Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Donald Arrives

Donald Trump has arrived in the Dominican Republic and we are just thrilled. His new project featuring million dollar lots for the super rich was 90% sold out by the end of the opening day. We get a lot of publicity in the NY Times and the high life living magazines about the high end resorts out in Punta Cana, where you bathe in luxury for $700 a night.

That is about double now the annual income of the 9 million people who live over on the other side of the island, in Haiti, which 30 years ago had an even bigger tourist industry than the DR. The government does place a whopping 16% tax on hotel rooms so those at least produce income: perhaps not enough to have public schools sessions more than half days but perhaps. And the hotels do provide some jobs, although resort workers are low paid, taking most of their salary in room and board, with a few hundred dollars in their pockets. I am not sure how much money the Donald's project will bring into the country: there are some nominal real estate taxes. But it will be good to have all those folks so close by to the sugar batayes.

I am thinking that they will eventually get bored out there on the beach with the golf course and only other rich people to talk with, won't they? Then they will start coming into the Capital, buying up the old colonial buildings, opening up cool little boutiques that I won't be able to afford, but perhaps a neat cafe or two where they will leave off old copies of their hard cover books for us to read. Books are so expensive here that it is cheaper to Xerox them than buy them.

Maybe we can have some round table discussions and a few little excursions to the other side of the island to see what's up in Haiti.

"Oh they say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one." (I would cite that quote but really, you simply should know it).

Don't get me wrong here. I have a healthy respect for the rich. They usually have figured out how to do something a whole lot better than the rest of us. They are bright. They haven't made a whole lot of mistakes. And, while they may not be a lot happier than you and me, they certainly have more influence.

So I am looking forward to running into the Donald around town. (He'll have to come out because those developments certainly don't let any strangers in, even if we are pink mottled.) We could talk about how to film the real reality show on "The Survivors" over in Haiti, where the people are actually eating dirt, but somehow, miraculously, keep on singing.

Imagine that.

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