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Gold Bugs

 

McKinley Campaign Poster 1896

McKinley Campaign Poster 1896

In 1896, Democrat William Jennings Bryan ran for U. S. president against Republican William McKinley. The country was three years into a depression that pitted industrial coasts against  agrarian heartland, old money against wage earners, debtors against creditors. McKinley wore a gold pin during the campaign in solidarity with the gold interests. Silver interests, including those in the West who were mining the black metal in Nevada, wanted to give silver a part in the national economy at a modest ratio of sixteen silver dollars to an ounce of gold. This would put more money in circulation because gold was in short supply. The McKinley backers would have none of it. Bryan, in his most famous speech, said that Americans would not be crucified on a cross of gold.

Gold has always been a refuge from financial chaos. But in the 1890s gold also become the eye of the needle by restricting commerce with its small aperture of limited supply: the economy mushroomed after the Civil War, but the relative supply of hard money needed to grease that expansion did not — including gold. Dollars grew scarce, not for lack of value in a growing economy, but for lack of gold. The farmer with abundant fields found himself borrowing just to get his crop to market. All this was a windfall for anyone who held gold; not so much for farmers and others in the economic machine whose wealth lay in what they produced.

America had become a factory, a supplier to Europe and the world. But the cycle of growth halted in 1893, starting with a panic in Europe. Investment coming into the United States reversed flow and foreign investors began trading their American stocks for hard money, for gold. Gold left the country. But farm and business debt, due to be repaid in gold, did not leave the country and there was less money in circulation to repay that debt. This set the stage for a culture war between those with gold and those who borrowed. Sound familiar?

William Jennings Bryan lost the 1896 presidential race. His cause against the Gold Bugs would have to wait until Franklin Roosevelt beat them back in 1932 when the United States traded the gold standard for the Federal Reserve’s “full faith and credit” of the United States. When neo-gold bugs decry Obamacare and financial reform they see as socialism. It’s no accident that they often speak in grave terms that these efforts are the worst thing to happen to this country since the New Deal. These people need more slogans! Somebody get out the bumper sticker machine:

Love Your Trust Fund

Cherish Your Banker

Kill the Inheritance Tax

Biblioteca Ludwig von Mises

Biblioteca Ludwig von Mises

Inspiration:

This mini essay has been sitting in my out basket for almost a year, but I just got a note from my son who’s studying at a university with an Austrian perspective. The school’s library is dedicated to Ludwig Von Mises. Milton Friedman also figures prominently in the academic pantheon. The Austrian school of economics keeps trying to resuscitate the case for hard money. Needless to say, Ben Bernanke’s quantitative easing would be a bit difficult under such a regimen. Maybe that would leave it to the likes of Rand Paul and Paul Ryan to come up with an alternative means to bring the U.S. economy out of the doldrums. Perhaps an authorized raid on Fort Knox?

Rail line from Oakland entering California's Livermore Valley

In the early morning hours of November 25, 1942, four German prisoners of war bound for a POW camp in California’s interior escaped as their train passed through the Livermore Valley east of San Francisco. These men had hopes of blending in with the local German community until they could find passage home. The four were captured within hours of their escape. A photo appeared in the Oakland Tribune later that day showing Alameda County Sheriff H. P. Gleason talking to one of the POWs, Edward Lorenc, 21, who’s asking to talk to the Polish consul. According to Lorenc, he’d been forced into the German army against his will. Later in the article, readers see another captured prisoner, Hans Koerber, also 21, who’s quite happy to present his pedigree as a full Nazi Party member trained up in the Hitler Jugend and confident in the virtures of the Third Reich. Both men were captured wearing diamond-shaped patches on the seats of their prisoner uniforms that reportedly meant “shoot” to their captors.

What if these two men had been successful in their escape? Both had been part of Rommel’s Afrika Korps, but they seem as different as night and day. How would these reluctant immigrants survive in a hostile countryside in their attempt to blend in? How would they be greeted by the Californians they met? What would become of them? Real-life Lorenc inspired my character Eduard Lubeck who appears in a short story published this month in Coyotes Along Stony Creek by epublisher Smashwords.

