viernes, 3 de octubre de 2014

The 400 richest and a trip to the market (a conversation with an Argentine shopkeeper)

You wake up a bit woozy and over coffee read that according to Forbes magazine the 400 richest people in the U.S. are worth $2 trillion dollars and that their wealth is more than the combined net worth of more than half of all U. S. citizens. Wow! That’s more than the GDP of Italy, Mexico or Canada! You churn that in your brain while you head for the neighborhood market to buy some fruit and vegetables and a half pound of meat to make some “empanadas.” On your way back home you spot a stylish sweat shirt in a tiny shop tucked away on the edge of the market.
“Good morning! How are things this morning?”
“Quite awful but what can you do? You have to keep on struggling.”
There is no sign in the salesman’s voice of his birth in Syria 70 years ago.
“I'm sorry. Hmm. How much does this sweat shirt cost?” 
“I can give it to you for $120 pesos. That’s a good price for a garment of this quality.”
“What about $100?”
“No! Things are horrible in this country and it’s so difficult to get dollars.”
“Dollars? I thought we were talking in pesos.”
“Yes I know but Cristina (Kirschner, the president) won’t let us buy dollars and everything is so difficult.”
“What is so difficult?”
“Everything. We can’t buy dollars and she even refuses to pay the debt.”
“Isn't it that they won’t let her?”
“Oh come on! It’s a shame! And you can’t treat the United States that way!”
“Do you think it is wrong for Argentina to do things its own way?”
“Of course! You can’t stand up to such a powerful country like the U.S.A! How can you do that and then expect them to come here and invest? You know what? They make such great movies! I’m fascinated with them! I’d do anything to travel to the U.S. but the truth is it’s too expensive. ”
“What movies do you watch? The bang-bangs?”
“All of them. You don’t see movies like that here. Such a wonderful country…”
“There is always a war to make a movie about…”
“No, I don’t like wars but their movies are so good I sometimes cry. I’m not saying I like war. No! Just imagine: I came from Syria when I was very young. Over there the Arabs are always fighting. I’m a man of peace.”
“The U.S. is almost always at war too.”
“But they defend democracy.”
“And the market. And oil.  They need oil and war to keep the economy going.”
“I don't know. I guess you’re right there. But they have such a fantastic standard of living. You can see that watching the movies.”
“And they also create millionaires…and financial and economic crises.”
“All I know is that things are so difficult here and you see those movies, how people live up there and it’s like a marvelous dream. Do you want the sweat shirt?”
“I’ll take it for $100.”

“Muchas gracias. Hasta luego.”

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