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The Jewel Coast
The rich have now created their own economy for their needs, at a time when the average worker's wages are actually falling or barely keeping pace with inflation and where more than 36 million people live below the poverty line and a further 45 million cannot afford any kind of health care. This is a tough country when you're at the bottom of the heap.
In the rareified atmosphere of billionaires, sums of money are rendered almost meaningless because of their size. It's also known by other names. There is the 'Platinum Triangle' used to describe the slice of Beverly Hills where many houses go for above $15-20m. Then there is the Jewel Coast, used to describe the strip of Madison Avenue in Manhattan where boutique jewellery stories have sprung up to cater for the new needs of these super rich. Or it exists in the MetCircle society, a Manhattan club open only to those whose net worth is at least $100m.
With the likes of Goldman Sachs back to their old tricks of super-sized bonuses, we can expect a new generation of the super-sized and super-rich. Just don't expect to find them as your neighbours in Williamsburg or Park Slope.
OK, he's cool, but what A HALF-TERM!
Already we've gone past the two-year mark and the politics of the absurd has taken root in the US. So what's happened this last two years of the Obama presidency? We've seen unemployment rise and the war in Afghanistan continue while the war in Iraq fades from the media's memory.
On the political front, we saw off the last republican congressman in the whole of New York City. Voted out during the last election. We've watched as scandal after scandal hit governors and councilmen alike, corruption — never far away in big US cities — caught democrat and republican falling to temptation and self-aggrandisement. New Yorkers watched in disbelief as an otherwise mediocre mayor, Michael Bloomberg, rode roughshod over their wishes to force through a third term. He narrowly won last November, but not before spending an obscene $100 million in campaign money.
And of course we've seen the nonsense of 'teabagging' — an 'astroturf' creation of TV blowhards, conservative businesses and faux grassroots organisations.
On the employment front, the city saw the publishing industry [my own] take a huge hit, with magazines closing and ad revenues shrinking. Condé Nast announced closures of some famous titles whilst other publishers found ad revenue seriously shrinking.
It's been a turbulent half-term for Mr Obama. I'm keeping my fingers crossed it's going to turn around in the second half.