The real realist is the owner of a blog called “Why South Africa is crap”. It is supposedly dedicated to “revealing the truth about the failed South African 'Rainbow' nation and monitoring its decline into a Turd World Hellhole.”
In principle there is obviously nothing wrong with trying to dig up news that is for whatever reason not properly covered by the media. However, my problem with this guy and his blog already starts to manifest itself in, and is very well summed up by, his pseudonym, the name of the blog, and the nomenclature in his blog motto.
Firstly, his carefully chosen name. He’s not just a realist. He’s not even a real realist. He is nothing less than “the real realist”. Only he knows the “real” truth, he says.
Secondly, the name of the blog. He’s not saying that he feels South Africa is less than perfect. He doesn’t even stop at saying that to him South Africa is crap. He is stating that South Africa is crap as an objective fact. If you don’t think SA is crap, he says, you are simply delusional. He explicitly or implicitly makes it clear in every second post that he has completely given up on SA, and any person that suggests that they do not agree with him 100%, is thumped into the ground by His Greatness and his cronies. I don’t need anyone with such a childish, arrogant, stupid name telling me how to feel about anything.
Thirdly, the blog motto. The fatalistic “failed” I can handle, but the “Turd World Hellhole” is too much. Because it doesn’t just stop there, oh no. Any native of a poorish country is referred to as a “Turd Worlder”, by the Almighty Realist as well as his disciples. Certain human beings are said to be human excrement. What’s more, any non-white South African is referred to as a “New South African”. This guy categorizes on a level of detail only marginally superior to a newborn who is still coming to terms with the fact the universe can be divided into more than just himself and the rest.
He’s not even a good writer: his foremost tool in his comeback armour is the exclamation mark. That really is just about all he has to offer. It’s not unusual for him to refute a perfectly good argument with something like “Now you are talking complete bollocks! That’s hilarious! Your comments are stupid!” Just that, nothing else. The frustrating thing is that it is a very effective strategy if you’re trying to convince an idiotic readership. Most of them are simply angry, stupid racists that can’t get over the fact that a white skin no longer guarantees them the American Dream. They can’t think for themselves, so they assume that the odd comment expressing anything on the sane side of the Apocalypse must be obviously stupid if there are more than three exclamation marks in the Almighty Realist’s reply.
Case in point:
His Holiness The Real Realist misquoted a few numbers (a 50% weakening of the rand becomes 100%) regarding the ZAR/USD exchange rate, and promptly proclaimed with the conviction of a four year old with a new Superman costume jumping of fa roof: “I think I’m starting to see a pattern here”. Like he's understating an obvious fact.
He claims that since 1994 things have basically been going to shit, according to the numbers. The real truth is that there isn’t a pattern by a long shot, which I’ll demonstrate below. I tried to protest, but only got a relentless bombardment of exclamation marks in return.
The graphs below show some of SA’s most important vital statistics (excuse the horrible layout, I blame www.blogger.com). I don’t pretend to be an economist, but there is no pattern of regression in these numbers. The red parts of the graphs show SA’s progress since 1994 (when the new government was inaugurated), the black parts everything that happened between 1960 and 1994. (There is nothing special about the starting date, that is simply as far back as the data at my disposal goes.)
For the more technically inclined, the scales on the vertical axes are all logarithmic (the exact numbers are irrelevant), just to make interpretation more intuitive, and the horisintal axes denote the date. The straight line shows the trend in the data pre-1994, and extrapolates it to 2006. In simple terms: the straight line determines whether SA has made better or worse progress since 1994 (than between 1960 and 1994).
As you can see below, yes, the rand has weakened at a slightly quicker pace than it did in the Apartheid days. But if there’s any pattern, it’s a very positive one: the rand stood at something like R14 per dollar a few years ago, and now it’s at about R7. A remarkable recovery.
As the other graphs show, however, SA’s GDP growth and share markets (the ALSI represents about 99% of the SA equity markets) have accelerated, and inflation has decelerated since 1994.
No-one can deny SA has a lot of problems and faces a lot of challenges, and who knows where we’ll be in 10 years’ time, but the last thing we need is some idiot giving tens of thousands of us the impression that we’ve regressed in areas that we’ve actually made some very good progress, against all the odds.