What Three Dollars Will Get You

$3.00 For this Refreshing Beverage

Yesterday I bought one liter of tropical juice, something that I’d been craving for a while. The juice cost me 2700 Congolese Francs, which is exactly equal to $3.00. Now, this doesn’t seem to be that significant, as that’s about what a liter of juice would cost in America, and I knew that it was an imported product as there is nowhere in Kisangani which could manufacture juice.

Today, as I poured a glass to have with my breakfast, it clicked that for the same $3.00 I could have paid a day laborer to hack through and clear 200 square meters of jungle. This work would take him five or six hours, and would be an exhausting endeavor, but he wouldn’t even question or argue about the price. $3.00 is the standard pay for clearing 200 sq. meters.

So, for a day laborer in Kisangani to obtain that small box of juice, he would have to work in the hot, humid jungle, constantly hacking at bushes, branches, vines, and trees for six long hellacious hours.

$3.00 of Hard Labor

The next time you buy a Grande Soy Latte, just try and enjoy it a bit more, because for many people in the world, that’s a damn hard day’s work.

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5 thoughts on “What Three Dollars Will Get You

    • It’s ok, Bei, you can still enjoy a good cup of coffee. I just want people to know what it’s like in the rest of the world. But, you should know too, as there are some very poor villages in China where I’m sure they haven’t tried Starbucks.

      • after my class y’all can’t be such bleeding hearts. jiuce is a tradable, labor is not. if they can be eductqaed, they can become tradable, and price themselves as juice orices itself. get out there and do some policy to solve the problem rather than stopping drinking juice!

      • Don’t worry, as I said in my response to Bei, I’m not trying to get people to forgo anything. I understand that goods which can be traded have much more value than labor, particularly value-added goods rather than primary goods. I do, on the other hand, fell that people should understand the issues which face developing nations, like, in this example, low paying labor.

        Today, I was having a conversation with one of our local employees. He told me that since there is an incredible lack of opportunity here, many men will choose joining the military, even educated ones, simply because it would mean they will get food provided and the possible opportunity to obtain income through plunder (Something that we’re working to discontinue). Because there is no infrastructure here, and the government is afraid of building infrastructure, like roads, as it might allow the Eastern Army easy access to the capital where it could start a coup — the way the current government obtained power — there is little chance for economic development through trade, which creates quite the poverty trap.

  1. Pingback: Idealism versus Development « A Crowing Hen

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