29 January 2009

Stupid Americans, Stupid Argentinos

I saw two things in La Capital today that really ticked me off. OK there is always a lot in the news to be ticked off at but these two really got to me because they show stupidity can be found in both of the countries I love.

First, An American couple, living near Miami, paid U$S 155,000 to clone their dog!!!! These idiots have more money than brains. Imagine how many kids could be fed for this amount of money. No wonder the world thinks so lowly of Americans. This really disgusts me. I lost my dog after 12 years and I cried for days afterwards but I would never, for an instant, thinking of doing something this stupid.

Second, Except for being a great futbol player, Diego Maradona has been a disaster. Now he compounds his errors by giving wholehearted support to the Dictatorship of Hugo Chavez, the Clown of Caracas. Diego, por favor, coach our national team and get the hell out of international politics, of which you know absolutely nothing.

28 January 2009

The World's Biggest Rose

The arrest order for Pimpi Camino and his brothers rates the world's biggest rose for all those involved with the arrest. One can only hope all the scum involved will be sent to try and live on sides of Aconcagua in the dead of winter. I only hope the Judge has the huevos to do the right thing. Can Lopez and the rest of his group be far behind? One can only hope so. More roses for the directors of NOB for speaking out on the role the predecessors played in their cozy relationship to criminal barra bravas.

¡Vamos Argentina! Devolvamos nuestros clubes del fĂștbol. DevuĂ©lvalo de la escoria.

27 January 2009

Roses and Thorns

A Rose to the City Government for implementing a new NO PARKING zone in the micro center. This area is too congested and the streets too narrow to accommodate cars, busses, parking and double parking.

A Thorn to the City Government for implementing a new NO PARKING zone. Where the heck am I supposed to park? The Estacionamentos are surely going to hike the prices a lot because of the lack of parking. Another Rose to the City if they enforce a price cap.

A Thorn to the City Government for the new property tax increases. Everything is going up (except the official inflation rate) so an increase in taxes is to be expected but some people are facing an increase of more than 1000%. A little more investigation might have caused the city to gradually increase these property taxes.

A Really poisonous excruciatingly painful Thorn to the Newell's Barra Brava. These scum tried to rip apart the home site of the club, stealing important papers and threatening everyone with guns, knives and baseball bats. Families with small children were at the club trying to enjoy the day and they too were threatened. At least the police arrived in time to arrest 19 of the 40 mierdas. These extortionists are pure garbage and I hope the new Directors of the club can find a way to get rid of them for good (that's impossible I know). If they do I will become a socio, I promise.

A Rose to the street sweepers of Rosario. These guys are out in all kinds of weather cleaning the street gutters and making the streets a bit nicer. Hats off to them. Yes, it could be done much more efficiently but this method employs people in a useful manner.

A Thorn to the national government for again raising the price of cigarettes, now up to 4.75 pesos a pack (around U$1.30).

Let Me Digress For A Moment

I just checked to see if there were any comments to any of my posts and, lo and behold, there were some and I found each of them interesting and helpful. After reading and responding to them I thought I would take a minute to maybe clarify a couple things. I am new to this so my thoughts are not always well organized and I am NOT a professional blogger --- obviously.

OK, I do have permanent residency here and my DNI is the one with the pink pages for extranjeros and not the one with green pages for citizens. And yes, I was very fortunate to have good friends and a great lawyer help get me through the maze in quick order.

I am not here to do business. I am retired and, I think, that gives me maybe a different perspective than the writer from BA, who I am guessing came here to work. (BTW, if "Anonymous" reads this please let me know how to contact you because I really did enjoy your comments.).

When I decided to retire I gave myself 3 choices: Mexico, Italy or Argentina. My ex and I always loved Puerto Vallarta Mexico. It is wonderful, mountains and seashore in the same place. In Mexico, however, I would ALWAYS be a gringo, my racial characteristics would set me apart. Italy, especially Northern Italy, is, perhaps, the most beautiful place on earth. Milan, the lakes, the mountains, etc. BUT the Euro made it impossible to live there. Argentina was always one of my favorite places and no one would take me for a foreigner there until I opened my mouth. In addition, outside BA, there are relatively few Americans. I didn't want to move to meet other Americans in a foreign locale.

While all the corruption, poverty, whacky drivers, etc. do bother me they are not show stoppers that would cause me to leave. I can stand in line at the bank for an hour or at the "Express" line in the supermarket for 20 minutes and it doesn't matter that much. Some of the "irritants" I write about are to "warn" others before they come here so they might have an idea as to what to expect.

While structurally the US is probably the best place to live in the world, you pay a price for it. I found, and I am only speaking for myself, that there was really precious little time to enjoy things. I got up at 5AM each day and came home around 5 or 6 in the evening and to do what? I was always tired so maybe I watched a little TV and went to bed at 10, never really doing anything outside the house (except to walk the dogs). It seems to me that we lived in silos and it wasn't until I traveled for work and got to meet other people in other countries that I changed my mind about the "best" way to live ... and, as it turned out, a slower paced society, with all it's problems, was better for me, BUT I am only speaking for me.

25 January 2009

Are they Serious?

