“Homelessness is not a side issue unconnected to plutocracy and greed. It’s where we’re all eventually headed — the 99%, or at least the 70%, of us, every debt-loaded college grad, out-of-work school teacher, and impoverished senior — unless this revolution succeeds.” (Barbara Ehrenreich)
“Money is like a child—rarely unaccompanied. When it disappears, look to those who were supposed to be keeping an eye on it while you were at the grocery store. You might also look for someone who has a lot of extra children sitting around, with long, suspicious explanations for how they got there.” (Lemony Snicket)
“Yes, there’s been some class warfare going on all right, if you want to call it that. It looks a little bit more like the Mai Lai massacre – the rich machine gunning the poor in the ditches and then whining about how it’s the poor’s fault.
Yeah, there’s a common theme here aside from “just” class warfare” and the “we have to stop them before they eat us, too” ideas. See, the country right above the US on the chart?
Remember how Chomsky mentioned Third World countries and the disparity that’s apparent if you drive through, fly over, see it on the news?
Yeah, I point out Venezuela in particular because almost twenty years ago I had the chance to spend a day in Caracas. I was with a tour group and a teacher who would’ve put a leash on us if she could have. They wanted us all to see the pretty architecture and the Fancy Government Approved Statues and the Tourist Approved Shopping Venue. They wanted us to look out of the bus windows at the tall glass towers and be Impressed. Properly Impressed. (Kind of like school tour groups today looking at the monuments and not the mass of people picketing in front of it.)
Which is to say, most of us saw the little shacks at the base of the mountains, crawling up the hills. The ones constructed out of leftover or stolen construction materials. The ones the Big Bad Wolf could have blown down without taking his vitamins. They were everywhere. Thousands upon thousands of families. This was before Chavez. Before poverty rose 10% between 1998 and 2003 alone.
Outside the Proper Shopping Venue? Hoards of kids trying to sell their worthless currency to some dumb American tourists for less than you’d pay for a pack of gum. Mostly small bills, because the kids had more product that way. $10? Yours for $1US if you were savvy enough. Why? Because the exchange rate was 114:1. A soda at a fast food joint? For $1US, I got change. Lots of change, in Venezuelan currency. Old women selling imported cheap jewelry for a buck or two to tourists. Tourists who thought they were getting a bargain, because in their eyes, they were.
This was back before most of those tourists woke up to find themselves the barrio-dwellers in their own land. Before they found poverty on the rise in their own country. Before some of them wished they had the option of selling their battered greenbacks to dumb visitors. (Course, we all know that’s no option both because they aren’t all that pretty and because boatloads of the things have already been shipped anywhere and everywhere.)
How did we allow ourselves to become a Third World country? How did we we let the super-rich steal at a rate of more than 400:1? How did we allow our politicians to get away with this?
How do we fix it? Can we? (Cause Venezuela sure isn’t fixed.)