I’m wondering today how Venezuela, with a population of about 28 million people, can be considered a “threat” to the United States, as was recently announced by the State Department. This strikes me as utterly bizarre, and I can only assume that Washington is rankled because Venezuela refuses to dance to the neoliberal tune called out by Uncle Sam. Nothing annoys the US as much as when other countries refuse to play by our rules. We brand such countries as enemies and do whatever we can to undermine them.
The US has a long, dubious, and bloody rap sheet when it comes to meddling in the internal affairs of Central and South American nations. What’s interesting about this latest fixation on Venezuela is that it comes hard on the heels of our softening toward Cuba.
Those with any understanding and appreciation of American history have called these times the Second Gilded Age. It’s an era of stunning, staggering inequality of wealth and ostentatious displays of consumption. Steve Lopez, veteran columnist with the LA Times, recently did a piece about LA real estate of the highest end variety – the sort of “properties” that sell for $35, $50, and even upwards of $100 million bucks. Apparently, the global rich are pouring money into LA real estate, buying and tearing down and building bigger, grander palaces. The real estate peddler who took Lopez on a tour through Beverly Hills claimed the boom was good for the city’s coffers, meaning, I suppose, that his conscience was clear because he was just giving people what they want. Besides, Skid Row isn’t visible from the Hills.
The same thing happens here on the Platinum Coast, albeit on a smaller scale. Even during the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial collapse, houses in SB were being remodeled and renovated, and the market never dived as it did elsewhere, proving, as if such proof were needed, that owning a piece of the American Riviera is as good as owning gold; this helps to explain why new buildings around town are shoehorned into tiny lots. Every foot of gilded ground must be exploited.
Which isn’t good news for those of us with normal jobs and incomes. This wasn’t a great week for my wife and I as we discovered that we owe the IRS and the Franchise Tax board some money. Frankly, this sent me into a mental tailspin for a couple of days, but I eventually stopped feeling sorry for myself. We’ll pay what we owe, we always do. The tax bill did get me thinking about SB and how people crack the nut every month in order to live here. Are they cheating on their taxes, working off the books, selling drugs, trafficking in contraband?
It’s officially spring, or so says the calendar, time of renewal and growth, though growth – at least in the sense of vines and flowers and grass – may be hard to come by with the ongoing drought. We have a year’s supply of water, maybe less. I can’t understand why the authorities haven’t instituted mandatory rationing. Perhaps they fear scaring tourists away. I fear the day when I turn on the tap and nothing comes out.