Carlos Slim, full name Carlos Slim Helú, was born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico.
Slim’s parents were immigrants from Lebanon, and while there, were part of a distinct sect of Roman Catholicism called the Maronite Catholics. Of course, a Mexican Catholic is nothing unique, but for Slim, it’s the Maronite factor that sets him apart.
Slim doesn’t seem to be too outwardly religious, and some report him as not very devout. His faith isn’t something he talks much about–or at all, really.
However, his wealth and influence has even attracted elements of the Catholic Church to his door. For example, a conservative Catholic organization called the Legion of Christ, whose agenda is to seek out the world’s wealthiest Catholics and hitch a ride on their social influence, has thrown galas honoring Slim. One representative said:
The soul of a trash collector is as important as the soul of Carlos Slim, but if Slim is converted, think of the influence and power for good he would wield.
It seems to have worked because Slim sends his children to Legion of Christ schools and has helped to finance the creation of 50 Legion of Christ universities in Latin America.
But in the end, Slim is a man with a mind for business and numbers, and head-in-the-clouds religion and spirituality doesn’t seem to be of much concern to him.
Depending on the how the day goes in the New York Stock Exchange, Slim might be the richest man in the world. His wealth is equal to 7 percent of his country’s entire economy. That’s a lot of clout right there.
His influence on Latin American society is often criticized. He’s accused of being a monopolist as he controls 90% of Latin America’s telephone landlines and a rather significant chunk of that region’s cell phone market as well.
In classic plutocrat style, Slim has found a way to profit off of political policy. For example, the “Obamaphone,” the program implemented under U.S. president Barack Obama, provides low-income people with cell phones. Guess who’s cell phones they give away. It’s no surprise that Slim is a major Obama supporter–though indirectly. The CEO of one of Slim’s companies, TraFone’s Frederick Pollack, donated or helped to raise nearly $1 million for Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. And get this, Slim owns 7 percent of one of America’s most trusted news sources, the New York Times, though some thank him for bailing out the company, which might have folded without his financial help.
Of course, Slim gives billions in philanthropy, ranging from health care to education, but he seems to think like a fiscal conservative. He thinks poverty (which is around 50 percent in his country of Mexico ) can only be solved by society-wide prosperity, not handouts:
Government resources are not enough to solve social or economic problems. We have to create wealth and employment… The only way you finish with poverty is with jobs. To have better jobs you have to have better education.
And he looks down on the liberal welfare democracies of Europe, saying:
Developed countries have tried to give a state of welfare to the people especially early retirement and other expenses… I think they need to make structural changes.
Interesting, though the droves of opportunity-deficient, half-starved Mexicans rushing to the U.S. border (though in lesser numbers than previous years) might disagree.