Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rubbish, water and the General Strike

  [Photo: Richard van der AA/Demotix/Corbis]

Prompted by regular reader Tom (again) I have been thinking about a few related things. 

His link to a north American article about “dumpster diving” in Spain (ie, people searching through those large rubbish bins for food/items to use or re-sell) reminded me of the day I first saw this happen in this country with my own eyes. 

It was near our local shops quite early in the morning; still semi-dark and I noticed a quite well-dressed man with his head and arms stuck inside a big green rubbish hopper. He had already collected a few things and when he saw me walk past he was clearly ashamed.

This happened about 4 years ago, just as the huge and still-continuing economic “crisis” had just begun. It has now become a regular sight during the daylight hours too, and is just one undeniable symptom of the desperation and hardship that is now equally common.

Now that sense of resentment and frustration is to be channeled into another National General Strike which is to be held tomorrow, the 14th of November.  

There is a lot to strike about at the moment. Personally, the quiet privatization of greater Barcelona’s water supply by the Catalan government is one that stirs me into anger. We are supposed to believe the government’s hollow assurance that it “will continue to be a public service.”


CIngram said...

What you call dumpster-diving, if I understand it correctly, is something gypsies, and sometimes others, have always done. Here it's common to leave something outside 'para que se lo lleven los gitanos', when you no longer need it, or it doesn't work, and it will have gone by the morning.

If people who wouldn't normally be doing it are looking through the rubbish, is something I haven't really noticed. But what I have seen, in my area, is an increase in 'normal' beggars, that is, people who were clearly once normal working people fallen on hard times.

Changing the way public services are run (like the water you mention) isn't necessarily a bad thing. It depends on how it turns out. In Britain in the 80's many nationalized industries were privatized, or opened up to competition in various ways. Usually with great success (the details are open to debate, of course). The comunications revolution would have largely passd the British customer by under a public service.

Here in La Mancha, some hospitals are being placed under private management, in an attempt to stop them hemorraging money. As I say, we'll have to wait and see how it turns out, but it isn't necessarily worse than what went before.

Brett said...

Thanks for the comment, CI. The increase in the number of "normal" beggars is noticeable here too. I have to disagree with you about privatisation "usually being a great success." A lot of the evidence I've seen in the past shows quite the opposite, UK and elsewhere. Especially, in the area of health care the more private (i.e. profit-motive) the worse for the patient. I just believe that basic and essential things like water, electricity and yes, even transport should be in public hands, partly because a public monopoly is always better for the average person than a private one.