From the Publisher: Why is everyone so angry?

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Arnold G York

Why is everyone

so angry?

Why is everyone so angry? Letters to the editor, emails, online postings make it absolutely clear that everyone, and I do mean everyone, seems to be totally angry, short tempered, grouchy and not very sympathetic to anyone else’s problems.

Of course I thought it was everyone else but me, because I’m still mellow, but then I stopped suddenly and realized, “It’s me also.” The old sweet me ain’t so sweet anymore.

I can’t stand waiting in line. Service everywhere is as slow as hell and it’s annoying. Even Starbucks is just plodding along. Even as quality has suffered it hasn’t stopped people from raising prices. The reality is that 18 months of COVID has turned us all into bunch of grumps and it’s going to take us all a long time to get over it.

Just a few of my minor gripes to get off my chest. Everyone’s been working from home and gotten used to it. Many, if not most, don’t want to come to work at the office any more, certainly not on a daily basis. They may still be employees but more and more they’re acting like independent contractors, setting their own work rules, balking at employer demands. 

The problem with their working at home is that they’re juggling doing the job with doing the laundry, with picking up the kids at school, with muting sound during the Zoom meeting because the dog keeps barking. Big companies have software tracking and other high-tech stuff to keep tabs on their people and productivity, but little companies can’t afford that, so it’s kind of like managing in the dark.

But this is just the beginning. Many people are hesitating to go back to work the way they did before. Going to work is expensive. It takes a car, gas, insurance, parking and, in LA, two hours a day in transit, so people are beginning to say—is it worth it? A part-time job in the neighborhood for less money might be a much better choice than driving to Malibu every day. If you think I’m exaggerating, ask some of the local restaurants about their labor problems.

I don’t believe this is temporary, and certainly not in the younger generations. Some of this is going to be permanent, although how much is hard to say but the impacts are going to be profound. Just take a look at our town. Commercial rents are dropping, there is empty commercial space in most centers and the only ones that can survive long term are high-end national chains.

Our population is aging and dropping in numbers. We certainly are losing kids with the high-end real estate prices and the schools are suffering. We want our own school district but it’s iffy if they will let us. Walk down the beach and you see some beautiful, very incredibly expensive beach homes with no one ever in them except for the caretaker and occasionally someone’s grandchild throwing a loud party.

U.S. Census data shows us having maybe 10,000 residents or so and that may be high, and yet there is still an old-time “slow growth” contingent who dutifully opposes any new home, new anything (like a community center or a swimming pool), which means there is always a long, drawn out, expensive process to do anything in Malibu, which makes everything more expensive and helps to keep population down and real estate prices up. 

Many want to keep Malibu rural and a small town but that requires people, people we call our neighbors, to participate, to make this their home, not their third house. We just celebrated the Dolphin Awards ceremony and it was uplifting and encouraging, but I didn’t see many new faces other than the Youth Dolphins who I’m sure are going make their mark—but I doubt it’s going to be in Malibu.

On another related issue I’ve been watching Biden’s numbers going down and speculating why and what it means. You have to start out with the understanding that in our political system, when good things happen, the guy in charge, the president, gets the credit. When bad things happen, again the guy in charge, the president, gets the blame.

The opposition, of course, is always telling the public how whatever happens is the fault of the incumbent, and frankly the press tends to reinforce that narrative, whether it’s true or not.

When Biden got into office people, I think, were sick to death of Trump being out there every day, on Twitter all the time, and they were only too happy to have new president who went to work and stayed out of the daily public battles. But that time has run out, Trump is just a side story at this point in time (although he will be back) and Biden is in the spotlight and has to produce something that people like.

He’s going to get nothing from the Republicans who see electoral gold in stonewalling and have no interest in anything bipartisan, which means he has to do it with only Democrats. He can’t afford to lose any votes in the House or the Senate, so at this point, any single Democrat or small group Democrats could derail Biden’s agenda.

The internal Democratic party battle going on is bloody. Of course no individual House or Senate member wants to be the person that shot down Biden’s agenda and, in the process, may clear the way for Trump’s triumphant return, but they are all holding out until the very last moment, to extract as much as they can.

The Democratic left is holding up the $1 trillion or so infrastructure bill unless they get a commitment from the Democratic moderates on $3.5 trillion Build America Back or whatever the heck they call it (a bit of a message problem there). As for the debt ceiling that’s a different fight altogether but it could get hot in December. It’s a giant game of chicken and exactly how it’s going to play out no one really knows, so stay tuned.