While the United States has suffered the worst recession in living memory, I find that I have very few financial concerns. Many of my friends are in the same position: Most of us attended private schools and good universities, and we will be able to provide these same opportunities to our own children. No one in my immediate circle has a family member serving in Afghanistan or Iraq. In fact, in the aftermath of September 11th, 2001, the only sacrifice we were asked to make for our beloved country was to go shopping. Nearly a decade has passed, with our nation’s influence and infrastructure crumbling by the hour, and yet those of us who have been so fortunate as to actually live the American dream—rather than merely dream it—have been spared every inconvenience. Now we are told that we will soon receive a large tax cut for all our troubles. What is the word for the feeling this provokes in me? Imagine being safely seated in lifeboat, while countless others drown, only to learn that another lifeboat has been secured to take your luggage to shore…
Most Americans believe that a person should enjoy the full fruits of his or her labors, however abundant. In this light, taxation tends to be seen as an intrinsic evil. It is worth noting, however, that throughout the 1950’s—a decade for which American conservatives pretend to feel a harrowing sense of nostalgia—the marginal tax rate for the wealthy was over 90 percent. In fact, prior to the 1980’s it never dipped below 70 percent. Since 1982, however, it has come down by half. In the meantime, the average net worth of the richest 1 percent of Americans has doubled (to $18.5 million), while that of the poorest 40 percent has fallen by 63 percent (to $2,200). Thirty years ago, top U.S. executives made about 50 times the salary of their average employees. In 2007, the average worker would have had to toil for 1,100 years to earn what his CEO brought home between Christmas in Aspen and Christmas on St. Barthes.
We now live in a country in which the bottom 40 percent (120 million people) owns just 0.3 percent of the wealth. Data of this kind make one feel that one is participating in a vast psychological experiment: Just how much inequality can free people endure? Have you seen Ralph Lauren’s car collection? Yes, it is beautiful. It also cost hundreds of millions of dollars. “So what?” many people will say. “It’s his money. He earned it. He should be able to do whatever he wants with it.” In conservative circles, expressing any doubt on this point has long been synonymous with Marxism.
Watch at least 2 Netflix movies a month (embarrassingly I am on my 2nd DVD … in my 3rd month as a subscriber. Granted I have used Instant a couple of times … but otherwise THIS IS NOT OK because they keep taking my $$$)
Along similar “I need to use my 2.5 hour commute better” lines to #1, read 1 book per month. (Note to self: gratuitous Facebook creeping does not count here.)
Not waste my money on cool-but-otherwise-useless shit*, like the $80 worth of light-up Happy New Year 2011 hats and sunglasses I bought yesterday (Damn you, PARTY BAZAAR**; you get me every time!)
Visit at least 2 of the following: Los Angeles San Diego Santa Cruz Seattle (just for you, J-FO)
Think about learning (resolving to do the actual learning is a bit ambitious) a computer language
*Unquantifiable resolution = even more guaranteed to fail. Whatevs…
**Very pleasantly surprised to discover that Party Bazaar actually has a website since it otherwise has really not changed since about 1993
Over the last decade, the Internet evolved in ways most of the people who use it couldn’t even begin to imagine ten years ago, and in ways most of them still don’t understand now. Nowhere is this more true than in the realm of Things Meant to Contribute to the Lack of Productivity, where absurdism doesn’t just live so much as proliferate faster than pretty much anything else in human civilization.
“Marta is looking forward to the summer once again. This tips you off to the fact that she is still teaching middle school math and lives in a rainforest.”—annual Christmas letter from my Oregon cousins (for the record, these are different cousins than the ones that my mom was referencing with the comment about the buffet)
“…they’re the ones that we always said the all-you-can-eat buffet probably loses money on their family”—my mother, on her cousins (and to think this is how she talks about family…you should hear some of her comments about other unrelated randos…)
I don’t actually think I was angsty teenager at all* really, but the play count of this song in my old computers’ iTunes libraries (especially when you consider its lyrics) would certainly misleadingly suggest otherwise. (This, and the fact that I used to have an LJ.)
*Let’s be honest, my handwriting alone is far too upbeat (remember those flying R’s and K’s?) to have ever passed for something belonging to a member of the “cheer up, emo kid” club
So this year started with a stranger slumbering on a neighboring sofa whose snores (the stranger’s, not the sofa’s) were enough to stir even the soundest of sleepers (myself included) from their stupor. Looking forward to more similarly exciting times in 2011!…but first, a look back at the past 360ish days:
Christmas bonus this morning: discovering that moe. and Guster are both coming to the Fillmore (and just 1 week prior to the Old 97s show). Guess we know who will be reaping the benefits of my 2011 raise (LiveNation.com, I sure hope you enjoy taking all my money…)
Plus: Was the most popular option, winning 25% of the vote. Sounds pretty. Minus: Does it really describe hipsters, in particular? Also: Due to our nominal “douche” ban, we might have to enforce its use only in shortened “Schwazzie” form.
Fauxhemians Plus: Really rolls off the tongue (sexxxily). Minus: Is it mean enough?
Pabstsmears Plus: Cleverly references PBR. Minus: Takes extraordinarily exact pronunciation to distinguish it from a more all-purpose slur.
Probos (professional hobos) Plus: Pithy; easy to say; might actually catch on. Minus: What percentage of hipsters are professionals?