Rail Overcrossing in the Altamont Pass east of Livermore, in the hills where the German prisoners escaped

Such accidental immigration to California is a historical anomaly. Or, is it? There are as many stories of immigration as there are immigrants. Mexican convicts were sent north to populate the pueblo of Los Angeles in the early 1800s. Chinese railroad workers who built Central Pacific’s railroad through the Sierras hoped to return home, but by the end of the nineteenth century many had found permanent refuge in the few tiny blocks of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Mexicans escaping the turmoil of the Zapata era  fled north to barrios in Sacramento and throughout the Central Valley that stretches from Red Bluff to Bakersfield. These accidental immigrants to California are as much the rule as the exception. Only the circumstances of their arrivals set them apart.

Newcomers have always faced hostile locals. As soon as the Spanish laid claim to California, they demanded visitors present themselves for approval in Monterey, but this did little to deter anyone. The Russians set up a colony on the north coast called Fort Ross thumbing their nose at the weak governance of Monterey, only to sell their holdings to the locals when maintenance of the distant colony proved too costly. Mountain men and trappers drifting west enjoyed the beavered streams of the Central Valley. Ships piloted by captains from New England and points around the world made regular runs along the coast for decades in their quiet illegal trade with the missions.

When Americans from the east wrested the state from Mexico in 1846 their brethren had already become an established presence, well integrated into the commercial fabric of the region. Thomas Larkin, when not playing spy for his acquisitive handlers in Washington, amassed considerable land, wealth, and goodwill from the local Mexicans. He paved the way for the American conquest that cost the newcomers little in treasure or conscience.  These more-newly arrived quickly set about erecting monuments to their legitimacy and marginalized the Mexicans who’d long called the land their home. The enduring poetry of this takeover is that only a few decades before, the Spanish church had been even more ruthless in subjugating the Natives who’d called the region their home for ten thousand years.

Books I recommend:

Barrio Boy is Ernesto Galarza’s autobiography (1905-1984) about gowing up in Sacramento’s barrio. He also wrote Merchants of Labor which chronicles the Bracero program.

Black Butte Dam (U. S. Army Corp of Engineers) - flooding the area of Stony Creek that is the setting for short story The Gift

The Archaeology of California, by Joseph and Kerry Chartkoff, describes in vivid narrative the California that greeted immigrants who crossed from Asia to North America during the Ice Age. Chartkoff unexpectedly reappeared in my later readings when I was doing research for Stony Creek. He was the author of archaeological reports written in advance of construction of the Black Butte Dam in the 1960s. That area along Stony Creek, much of it now under water, was the setting for my World War II story, The Gift.

Three Californias

East Bay Hills

It’s 1898, the eve of the Spanish-American War and a time of explosive immigration to the United States. The Panic of 1892 has rocked the foundations of the Gilded Age and shock waves still roil through a fragile economy. In a welcome diversion, Willie Hearst’s New York Morning Journal is ratcheting up sentiment against an evil Spain, and Teddy Roosevelt’s splendid little war is about to get underway.

Jeremy Alvarez is a fatherless seventeen-year-old who’s grown up in his mother’s boarding house in Manhattan. He finds himself on a train with his family heading west to California to visit a dying grandfather he’s never seen. Jeremy is crossing the continent for the first time, and he’s hungry for knowledge of his mother’s ancestral valley east of San Francisco. This is where his grandfather greeted the Americans in 1846 — men of Manifest Destiny who stole his land, and eventually his self-respect.

The California that Jeremy finds is much different from the melting pot of his Manhattan that has gathered the world’s cultures and stacked them like cord wood with no alternative but to coexist. California has the elbow room for prejudice and a tradition of putting Indians, Chinese, and Mexicans in their place.

Jeremy Alvarez is a character in my novel-in-progress, but the subject of unwelcome foreigners is as old as my state that was once a Department of Mexico. A story about Jeremy’s family is told in an earlier novel, An Unseemly Reliquary. Both stories are fiction, of course, but reflect the state’s culture during the Gilded Age.

*****

Central Valley Beyond Interstate 5

Central Valley Beyond Interstate 5

In the 21st century a son of California, Victor Davis Hanson, writes in National Review Online of his beleaguered Central Valley. It is no longer prosperous or white, his farm in Fresno County a witness to impoverished and segregated communities. His childhood elementary school has become “94 percent Hispanic.” He decries the depressed farming conditions, the shift to corporate agribusiness, and laments how the family farm is all but extinct.

