Saturday, August 14, 2010

Daniel Alarcón's "Second Lives" (short story, non-genre, free): Portraits of some "typical" people from Mexico of 1980s

Illustration accompanying the short story Second Lives by Daniel Alarcon in The New Yorker. Left photograph is by Nubar Alexanian, right by Adrian Portugal.
Actually, I'm not sure it's Mexico; it's some Spanish-speaking country of South America, probably Mexico.

Story is from the point of view of a 10 year old boy - personalities in his family & neighborhood. Some of his concerns near the end sounded like those of adults - at least I didn't think like that at 10; but may be kids grow up at different rates in different places?


Thing that caught my attention & made me write this post was this quote near end: "The new President privatized everything, selling the state off piece by piece and dividing the profits among his friends." Something that has been recently happening in India.

A naive me of an earlier time believed selling public companies could only bring good:
  1. They would pay part of government's fund requirements - so we will have less debt & lower taxes.
  2. They would bring in responsible management, & should become tax payers instead of receivers of subsidies.
What we are actually seeing is nothing of the first, & only partially of the second. Government overspending way beyond its means, gobbling up all the money generated by selling public companies, & still raising both taxes & deficit even more! And, naturally, most of the money meant for the piously benevolent social service programs with supermassive outlays introduced in recent years goes into the pockets of cronies of the those in power.

Question: Anyone knows why government deficit is stated as a percentage of national GDP rather than as a percentage of government's annual receipts? My naive guess would be: to mislead the public - 7% looks like a smaller number than 35% ! But I'm no economist. Anyone would care to clarify?

Fact sheet.

First published: The New Yorker, 16 August 2010.
Download full text from publisher's site.
Rating: B.