Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Tunisian Fruit Vendor - Another Perspective

The story of a Tunisian fruit vendor lighting himself on fire and starting the Arab spring is tragic and inspiring. We all know the story. Police corruption as an arm of a brutal dictator pushed a man too far. But that corruption is no different than here in Hyderabad. The fruit vendor is no different. The loan shark is no different. The fruit itself was no different. So why there and not here?

OWS, Arab Spring, a fruit vendor, what are they all protesting? The creeping leverage of rent in every aspect of our lives making us poorer, weaker, and more afraid. Were the police wrong? Of course, but why did that man have to borrow money to sell his fruit? If he had saved his money he could have kept both the profit and the rent. But how can he get that money in the first place? The loan shark knows to lend enough to get through a day, but at a rate to ensure the vendor has nothing left to save. The corruption is just enough to take any savings the man may have had and ensure he must always come to the loan shark. The police work in the interest of the loan sharks. If they take too much, there is no fruit to buy and nobody to shake down. This leaves all the profit in the hands, not of the entrepreneurs, but the rentiers in the guise of the loan shark and the police.

And what is lost? A man who knows his neighborhood. Who knows the seasons. Who knows how much of what kinds of fruit to stock up on. Where to be when kids get out of school. In short we lose the knowledge that makes a market efficient.

And yes I am making the connection that the banks are the loan sharks and our government is the corrupt policemen.

Government is not the problem. Government protects the problem.

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