Who was that guy who wanted to be President a while ago ? Remember Romney ? He paid income taxes at 13 % that year . Warren Buffett paid about 15 % . Most of us paid , well , a much higher rate .
One of our neighbors brought over a petition to end the city energy tax here in Arcadia . We pay 8 % . Sierra Madre residents pay 10%. Other nearby cities pay 7% . The Arcadia City Council says about 13% of their income comes from the energy tax . The money goes to road repair , Fire Department , and the Community Center , among other things . The neighbor wanted Ada , and maybe me too , to circulate the petition around the neighborhood .
I think the richest few in the country run the whole shootin’ match . I think if anyone dares to point that out in today’s polarized political climate , though , then they are immediately branded Communist or Socialist . Class warfare ! Remember that the business of America is business . Bernie Madoff said that . No , he didn’t . What Bernie said was : ” Trust me !” Silent Cal Coolidge was the one who said : ” The chief business of the American people is business “.
Well , business was good in Silent Cal’s day . He was President from 1923 to 1929 . To a large extent cool Cal sat back , tried on silly hats , and let the bankers and the business boys run the country . Life was good and stocks were soaring . Then , what happened to the economy in 1929 ?
I’m just thinking out loud . Shows you how convoluted my thinking is . I’ve been watching a Robert Reich documentary about how the huge disparity in recent years between the rich and the rest of us is dangerous . Unions are being busted . The middle class is disappearing . The wealthiest are making out like bandits . The last time in this country that the disparity was so vast was in 1928 .
What’s the name of that 2010 Supreme Court decision that allows corporations and unions to provide unlimited financing for ads and other forms of support for political candidates ? It’s known as Citizens United . Justice Stevens , in his dissenting opinion , wrote : ” A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold “.
How about politicians being bought and sold ? I’ve been reading about Calderon in L.A. , Yee in San Francisco , some mayor in North Carolina ……… Who’s doing the buying ? Not me. I’ve got to save my stash of cash to buy beer for Thursday pool night . Nor my neighbor , who doesn’t like to pay her utility tax and hopes to save a few bucks by eliminating it . Who has the money to sway political outcomes ?
Taxes ? Again , some of the biggest corporations pay no taxes . You think it’s a coincidence that those entities find themselves in that no-tax or low-tax position ? Ha. You get what you pay for —–must be truth to that .
Harding was President before Coolidge . He was , by most accounts , a buffoon but Presidential-looking , but business was good and so he and Coolidge , later, could sit back and let the bankers and the corporations go to town . Harding’s administration was riddled with corruption and scandal —-they were turning Navy oil reserves over to greedy oil men , etc ; but , so what ! Business was good . The war was over ; the troops were home . More and more products were available in stores . It was the Golden Twenties !
We had to tell the neighbor that we would not be circulating the petition . I think you pays yer taxes and you gets yer services —- or you don’t pay and you don’t have the services . I’d rather live in a city with a few more services and I don’t mind paying a few bucks more tax to get them . It’s sort of a shared commitment to a slightly better life . Our neighbor mentioned the tax burden there is on all of these new big houses in Arcadia . I don’t think we need to watch out for the rich guys with the big houses . They’ll take care of themselves .
The richest ones in the country gladly pay $ millions to fix things so that they don’t have to pay taxes and the whole shootin’ match favors them . Not too many petitions to do that , but an army of expensive lobbyists and lots and lots of cash . Their tax funds would have to be shared with the rest of us , after all , you know . Now , come on , would that be fair !
I walked over to the Arcadia light rail station.
I guess I was about 65 years late to catch a trolley .
Or a year or so too early .
So I didn’t wait for the train .
I would have gone over to the Oakwood Hotel for a beer , but it burned down a hundred years ago . All the old saloons along First are gone too . The groceries , pharmacies , shoe shops , and Gas Company office that replaced them are all gone , too .
I’ll try again in a few months . Meanwhile , I’ll let the professionals take care of it . I’m sure they know what they’re doing .
I took a little walk around the neighborhood today .
I don’t live in the better part of Arcadia , I remembered , if by better you might mean , mainly , bigger . There was a house under construction on the corner of Highland Oaks and Sycamore . It’s the kind of house that Ada used to ask , ” How many families do you think live there ?” about . But , they were all single family places , many of them strewn about on the hillsides as if they are insolent sentinels watching the commonplace society below . This one was built as a single family joint , too . It will have a pool out back when someone gets around to gunite-ing it . Probably has a microwave in the kitchen .
Big deal ! — Ada and I have a microwave , too .
A man named Hal Slemons owned much of the land north of Foothill in the 1920s and 30s . His brother raised chickens on part of it . Hal owned the nearby Orange Inn stretched along Foothill , with its orange-shaped juice stand . The Orange Inn , still owned by Slemons , evolved into the palm frond- thatched place called the Wigwam . It was ready to cash in on Route 66 traffic . The remnant of these old days is nearby Wigwam Avenue . Eventually Slemmons retired to …………………….wait for it …………………………Orange County . Yeah . On the site of the old Wigwam is a McDonalds . No longer are there any citrus-shaped structures .
