Return to the United States

I am back in the United States, having left Bolivia almost a week and half ago. There are many things in the Bolivian sphere I could comment on, but I am reluctant to do so.

In short, I will comment on a few observations. Any hope that people might have had of Evo Morales as a unifying figure has been crushed by his polemical nature and a total lack of vision. I think one interesting thing to note is his constant assertion of the growing government treasury. Supposedly, the Bolivian government has amassed more resources in a single year then previous government’s were able to do in nine. And as the treasury amasses more and more wealth, small businesses find themselves with their backs to the wall, households are crushed by inflation, and big industry and big government make war on one another over export policy, land distribution, and legal technicalities.

Take note: the biggest supporters of Evo Morales are those that do not pay taxes. I met a mechanic from Cochabamba with a very successful auto repair shop in Santa Cruz. I watched him harangue for almost 30 minutes against the opposition to Evo Morales, justifying all of the President’s actions and heaping all of the blame on the opposition in the so called “Media Luna”. Several days later I learned that his auto shop is cleverly setup so that he keeps all of his business transactions within the tax-free sphere of the black market. Now, I am not really arguing for or against the Morales government here; but, I do think El Presidente’s vocal advocates should put their money where their mouth is, and pay their taxes. I wonder if he would be such an enthusiastic supporter if he had to pay the 15% Value Added Tax, or the crushing no-holds barred 25% capital gains tax?

Regardless of my opinions, Bolivia will continue to muddle along, crippled by a culture of corruption, confrontation and self-interest more than anything else.

But, now that I am back in the United States, I am gardening again. I’ve got a decent budget and big plans this year, so stay tuned. You can bet that I’m not questioning if I should e-file for next year. I am running some tests on the soil right now. The results aren’t good, but the company I am working with has a great sense of what needs to be done to build good soil, so I am pumped up. More to come…


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