In shopping malls in Indonesia, just over 70% 0f visitors don't actually buy anything.
(Culture Shock Jakarta by Derek Bacon and Terry Collins - 2007)
The majority of the population of Indonesia earn very little.
The elite are fabulously rich.
It's not so different from the USA and parts of Europe.
In Indonesia the military is all powerful, and it is they who keep down wages and who preserve the feudal system.
In the USA, it is the Pentagon and the CIA who pull the strings and who make sure that the ordinary citizens work hard for relatively low wages.
If wages rise, the shopping malls sell more goods and the factories prosper.
Indonesia, like the USA and EU, has a large internal market.
So, the recipe for improving the economy is:
1. Close down the military.
2. Raise the minimum wage.
3. Make sure the rich pay their taxes.
4. Spend more on infrastructure.
Video: Rich and Poor in Indonesia
On 29 January 2009, we read An anatomy of Asian economic woes: Troubled tigers; from The Economist
In Asia wage incomes have fallen relative to GDP.
In China the share of wages dropped from 53% in 1998 to 40% in 2007.
According to The Economist, "a raft of government policies will have to change to lift households’ share of national income."
In Asia, a lack of free medical care and lack of free schooling means that people have to save a high proportion of their income.
"Higher public spending on health, education and welfare support could encourage households to save less and spend more."
In the USA, the same applies.
"The recent news that China plans to spend 850 billion yuan ($125 billion) over the next three years to provide basic health care for at least 90% of the population by 2011 is therefore welcome."
Bush and Blair brought poverty to their own countries.
And to the world.
The secret policy of certain western governments is:
1. Help the super-rich to get richer.
2. Keep down the wages of the poor.
With George W Bush as president, the number of Americans living in severe poverty has increased dramatically.
Nearly 16 million Americans now live on an individual income of less than $5,000 (£2,500) a year or a family income of less than $10,000 (£5,000). (news.independent.co.uk)
The number of Americans living in extreme poverty has grown by 26% since 2000.
In the USA, poverty as a whole has worsened and the number of severe poor is growing 56% faster than the overall segment of the population characterised as poor - about 37 million people. (news.independent.co.uk)
According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation ( Wealth inequality 'at 40-year high' ) :
1. Britain is becoming a segregated society.
2. The gap between rich and poor has reached its highest level for more than 40 years.
3. During the past 15 years there has been an increase in the number of households living below the poverty line.
4. Households below the poverty line now account for more than half of all families in parts of some cities.
5. In parts of some cities more than half of all households are now "breadline poor" - enough to live on but no access to opportunities enjoyed by the rest of society.
6. Households in already wealthy areas have tended to become disproportionately wealthier.
7. Many rich people now live in areas segregated from the rest of society.
In the Calton district of Glasgow, male life expectancy is 53.9 years, almost ten years fewer than in Bangladesh.
However, life in Bangladesh can be worse than in Britain.
Large western companies like Tesco like to get cheap clothing from Bangladesh.
Tesco's chief executive Terry Leahy is a special adviser to the British government on business matters.
The Guardian (High price paid for cheap UK clothes ) explained on 15 July 2007:
1. Workers at factories supplying clothes to Asda (Walmart), Tesco and Primark told the Guardian that they were paid well below the £22 a month considered by experts to be the minimum living wage.
2. Mahbubur, 20, a machine operator, earns £16 a month, but he said apprentices or helpers in his factory earn only £9. His basic hours are 8am to 8pm, six days a week, but overtime, sometimes through the night, is compulsory.
What are we to think of Tesco, Walmart and similar companies?
Paul Collins, of War on Want, said: "These companies are driving down prices and pushing up profits and their workers are paying the real price in terrible pay and conditions." ( Brown is urged to act over 4p-an-hour sweatshop pay )
The following comes from Babylon :
"Most baseballs are made in Haiti by American companies. The factory girls get about $1.40 a day. They get injured arms and eyes."
"Is it only baseballs?"
"The Americans control the bauxite, sugar and sisal. It's like Cuba before Castro."
"Is it always slave wages?"
"You know Walt Disney?"
"They have contractors here who make Micky Mouse clothes. The factory girls get 8 pence an hour. You can't live on that. Then Wal-mart sells the Pocahontas pyjamas for $11-97."
"The Americans supported Baby Doc? But didn't he get thrown out?"
"And replaced by military dictatorship," said Jean, smiling.
"What about the radical priest Aristide? Didn't he win an election?"
"Very popular man among the poor! But 9 months after he came to power he was toppled."
"The army chief, Cedras, took over. These generals had been trained in the USA and were in the pay of the CIA."
"Then later Aristide was allowed back into Haiti."
"Yes. But FRAPH, a group financed by the CIA, started a lot of violence to destabilise Aristide."
"They were mainly made up of Tonton Macoutes. The Macoutes have always given Aristide a hard time. In 1988 Macoutes hacked to death scores of people in a church, while trying to kill Aristide."
"And the Macoutes have ensured that there is chaos in Haiti. What are the Americans up to?"
"The super rich, of whom there are many in Haiti, want a return to dictatorship. That might suit the fascists who run America. A socialist priest might try to make Walt Disney's people pay higher wages."
"Don't the Americans care about poverty?"
"Did the Americans care about the children they murdered in Indo China? America is run by billionaire fascists pretending to be Christians and democrats. The Haitian death squads in 1991, after Aristide had been kicked out, were led by Toto Constant. Now Constant, who lives in New York, claims he worked for the CIA."