this is the perfect place to get jumped

Month: May, 2016

The Only Solution is Patience

Equality is the idea that everyone is treated the same under the law, despite our differences in genetics, values, paycheck, life decisions, skills, personality etc etc etc.

But even under the law, governments can only provide equal opportunity, at best. Asking for equal outcome is asking for trouble.

Data proves that income inequality in America has grown unceasingly since the 80s, and as a result of Occupy Wall Street, it has become a hot topic for middle class Americans.

On the surface, it seems unfair that some people are paid more for their services than others, but from a business perspective this is completely natural. A CEO possesses skills that most do not; therefore they are paid a salary that most are not. Fields of skilled laborers are required to produce goods, but because more of them are needed, they must be paid less than the executives in charge. Anyone can learn the work of a laborer with the proper training, but the position of executive is not a skill that can be easily taught; some of the traits required are more inherited.

Unions do the job of working with businesses to protect the wages and rights of their workers, but this does not reduce the drastic gap in income, nor should it. The corporation’s only goal is to make a profit. Due to numbers, not every employee can earn the same amount without the business going bankrupt.

One contributor to income inequality has been the corporate mergers across numerous industries between incumbent companies that wish to protect themselves from competition. Another is our complicated and outdated tax code from the turn of the century manufacturing economy which not yield to our modern services economy. And then there are legal tax havens.

“Redistributing wealth” is a commonly suggested and ill-conceived proposal for reducing income inequality. Because wealth is earned, not distributed this is a meaningless scheme. (It also sounds like theft–why should one group benefit from the loss of another group’s earnings?) Distribution denotes waiting for a designated portion from a third party, while earning denotes an exchange of time spent performing a service for an amount of wealth that both parties have agreed upon.

The wealth redistribution model of closing the gap of income inequality needs a third party to do the redistributing. Asking for help to make income equal is not fair; it is asking for a third party to meddle in the private lives of civilians.

(The government can and does do stuff, but none of it guarantees closing the widening gap of income inequality.)

Furthermore, the purpose of taxes is not to redistribute wealth. Taxes are the government’s revenue, which is budgeted for social programs, among other things.

Of course, the wealthy should pay their fair share of taxes, but only the government can decide what that is, and for no reason other than to finance their budget. The government, being the opposite of a hive mind, will always be fighting itself over what is considered fair for each party’s respective constituents, while taking too many taxes regardless.

Each presidential candidate has a tax reform plan that conforms to their politics:

Democrats target the rich (Hillary is fair about it; Sanders is not) because they have more money and can pay more income tax. Because there are less of them, Democrats can therefore rely on the votes of the middle class when it comes time for elections. Republicans want to give the wealthy tax breaks because they do not want to marginalize the job creators, who can take their profits overseas, in which case government revenue would then need to be raised from the middle class.

The rich need the middle class and the middle class need the rich because the rich create the jobs they need the middle class to work. Increasing corporate taxes seems fair because they are not people with kids and mortgages, and they have huge profits. But corporations must first pay staff before their revenue is taxed. What are they left with if they report a loss? They have to fire their workers.

What the government does with its revenue is public knowledge, and redistribution is much too vague a term. How exactly will the government redistribute earned wealth?

There is nothing that the government can do to guarantee a decrease in income inequality. Higher taxes would discourage investment because companies would still have to meet a bottom line. Forcibly higher wages would discourage hiring.

Despite all the outrage over inequality and fair taxes, the solution to what economist Thomas Piketty believes is a natural state of modern economies might be better explained by the hypothesis of the Kuznet Wave: as an economy develops, income inequality is increased by the market and then decreased by the market. Where there is a boom, there is a bust.

The Industrial Revolution brought farmers into factories, and workers became connected with jobs and unions. Now technology is catching up with workers rights, as machines built by the third world replace workers in the first world. The political power of the worker is diminishing as the wealthy gain influence.

Even though competition decreases and profits increase as corporations across industries merge, there is always the unpredictability of politics that can reduce inequality. The Great Depression, searching for foreign resources (imperialism), war…Rich economies are stagnating, and the 2008 crisis did not create a “natural” decrease in income inequality. But the market always comes knocking, and as the corporations merge to better save for the big storm, we should all start to save.

