Friday, December 24, 2010


According to the Washington Post, the area I live in has succeeded in having the highest median annual income of anywhere in the States. One hundred thousand dollars per household, to be exact…. That’s median, which means that about half of the people make a ton more than that.

In my neighborhood, there are very few cars more than a year or two old. The high school kids drive new Jeeps—the poor ones, that is; the wealthy ones have Landrovers—and Lexus (Lexi?). The homes are a mixture of post-Korean War bungalows built in the early 60s for returning GIs, middle-income two- or three-story brick colonials, McMansions, and ridiculous manor homes redolent of new money and poor taste. Increasingly, these are built on small lots so that yard space comprises a three-foot strip of lawn in the front (some are Astroturf) and a fenced-off bricked-over square in the back just large enough for a stainless steel Crown Verity eight-grill barbecue and a fire pit.

The communities with real money—McLean, Fairfax, Great Falls, Loudon—are peopled by cabinet-level government employees, brokers, attorneys, land developers, dotcom millionaires and plastic surgeons whose mates often are real-estate agents. There are malls everywhere, as well as Porsche, Aston Martin and Bentley dealerships, and a local coffee shop sells individually-wrapped marshmallows for two bucks each. You can buy ostrich eggs and fifty-dollar-a-pound cheese at the local gourmet food store and the mechanics at the area Ferrari dealer charge $190 per hour.  Despite all this wealth, local public libraries recently had to curtail both their hours and their staff due to budget cutbacks.

On the other side of this shiny coin, we find that we have among the worst traffic in the country. Political scumbags like Newt Gingrich pollute our local restaurants. The roads are Third-World at best, and the public education system is sadly lacking. We also have snakeheads—the Asian fish that devours all other species—and, thanks to the estrogen in our waterways, largemouth bass with both male and female sex organs. The National Rifle Association and its crazies are in our backyards buying the politicians’ votes to allow firearms in national parks and the unregulated sale of semi-automatic weapons at gun shows. And 15 years ago, a few miles from my house, workers in a lab full of monkeys almost set loose the Ebola virus.  You can read all about in the 1995 bestseller, The Hot Zone.

Oh. And our hockey, baseball, basketball and football teams are all on a losing streak.

So once again, I ask you: Is this a great country or what?

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