Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Decay

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay 
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, 
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

I figured I would let Ozy start this.  A couple of interesting pieces this morning.

-On the wealth of New York crumbling its creative bases:
The city is a body and a mind – a physical structure as well as a repository of ideas and information. Knowledge and creativity are resources. If the physical (and financial) parts are functional, then the flow of ideas, creativity and information are facilitated. The city is a fountain that never stops: it generates its energy from the human interactions that take place in it. Unfortunately, we're getting to a point where many of New York's citizens have been excluded from this equation for too long. The physical part of our city – the body – has been improved immeasurably. I'm a huge supporter of the bike lanes and the bikeshare program, the new public plazas, the waterfront parks and the functional public transportation system. But the cultural part of the city – the mind – has been usurped by the top 1%.
What, then, is the future of New York, or really of any number of big urban centers, in this new Gilded Age? Does culture have a role to play? If we look at the city as it is now, then we would have to say that it looks a lot like the divided city that presumptive mayor Bill de Blasio has been harping about: most of Manhattan and many parts of Brooklyn are virtual walled communities, pleasure domes for the rich (which, full disclosure, includes me), and aside from those of us who managed years ago to find our niche and some means of income, there is no room for fresh creative types. Middle-class people can barely afford to live here anymore, so forget about emerging artists, musicians, actors, dancers, writers, journalists and small business people. Bit by bit, the resources that keep the city vibrant are being eliminated.
-On Venezuela's crumbling socialist dreams and economy:
“He dresses in military fatigues to look like Chavez, but when he opens his mouth all you see is a bad copy”, said Miguel Arnas, an insurance salesman waiting in a three-hour bank queue in Caracas. 
While Chavez’s revolution diverted the country’s vast oil wealth to fund social programmes - with considerable initial success - after almost 15 years many Venezuelans feel the country has not got nearly enough to show for oil and gas reserves that were in 2011 certified by OPEC as the world’s largest. By the time of Chavez’s death, economic mismanagement and corruption - Venezuela is the most corrupt country in the Americas, according to Transparency International - had already crippled the socialist project he dreamed of. Under Mr Maduro, it has entered an advanced state of decay. Official inflation has soared above 45 per cent - 55 per cent for groceries - basic product shortages leave entire families without food and widespread power outages are commonplace. Meanwhile the South American country is witnessing an average of 71 homicides every day, one of the highest murder rates in the world.

“This country is a thousand times worse than it was six months ago”, said Pedro Sosa, a Chavez supporter who voted for Mr Maduro but now regrets having done so. “Choosing Maduro as his successor was a mistake (by Chavez),”said Veronica Tapia, 22, a student at the Caracas Institute of Finance.

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