Slemons built himself a house on his property in 1925 . The house is still there . It out-shines every other house in the area , most of them large and on large lots , all of them built decades after the Slemons house . The new one under construction is a block away . The 1925 house wins that beauty contest too .
I saw a 1927 picture of the new subdivision , laid out that year , around the Slemons house . There are wide streets , a center island , street lamps . But what happened ? Nothing seems to have progressed beyond the street lamps and the wide curbed street . All the houses in the neighborhood except the Slemons place look like they were not built until the 60s or 70s . None of them .
I suspect what happened was the Great Depression . Best laid plans of mice and men , and all that . The buy-in prices were too high after 1929 .
The City of Arcadia wanted to zone a cemetery nearby in the early 1930s , next to the Santa Anita wash , but local protests quashed that idea . Slemons tried to sell several acres to Arcadia for use as a park , but his asking price of $30,000 was just too high for the city’s budget . I’ll guess that the huge house under construction may cost some proud buyer a hundred times that amount .
Times change .
A friend of mine from the east coast called after the earthquake we had around here a few days ago . ” You alright ? ” he asked .
Sure I’m alright . It was only a 4.4 and it was five miles underground and it was a long ways away . I did see a picture on our hallway wall fluttering , just a soft feathery flutter , and I wondered if I had brushed up against the thing on my way past . But , because I’m Californian , I thought maybe it was an earthquake . Earthquakes in CA are , as they say , part of the wallpaper .
Headlines said this 4.4 could be a ‘foreshock’ of a bigger one . Maybe . Is the going theory : One good quake deserves another ? Or maybe it was an aftershock . Or maybe it’s just a lone earthquake out for an early morning stroll all on its own . I haven’t felt any aftershocks yet . I think this goofy quake was traveling solo . An ornery and anti-social creature probably , or maybe it was way too deep for other quakes to relate to , a temblor nerd , of sorts , a quake geek , perhaps . A loner , at least . A loner for sure .
Don’t take my advice on earthquakes though , or suggestions, or predictions , and don’t consider my perspective on earthquakes . I don’t take a scientific approach , and usually not even a sensible approach . I figure : If earthquakes aren’t ready to exhibit sensible behavior toward us , to be just a touch more considerate of us , then why should we be considerate of them . I once had an antique pharmacist’s scale knocked over by a quake . It had a glass cover . The whole thing shattered and busted up on the hardwood floor . It was scatttered among all the other broken items on my floor after that one . Was that the Northridge Quake ? I don’t keep track . Now , at any rate , that wasn’t considerate earthquake behavior , was it !
A friend of mine lived a few blocks away during that one and not a thing was even knocked over in his house . Earthquakes are like that , I’ve noticed . One carport collapses and the next one doesn’t . One huge oak crushes a parked car but the giant pine tree next door will be there for the next wind to blow needles all over the neighborhood for years to come . Depends sometimes on the kind of ground what sits under your house. My friend mentioned earlier in this paragraph claimed his house is built on solid bedrock and so nothing shook . Maybe .
I could offer you anecdotal evidence to try to prove this or to show that and to make some really erudite-sounding statements about earthquakes . We could talk about ‘ earthquake weather’ for awhile . But , it all comes down to my realization that earthquakes don’t care . They do what they do wherever they want to and whenever they want to do it . Often they seem to simply go through the motions ; but , sometimes they act with real passion . I would say that they’re annoyingly unpredictable , but I think those seismologists over at Cal Tech sometimes think that they can predict something or other when it comes to earthquakes —– and it only seems to ‘come to earthquakes’ when an earthquake comes to us . Otherwise I hardly ever hear from those people . But , I wouldn’t want to contradict them . They spend their lives , I assume , studying earthquake behavior . Good luck , I say , and see you at the next earthquake .
I’m waiting for THE BIG ONE . The Big One could be the 4.4 that is centered under my chair and not five miles down and twenty miles away . Or it could be the 7-pointer building up steam along the San Andreas or one of those other faults . The BIG ONE is coming . More people believe in THE BIG ONE than believe in GOD .
Well , maybe it won’t happen in my lifetime , but , on the other hand , it may happen tomorrow before lunch . No offense to the quake scientists , but those learned seismologists don’t seem to be particularly precise with their predictions . They’re expected delivery times are worse than the Gas Company’s —– well , some time between right now and the end of the century —- but , it’ll be there ! ( or a few minutes later ) . Make sure that someone will be home . Otherwise we’ll have to re-schedule , and only God knows when that might be .
[ NOTE : ……”ground what sits under your house ” —– no , that’s not correct usage . I just put it in there to see if ewe were paying attention. ]