Wednesday, July 14, 2010

About window blinds and Crime and Poverty in Argentina.

Hi Ferfal -
I've been reading your blog for about a year and I also picked up a
copy of your book. They're both great and really helpful! I like taking
walks in the evening and have noticed that just about everyone in my
town has their blinds open or only have some flimsy covering over the
windows at night while they're watching the 50" HDTV. Was Argentina like
this before the crash?

Also, why is it that people who live in run-down houses with
broken-down cars and clutter have really nice televisions? Have you seen
the same thing in Argentina, with people spending whatever disposable
income (like a tax rebate) on entertainment instead of something that
would be useful?

Thanks for reading,

Glad you find them useful and thanks for reading Nate. About your questions;
Argentines have always been pretty aware of crime problems in general even before 2001. What happen is that after the economic collapse it got so bad, you really couldn’t afford to make any more mistakes. If everyone has burglar bars in their windows and you don’t, guess what house is going to get broken into next time? Same thing for alarms, security doors, dogs, and overall security awareness. I’m not saying there aren’t some people that, at this point, go into complete denial and will continue being careless, even after being victims, I’m just saying its really not that often any more. You just cant afford to do that any more.

I was talking with a remis(informal taxi) driver yesterday. He told me that he’s very careful about answering calls with his cell phone, out of fear of having it snatched out of his hand. He told me he would sometimes not look if it’s a text message, and if he does he looks around, tries to find a safe spot and answer while looking around him. And older guy like him, he’s a preferred victim. Same happens with women. I knew a girl that had her phone snatched out of her hands six times… in the last year alone! Granted, she’s not being careful enough, but in other places you can afford not to be. Here, its different.

Same thing with poor discipline when it comes to not using curtains and showing clearly what you have inside the house. These days, I don’t see people doing that mistake often. When I see it done, its so odd that it actually shocks you a bit. “How can someone be so stupid?” you can’t avoid thinking.

But it was a safer place, that much is true. In my neighborhood, kids used to play on the streets, ride bikes, you just don’t see that any more, and when you do, its under the close supervision of an adult. Again, there are exceptions, but Darwin has been kicking in and you see that less and less. Its sad that kids that are old enough to play on the sidewalk by themselves or with their friends, can’t do it because of the crime problem.
About the poor with wide screen TVs, that not common at all here. YOUR poor aren’t really poor. :-) Poor people in Argentina certainly don’t have wide screen TVs, or anything expensive. Sometimes you see a shack with a DirectTV dish, but its often stolen and the TV used is a cheap thing. Sometimes people don’t know how to manage money well, but the Argentine poor class has more serious things to worry about like the ever growing inflation on every product, mostly basic necessity ones like food, services and such. No, you sure don’t see that mad spending and wealth you guys are used to in USA.



Anonymous said...

I agree on the poor/TV thing. The so-called 'poor' people here in the US aren't poor at all. If you live in a socialist paradise like Massachusetts the poor people in some ways live better than the people that bankroll them. Here the 'free' health/dental insurance for out-of-work/welfare/illegal immigrant etc. covers braces in full, fillings at I think 75%, etc. This is better than my own dental plan. They get a better deal on health ins., but not everyone takes the state insurance. They have ads now for free cell phones for people on welfare with free phones and free minutes every month (for 'emergencies- which I guess you have every month?). They had a program to give poor people free cars, but they had to scrap it after people found out and there was a bit of an uproar. I know people on welfare that have better houses than the one I work to pay for. Free debit cards to buy food. Daily trips to McDonald's. Free higher education. Free child care. When the economy goes down they will be the main ones out rioting I am sure. 'Where's my free stuff I'm entitled to?'

Julia said...

Not really tied to this issue specifically, but Second City Cop had a post about getting mugged on Michigan Avenue (in Chicago). I can't manage to directly link to it, but it should be easy to find here:

It's an interesting perspective on the happenings in Chicago from the point of view of some of the police. This isn't a crime blog but does tend to feature a lot of the politics of the police in Chicago.