His “Third World” slice of California survives on welfare cash cards and the underground economy. But late-model cars and iPhones are not in short supply, providing a run-up to his plaintive question: “Does the $40 million a day supplement to unemployment benefits from Washington explain some of this.”

Mr. Hanson suggests the cause for this decline is illegal immigration, wrong-thinking ecologists, capricious water allocation, ethnic studies programs that preach a “fuzzy American culpability,” and a welfare system gone wild. He is speaking to his choir and his words say as much about the conservative culture that nurtured him as the opinions themselves. His opinions reflect a philosophy, not the facts.

He’s right that the abysmal conditions he describes can be attributed to the body politic, but not, I think, in the way he’d like us to think. The Central Valley farmers enjoy government giveaways that render any welfare or unemployment benefits to individuals insignificant. It is socialized (or government assisted) farming on a grand scale that has seen wealth transferred from public assets to private hands for generations in the form of nineteenth-century land giveaways, subsidized water, and the occasional crop subsidy — all gifts from Washington and Sacramento.

Drive along Interstate 5, these days, and you will see signs reminiscent of the old Burma Shave boards. They say “Congress created dust bowl” and “Food grows where water flows.” What is NOT said is that this water in question, like any welfare scenario, has been taken from the water-rich areas of the state to give to the water-poor areas of the state, transported through a world-class system of dams, canals, and pumping systems created at government expense. Karl Marx would approve. And the near extinction of the Delta Smelt in the canal pumping stations (the Delta’s ecological disaster du jour) like the residents of the impromptu barrios, are just collateral damage.

California’s unique flavor of extractive capitalism has been the economic soul of the state since the Gold Rush. The migrant encampments Mr. Hanson describes in the Central Valley are byproducts of a business model that is a far cry from the pastoral, husbandry paradigm one associates with farming.

The business practices of this mechanized heartland have more in common with the mining enterprises that grew out of the Gold Rush in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The mountains were marbled with gold, but it would take capital-intensive factory operations with road builders, blasting crews, stamp mills, water flumes, and rail lines to bring the yellow metal to market. Tailings from the water cannons that washed away those mountains irrevocably changed the Valley, the Delta, and San Francisco Bay.

California’s rich farm land has been no less mined and irrevocably changed. Both the mineral-rich mountains and fertile valleys have been exploited by the political will of already-rich men who could shift the laws to support their enterprises. Parts of the Valley are now wasteland from accumulated runoff of agriculture’s chemical brew, and the Valley has literally sunk from depletion of the millenia-old water table. But concern for human and ecological costs has never appeared on the balance sheets of California’s enterprises. (Leland Stanford’s Central Pacific Railroad is but one example of this dynamic in action.)

Mr. Hanson neglects this economic heritage as he constructs his pastoral view of the state. Instead, he suggests the poverty and lawlessness that he describes in the Mexican encampments have grown under the jaundiced eye of the welfare state, a government that rewards indolence and mollycoddles criminals who sneak across the Mexican border to milk the system. I submit that the answer is instead in the structure of the California economy, the business people who would hire the immigrants, and the politicians who do their bidding.

Flags Including Mexico's at Mission San Diego

Immigration, legal or otherwise, is a product of business-as-usual in California, traditions that have evolved since the arrival of the Spanish in the 1700s. But the presence of these newcomers leave the people of the state with the knotty question of what to do with them when they are not needed. Have they earned their keep? Do they deserve access to the state’s safety net? Why don’t they speak our language?

Meg Whitman’s 2010 campaign for governor fell victim, in no small part, to the snarky treatment she gave her undocumented hired help. Those of Meg’s class and moral values probably sympathized with her dilemma. Fortunately, the majority of California voters had a different way of seeing the billionaire’s plight. I suspect there was also a bit of backlash from employers who use casual labor: Meg crossed the line. Don’t slap the hand that feeds your kids and chauffeurs them to school. Respect still has some currency on our Left Coast.

