Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

“Already going hell, just pumping that gas.” - M.I.A.

Sitting here in the Surabaya airport waiting for a flight to Jakarta, the song Paper Planes by the Sri Lankan-British artist M.I.A. came up on the iPod and it gave me an eerie sense of foreboding like I haven't experienced in a while.

The chorus of Paper Planes goes:

All I wanna do is … [sound of gunshots] … and a … [sound of gun reloading, ending with sound of a cash register opening] … and take your money.

This, laced over a driving rhythm like the heat waves and dust rising off a cram-packed Third World highway.

I just read that the Indonesian government plans to eliminate fuels subsidies one month from now. The people here currently pay $1.89 per gallon despite the fact that the per capita income is $3,400. I know this because as I was sitting at a gas station here I looked to my left, pulled out a calculator and did the currency conversion. This annual $3,400 doesn’t accurately pinpoint the big cities because it takes into account the entire country which includes all the people living on remote islands --- Borneo, New Guinea etc --- making pennies a day. So let's say it's about double that in the cites at $6,800/year.

To put that in perspective, the per capita American income is $46,000 and we now pay $3.73 per gallon. If Americans paid an equal percentage of their income as Indonesians for gasoline, they would currently be paying $12.78 per gallon. It's true that Indonesians don't own as many cars as Americans do --- many ride motorbikes --- but after running around this country for a week at break-neck speed in three population centers, I can say with confidence that Indonesia is FULLY dependant on cars and trucks. There's more traffic here than anywhere I've been.

The coming price increases will likely result in riots and increased misery for these people. It's happened before here. First, it started with student protests against the government in the 1960s which ended in a military coup and the murderous liquidation of the Communist Party of Indonesia which consisted of three million people. As Joseph Stalin said, “Death solves all problems: no man, no problem.”

And in 1998, after the Asian financial meltdown, first the students protested, then the massive price increases, then the pogroms against the Chinese business owners. I know this because my business partner here is Chinese-Indonesian and he told me his friend (a Muslim) hid him in her house for a week because the local Muslim leaders had whipped up the local people into a murderous frenzy to commit violence against the Chinese "pig-eating parasites." Their houses were burned and many were straight murdered.

I don't claim to fully understand the situation here, but you think the USA has bad race problems? Shiiiit ...

I just read in the Jakarta Post that the students have already begun to protest the government's plan to raise prices in June. I love this country and wish the people here all the best, but I'm glad I'm leaving tomorrow.

Listening to M.I.A.’s song makes this all seem even more unnerving, especially when she playfully sings, “Sum sum summa summa murder”, right after she coolly says, “M.I.A. … Third World democracy …”

M.I.A., Paper Planes:

You're missing the slaughter in the streets of DC.

Rising fuel prices will drive DC property values higher and push the drug trade and its murderers outward. Many are looking forward to that demographic shift.

Bring on the higher prices.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Web Counter
Web Counters