Tag Archives: economics

My Bathroom is Being Painted and, Unrelatedly, Some People are Assholes

20 Dec

So it’s Saturday morning and I woke up at 7:30am — you read that correctly — to let Armando in to paint the bathroom walls. Here is the entirely uninteresting story of what led us to this point:

Sometime last week (Wednesday I think?) when it was something like 50 degrees outside I decided to have some adventures. Other people might call the things I did “errands” but I really like to take the path more exciting. Anyway, I went and bought 2lbs of coffee for the house — 1lb ground, the other whole bean because that seemed smart until I realized that I don’t have a coffee grinder — almonds for almond butter, dates for snacking, and then a bunch of more or less necessary household things from Trader Joe’s. Before I left the house to commence adventuring, there was a buzz at the door which, to be entirely honest, is always a terrible way for me to start the day regardless of the time because the buzzer always scares the shit out of me. I am not someone who likes unexpected, or even semi-expected, loud noises. When people come to the house I tell them to call me rather than ring the buzzer and when they ring the buzzer anyway I get mad at them. Legit angry. Usually by the time they make it up to the third floor I have talked myself back into behaving like a reasonable human being but it is always a little hairy. Anyway, so the buzzer went off


and I jumped about three feet in the air. Once I recovered enough I talked into the thing to see who was there. Exterminators! But no one told me they were coming! Cue ill fantasy about scary robbers, murderers or rapists masquerading as exterminators trying to scam their way into my house in order to rob, murder, or rape. I called my landlord. They were, in fact, exterminators. They came in and drilled some holes in the ceiling because there were termites maybe and apparently drilling holes in the ceiling helps with that? I don’t know. I am certain there must have been more to it. In the process of drilling the holes I pointed out all the mold that was happening in the bathroom in an effort to explain to these guys who really did not give a shit that we were actually quite clean and that what appeared to be dirt was actually mold that we couldn’t get rid of and also that the chipping paint on the ceiling was the unfortunate consequence of my old roommate and best friend attempting to kill the mold by painting over it in green paint. The funny thing about it was that she was trying to repaint the whole bathroom green but used some of the paint on the ceiling to try and suffocate the mold (?) and then ran out of paint and so we had three walls painted green, one wall painted mold, and one ceiling that had green under white paint but the mold was using its powers to push through the white paint and it was all flakey and fucked up and the green was peeking out from under there like some sort of disease. It was something to behold. So when my landlord, Nelson (who is awesome, by the way) was there with the exterminators¬†he noticed all the mold and called me the next day to let me know that Armando would be coming over on Saturday morning at 9am to repaint the bathroom. Hooray!

I got really excited. I had been planning on repainting the bathroom myself in a nice shade of lavender but just hadn’t gotten around to it. Here it was! My chance! I could just go out and buy the lavender paint and then Armando could use it to paint over the unsightly white mold resistant paint he was going to use to try and handle our mold problem. But then Nelson dashed all my dreams by telling me the mold paint only comes in white and that if I, or Armando more realistically, were to paint another color on top of it then it would no longer have mold fighting powers. (He didn’t actually say “mold fighting powers” but I am fairly certain he was thinking it.) I think he might be lying to me about that but whatever. I bet Google would know. Or one of you readers who also happens to be an expert in all manner of paint and/or mold. (Hint, hint.)

So now Armando is in the bathroom repainting it and I am sitting at the kitchen table writing about it when what I had originally planned on doing was telling you about this quote I just read that pissed me off but for whatever reason I decided to explain to you all why it is that I woke up at 7:30am on a Saturday when I have to bartend tonight until all hours. It’s all because this sequence of events:

mold —> weird paint job —> diseased looking ceiling —> exterminators maybe or maybe not shaming my landlord into noticing how nasty the bathrooms looked —> new paint! —> awake ūüė¶

Anyway, Armando is painting the walls as I type and all our bathroom things are in bags in the living room and I read the following quote in the New Yorker article about Samantha Power which was said by a “senior Administration official” (run-on sentence POWER!):

“It’s easy in some ways to dismiss someone like Samantha Power. Oh, she cares about the marginal, vulnerable, and oppressed! But what she’s managed to do is link the marginal, vulnerable, and oppressed to core national-security interests of the United States.”