Mission San Diego

In the early 1800s traders plied the coast of Spanish California in quiet dealings with the padres–illegal, but pervasive and rewarding for all parties. Later, under Mexico’s rule of the region Larkin, Sutter, and all the others who came before the American conquest did so hat in hand, bowing to the provincial government in Monterey. A few superior beings, like John Fremont, snubbed Monterey and its weak government. Then, as now, there was spotty enforcement of immigration law. But Fremont, the imperious son-in-law of Sen. Thomas Hart Benton from Missouri, had revenge for his inconvenience as an illegal. Just prior to U. S. conquest of California, Fremont engineered imprisonment for the most progressive of the locals, and ironically, the most American-friendly Mexican of the era, benign Mariano Vallejo. Meg would love Fremont.

California’s farming practices, especially in the Central Valley, quickly evolved after the Gold Rush to such a scale that huge labor pools were needed to sow and harvest crops. A steady supply of immigrants, including Mexicans, fed the machine through the 1920s. But hard times such as we have now renewed the calls to exclude foreigners to make room for this county’s own dispossessed and out of work. In a familiar refrain, the Mexicans were pressured to leave. Then came World War II and the farmers once again were short of help with war-time factories competing for the locals. The federal Bracero Program came into being at the farmers’ request. The Mexicans were invited back! But only as long as they could be controlled, easily done through isolation in labor camps. Conditions were dismal, but workers risked deportation if they questioned their treatment. I suspect that anyone wanting to know the meaning of duress should ask a Mexican — today as much as the 1940s when the program was instituted.

Huntington Library, San Marino

Huntington Library, San Marino

The Bracero Program ended in 1964, but the culture of disposable labor did not. The migrant camps up and down the Central Valley never went away, occupying a legally gray, no-man’s land. These encampments have served the conservative business community dominated by a cadre of old families and politicians. Names, like Stanford, Huntington, Hearst, and Chandler survive in the institutions they founded, their heirs, and their immortal trusts. And there is no shortage of newcomers who would share in this tradition, including wannabes in their power quest such as Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina.

California’s persistent nativism has left a mark on the nation by sponsoring a succession of laws and attitudes: the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Mexican Repatriation during the Great Depression, mal treatment of the Dust Bowl migrants that would inspire Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, and of course the Japanese who were conveniently dispossessed and imprisoned during World War II. Most of all, this predatory regard for foreigners left its mark on the conscience of the state’s people who must reconcile the contradiction that we are all of foreign stock, and how — if at all — can we muster the moral high ground and say, “You are a foreigner, an illegal. Get out.”

We are in an interregnum, a period of shifting American self perception characterized by faltering belief in our institutions. We no longer have faith in our government’s policies toward our global neighbors, and feel little respect for laws crafted under the guidance of the Have-Mores. The cast-offs from California’s agricultural machine are with us. We don’t know what to do with them.

So-called white people now comprise less than 50% of California’s population, but are still the largest single group. Hispanics are catching up. Within a few years, we of the privileged white majority will become the minority, outnumbered by them.

There is, indeed, a Blue Left Coast and a Red heartland in California’s Central Valley. Sparks always fly when they meet. The character in my novel, Jeremy Alvarez, might wonder at this pitched battle that the Red and Blue play with immigration, again and again, each time without reflection on its repetitive nature.

Hanson’s article is available at:

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/255320/two-californias-victor-davis-hanson

I just spent a valuable morning in a workshop given by Maralys Wills at the Southern California Writers Conference in San Diego. One of the sections was called Plotting Made Easy, a bit nostalgic for me because my first SCWC conference (2002 or 2003) introduced me to Writing for Story, which restates Aristotle’s Poetics — the original 2300-year-old primer on plot.

Toward the end of the workshop Ms. Wills made some comments about memoirs that I hadn’t heard before — not unexpected, because I usually stick to writing fiction and opinion. First, creatively-re imagined dialogue is considered OK in memoirs, and second, time reorganization of life’s events for the sake of the memoir’s plot seems to be acceptable, as well. I’m a little suspicious of both, especially recreated dialogue. I normally wouldn’t be too concerned about the issue, but I’m in a critique situation where I see these devices in use by memoir authors. And it’s been making me cringe.

I don’t want to buck a trend gratuitously, so I have to ask myself: what would make these devices work for me? In both cases, I think, it is a matter of credibility. Do I trust the author’s perspective? Has the author set up their narrative in such a way that I can buy into what they are about to tell me? Are they trustworthy story tellers?

