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January 6th, 2005

Curmudgeon’s Corner

by Sean Jaeger

They call it inflation, but (like everything else these days) it seems more like a mighty engine inflating the rich and sucking the blood out of the bodies of everyone else.

“The prices of eggs, milk, butter, and bacon have doubled,” said the owner of the best diner in Manhattan, explaining the higher prices on his brand new menu.

You remember the American truck driver who was kidnapped and got away in Iraq. He took the job because he was losing his milk farm because milk prices were down to around two bucks a gallon at the supermarket. Bad timing, since milk prices are closer to four dollars a gallon now.

But, actually the powers that be in Washington say there is no real inflation and the consumer price index is barely rising. Well, that’s true, in a way. Consumers are still cheap dates, kind of like mushrooms, it seems. Keep them in the dark; feed them shit and they get fat.

They’ve dispensed with the trickle down theory of economics. You remember the supply side scam about a rising tide raises all boats. What we’ve got now is the toothpaste theory of economics. If you squeeze the bottom of the tube hard enough there is more at the top. Take houses, if you can get one, or afford one, with prices skyrocketing. Well, for people who can’t get much closer to a Porsche than a pick up with cup holders that means suddenly the average house price is up around five hundred grand, unless you live in Manhattan or the Hampton’s, where it is more like a cool million. Do the math. That means Average Joe and Jane need a down payment of a hundred grand to buy a house. Even if they lucked out and bought a ranch for two hundred grand ten years ago the price has doubled but so has the mortgage with a couple of handy refinances and the equity they have in the house is not much more than it was ten years ago. The house may have doubled in price but the Averages don’t have that two hundred thousand as profit. They may not even have the money for a new down payment. Time to move to Las Vegas and hope.

But now look up to the top of the toothpaste tube. Tom Tycoon buys a house for ten million. He borrows nine million plus from the bank (unless he is a top tycoon) and gets the down payment as an interest free loan from the company. Then he deducts the interest payments and charges the company expenses for all the entertaining he does at the house. Total cost, nothing. Then he sells the house for twenty million. Total investment, nothing. Total profit, ten million. Nice work if you can get it. Just change your name, from chump to Trump.And we know what’s trickling down. Mushroom food.

Speaking of scary things, the scariest number in a hurricane isn’t the one on the wind gauge (sustained winds of 150 miles an hour). It’s the number on your speedometer. You know, like when you are driving along seeing those signs that say “coastal evacuation route”, only there was an accident ten miles away and you’re not driving. You’re stalled, stuck, and screwed in an island wide traffic jam that stretches from the Atlantic to the Peconic and from the Poxabogue golf course to the Ponquogue Bridge. It’s like the guy in Florida said, trying to get out of Dodge on I 95. “They say it’s a slow moving hurricane, seven miles an hour. Well, it’s gaining on me because that’s twice as fast as I’m going.”

Speaking of stupid, how many subway tokens did you ever see clogging the platforms, tracks, gutters and sidewalks around bus stops and subway stations? Next question, how many landfills will it take to hold the millions of non-biodegradable plastic metro cards that fly around the city like confetti?

And moving on from SoHo to SoHi (south of the highway) who was the idiot who put up the signs on the LIE. There you are trapped in the HOV lane (designed by Hopelessly Over Valued people suffering from LIQ- Low I Q) and the sign overhead says exit for exits 55, 56 and 57. Who lives on exits? Who goes to exits? When did an exit become a destination? What are we supposed to do? Stop and park in the middle of the HOV lane, get out a map and look up the towns around the exit? Why not announce Smithtown, Hauppauge, Islip and Islandia? Can’t you see the conductor in the old movie? “All aboard for exits 55, 56, and 57″

Or at the airport:”Please load at gate 7, for exits 51 and 52.” It’s hard to tell whether it is Harry Potter’s platform 8 or&the skunk works, Area 51 out in the desert near Roswell, NM.

And speaking of deserts and cultural wastelands, out here in the heavenly Hampton’s higher education is about to mean dropping out of school and going to Suffolk Community College, now that Southampton College is a real estate endangered species. But follow the much maligned trade parade west to “Don’t call me Shirley” right next to Magic Mastic, home to many a New York City cop and firefighter and many a Hampton’s roofer and plumber. There Dowling College is breaking ground for a new student center with a 1,500-seat gymnasium and theatre seating for 2,500. The new center is part of a program to make the Brookhaven campus in Shirley a full branch campus. So the trade paraders are really moving upscale, intellectually, when they go up island.

For more about one of the most infamous trade paraders tune in to the trial of Daniel Pelosi. The Manorville electrician did manage to relieve millionaire Theodore Ammon of his wife. But Pelosi stands accused of taking his life as well. Someone zapped Ammon with a stun gun and beat him to death in his East Hampton mansion.

Sean Jaeger

Filed Under: Articles | Politics | the Hamptons





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