Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sovereign Debt

Economists call it Sovereign Debt when a nation racks up the numbers on it's "credit card." 2010 we are told will be the year more nations go broke as they try to keep funding recovery programs and run out of taxes. The United States is in a bad way but not as bad as a whole raft of other countries that look set to go bankrupt. Take your pick: Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Ukraine are all listed as countries in difficulties. Spain has collected a total official unemployment rate of more than 20 percent. Japan has built up debt that is three times it's Gross Domestic Product. The trick there is that Japanese citizens own their government's debt through savings plans. The US copes with it's growing debt by holding the world's reserve currency so China and Japan who have bought up a great deal of the debt need to prop up the currency's value to retain the value of their debt purchases...Sovereign debt is a mess and predicting what will happen is a mug's game.

The nature of debt among the many united States in this country is a different game and things among the 41 states with debt is starting to get interesting and nasty. Unlike the Federal government states don't get to roll over budget deficits so the squeeze is on to cut down spending. The notion of increasing taxes is anathema so services are getting cut. It's pretty horrendous too, parks, libraries and social services are all going by the wayside. It's odd too that the services that are getting cut are going to affect the poor and destitute, those who are least well equipped to fight back. Taxes on people with wealth will remain low. The recipe is for social disintegration so we can at least hope that the wealthy will be forced to build taller fences and add armor plate to their limousines which we might consider a form of tax I suppose.

It is a time of change in the US and services that we have taken for granted will no longer be available. Even police and fire personnel are being cut in many communities and the Right is calling for unions and living wages to be decimated. As though creating even more poverty will somehow help our nation forge ahead. Perhaps it's time to stop fighting wars abroad and perhaps we need to decriminalize marijuana and tax the hell out of it. That would be bizarre: funding health clinics, libraries and meals-on-wheels by the sale of dope. We live in difficult times and if the military is desperate enough to "legalize" being gay to get more recruits perhaps we should stop jailing people for smoking and trading dope and make money off them instead of spending billions to jail them. How much of our civic life to we have to pare down before the unthinkable becomes common place? Pretty soon gay marriage will excite no comment at all. That will surely be the first sign of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding to rescue the republic! And then we'll notice them smoking joints and spreading money around. The end will definitely be nigh. The alternative will be to be even more impoverished than we are today and that is totally un-American.

No Name Pub

I don't often go to No Name Pub on Watson Drive on Big Pine Key, but I ride by now and again on my way to the walks on No Name Key itself, which is a bridge away from the pub. The pub prides itself on being hard to locate which piece of marketing is given the lie by the huge inevitable crowds to be found there every day of winter, and frequently during the summer.
I chose to take out of town guests to No Name on an extremely wet winter's day earlier this week, a day when it was pouring down like a sumer thunderstorm, which made exterior pictures difficult to take. as usual the crowd was tremendous and we were packed into the waiting room in the back which opens out onto a fenced yard at the time rapidly becoming submerged under the incessant rain.
If the food and drink isn't enough they have a range of merchandise featuring the panama hatted dude, parrots and their slogan about the difficulty of locating them. Just to prove you have been there, as it were.There is of course a television hanging off the wall which I dislike intensely. I can't stand TV as background, and the idea of having a TV blaring while I am supposed to be being sociable (something that's hard for me to do anyway) is very off putting. We didn't have to wait very long for a table but the choice of seating was nil so I found myself facing the hated screen. Oh well.Despite being packed the service is pretty fast and that would be helped by the kind of food offered here. The pizza is claimed to be the best in the Lower Keys though I dispute that. If you like heavy pizza dough weighed down by too many ingredients this is the pizza for you. I prefer the more intensely flavored and interesting pizza flavors sold at Slice of Paradise in Summerland Key. However that is a pizza parlor, No Name Pub sells beer and you get to eat the pizza at their tables if you like. A great many people do like.
The menu is mostly fried and so it is I have one dish, old reliable, that I stick with in the "keep it simple" department. I go for the fried grouper basket and it does the job.
The bar is as noisy as you might expect, dark and atmospheric I suppose. The furniture is rough hewn wood heavily varnished and the decor is,as you can see, all dollar bills stapled everywhere.The baskets come with salad and bread sticks (as if the meal lacked carbs!) and lots of silver dollar fries. They are round slices of real potato fried and covered in salt to keep you thirsty. They are quite delicious.I am not enamored of the beer selection, and I passed on Yuengling draft and went for a No Name amber in a small plastic cup for $2.75. Or you can go bottled if you prefer. The dollar bills are the pub's claim to fame and no one really knows how many there are:
Any guesstimate up to a round 100,000 will do. More if you prefer. Or less.Defacing the currency is part of the fun. I hope Jerry and Linda are still hearting each other (yech!). Jerry gets around:
In light of the intensely heavy rain still falling I ran for the car but on a normal day outdoor benches are available out front:And at night the place looks quite charming: When the place was built in the 30's as a convenience store this was the main road to Key West. The Ferry landed at the end of No Name Key, a journey of 40 miles over four hours from Lower Matecumbe Key, where the road from Miami ended. And from here one drove a series of wooden bridges and a narrow road 35 miles to Key West. Now it is a backwater and destination unto itself.