An African Perspective
Yes, I understand that Hurricane Katrina was terrible and killed many people and destroyed lives. I know people were left homeless and sick and felt abandoned. But guess what? Most of South Africa looks like that every single day. Most of Africa is even worse. When was the last time you had an outbreak of Typhoid? Cholera? Polio? Poverty, disease, death and government negligence are major issues for you. Here, it's just another day in africa.
In south africa, the leading cause of death is Tuberculosis. It accounts for about twice as many deaths a year as heart disease. Deaths from TB are increasing in percentage, while deaths from heart disease are decreasing. More people are killed by our 'health care' facilities each year than kill themselves. We have the world's second highest murder rate, at nearly one in 2000 people murdered. America is sitting at about one in 25,000. We're beaten only by Columbia.
More than 10% of the country live in shacks. Only 80% of households have electricity. Only 57% of households have municipal waste removal services. Only 68% of households have running water. 10% of households have no toilet facilities. Not even a hole in the ground, or a bucket.
At the end of last year, the department of health estimated that 6.3 million south africans were HIV positive (thats about 14% of the entire population). Over 100,000 of those infected are babies.
In south africa there are no laws to protect the minorities, and all the discrimination laws are in place to protect the majority. Elected party representatives and members of parliament may cross the floor to join the other parties during their term of office. There is no functional opposition to the ruling party. They may change the constitution at will, as they have a 2/3 majority. 10% of the country's residents admit to having to bribe an official or civil servant to do their job. Our deputy president was recently relieved of his position due to suspicion of corruption. Our ministers of parliament are regularly in the news and in the courts on charges of corruption, nepotism, and misappropriation of public funds.
Or, it could be even worse. Next time you're sitting in your nice first world country, bitching about how hard you have it, imagine what it would be like to have Robert Mugabe as a president. Think about what it would be like to live in Zimbabwe, where soon you will need to be granted an exit visa if you want to leave your country, even on business or holiday. Where the press are controlled by the government, where voting for the opposition can get you killed, and where the president can order your home to be bulldozed or your land taken away, just if the fancy strikes him.
It could be a lot, lot worse. Be grateful for what you have, and remember that at the end of Bush's term, you have the ability to vote for someone else. He can't change the constitution to give himself another term, as Mugabe has time and again.
(All stats quoted in this post courtesy of Statistics South Africa, the Deparment of Health and the Nationmaster website)