Last week I said that we would talk about the great ‘Sh**hole’ moment. Or was it ‘Sh**house’? No Matter. The profanity is really not the main point. There is no argument that he was ‘tough’ on some areas. The issue is whether specific countries or regions or continents have populations that are inferior to others by certain metrics.
Why this is important in the context of my novels, is that ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ and the next to be released ‘Kutusov’s Dream’ deal with a world in which an ecological catastrophe has occurred and the economic shoe is on the other foot. The Northern Hemisphere is suffering from a deep freeze.
So issue relevant to both my novels and the President’s statements is, how do we view the Northern and the Southern hemispheres of the planet?
In the late 90s, during a decade of relative peace and prosperity in the developed world, there was a legitimate concern that the less developed nations, most in the Southern hemisphere, were falling so badly behind economically that the differential posed a serious threat to stability on the planet. Then something unexpected happened. Globalization, a truly Capitalist phenomenon, lifted countless millions out of extreme poverty. The following graph comes from “Global Income Inequality in Numbers: In History and Now” by Branco Milanovic, page 202, Figure 4.
Notice the stunning change in income for the lowest 60% of the population, and also the rise in income for the highest 20%. So problem solved, right? Not so fast. Notice the huge decline in income increases for the slice of the population between the 60th and 80th percentiles, which of course explains why we’ve had such a backlash from that class in the form of increased populism and nationalism.
Not Exactly ‘Sh**holes’
But the point, apropos Trump’s remarks, is that perhaps the less developed counties to the south are not exactly ‘Sh**holes’, or whatever you want to call them.
But to further illustrate the point that the inhabitants of the continent of Africa are not pariahs, check out the links below. (Actually, some great reporting has made my job easy.)
- First, from the Houston Chronicle, not exactly deep in Blue country, is an article stating that Nigerians, while a small immigrant community in America, actually have the highest percentage of people with a tertiary education; i.e., beyond high school, in the US. My wife, Linda, mentioned this report and I dug it out on a search. I felt pretty proud of myself.
And there’s more.
- Nicholas Kristoff, a regular contributor to the editorial page of the ‘failing’ New York Times, dug out an astounding number of facts about the ‘Dark Continent’. While Kristoff is, like me, on the left side of the 50 yard line, he ALWAYS backs up his arguments with facts. Boy, does he ever.
Having read Kristoff’s piece it doesn’t get any more obvious that appearances can be deceiving. Now I know that identity politics is now a big deal.
All I can say is that I’m a Mutt.
My paternal grandad came from Baghdad, which explains the references to Mesopotamia in ‘Sun Valley Moon Mountains.’ My paternal grandmother’s family came from Poland. Definitely ‘Sh**holes’ in their day.
My mom’s dad came from Wales, so I guess he gets a pass, even though he was a socialist, and her mom was an old Connecticut Yankee. Things didn’t turn out so badly for me or the good old USA with those migrations.
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