Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Cardboarders

Buenos Aires, when socialising in neighborhood steakhouses, applauding tango musicians, sleeping in soft beds, tipping cabbies extravagantly, browsing wine shops, and hankering after nubile and alluring Argentine honeys, is fine when one is weighed down with Australian dollars at the current extremely favourable exchange rate.

For some, life in the world's greatest city is one of grinding & hopeless poverty. Poverty such as cannot be imagined in Australia, where what passes for poverty is affluence by Argentine standards.

In Ozziland, those living in "poverty" are apt to die from obesity. In one of those trendy cultural differences, morbid obesity is not as prevalent among those Argentinians who experience chronic poverty.

During a short post-lunch stroll, Mine Host snapped the above photo. Not being crass enough to approach the subject to both destroy their dignity, and confirm their social status, Mine Host has merely deemed the fellow to be possibly a member of what is known as "the cardboarders" (that is the best translation I could get anyway). These chaps, many of them former white collar workers suddenly retrenched years ago, eke out a hopeless existence collecting discarded cardboard and turning it in.

There is dual melancholy in this. That what was one of the world's most developed nations has been so badly mismanaged that so much human talent & skill is wasted in such manner, and that people live in such miserable circumstances.

As the fellow in the photograph is walking all accross town searching for cardboard scraps, countless people in Australia will be, at the exact same moment, (whilst filing their nails, or slacking off for a smoke break) be bitching about how hard done by they are to "have" to front up at their workplace for eight hours.

Makes one ashamed of one's countrymen. I'd like to do a level swap, a planeload of cardboarders exchanged for a planeload of bludgers.


Dave from T-Town said...

Mine Host,

Seeing how much you love Argentina, here's a table that will break your heart. It is the average GDP per person in 1900. The important part:

#10 France (($2,849)
#11 Canada ($2,758)
#12 Argentina $2,756)
#13 Sweden ($2,561)

So what happened? The 20th century and a century of bad, horrible government. (And, from what I read, the bad governments have contiued into the 21st century.) And most, I said MOST, of those bad governments were voted into office by the Argentines.

Sackerson said...

But check the Gini Index. It's not the average income (which isn't the same as GDP anyway) but how it's distributed. As, possibly, you know already.