Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

How Shantytowns Become Cities

Robert Neuwirth has written an interesting article for Fortune Magazine about squatter settlements the world over. Some interesting bits:

"There are a billion squatters in the world today, almost one in six people on the planet. And their numbers are on the rise. Current projections are that by 2030 there will be two billion squatters, and by 2050, three billion, better than one in three people on the planet. ... It would no doubt surprise residents paying millions for co-op apartments on Manhattan’s Upper East and West Sides to know that squatters occupied much of the turf under their buildings until the start of the 20th century." Read more ...

Like myself, those on the Left have long railed against the degree of economic inequality that capitalism produces. But who's to say that extreme levels of income disparity makes for political instability? If one in six people on earth live in a shantytown, and there's no world revolution anywhere on the horizon, maybe there's nothing wrong with vast gaps in income. History has long proven that huge periods of time can go by in which large numbers of people are living in misery and a small number are living in riches. Often, the two groups live side by side and nothing happens.

So what's the argument against it? Just that it's not fair? Neuwirth has visited squatter settlements on every continent and by reading his blog, he's never been for eliminating them. On the contrary, he's for letting them thrive. You'd think an expert would know better than the majority of lefties who'd surely disagree with him.
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