Colima and beyond

coffee
The coffee shop

WE DON’T travel much. If you live in Paris, what’s the point in going to Topeka?

And we do live in Paris, so to speak.

But we did head to Colima this week. I’d never been there.  It’s almost due west, down the mountain and near the Pacific coast. Colima is famous because there’s an active volcano nearby. We never saw the volcano because of cloud cover.

We broke the drive to Colima into two parts. We went most of the way, and spent the night in Mazamitla, a great mountain town with the tone of Twin Peaks. It was almost four hours to Mazamitla if you don’t count the time lost due to wrong turns because Mexico is lame on highway signs.

We slept in a small cabin provided by Best Western.

Two hours farther down the road took us to Colima the city, which is the capital of Colima the state, where we checked in for three nights at the Wyndham Garden Hotel.

That was the intended destination of the short vacation. However, my child bride began to whine and stomp her feet. I wanna go to Manzanillo! I wanna go to Manzanillo! That’s a beach city an hour even farther down the highway.

So the next morning we drove to Manzanillo, first getting lost in ugly port construction but finally finding our way to a better part of town where we spent a few hours under an umbrella on a beach named La Audiencia.

We returned to Colima in the afternoon where we swam in the pool and enjoyed the hotel’s steam room. The Wyndham Garden is a very nice hotel for a good price.

We breakfasted every morning at La Buena Vida, a superlative place that is wildly popular. If you find yourself overnight in Colima, have breakfast at La Buena Vida. It’s only open for breakfast and brunch, closing at 1 p.m.

On the second full day, we headed just north of Colima to the touristy town of Comala, a nice place but nothing to write home about. We decided to follow the advice of Clete, an occasional commenter here, and drove toward the volcano on winding back roads up toward Yerbabuena.

That was where we encountered the coffee shop in the photo, just three kilometers shy of Yerbabuena. We were the only customers for miles around, and we were served great coffee by the owner who also had grown the beans.

Those are beans drying on the white area of the photo, but they aren’t coffee beans. They are cacao. Mexicans have been in love with chocolate since before the Spaniards came calling.

We still couldn’t see the volcano even though we were close. The volcano exploded just last year, leaving ashes, the coffee shop owner told us, a foot thick on the ground.

Thinking of Pompeii, we decided to run, so we never quite made it to Yerbabuena. We had lunch on the square of Comala, returned to our hotel in Colima, swam in the pool, sat in the steam room and later ate supper at La Valentina restaurant-bar, another great spot that we happened upon by sheer luck.

The following morning we packed. We had intended to spend another night in the Mexican Twin Peaks of Mazamitla, but once we got on the road, we just kept going.

Now we’re back in Paris.

Socialism for dummies

(Thomas Sowell, the Black Knight of Intellect, returns today in the form of a guest column. Give him a big hand!)

* * * *

SowellSocialism sounds great. It has always sounded great. And it probably will always continue to sound great. It is only when you go beyond rhetoric and start looking at hard facts, that socialism turns out to be a big disappointment, if not a disaster.

While throngs of young people are cheering loudly for avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, socialism has turned oil-rich Venezuela into a place where there are shortages of everything from toilet paper to beer, where electricity keeps shutting down, and there are long lines of people hoping to get food, people complaining that they cannot feed their families.

With national income going down, and prices going up under triple-digit inflation in Venezuela, these complaints are by no means frivolous.

But it is doubtful if the young people cheering for Bernie Sanders have even heard of such things, whether in Venezuela or other countries that have turned their economies over to politicians and bureaucrats to run.

The anti-capitalist policies in Venezuela have worked so well that the number of companies in Venezuela is now a fraction of what it once was. That should certainly reduce capitalist “exploitation,” shouldn’t it?

But people who attribute income equality to capitalists exploiting workers, as Karl Marx claimed, never seem to get around to testing that belief against facts — such as the fact that none of the Marxist regimes around the world has ever had as high a living standard for working people as there is in many capitalist countries.

Facts are seldom allowed to contaminate the beautiful vision of the left. What matters to the true believers are the ringing slogans, endlessly repeated.

