Elio Delgado Legon
HAVANA TIMES — A recent article I wrote, which was published in Havana Times, was titled The People Pay for Misguided Policies. The last paragraph explained: “In the midst of this crisis, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Millions of middle class citizens have joined the ranks of poverty. The gap between the rich and poor is deepening every day.”
With each passing day, the news from the international press shows me to be correct.
We see reports daily that speak of rising unemployment, thousands of families left homeless because they can’t afford housing; and protests in the streets over budget cuts (especially in health care and education, with the closing of hospitals and schools and all this implies). These almost invariably end in protests that are violently suppressed by the police.
There is talk about billion-dollar bailouts that are forked out by the governments of countries in crisis. However these aren’t aimed at creating jobs and reviving the economy, but to pay off the existing and deepening debt and to buy weapons that aren’t needed. Meanwhile workers are seeing their real wages reduced and are living under the fear of possible layoffs.
While all of this is happening, other news indicates that the sales of luxury cars grew this year worldwide, especially BMW, which had solid gains and record sales in the month of September. Similarly, in Argentina for example, Porsches, Mercedes, Audis and BMWs showed sales increases of 11 percent.
In addition to those already mentioned, growth in automobile sales was recorded by Volvo, Mini, Land Rover, Sangyoung and Ferrari. The latter two brands increases by 272 and 200 percent, respectively.
In other news, according to the IPK International consulting group, global tourism this year registered an increase of 170 million passengers in relation to 2011.
Neither the workers who have lost their jobs, nor those who are in danger of losing theirs nor those who have been left homeless nor those who are seeing their real wages reduced due to the increased cost of living — who collectively constitute more than 80 percent of the world’s population — can afford to buy a luxury car or take an international trip, whose costs are always prohibitive.
The global economic crisis mainly affects the poorest 80 percent, while the richest 20 percent are seeing their wealth increase, buying luxury cars, traveling the world and staying in five-star hotels.
With what has been spent on bailing out the banks and governments in crisis, those sums could have been directed toward encouraging production and consumption and thereby job creation. Through that, this global crisis would have been mitigated.
I’m not saying that the crisis would disappear, because the current crisis can only be relaxed if handled intelligently, which isn’t being done. It will not disappear while capitalism predominates in the world as an essentially unfair system in which the rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer.