[Vientiane, 1/5/20] On 6/27/22, The Economist asked, “Will Laos be the next Sri Lanka?” The main reasons for its economic crisis were high inflation (17%), higher oil price “caused in part by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” and more expensive imports due to rising American interest rates.
Higher oil process “caused in part by WESTERN SANCTIONS RESPONDING TO Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” And whenever good regime stenographers mention “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” they always make certain to include the adjective “unprovoked.” As with all propaganda, repetition is essential.
Speaking of affordable accommodations in Asia, I can certainly vouch for Taipei. Just a few years ago, we negotiated a month-long stay at a tourist hotel for around $2K. It was well worth it, with all the modern amenities like wifi and a big screen TV, and the room rate included a very good free breakfast buffet every day. There is plenty to see, and street markets and food everywhere. (The night market in Shilin is amazing.) Public transportation is excellent and safe, and if you feel the need to get out of the crowded city for awhile, a short bus ride will take you up to wide open places like Yangming Mountain, along the north coast, or even farther if you are so inclined.
I assume that your interest in seeing those US cities you listed is motivated at least in part by a desire to see how much each has changed since your last visit. Here in California, most of the larger cities like LA, Fresno, Stockton, and SF have numerous areas littered with tents—they have literally become campgrounds. We make it to LA two or three times a year, and it seems like it is worse every time.
It is especially said to see Portland, which we visit once a year to see my daughter and our friends. We lived there in the mid-1990s, and when my work took me elsewhere, I was sorry to leave. But seeing what it has become since then is sad (to say the least), and I wouldn’t move back there now.
Even our modest California burg tucked in here on the coast hours away from major population centers has its cast of desperates. They are all camped out next to the highway along a drainage ditch that runs along the right-of-way. This is one relatively recent feature of the new America. It used to be necessary to drive into the seedier commercial districts near-the city center to survey this part of the population. Nowadays you don’t even have to leave the freeway. If you are anywhere near a populated area, you can see these campgrounds in every right-of-way and under every overpass. A couple of years ago, I even saw a major tent city plunked directly on the pavement on a fenced-off portion of a permanently unfinished highway transition ramp.
To close on a lighter note, that is quite a sidecar in your first photograph. If the owner built it himself, I’d say he’s quite a craftsman.
Most Americans have no idea how bad their country has become, nor how great it can be in foreign lands. Their cities have been brought to ruin practically, but hey, as long as the government can keep throwing funny money around I guess it's still a rich and prosperous country, right? A poverty level salary in the US lets you live an upper middle class lifestyle in many parts of the world. It's better to make 25K a year in Thailand, Philippines, or China than 100K a year in New York, Chicago, or San Francisco.
And I know it's a cliche, but the greatest wealth these poor countries have is their family life. That's the natural state of humanity in the absence of a massive government edifice. Children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly all have a place and a purpose. I can't say the same is true of the US. As an adult, life can in some regards be OK, sometimes. But better not be too old, too young or too poor to drive though. Better live where there are jobs too. And affordable houses. Where the cost of living won't make you poor by default. You want to have a family here? Forget about it. Want to live in a city? You might be taking your life in your hands, if you can afford to make such a move in the first place.
I think it's funny how conservatives will say the US is OK as long as you stay away from the cities. Yup, my country is totally fine, just don't go near civilization! The new American dream is to escape the cities and live in the woods.
Linh Dinh: I don't take your point about anonymous commentary personally. But as a pseudonymous commenter I have to say that I put my money where my mouth is by supporting many good substack writers and journalists daring to think and write important things about salient topics. If I didn't remain anonymous my earning capacity might be at risk. So, although I don't feel offended by your critique likely occasioned by the poster who accused you of relying on ChatGPT, sometimes the most important contribution a person can make is by being anonymous.
I believe the best, and really only, option to survive the coming calamity in whatever form it takes is to simply recluse to a rural area.
Best selling author Bill Porter examines modern day hermits in China. The following video is worthwhile imo.
speaking of america - recently a washington post opinion columnist - david ignatius - said that biden shouldn't run again
"President Biden’s son Hunter was indicted Thursday for allegedly making false statements and illegal gun possession — setting the stage for a possible criminal trial for the younger Biden in 2024 while his father campaigns for re-election." - from the Washington Post website
last night spouse and self watched a full length movie for free on youtube - from 1985, sally field and james garner, "murphy's romance" - it was set in a small town in arizona, the main characters were a horse trainer and the town pharmacist
senator mitt romney from utah - formerly governor of massachusetts - is not going to seek re-election next year - he is disgusted with the hypocrisy of his colleagues
there is a verse in the bible - psalms - "this is the day the lord has made - let us rejoice and be glad in it"
Who the heck is printing all this profound wisdom in english on shirts and dresses across SE Asia? I used to think these the were buyers of last resort for stuff that didn't sell in the west but some of the slogans and designs are so off the wall it seems unlikely they were simple marketing oopsies. BIGGER THAN SATAN. Really?
And I learned something new today: run your fingernail along the reeded edge of an American quarter; turns out that's the sound of antisemitism!
There are some smaller towns and rural areas in the US that, like Pakse, have low paying jobs but even lower costs of living. Unfortunately that means young people can afford to start families after buying homes. Every family formed, unless by immigrants, hurts Mother Gaia's chances of defeating the Sun God.
Fortunately, people fleeing expensive areas and Jewish funds are buying up many of the homes, driving up prices and helping to level the playing field between Mother Gaia and the Sun God.
Reflective. Philosophic too. And even tempting.
"We're going down, Sam" "I know it...."