* * * *

The great promise of socialism is something for nothing. It is one of the signs of today’s dumbed-down education that so many college students seem to think their education should — and will — be paid by raising taxes on “the rich.”

* * * *

When Senator Sanders cries, “The system is rigged!” no one asks, “Just what specifically does that mean?” or “What facts do you have to back that up?”

In 2015 the 400 richest people in the world had net losses of $19 billion. If they had rigged the system, surely they would have rigged it better than that.

But the very idea of subjecting their pet notions to the test of hard facts will probably not even occur to those who are cheering for socialism and other ideas of the political left.

How many of the people who are demanding an increase in the minimum wage have even bothered to check what actually happens when higher minimum wages are imposed?

More often they just assume what is assumed by like-minded peers — sometimes known as “everybody,” with their assumptions being “what everybody knows.”

Back in 1948 when inflation had rendered meaningless the minimum wage established a decade earlier, the unemployment rate among 16- to 17-year-old black males was under 10 percent.

But after the minimum wage was raised repeatedly to keep up with inflation, the unemployment rate for black males that age was never under 30 percent for more than 20 consecutive years, from 1971 to 1994.

In many of those years, the unemployment rate for black youngsters that age exceeded 40 percent and, for a couple of years, it exceeded 50 percent.

The damage is even greater than these statistics might suggest. Most low-wage jobs are entry-level jobs that young people move up out of, after acquiring work experience and a track record that makes them eligible for better jobs. But you can’t move up the ladder if you don’t get on the ladder.

The great promise of socialism is something for nothing. It is one of the signs of today’s dumbed-down education that so many college students seem to think their education should — and will — be paid by raising taxes on “the rich.”

Here again, just a little check of the facts would reveal that higher tax rates on upper-income earners do not automatically translate into more tax revenue for the government. Often high tax rates have led to less revenue than lower tax rates.

In a globalized economy, high tax rates may just lead investors to invest in other countries with lower tax rates. That means that jobs created by those investments will be overseas.

None of this is rocket science. But you do have to stop and think — and that is what too many of our schools and colleges are failing to teach their students to do.

* * * *

(BONUS 1: A brother Black Knight of Intellect, Armstrong Williams, also addresses this issue in a piece titled Bernie’s Utopian Nightmare.)

(BONUS 2: Nicolás Maduro, president of the collapsing socialist nation of Venezuela, endorses Bernie Sanders, calls nutty Ole Bern a “revolutionary friend.”)

(BONUS 3: Ole Bern hems and haws when asked about the imploding socialist mess in Venezuela.)

(The Hacienda couple will be out of touch for a few days due to a vacation jaunt to Colima. ¡Hasta luego!)

One great day

view
This morning’s scene from my rocker.

HERE I SIT on a rocker. It’s around 10 a.m., and I’ve already watered the veranda potted plants and the hanging ones too. I’ve cleaned the glass-top table on the Jesus Patio, and I’ve changed the yucky birdbath water.

At 11 we’ll be having second breakfast — either oatmeal or cereal — and then I’ll don old pants, take off my socks, slip my tootsies into ancient Crocs and circle the yard perimeter with my new Stihl weedeater.

When that’s done, I’ll shower and dress myself up. Later, I’ll make lunch, which will be fish burgers, wild rice, sauteed veggies and lentil soup from a can. I’m no elitist.

After lunch, we usually watch a show on Netflix before heading downtown. My child bride to her sister to gossip and me to a sidewalk table with café and my Kindle. I’m currently reading a bio of Ronald Reagan by H.W. Brands.

Tonight will find us in our soft chairs watching two more shows on Netflix while supping on big salads that I create myself. We don’t have real jobs, of course.

This routine is so grueling that we felt we deserved a vacation, so next week we’ll be heading to Colima and Comala for a few days. I’ve never been there. I want to see the volcano.

Now, on to politics: The California Democrat primary takes place Tuesday, and Bernie might beat Hillary, which would be an hilarity. And then the Brexit vote comes on the 23rd, and I’m rooting for a British departure.

It’s a lovely day, but it will rain later.

Thanks for stopping by.