I saw in La Capital today that a close friend Las K has been appointed Anti-Corruption chief and at the same time in La Nacion there was a story on El K giving 500 million pesos for works in Buenos Aires province in return for votes in the upcoming elections. Is that bribery or doing business as usual?

Seems like the new chief of the anti-corruption unit will be busy.....or should be busy at any rate. We will check back later.

Also, what is up with the photo of la K and Castro?

20 January 2009

The K's and the redistribution of wealth

The K's want a grand redistibution of wealth in Argentina. Ultimately this means taking from the rich and giving to the poor. This has been a standard practice in Argentina since the days of Peron and has been tried in so many other places around the world. To be honest, I cannot think of a single country where it has been successful, except for the rulers like the Kircheners and all their new found wealth (but more on that in another post)

Let me state that I do believe in a fairer distribution of income. The more well off have a duty and obligation to help those who are less fortunate. Where, in terms of state policy, this goes wrong is that normally, and Argentina is certainly no exception, the first people to be "helped" are the ruling cabal ... namely the Kircheners and their allies. Only after their insatiable appetite has been satisfied does anything trickle down to those in true need. Because the rich tend to be better educated they understand this is the consequence of redistribution schemes and, therefore, rarely if ever support them. I honestly believe that if the money actually made it to those in need there would be much more acceptance by those more well off.

There is no doubt Argentina is plagued by poverty. I see it every day, cartoneros on their bicycles, mothers begging in the street, children washing windshields and not in school, not to mention the villas miserias. It is a depressing site and depressing state of affairs. What I have come to understand, and I expect you to enlighten me if I am wrong, is that there are two kinds of poor.

The first are the working poor, those who work en negro whose wages are low, often with little education, but with a strong work ethic and a sense of self reliance. A belief that their hard work will make life better for their children if not for them. These people, and there are many, deserve our respect and help. They are honorable people striving to make a better living.

The second group does not share those values of hard work and honesty. They expect that Government to give whatever they want or need. There is no need to work, let others pay for their existence. These are the piqueteros and D'Elias' of this world. They have no apparent self-respect. The K's use this group to keep a hold on power. They pay them with tax money to protest, to beat up, to disrupt. When we had the farmers strike these were the people the K's bussed into the city to beat up the legitimate protesters, whose leader (D'Elia) said he wanted to kill the rich. These are the people Christina paid to go to Salta to applaud her. While every living person has value I would prefer 1 of the working poor to 1000 of this group.

So, how does wealth get redistibuted. First, EDUCATION. Without education there is no future for any citizen. Argentina has been a pioneer in free education for well over 100 years. In general the population is very well educated. Despite a history of public education the system seems to be failing. Schools are in disrepair, there are not enough schools, and many children do not attend school. Money that has been promised for new schools, to improve existing schools and for education often does not seem to make it to the intended recipients. Hmm, maybe there is some corruption involved. Many times, too many times, parents would rather have their children begging on the streets than getting an education. The value of education is not preceived as important to many parents, especially when they need money to put food on the table. Without the feeling that education is both important and neccesary poverty will continue to exist.

Second, PUBLIC WORKS. In the midst of the Depression in the United States in the 1930's President Roosevelt embarked on a remarkable series of public works. Anyone that wanted a job could have one, building roads, working in the national parks, excpanding the power grid, etc. All meaningful work that enabled America's infrastructure to expand, excellerate and improve the lives of everyone. The pay was not always the best, but it was meaningful work that instilled a sense of self worth in the individual. Why is this not possible in Argentina? I know, I know the politicians are so corrupt the money would never make it down those actually doing the work. Think of how the lives of many would change and would be improved if only the government did what was possible, not what was expedient.

Finally, TAXATION. If, and that is a BIG IF, the retenciones actually made it back to the provinces where the crops were grown I would wholeheartedly support the system. Knowing that the money will NOT make it back there and only go to line the pockets of the K's, the piqueteros and the city/province of Buenos Aires I cannot support it. Why should the farmers give up their money to support the very people who hate them? Farming is not easy, success is not a given, it is hard work and for people like the K's and D'Elia to criticize them as they do is hypocracy. Trust is not easily won and once lost is very hard to regain. The farmers do not trust the government, they have been fooled too many times. At the same time a way has to be found to get the farmers to actually feed Argentinos and not turn the country into one big soybean field. Tax incentives would help this as well, food IS too costly in a country as rich as Argentina.

So what conclusions does this outsider have. (1) If the government actually put the money it collects to its proper use the culture of work in Argentina would, over time, change dramatically. (2) It would help if the Argentine voter actually voted out of office those who are using the government as their private bank account. (3) Of course if things continue the way are and people don't become indignant enough to make the country work, we can always just change the name of the country to Zimbabwe.

But hey what do I know, I am only an extranjero.

A Glorious Day

I must depart from the normal today. It is a glorious day, Barack Obama has ascended to the presidency of the United States. It is a day I could never imagine in my lifetime, a black American has become president. It is wonderful, it is glorious, it is historic. I cannot know what kind of President he will be but the fact he was elected signifies so much. There IS hope for America that all that is good about the US can return. I will not dwell on the Bush years and the deceptions and mistakes. Today, more than any time in many years I am proud of my American heritage, I was actually close to tears. God Bless Barack Obama and God Bless the United States.