Tag Archives: Hayek

It Takes All Kinds

7 May

So here I sit, my fourth full day in a row under florescent lights, staring into my computer, occasionally glancing over at my neatly stacked piles of books and papers.  I have completed one task, my thesis draft, and have moved on to another, strangely more daunting one: the completion of a two-year overdue paper from a class that had a rather unfortunate impact on my opinion of my own intellect.  Perhaps taking the time away from it was a blessing because now, sitting here with my Foucault, my Friedman, my Harvey and my Hayek I am feeling far more capable of writing this beast.  I am feeling far more able to put a Rebekah spin on a topic that I despise: neoliberalism.

Over the past few years I have thought, on and off, about what I might want to write this paper about.  My professor wanted me to write it on housing vouchers which I, personally, think are just a matter of semantics.

*A pause in the room and an exchange of glances to acknowledge what we all hear: a woman walking through the study center with bells tied around her ankles. Odd.*

Anyway, semantics. When I initially set out to write the paper I visited the New York City housing website to bone up on this idea of housing vouchers.  From what I could gather, it was a sort of alternative to the projects-style low-income housing solution that had previously dominated New York City and elsewhere.  Interestingly, on the website the administration boasted about how housing vouchers allowed people to choose the neighborhoods in which they wanted to live, allowed them to perhaps one day buy their own apartment — the neighborhood they used as an example was the Upper East Side.  Now I am no expert, but I found myself very doubtful of the fact that many people using housing vouchers would be able to find affordable housing on the Upper East Side.  It seemed to me that this idea of ‘choice’ that we are all so obsessed with is just a bunch of baloney.  Instead, it seemed like a repackaging of the same old policies. Sort of like, we aren’t going to tell you where you have to live, we are going to allow you to have a choice, but your choices are basically going to be limited to the same old places, the same old neighborhoods, that we have been forcing you to live in for years.  But now it’s your choice so, freedom.  I couldn’t bring myself to write that paper.

But now I am, again, thinking about semantics.  Trying to figure out a way to argue that the word ‘neoliberalism’ has been so overused, defined in so many different ways, as to be rendered absolutely meaningless.  I want to do this without seeming like I am taking the easy way out.  Hence, Foucault.  Everything sounds a lot smarter when you quote Foucault.  Also, I am fairly certain that if one could marry a corpse, this particular professor would have no problem exhuming Foucault and heading straight to the Justice of the Peace.

Anyway, none of this is the point. The point of this post was to share with you, fair readers, the strange thing that I just witnessed.  The guy sitting across from me at the study center; the guy who crammed himself onto the corner of a table already occupied by four other people; the guy who always walks through the study center with his clip-in bicycle shoes; the guy who has one of those hard-plastic backpacks; the guy who I have been silently laughing at all semester has just done something incredibly amusing.  Right there across from me he extracted, from his hard-plastic covered backpack, a full box of cereal. He then pulled out one of those tiffin lunch containers, filled it with cereal,* pulled out a smaller tiffin container filled with yogurt that appeared to be homemade, took out a full-size wooden kitchen spoon, put yogurt on his cereal and began to eat. With the spoon.  The spoon that was bigger than his mouth.  And he acted like nothing was strange at all.

So, yea. That made my day.

*I wish I could tell you it was something awesomely hilarious like Fruity Pebbles or Lucky Charms but it was some Kashi variety. I really wanted to tell the homemade yogurt maker that, with his wooden spoon, he was eating cereal masquerading as organic and healthy that actually is now owned by Kellogg’s and, it has been said, contains GMOs.  But I didn’t. I let him have his moment because I am an adult.