I have always realized how fortunate I am to be raised and living in the USA. As I travel, I often pine to live outside the country, to get away from the Loglow, the strip malls and blustering entitlement you can’t escape here. Even for those of us alleged “well-travelled” touring people very rarely see the extent of how the rest of the world lives as our concert locations become more geared toward how much the local market can bear.

Mike Davis is an American social commentator and author that I discovered about 1990 when his book “City of Quartz” came out. It is a alternative history of the city of Los Angeles as told from the perspective of real estate development, politics, architecture, religion and other elements that all cities have. The astounding thing besides his endless footnotes was the fact that the same names and money popped up in every chapter, funnelling the cities future in the shape their money without fail. Though it was social commentary and local history, I was in full-on page turner mode, compelled to keep reading it into the early hours of the morning. It was fascinating and I never have been able to look at Los Angeles the same ever again.

He has continued to write compelling books such as Ecology of Fear  and Dead Cities; his latest has been in my hands for a few weeks now and I’d like to tell you about it.

Planet of Slums Bookcover

Planet of Slums is a look at how the poor urban neighborhoods are inflating in size all over the world. You might know a little about the population explosion and maybe a little more about the poverty that holds about 80% of the population of the earth at under $2 a day in earning. Where they live and how is discussed in this book. The fact that the governments, the World Bank and the IMF have steered these policies that have created these astoundingly horrible conditions is not avoided either.

I could start rattling off statistics to you but you should really read the book and realize that these are not just the warehouses of “excess humanity” but a sign of both the way that business looks at labor as being truly expendable and that we are not immune to it happening to us as well. It is also why it is easy for radicals to find desperate people not afraid to die for a cause because anything might be better than what they have.

So, remember when you’re deciding if your next house should have 2 or 3 bathrooms that there is a good chance that the guy on the other end of your tech helpline may have to share his water tap with 100 other people and his toilet too.

This is a Bitterman must read.