Equality may be written into law, but the looming spectre of the market is the true equalizer.

We will always have our mortality though.

intellectual laborers

The threat of rain kept the crowd small, but it did not keep them silent. In New York, May Day demonstrators gathered in front of the bronze statue of George Washington in Union Square, echoing the passionate speeches given. Though a number of social issues were raised, only the campaign to unionize fast food workers and raise the minimum wage was consistent with the day’s origins.

“It began as a labor movement,” explained a lawyer for a New York City union. “A lot of people attach labels like socialist or anarchist to things, and people have different ideas about what that means…but this movement is about workers.”

In ancient Europe, May Day was celebrated as the summer solstice, but beginning in the late 19th century it was chosen as International Workers’ Day to commemorate the bombing during a labor demonstration at Haymarket Square in Chicago. Though the perpetrator was never found, eight anarchists were tried for conspiracy and seven were sentenced to death. One of them was pardoned by an Illinois governor years later.

The executed anarchists became martyrs for their ideology, and as the labor unions grew in size so did the strength of various communist, socialist and anarchist groups, who continued to unite and campaign for an eight hour workday in Europe.

Years before the Haymarket Massacre a parade in Union Square in celebration of organized labor sparked proposals by different groups for a designated holiday, and in 1887 Oregon was the first state to make Labor Day official. Other states soon followed.

During the Panic of 1893, an economic depression in the United States, railway workers at the Pullman Company went on a wildcat strike as a response to the reduction in wages and the fixed rent of their housing in the company town. When strikers became violent, derailing a locomotive and attacking strikebreakers, an injunction was filed in federal court. As a threat to public safety and in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, President Cleveland crushed the strike with the military. To soothe relations with organized labor following the strike, President Cleveland made Labor Day a federal holiday.

Throughout the late 20th century, socialist regimes in South America, Eastern Europe and Asia celebrated May Day as the equivalent of the United States’ Labor Day, albeit with military parades instead of barbecues.

May Day was still celebrated after the fall of Communism in Western Europe, with a more Western feel. Chants for lower taxes are still heard in Red Square, but peaceful and colorful parades make the celebrations more reminiscent of the pagan holiday. This year it fell on Orthodox Easter. In China, highways are deadlocked with traffic, as tourists travel for the extended weekend.

Understandably, the United States does not observe a day when fringe ideologues, co-opting legitimate labor concerns, killed innocent people. The honorable method for recognizing the efforts of labor were those peaceful celebrations that more than thirty states adopted before the unsuccessful Pullman Strike forced a rueful federal compromise. But this dissociation with May Day in the United States has given cause for modern anti-capitalists to riot for personal concerns: in Seattle, where the weather did not affect turnout, peaceful calls for immigrant amnesty and a higher minimum wage were eclipsed by violence, when demonstrators in black tossed rocks and Molotov cocktails at police.

These oblivious actions by misguided ideologues discredit struggles of the modern worker. But there are some American protesters that understand the day’s relevance for labor: “It is to acknowledge and recognize working people, and the fact that everything around us was created by them, and maintained by them.”

The Economist was seeking an intern in its International Department and accepting applications that included an unpublished article. I’m not sure if ‘self-published’ is considered published, but I’m posting anyway because I haven’t heard from them in a week.

 

 

il forno

Considering the resolve it took to pass on the Dough donuts in the office just two hours prior, it was with sorrow and remorse that I swallowed an unremarkable slice of chocolate cake at an empty table for four at the Il Forno in Hell’s Kitchen.

Il Forno is like Olive Garden except they don’t serve free bread. Instead, they exploit the undeveloped taste buds of picky tourists who cannot spend their limited time waiting for a table at the busier Olive Garden. A surprise visit from my mother placed me into the category with the time strapped tourists, and Il Forno was chosen for its convenient proximity to the John Golden Theatre, where my mother and her friend Marcy had tickets for Eclipsed. The show started in 1.5 hours. Plenty of time.