They must earn the right to recreate dialogue if they want to keep me as a reader. They must either convince me that they have  total recall, or establish an initial rapport with me that allows me to feel their recollections are authentic, though perhaps not literal. They must have made me ready to accept that these words represented as dialogue, just like a novel, are in fact the essence of what happened. But establishing the trust so the reader accepts the intent of the dialogue comes first, not later as a foot note. If they don’t create this rapport, I’m inclined to mutter something about how can you the author remember what someone said thirty years after the fact! Once I start questioning the author’s intent, I’ve mentally exited your story. You’ve lost me as a reader. You, the writer, don’t want a reader to go there.

The issue of events-out-of-sequence is more complicated. This device can fulfill special authorial intent as well as reader expectation, and it’s one that the reader may not even be aware of. Using this device may allow for improving the plot of the memoir. Real life does not normally lend itself to a convenient, obvious plot arc where something like the hero’s journey unfolds in a clean and satisfying sequence (goal setting, quest, setbacks, achievement and/or failure, then resolution.) But the writer may want to present their personal story that way, and the reader may find such a sequence more satisfying to consume than simply hearing a series of trials and successes (random, episodic plotting.) To make it work in the way familiar to novelists, and tragedians since the Greeks, the memoirist may want to arrange the narrative by bunching events together that did not necessarily happen in sequence. To pull this off, you first need the reader’s trust. If you don’t have it, the reader will again be muttering to themselves – only more so — because they will feel manipulated, even tricked. And you, the memoirist, don’t want to go there.

ObamaCare Payback

Potholes are the arch enemies of bicycles, no matter how many thousands of dollars one may pay for a state-of-the-art, carbon-framed dream machine. The asphalt is just as aggressive in turning denim stylish and extremities into candidates for x-rays.

Enter ObamaCare, that curious compromise of 2010 that everybody loves to hate. The young rider of the carbon-framed steed is free to go the the emergency room without fear of bankruptcy. The medical coverage he had through his parents’ policy as a student – that had lapsed for a year – was just recently reactivated courtesy of the new mandates to cover children until they are twenty-six. If my family hadn’t already been ardent advocates of health reform before health reform, then we certainly would be now.

Jim Demint, the mentally vesatile Tea Partyer, appeared on Face the Nation this morning. He bloviated on the cuts needed to balance the federal budget with evasive agility, but he couldn’t back-pedal fast enough when asked about putting Social Security and Medicare on the table — a political pothole much deeper than the one my son faced. Perhaps he knows that this will be the Republicans’ downfall: such valued programs have become sacred, adding to the pact between government and governed since the 1930s.

It’s unfortunate that ObamaCare didn’t allow more of its future benefits to kick in earlier. If it had, I suspect that many of those who said “we don’t want it” would now be in the camp of “don’t you dare take it away.”

Checkout-Line Profiler

Yesterday, standing in the checkout line at Costco, I did my usual imaginings about the person ahead of me. On the conveyor: Toy Story 3 (Blue-Ray version,) three ginger-bread house kits, plus a few assorted child-centric items.

My expectations for this shopper were a little skewed from the usual because most of the time I shop at a different Costco in Concord, in the county’s Latino epicenter. Yesterday I went to the Danville store, which has a much different complexion. The route is overseen by succession of multi-multi-million-dollar McMansions ascending the hillsides from the San Ramon Valley floor. A couple miles beyond the Danville store you’ll pass by the guard-gates of Blackhawk, one of the original Bay Area gated enclaves, home to sports notables and infomercial celebrities.

My profiler’s instinct kicked in as I watched my shopper pay with her American Express card. Did I say the young lady ahead of me was blond, wearing casually expensive workout clothes? — not to mention that she had a manner with the checker that would make her the queen of any play-time co-op, or private-school fund-raiser. But yesterday I cut her some slack. I admitted I might be wrong — not necessarily about her pedigree because her attire and manner advertised her station. The fact is, I don’t know her real story and I’d just had a mild wakeup call about blanket assumptions.

The previous night, I saw Bill Gates’ father mugging for the camera as he allowed himself to be dunked in a tank of water: pay your $$, throw the ball, dunk the clown. The sign by the water tank said SOAK THE RICH. This disarming visual introduced an interview with Mr. Gates on the PBS Newshour. Turns out, he’s been stumping for a local (Washington state) tax on millionaires. Refreshing. I’d also seen Bill Gates’ wife in a recent interview promoting her family’s foundation. She seemed as benign as the blond supermom at Costco. The common denominator with all three Gates, Bill, dad, and wife, seems to be an understanding that wealth is not created in a vacuum, and paying back is part of the game. A hopeful reminder that not all billionaires are cut from the same cloth.

