Lately I spend a lot of the time at the Plaza, going to the gym and swimming. The Internet is about 2 seconds slower and the delay makes extended work slightly intolerable. Sent out 3 contracts and I’ll work on whoever gives me an advance first. First thing is the Point Pedro job to pay for my ticket to Tanya’s wedding. There were new posters out today, none of which I understand. There are big red JVP (?) banners for May Day. They got this stylized hammer-and-sickle industrial complex. In another poster I learned that 2005 is the year of ‘Protest Against Recolonization’. OK. If the guy screwing you is brown is it somehow better? Fell asleep on the bus and ended up in the wrong part of Battaramulla. Walking home was almost scenic, if not for the fear of open sewers in the dark.
Online the kottu.org photo stream updates a lot more than I thought it would. I like looking through all the photos. On this site, there are informative comments from Ruwani and Chandare, among others. It looks like things are more complicated than a case of ‘bad Sri Lankan attitude’. I think the basic issue is Poverty. There’s a debate on how many Sri Lankans are poor at all:
There are so many poverty lines for Sri Lanka. I know how they do at Stat Dept., so I depend on the internationally accepted one. According to that only 6% of the Sri Lanka population live below one Dollar per day. In other words, if we take the average number of members in a family to be 5, only 6% of the families have monthly incomes less than Rs. 15,000. This is much better than the case of our neighbours. Measured on the SAME SCALE, in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh more then 30% of the population live below one Dollar per day poverty line.
ivap commented that a figure of 23% makes more sense
I’ve been looking at stats for SL on the web and all the documents/sites I came across show an absolute poverty rate of about 23% (please read on) and breaking it down by the great saviours there estimates are :
I’m inclined to agree with ivap on this one. It seems to be the standard that the Colonizers use isn’t 1$/day, but somewhere between that and 2$ (100-200 Rs). I don’t feel like begrudging someone making 2$ a day their poverty. It costs me at least 40 Rs a day to commute, and I don’t even live that far. Lamprais (lump rice, not lampreys) is like 40-50 Rs, but it could be cheaper. How, I know not, but I’m sure it does. Oh, and if you’re curious how Lamprais is made, my neighbors in a house without a roof make some. I was coming home at 6 and I saw them boiling stuff in their cauldrons. Whenever I’m out I eat hamburgers, which would be like 2 days worth of wages. Anyways, that’s some costs in Colombo, and if you take expenses like clothes or medicine or anything it adds up pretty quick.
So, out of 20 million people let’s say you have 5 million people in poverty. That gives us the obvious problem of their human suffering, but that we could just ignore – as callous as that is. Except we can’t. I mean, having that many people ‘off the books’ screw up the whole economy. A parallel discussion on the Say No To Crack post had an interesting comment from Ruwani.
The situation in SL is something like 38 – 50% of an economy that functions under the radar. That figure is the portion of the informal sector by share of GDP from a paper by Schleifer (1997), so about 50% of national income at the higher level is going untaxed. Granted some of it may be criminal activity, but the poor tax base has more to do with administrative efficiency than anything else.
So, poor people take money out but don’t put money in. This means less money, but what’s worse is that it means less people participating in the economy. It’s their country and its their democracy, but besides an ink-stained finger they’re not participating. No taxes, no rents, no insurance, no loans, no pensions. I slept through my fluff economics, so it’s better to read Ru’s comments on that, but I guess it’s the old tragedy of the commons. remember when Gnutella got all crapped up with free-loaders. I understand it in terms of network theory and the Napster/Gnutella issues. But not enought to say anything worthwhile this late at night. I just wanted to thank Ru and Thimal and Chandare and ivap and Chanuka and everybody for confusing me.