Holy mother fucking shit, you guys. So this obviously sent me into a rage and not because I am naive and don’t think that people in government think this way. It sent me into a rage because this is obviously a widely enough held opinion that someone, albeit anonymously, felt good saying it to a reporter. This person looked someone else in the face and actually talked about how easy it is to dismiss someone for caring about the “marginal, vulnerable, and oppressed.” And what that says to me is not only that he dismisses those who care about the marginal, vulnerable, and oppressed but they he clearly takes it one step farther and dismisses the marginal, vulnerable, and oppressed themselves. And this is how we get to the point that we’re at right now. This is how we get to the point where…

…people only care about¬†the hundreds of missing African school girls for as long as they are moved¬†by the hash tag…

…we only talk about Ebola for as long as it impacts us here in the United States…

…we have police officers killing unarmed black men and we cannot seem to get indictments ever, ever, ever…

…it takes the release of a video of a woman getting knocked unconscious in an elevator months after it actually happened for us to have a real, although too short and unnuanced, conversation about domestic violence…

…we have an intelligence agency that tortures detainees so severely that, before beginning the torture regimen actually sought assurances that a detainee would “remain in isolation and incommunicado for the remainder of his life” (from the Senate Select Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s interrogation-and-detention program).

It’s like, fuck. These are people in our government, people who have things to do with foreign affairs and international engagement, who simply look through the people who they think don’t count because they think that no one hears them. And maybe a lot of people don’t hear them because the system is fucked but that doesn’t mean that we should simply dismiss them and be like “well, we know this is jacked buuuuut no one really cares because those people have no political clout or money so we will just go over here and focus on something else that likely makes the situation worse.” They look through them and dehumanize them and then they are surprised when some of those people get angry and seek revenge. I know I have talked about this before at some point or another but the fact that pretty much every single decision made by our government is economically motivated makes me sick. You want to know something? We made up money. Made it up!¬†We made up economics pretty much all together. You know what we didn’t make up, though? People. Didn’t invent those! And yet we constantly value this thing that we created over the actual lives of real people that we share the world with. And then on top of that people in power, and lots of people not in power also, completely dismiss those among us who give a shit about the people no one else sees as “bleeding hearts” and “liberals” and “humanitarians” and whatever else.

So a few weeks ago I went to one of the protests here in New York. It started at like 5:30pm and continued on into the night and one of the guys who got stopped by the protests yelled out his car window “GET A JOB!” and it’s like, dude, it’s like 7 in the evening. Most of us¬†have jobs. Most of us¬†pay taxes. We just want our taxes to go towards everyone equally and we want accountability in the power structure and acknowledgement if a highly racist system and for everyone to be seen so I am sorry if you are feeling inconvenienced by the tens of thousands of people who felt compelled to take to the streets but you know what? You have managed to not see a good percentage of the world’s population for your entire goddamn life so one night of being stuck in a protest-caused traffic jam is really not that big of a fucking deal in the grand scheme. Maybe it will even cause you to see people for once. Or, if you are that goddamn daft, then just turn up your radio because¬†you can’t simply wish away the marginalized, the vulnerable and the oppressed. It does reach a critical mass at some point and right now information is free and available and people are angry.¬†Your money and your job and your penis and your white skin doesn’t make you better. It just makes your voice necessarily heard. But hopefully all that will be changing and you might just get stuck in a lot more (proverbial) stand still traffic jams. Welcome to life for the rest of the world, asshole.

And now my bathroom is blindingly white. Happy Saturday, all.

Because the Opinion of Fortune 500 Companies Matters More than Yours

1 Mar

Sometimes people make me really crazy.¬† Right now I am sitting in a coffee shop in The Treme neighborhood of New Orleans, reading my morning news and (theoretically) working on my thesis.¬† Really, I am gchatting with my friend and it just took me about a half an hour to read one article on the New York Times website.¬† The article I read, which I am now going to write about a little bit, is called “Refusing to Arrive Late on Same-Sex Marriage” and can be read here.

