Friday, January 11, 2008

"Costco" In Columbia

A bit of a surreal experience tonight as I went out shopping for some index cards and a few other supplies. Santa Marta appears to be NOT a very big city and that is after having been here for three days. I have done a fair amount of walking and there are a few 6-10 story condominium-apartment complexes, but on the whole it appears very poor and somewhat smallish with most people living in somewhat crude shelters. According to Wikipedia there are over 400,000 people in the city of Santa Marta. As I walked down the main street which is alive with street vendors and smallish shops, I came to a store called Exito that is similar to the "look and feel" of a Costco. I clearly had feelings about giving my business to this store, just as I always do whenever I shop the big box retailers in the states. It just struck me so strongly here at first blush everything seemed to be so idylic in that I was not seeing any chains, just small local businesses that could be as simple as somebody selling ice cream from a pushcart. I wonder if the quest for the best selection at the best prices actually dehumanizes us into consumers as opposed to citizens. Walking in the part of town where the condosand apartments are there was a strange quiet to this section of town. A Dutch friend said this is because everyone stays to themselves. I wonder if the affluent West is not actually dead in a certain way. Consumed by materialism such that the distribution of wealth is so skewed in favor of relative few, that a reflection of "deadness" is the generation of ideas espoused by folks like the Chicago Boys as fronted by Milton Friedman. Where what was perpretrated in Chile under Pinochet was done again and again in other Latin America countries leading us now to the current criminality that the Bush administration calls the War on Terror. Very Orwellian thes times we live in. It seems to me that those people who justify the use of violence in the name of some greater good are fricking insane, don{t play well
with others and need a time out. They believe that the ends justify the means. Hitler was like that, he called himself Christian and a Democrat to boot.

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