Unfortunately, the Gates’ perspective has limited influence on Silicon Valley where two of its elite chose to push their world view into California politics. Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman were in the race for the top offices of U.S. Senator and governor, and both made their vision of our state’s future clear through their own history. Fiorina left a trail of unemployed at her former employer, HP, and Queen Meg showed her true colors in the kerfuffle about her fired illegal-immigrant housekeeper.

A couple weeks ago during the height of the election season, Maureen Dowd, in her column for the New York Times, lumped these two billionaires in with a cadre she called the Republican Mean Girls. I’m glad she said it because white guys like me aren’t allowed such insightful statements that border on profiling.

I’m pleased to note that both Fiorina and Whitman have been rejected by California voters, a departure from the rest of the country in the Great Red Sweep of 2010. California IS different. It grows a brand of liberalism (the old-fashioned, Age of Reason variety) anathema to the Heartland. Unfortunately, I suspect the state’s Democratic wins with Brown and Boxer, like tales of generous billionaires, is the real exception. Yesterday’s election elsewhere in the country was more in character with this nation’s longstanding appetite for demagogues and a secret longing for theocracy.

Earlier this month, Moraga hosted a debate between U.S. Senate incumbent Barbara Boxer and challenger Carly Fiorina, late of HP fame. I watched it on TV from across town. A slick production suitable for state-wide consumption. I expected nothing less. Moraga is a precious place and Saint Mary’s College, host to the event, sets the tone — literally, with its bells (The bell tower is real, but I’ve often wondered about the bells.)

Saint Mary’s moved over the hills from Oakland in the 1920s. At that time the Sacramento Northern Railway, one of the region’s electric railways, served the Moraga Valley. The route was an amalgam of small lines that ran from the Oakland Long Wharf, through a tunnel bored through the Oakland Hills (now abandoned) all the way to Chico. It was a street-car-like commuter line not unlike San Francisco’s Muni in appearance and did its part to link the inland valleys to the hub of commerce that the Bay cities have been since the gold rush. Saint Mary’s had its own little station. But autos were coming into favor and the Caldecott Tunnel opened in 1937 a few miles north-west of the old rail line. The Sacramento Northern ceased passenger operation in 1941 just as World War II was about to turn the Bay Area into an arsenal and staging area for the Pacific theater.

Like the much of Central Contra Costa County, post-war Moraga served as a bedroom and brood house for Oakland and San Francisco. In the morning the breadwinners exited for San Francisco Bay’s commercial centers, returning to their cocoon through the tunnel at night. The success of Central County’s burbs inspired a third tunnel that provided switchable reserve capacity for the peak travel direction. It opened in 1964 as real estate developers eyed East County’s farmland.

Now, two generations later, the Caldecott is a three-tunnel bottleneck much of the day where the non-commute direction, with its single tunnel, hosts a formidable reverse commute. No one expected that commuters from Oakland would be going opposite the traditional commute to the business parks in San Ramon, or going out of their way to avoid the even-more congested freeways that ring the Bay. After decades of discussion and money hunting a new fourth tunnel is under construction courtesy of the federal Recovery Act. In a couple years the barriers that twice daily change the direction of the middle bore will become a memory.

I doubt that I’m the only one who sees irony in the fact that the original two-bore Caldecott Tunnel was built during the depressed 1930s, and the new fourth bore is progressing during California’s Great Depression II. Déjà vu all over again. The Caldecott was started before Roosevelt’s New Deal, before the late 30′s conservative pushback dried up enthusiasm for federal spending. Likewise, the new fourth bore is funded by a financing package that could not be done in the current political climate where deficit hawks, directed by the oppressed affluent** have successfully played the fear card that Roosevelt warned against. Barbara Boxer is on Roosevelt’s side of history and Carly Fiorina is on Herbert Hoover’s. They echo the same polarized California we had during the last depression. The California fault line is alive and well.

** “oppressed affluent” courtesy of Paul Krugman’s opinion piece: The Angry Rich  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/opinion/20krugman.html?src=me&ref=general

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