So first of all, I am a little put off by the title of this article.¬† The full title of the article, if my knowledge of common English sayings serves me correctly, which I am 100% certain that it does, is “Refusing to Arrive Late to the Same-Sex Marriage Party.”¬† In the idealistic and naive part of my brain this sounds great!¬† It’s like, yea! A party celebrating marriage-equality??¬† I wouldn’t want to be late to that either!¬† In fact, I would probably be EARLY because, in fact, I have been outside the venue waiting for this party for years now.¬† But the thing is, this is an article about businesses and so the “party” that this article is alluding to is not the happiness surrounding the fact that this country is finally en route to doing the right goddamn thing already, but instead that supporting gay marriage is a good business decision.¬† And that’s what kind of gets me about this whole thing.¬† It gets me that businesses and corporations, while legally they are treated like people just like the rest of us, which is a whole other issue that is all kinds of fucked up, are only doing the right thing because they will potentially reap financial benefit from doing so.¬† Not simply because treating all people equally is right.¬† Not simply because who are they, or anyone really, to tell people how they can and cannot celebrate their love and who they can and cannot include on their health insurance policy and who they can and cannot allow to have visitation rights and make end-of life decisions.¬† They are supporting it because now, in 2013, they don’t see it as a feasible business model to systematically discriminate against a whole group of people.¬† Because finally businesses have come around to realize that gay people aren’t only some small little proportion of the population who live on an island and have absolutely no impact on the economy whatsoever.¬† Gay people have money!¬† And that means that now, finally, they have power.¬† Or, better yet, that the power that they have had forever, because they are people, has finally been recognized because they have some green.¬† Businesses can say something now partially because they can’t afford not to.

I know that maybe I am being unfair.  I know that it is a good thing that companies like Goldman Sachs (who was ahead of the curve and whose chairman and chief executive Lloyd Blankfein participated in a commercial in support of same-sex marriage 5 whole years ago! Wow!), Estee Lauder, Abercrombie, Nike, Google, etc. are coming out in support.  That they are lending economic credibility to the movement, that they are making the legalization of same-sex marriage almost (thankfully) unavoidable.  But the movement was credible before.  It is 2013 for crying out loud and it is only recently that we are seriously addressing a disgusting, systematic form of discrimination.  It is only recently that people with money, people that control huge companies, feel brave enough to step up and speak their mind in support of their friends, family members, co-workers, customers.  What took so long and why does it take money to make it happen?  What is wrong with us?

And this other thing.¬† At the end of the article there is a quote by the Family Research Council which, obviously, filed a brief against gay marriage and blamed a ‚Äúa corporate environment dictated by wealthy, pro-homosexual activists‚ÄĚ for the business movement towards support of the issue.¬† The Council then went on to applaud Exxon-Mobile, which is the world’s largest company by market capitalization, for not taking a stance on the issue.¬† The Council said,

“We applaud Exxon Mobil for refusing to cede the moral high ground to the special interests of the left.”

Cede the moral high ground?  Treating people as your equal is ceding the moral high ground?! Special interests?  Seriously, how does someone wake up in the morning, with a brain that thinks these things and actually believes them to be right, look himself in the mirror and think,

“yea, I am an awesome person who deserves to be here and treated with respect.”

Cuz to that person I want to be like,

“No, dude, you’re just a bigoted asshole. Go suck a lemon.”

This spokesman for the Family Research Council thinks the business reasons behind supporting marriage equality are “trivial” and that the companies signing the briefs were “motivated by political correctness, pure and simple.‚Ä̬† You know what?¬† Maybe they were motivated by “political correctness” and if that is the case, then yea, that sucks.¬† They should be motivated by “correctness,” plain and simple.¬† They should be motivated by the fact that we all deserve all the same rights and opportunities, regardless of religion, color, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, and everything else.

And one last thing and then I am done.¬† I am really sickened by the fact that people are willing to go on the record and say hateful things about other people and think that it is okay because there are a lot of people who agree with them.¬† That makes me sad.¬† It makes me sad for all of us that people go out into the world every day somehow believing that they are more entitled to being treated like a human being than somebody else.¬† I look forward to the day when marriage-equality is just the norm.¬† When we look back on that the way we look back on the women’s liberation movement and say, god, can you believe there was a time that marriage equality wasn’t a given?¬† I really do but until then, I am going to continue to be disappointed no, livid, that it is taking us this damn long.¬† And I am going to continue to be pissed off that, as with everything else, it takes a person, or corporation, with economic power speaking out to really get this done.¬† When will people just do things because it is the right thing, the only possible thing, rather than when it makes sense from an economic standpoint.