Planet of Slums

I’m just finishing up Planet of Slums by Mike Davis, and I came across an interesting passage that is so evocative of what you can see in Bali (the wealthiest of all Indonesian provinces):
..three or four persons diving a task which could be as well done by one, market women sitting for hours in front of little piles of fruit or vegetables, barbers and shoeshiners squatting on the sidewalk all day to serve only bus in pakistana handful of customers, young boys dodging in and out of traffic selling tissues, wiping car windows, hawking magazines or cigarettes individually, construction workers waiting each morning, often in vain, in the hope of going out on a job.

This passage was quoted in Davis’ work, but was written about the poor in Calcutta by Frederic Thomas. Yes, it’s seen in paradise, but these are the people generally invisible to the tourists who come to party or the “expatriate” who builds a villa surrounded by walls to keep out the parts of paradise that they would prefer not to have to deal with.

I took apart the cabinet in the kids’ bathroom today because after nine years of soaking up water from leaks and floods and the kids being sloppy, the wood – some of which was just pressed sheets of plywood – was finished. Most of it crumbled in my hands when I began to take it apart, but there were a few good pieces left and I considered rebuilding it. But after counting up the costs for good wood, I discovered that I could by a new cabinet for double to price of the wood. So we went out and found a cabinet to purchase and within minutes of returning home, one of my relatives asked for the ruined cabinet so that he could fix it up for his son who is expecting his first child soon.

The point? The point is that in the rush to satisfy tourists – both domestic and international – the government has still not structured the economy to provide permanent employment for all it’s citizens. It does do a pretty good job of taking care of the rich though, but then don’t most governments.

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~ by drbrucepk on December 30, 2007.

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