Thursday, December 1, 2011

Street repairs and presidential elections

The traffic here is bad, millions of cars and dense blocks of mid rise buildings for miles.  A street repair is a major inconvenience for drivers.  The water system is good but every once in a while a pipe rusts, or cracks and repairs must be done.  As an old water district lawyer, I have had several interesting cases involving leaking fire hydrants and expensive repairs so I always stop and look at the crews working on these projects. 
The Argentines just had their national election in October.  The president, Christina Kirchner was reelected with a 54% vote, impressive.  She is a Peronist and is very supportive of working class people. Inflation is high, but union wages are rising fast enough to keep up with it.  Argentina is not paying its bonded indebtedness, but neither is Greece and Italy, Spain and Ireland are on the same path.  The international bond market does not appreciate her ideas, but her populist policies seem to be working at the moment and things are running smoothly (as long as the world needs the agricultural commodities Argentina produces). 
So what does that have to do with street repairs?  One of my informal measures is the number of men on the job and how many are working compared to how many are leaning on shovels or using their cellphones.  Here the ratio today was two watching and one working.  About the same as I would expect at home.  Perhaps Barack and Christina are not really that different.  Hope the US can pay our bonds off when they come due.
Just what is the proper ratio of watchers to workers?  At least the workers are smiling.

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