Last week, we heard that Chicago's murder rate "spiked" in 2012, with gang violence to blame. Apparently the only difference that has emerged over the course of 90 years is that the ethnicity of some of the gang members has changed.
The prediction? In another 100 years, the Chicago murder rate will most likely still be "spiking," regardless of the underlying details.
And when Hemingway moved to Paris in 1922, he noticed that "a Canadian with an income of one thousand dollars a year can live comfortably and enjoyably in Paris."
"It is from tourists who stop at the large hotels that the reports come that living in Paris is very high," Hemingway wrote. "The big hotelkeepers charge all they think the traffic can bear. But there are several hundred small hotels in all parts of Paris where an American or Canadian can live comfortably, eat at attractive restaurants and find amusement for a total expenditure of two and one half to three dollars a day."
As a resident of Paris myself, it's precisely the same observation that I try to convey to tourists who have trouble believing me because they frequent restaurants that charge 50 euros for a hamburger when I can buy one down the street for three euros.
The take-home message? Despite being a hub for WWII, surviving the Nazi occupation and the Holocaust, the underpinnings of Paris specifically and France in general don't change much in nearly 100 years, tourist rip-off schemes included.
This is why the system chewed up and spit out former French President Nicolas Sarkozy before he was able to make a significant dent in the country's problems, and why it was inevitable that, last week, France's Constitutional Council, around since 1958, rejected the measure proposed by Socialist President Francois Hollande to tax French millionaires at a rate of 75 percent.
Just because it's easy to get swept up in the 24-hour news cycle doesn't necessarily mean the world is changing any faster -- nor should our predictions for the new year reflect such rapid transformation. Thank you, Hemingway, for leaving us with timeless tangible proof of that.
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