Well, it's been quite a while since I've thrilled the board with musings from the orient, but Lance is back at the keyboard. Actually, I have been suffering from a mild depression induced by the ever increasing costs of being homeless, er, a perpetual traveler.
I arrived in the Philippines on February 29 and after doing the tourist thing on Corregidor (highly recommended) I rode the bus down to Angeles City. Well, the trip started out on a positive note-the bus only cost P115 instead of P117 last year. But one of my fellow expat travelers explained that since the Philippine Peso (spelled "Piso" on bank notes) has strengthened against the dollar, the cost of oil in Peso terms is a bit lower. Hmmm, that little piece of information got me thinking, so, yep, my trusty Quicken records showed that last June I harvested Pesos at the rate of $1USD = P66+. This year my emasculated USD fetch a paltry P41+.
Any way, as the Thais like to remind farangs "don't thinking too much", so I checked into my room, then went straight to Kanteen 101, the pseudo German restaurant where my good buddies Lefty and Karl hang out.
Marcelina took my Weiner Schnitzel order and delivered a warm San Migual Light (SML), no extra charge for tepid beer. About that time Lefty strolled in and pulled up a chair. "Lance, don't they have no food in Thaialnd anymore? You're looking a bit puny buddy" then slapped me on the back, almost knocking me off my chair and roaring with glee at his self admired humor. Lefty is about 6'5", 325 lbs and his physique reminds one of a pregnant defensive tackle. But, give him his due, his swollen belly is rock hard because he packs it full of food and beer nightly. Lefty and I have always gotten along, basically because his voice is like a bull horn and he drowns out any any pretenders that try to enter the conversation.
Anyway, Lefty orders a SML before I can warn him that Marcelina forgot to put them in the cooler again. Lefty takes a big swig and grimaces, which I think is because the beer is warm and remark, yeah, they're a bit warm aren't they. Lefty grunts, then allows "You ever been to England? Them limeys drink warm beer and they never cried about it. He**, they owned this here planet until their own namby pamby girlie men rolled over and played dead, giving all that ground back to the natives..." Disgusted with (his version of) history, Lefty roars his order to Marcelnia and downs the beer in one voracious swig and burbs loudly.
Well, as Lefty's massive stomach gas release erupts, Karl walks in and sets down. Lefty eyes Karl suspiciously and grunts a greeting, since Karl was actually born in Frankfurt, Germany and only arrived in the USA at two years of age. Real Amuricans had the decency to be born in the US of A, not some god forsaken third world country like Germany or France.
Greetings were exchanged and Karl commented about the weakening USD and the rapid inflation on local foodstuffs, especially rice. Until recently rice was about P20 per kilo, now it costs around P35. Even our beloved Kanteen 101 was hiking their prices: SML now 30, up 5P from the previous P25, the daily special up P15 to P175 and so on and so forth as Lefty likes to opine. Karl asks about Thailand and I allow that the USD is especially weak there, now trading at about 31 or 32 Thai baht per USD. I muse that if one were a USD millionaire when I first arrived in Thailand, one would have had about THB 43 million, now that same one USD million would only be 32 million THB. Imagine, 11 million baht "disappearing"... Thats one very nice condo or many, many SUVs and motorcycles. Karl nods in agreement and Lefty bangs the table and sprays us with bits of spittle and sauerkraut. "G** da** whining if'n I ever heard it. I was in Thailand when the dollar, God Bless Amerika, was fixed at 20 baht/ USD and ever thin was CHEAP, I tell you. Now you cry babies are getting over 30 baht, 50% more and you still ain't happy." Lefty -throughly disgusted- orders more warm beer.
Karl asks "Why is a weak dollar good for the USA Lefty?" "Weak dollar, my a@@ buddy, you and your crybaby buddy have never had it so good, I says. Lookie here Karl, thems smart people in Washington and ifn they don't get enough tax, they just make up a few more greenbacks and ever bodys happy. Deficiet spending and wars is what made the USA great. Marcelina! Another schnitzel over here honey! If the USD is so dang weak, then why do we give 'em one greenback and get mor'in 40 pesos back?"
Karl and I trade glances as Lefty warmed to the subject.
"Them budgets is just paper and don't mean squat. Them foreigners is happy as He** to get a USD and we ain' got no competion anywhere, says I."
"Ever heard of the Euro Lefty?" asks Karl. Lefty dismisses that defeatest talk with a long swig of warm SML. Marcelina bounces over with another slighty cooler one and Lefty mumbles something about she's the only one with any sense in this here Kanteen.
"Come on boys, if them foreigners is so unhappy with the USD, then why do they buy all the bonds old Gronbach can print up?" Gronbach... "You mean Greenspan Lefty?" "Yeah, thats him bud." Karl explained that Mr. Greenspan retired some time ago and Lefty appears genuinely shocked, exclaiming "The he** you say!" Karl further says that he believes that foreign governments mostly buy US bonds to finance the deficit, but Lefty is having none of that. "Lookie here, ifn its killin you to pay 5 pesos more fer your beer, he**, I'll give you 5 dang pesos. My disability check just increased by 2% and I, er....." Lefty, realizing that he was giving himself away swiftly changed the subject and barked, "Marcelina, gimmie a pint of Tanduay rum to go. I'm playin in a pool tournament over at Lucky Dog bar and I always buy a coca cola and do my own bar tendin, if you get my drift, he he..."
Ah yes, the world according to Lefty.