If You Think We Have It Bad…

Most people in the country think we are in a recession. The stock market took a tumble on Friday. Indeed, if you asked most people, it was an awful week. They forget that on Monday, the market went up over 250 points on the Dow, and in fact, closed the week 211 pts. higher than the close of the previous week. Yet, somehow, there’s a real sense of panic in the air, exacerbated by the Bear-Sterns buy-out. Perhaps this is warranted.

South Africa, once the jewel of the continent, is a basket case.

AFTER BATHING in the warm, fuzzy glow of the Mandela years, South Africans today are deeply demoralised people. The lights are going out in homes, mines, factories and shopping malls as the national power authority, Eskom – suffering from mismanagement, lack of foresight, a failure to maintain power stations and a flight of skilled engineers to other countries – implements rolling power cuts that plunge towns and cities into daily chaos.

And that’s not the worst of it. The really bad news, is that it’s getting worse.

Commenting on the massive power cuts, Trevor Gaunt, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Cape Town, who warned the government eight years ago ! of the impending crisis, said: “The damage is huge, and now South Africa looks just like the rest of Africa. Maybe it will take 20 years to recover.” The power cuts have hit the country’s platinum, gold, manganese and high-quality export coal mines particularly hard, with no production on some days and only 40% to 60% on others.

“The shutdown of the mining industry is an extraordinary, unprecedented event,” said Anton Eberhard, a leading energy expert and professor of business studies at the University of Cape Town.

We in the good ol’ U.S. of A. are in the midst of a lending and mortgage crisis right now, and I don’t mean to minimize the pain some people are feeling. Seed money for investment is difficult to come by, and it’s about to become much more difficult to prove your credit worthiness. At least, your financial state is going to come under much more scrutiny if you want to borrow money. Some people are going to directly lose their jobs because of last weeks doings, and indeed, some people, a very few, already have, indirectly. More are suffering from a thousand cuts, which start with high price of gas at the pump, followed by the high cost of both medical services and medical insurance. It continues, but doesn’t end, with the high cost of a college education. There are real hardships experienced already by some people who really have a need to buy and sell a home.

Yet, somehow, all that doesn’t seem to compare.

Not to get all polly-annaish on your butt, ’cause our economic situation here looks fairly grim for a lot of people.

Until you start to look at the rest of the world, anyway.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Economics, post-modernism

2 Comments on “If You Think We Have It Bad…”

  1. Rouvanne Says:

    I have to just comment that, yes, although we’re in a bloody stupid situation with regards to our power crisis, crime is a bitch, and our politicians are pretty close to behaving like the your own (except of course Jacob – but at least he marries most of the women he beds) – this is still a very exciting place to live in. Exciting because we have to rebuild after a very dark past, exciting because in the process we are being forced to acknowledge each other as human beings and exciting because we have the balls to tell the world like it is.

    This present power crisis allows us the opportunity of exploring alternative resources for power, which with the current fears of global warming can only be positive – whereas the world is well aware of the excess’ enjoyed by the USA, in many, many areas.

    Life is good in South Africa. Jews and Muslims live in peace with each other here. Christians and Atheists can happily mix. Houses are being built; people are getting water for the first time in their lives. Every person here has an opportunity – we’re a pretty creative bunch – and more and more people are grasping their opportunities, which is a good sign.

    We are a young nation, with still much to learn and many obstacles to overcome before we reach a stable state. What is the US’s excuse?

    PS – apologies if my site is down – I moved to this American server… wondering whether I should’ve stayed in the third world…

  2. joebuckley Says:

    Rouvanne, I very much appreciate you writing this.

    What I was attempting to do, was not so much hightlight the present difficulties facing South Africa, as note the current wave (after wave after wave) of pessimism and fear that I see here in the US. To that end, I was using the article I found to contract and compare the situations (and I very much apologize if it came off like I was disparaging S.A. instead).

    The “excuse” here in the US, if one be needed, is that we are a self-critical nation, with a tendency to always think that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and believe the worst about ourselves. To that end, too many (especially our press) are always saying that we are on the verge of disaster and stupidly walking into traps. It doesn’t take much (and today, the so-called mortgage crisis is sufficient) to bring out the doom-sayers.

    And far too many people have become fearful because of it.

    You correctly note the wisdom in the oriental idea that crises is danger plus opportunity. I hope you are able to take advantage of the opportunities.

    And – hum… my high-falootin’, fancy pants FIOS isp is acting up today on me too! ;>


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