(Junior’s would have been just as expensive and equally close, but we were all trying to be our healthiest, and really, how can one go to Junior’s for salad? Unless it’s cheesecake salad.)

Il Forno had options for salads, but because it was Italian there were more options for rich pastas. I was an indecisive bundle of anxiety because of my desire to resist dessert while attempting to honor my values for value. Ultimately I chose the Chicken Prix Fixe, risking a self inflicted relapse on cake, but reasoning that I could share it with Marcy and my mother.

Dodging the evening’s first aneurysm I continued as casually as possible.

“Theatre District restaurants are not that good.” I blurted.

“Is there something wrong with the food?” my mother replied.

As it becomes increasingly difficult to bear the burden of my past behavior on my mother, I found that I could not be honest with her about Il Forno’s middling fare and slow service.

As a mother she would be sad if I was not satisfied, and I would be sad if she was sad because she is my mother and I should be making her happy…but everything makes me sad, even seeing my mother happy makes me sad…I couldn’t tell her that I sobbed last week when I uncovered a selfie she took with my sister in my phone, which used to be hers.

“No, not at all, the chicken is delicious, thank you so much! Would you like to try some!? How is your beet salad?! Marcy, your seafood pasta looks delicious! HOW MUCH DO YOU ENJOY IT??? WHAT A GREAT PLACE!!”As I have matured I realize that she will always care, and how much I need her to care.

Some of the tourists fell for Il Forno.

I overheard the squares at the table near the door asking the young hostess, “What’s the best pizza here?”

“I don’t know…a lot of people like Margarita pizza.” she replied.”It’s just a plain pizza.”

She doesn’t give a shit dude. I don’t blame her. Finals are coming up. And look at the wallpaper of this place. It looks more like the set of an Italian restaurant.  I remember finals. This hostess has a future, she still has years ahead of her to make her mother proud. Life is so precious, mothers should be cherished.

A couple of sensible foreign tourists left after asking for the washroom and before ordering. (They’ve probably eaten in Rome.)

The man felt a need to inform the same complacent hostess, “…we wanted real Parmesan, this is what you do not have here.”

“I’m sorry,” she replied flatly, without conviction.

“It is not your fault, but we must leave.”

The service was slow despite the restaurant being mostly empty when we arrived and becoming emptier as we waited even longer for our meals to arrive. I looked into the beady eyes our waiter buried on a thick face beneath the hood of his brow. Possibly in his mid-thirties and early forties, with sausage fingers to indicate a lifetime of handiwork. Was he a freelancer too? Was I destined to share his fate? I’m not personable enough to wait tables though. Was his mother elderly? Could he afford to take care of her? I need to hustle through the present to avoid this ghost of my future, but will that be enough? Why am I having this mental meltdown? Why can’t I simply enjoy this generous meal from my perfectly merciful mother???

With panic I brought up politics and was relieved when we all disagreed calmly and amicably.

My mother thinks Justin Trudeau is good looking. She said he is ‘nice’. I suppose he is.

I promise I don’t time these things, but most of the wait staff stood idly around not refilling our water while our food was taking its time. When the food did arrive I fought my nature and spared my mother by bottling up my disappointment. My mother’s salad was an embarrassment. If she didn’t enjoy it she put on quite a show. Bless her heart.She knows how to make the best of things. I can make her the best beet salad she’s ever eaten.

But it’s not about the food as much as its about the precious time spent together.

A meal that should only have taken an hour door to door took Marcy, my mother and I all the way to showtime. Even though my mother gave them notice for the check and my cake they still dragged their feet. I took one bite of the cake, then leaving my coat and bag followed Marcy and my mother out for brief goodbye hugs. When I returned the bus boy was already clearing the cake away. I stole it back.

To honor my mother and my values I accepted this ascetic solitude and finished the cake by myself, drinking the remainder of my mother’s coffee and soaking in the symbolism.

I pondered the best ways to repent for my prolonged years of being an irresponsible brat, and wondered if there was still time to make up for it.

My birthday is inconsequential.

Sunday is Mother’s Day.

I love you Mom.