The Kool-Aid of Politics, Hong Kong, and Texan gentlemen farmers

I’ve always known that I am not good at economics or world politics, but I am pretty good at basic arithmetic.  I may not be able to tell you why, but I am pretty good at pointing out inconsistencies. Ask my friends, I can find Waldo in 5 seconds flat– every time.

When I first arrived in Texas I was befuddled by the unending amount of ranches and farms, that in my opinion were as profitable as WorldCom and Enron at their peak.  I grew up on a farm (OK a bankrupt coffee plantation, but that’s kinda the same thing ;-)).  I know what a profitable cattle farm looks like, and it ain’t the 50 acres per cow Texas has a multitude of.  My first year in the Great State, every one kept telling me that I just didn’t understand farming and the ingenuity of the Texan farmer.  Bullshit, I can count!  It was years later that I found out that many farms have oil running through them, and that land owners get a cut of the action for allowing the pipes to run through them.  It’s ok, I understand. If I could run a bike business with an inventory of 3 bikes, and twenty employees, I would too.  I like being the boss, and there’s nothing wrong with being a gentleman cyclist.  After all, like a true Texan, I like big helmets.

Anyways, this being an American election year, and me being lucky enough to see the circus from 13,000 kilometers away.  It is time to get political, albeit with someone else’s country.

Pretty much every world citizen knows that their government is involved in some sort of propaganda against them.  Well… with the exception of the US.  We think our government tells us the truth, and if it doesn’t, it’s only because the other party is in power. American politics are a joke!  They’re only second to Puertorican politics, but only because we have wildly amusing political caravans which are just an excuse to get drunk and not go to work.

Politics in Puerto Rico...kinda.
Politics in Puerto Rico…(or any event for that matter).

Cubans roll their eyes when Fidel, or Raul, or whatever Castro is pontificating for 6 hours on the merits of their current government.  The English and the Spanish take the follies of their royalty with more humor than grace.  Most take their governments and political parties with a grain of salt.  Hongkongers just get cool jobs and fancy cars.

I’ve spent enough time in Hong Kong to see patterns emerge– extraordinarily expensive things, nestled among shops charging $3 for a meal.  More Teslas and Bentley’s than I’ve ever seen, that constantly have to stop for yet another old lady hauling sticks across the road on a wheelbarrow (I don’t know where from; there are no woods here).  After a few weeks I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m in some sort of Truman Show.  Everyone’s got their TV tuned into the reality show that hosts the Aldy Chronicles, where I’m just given enough crumbs to piece together a version of reality that doesn’t quite make sense.

Take for instance this picture of a store in the high end section of town: They always have a sale going on, the prices are extravagant, and I’ve seen ZERO customers in three weeks.  I think the store front has been designed specifically for me, because it sure isn’t for making money or selling anything.

The eternal For Sale!
Shop #1: The eternal sale!

Or take for instance the high end Italian clothing store I walk by every day.  Looks beautiful.  The owner tries to look busy every time I wave, yet the only customer I’ve seen is the owner from the other shop.  Seriously folks, two barbers can’t make money by cutting each others’ hair– it’s basic economics.  You can’t even be a Marxist and make this work on paper.

Shop number #2 with customers from shop #1.
Shop number #2 whose only customer is the owner from shop #1.

How about this shop specializing in electronic scales from the 1960s? I know for a fact that rent in this neighborhood is at least $5000/month for this tiny enclave of stupidity.  Even though this store’s shopkeeper must have the record for the longest amount of time spent sleeping in a plastic chair with an upright head, let’s assume for a brief moment that he sells one $5 scale a week (highly doubtful since I’ve never actually seen him awake).  Considering there are 20 shops around, in less than 5 months, our Asian Warren Buffet will have grossed $100, and unless the scales self destruct twice a year, he’s effectively sold his merchandise to every conceivable customer, to which he can’t sell again.  The math doesn’t add up.

Buy your scales while they're hot!
Buy your scales while they’re hot!

And meanwhile, here are these entrepreneurs’ cars:

Apparently, they're giving them away.
(You can’t make this stuff up.)

I don’t know what Kool-Aid people are drinking here.  It may be the Kool-Aid of mass destruction Americans drink, or it may be that this is all for my benefit, because the one time I ventured to look outside the confines of the “pretty” street, I was immediately entertained by two very friendly policemen asking me for my passport while they stuck their hands in my pockets searching for I don’t know what.  But that… is a story for another time…

I would love to hear everyone’s comments on this.

A well earned nap, at the library, after an arduous day selling scales.

15 thoughts on “The Kool-Aid of Politics, Hong Kong, and Texan gentlemen farmers

    1. Totally stoked that you are enjoying them Rey! I have this theory that my blog is really about NOTHING, but it sure is fun writing it. Keep the comments coming; knowing that people enjoy reading is a great motivation to write.

  1. Hola Aldy! I love to read about your travel, your perceptions of the beauty and the horrible inconsistencies of the inhabitants of the pale blue dot! it’s a sad beautiful comedy! Thank you for the post card … It makes us happy and is being displayed in our family board by the kitchen. The kids got to look up Cambodia…and figure out where on Earth was Aldy! Take care!

    1. Hi Carolina! You know, you guys’ are the one postcard I really enjoying sending, because I know y’all enjoy them and put them up on display. A lot of postcards I send end up in some sort of black hole, because nobody every tells me if they received them. Knowing the kids will see them is good motivation to keep writing. And now off to a street vendor to buy/write/send some from Laos :).

  2. I think you are right about one thing, American Politics. It currently seems to be a rich person’s game. We are just being pawned around. This isn’t new though. When Kennedy tried to improve things he didn’t make it very far. Good luck to us.

    1. Yes Robert. I’ve gotten stopped a few times by the cops for looking suspicious. I’m still trying to come up with a way to spin the story to make it interesting to readers. I haven’t come up with anything yet. I’m still mulling it over…

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