent a number of years behind bars while fighting for the poor and in support of human rights.
The world needs more presidents like President Mujica, a man who knows what it is like to live in poverty, a man who can understand the notion that having a mattress to sleep on would make someone the happiest person in the world.
Another person who is worth mentioning is former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg. During his time in office, Mayor Bloomberg took a salary of only $1 per year. In addition to that, Bloomberg took the subway to work every day rather than a chauffeured car or even a helicopter.
Sure, Mayor Bloomberg might have already made his fortune building his own media empire, but his lack of greed (a rare thing so close to Wall Street) and his desire to integrate with the people (as seen by his choice of transportation) are still an excellent indication of his character. Bloomberg is also a philanthropist, and he has been an inspiration to many. Hopefully, we will see him again in the political arena, either in congress or in the White House.
Unfortunately, not all politicians (or even most, or even a sizable minority) live up to the ideal of Bloomberg and Mujica. Instead, we find rampant abuse of power and corruption. It’s ridiculous how some members of parliament, presidents, and prime ministers just get rich overnight. Unless they won the lottery or have a history of successful businesses, it just doesn’t come out of thin air.
China is a great example of a government which is actively trying to crack down on government corruption. They have even set up a separate police force to combat corruption, resulting in less political influence and clean cops who can crack down on party members engaged in unscrupulous behavior.
At the end of the day, world leaders need to take advice from both Bloomberg and Mujica, two great role models who are truly there for the people and not for their own political or business agendas.