21 August 2007

Archaeological leftist remains

I started to make this into a post for Vista Rosario, but soon I was giving explanations to the reader, and I somehow guess that VR's followers (who are increasing) don't want the kind of thing that is clogging the gutters of today's political discourse. The images are current, and illustrative, and it doesn't matter that they show a form of urban decay — but they represent a kind of decay that I don't want to showcase there. So here it is. It's a couple of posters that the most leftest of the left came up with, and pasted everywhere.

One poster calls the people not to vote for anybody...

Poster incitando al ausentismo electoral

... and the other poster offers simple, radical solutions for the problems that afflict Argentina:

Poster incitando al ausentismo electoral

The text of the first poster (or rather, the parts that matter), includes a list of political scandals surrounding the national administration, and other things that bother us. The main text (next to the big red fist) says "Hit'em where it hurts them most", and below that, "Vote blank, void the ballot or just don't go". The first method means simply inserting an empty envelope into the ballot box, instead of an envelope with a ballot inside; the second means spoiling the ballot to force the authorities to discount it; the third means not going to vote, either violating the law or traveling more than 500 km away from your legal address so as to be exempt from voting.

The second poster offers a list of solutions. How do you deal with inflation? Exempt basic goods from the IVA (Impuesto al Valor Agregado, i.e. the VAT). The energy crisis? Re-statize natural gas and oil to regain energy independence. The government's imposition of wage tops (prez sits down with complacent union bosses, who promise they won't ask for more)? Give all workers a basic salary (not exactly a minimum wage, but close) based on a "family basket" (the cost of the goods and services that an average family needs monthly) of 3,200 pesos, or, at today's rate, about 1,000 U.S. dollars.

Makes sense, right? Well, the answer is not that simple. The Argentine tax system is regressive. It taxes the poor proportionally more than the rich. The VAT, being a tax on consumption that few items escape, is extremely regressive — because everybody consumes, but the rich can save a part of their income, while the poor cannot. A progressive government that cares for the poor, as Kirchner's is supposed to be, should have taken off the VAT from bread, some vegetables and cereals, and possibly beef. The state has a fiscal surplus, and part of the revenue loss could be compensated by increasing the taxes on personal and corporate profits, or simply by fighting tax evasion. Instead of that, the government recently increased the minimum wage that gets you taxed, and called it "a measure of social inclusion". Social inclusion means you give the poor a chance to stop being poor. People who earn three times an average salary, by definition, are not poor, they're comfortable middle class at least.

Re-statizing gas and oil companies is simply not possible. They were sold by mere pennies, and now they're worth mega-jillions and their owners are not willing to sell. Can't blame them for that. It's not that they're bent on taking away our national energy sovereignty — they just see big profit. That, and they're friends of Kirchner. Do you think you can rule an oil-producing province without friends in the business?

The salary tops — well, the only way for workers to get paid good money is from them to fight for it. Many well-off people today in Argentina think that workers are getting uppity about their wages. Those people have grown accustomed to inequality. Thirty years ago, a factory worker could support his family alone and go on vacations with them every summer, and have his own house and a small car. Today, even in middle-class homes both parents have to work, and it's difficult for them to buy a nice house. Thirty years ago, however, the state systematically murdered those who could think for themselves, organize others and fight for their rights. Some fled. More than a few sold themselves out. And this is how we have, today, union leaders who have no qualms agreeing with the politicians in charge that they won't make their lives difficult and will only fight to keep the workers from starving, so the economy continues to march ahead as planned.

It's a pity that the Argentine left is so miserable. They have no idea what to do to get our attention and our votes. They have a point or two, but they're so laughable most of the time that they make you feel embarrassed.

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