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Friday, December 13, 2013

Idlers, Gentrification, Bifurcation of Society, etc.

California Bob reports:

Speaking of idlers, and anger at the modern economy, this little episode illustrates a contemporary phenomenon.
Around here many large companies run coaches to provide transportation for their employees.  Google, Yahoo, Apple have big shiny buses running all over bringing in workers.  They are very visible, and although the intent is good (reduces traffic, congestion, fuel consumption, etc.), the coaches have become symbols of privilege.  The tinted windows only help create wild speculation about the perverted excesses inside (diamond encrusted Wi-Fi transponders?).
Several interesting things here:
  • If the employees were to do something much more socially obnoxious (ie: buy a big Mercedes and drive themselves to work), they wouldn't be a target.
  • One protester infiltrated the bus posing as a Google employee, and in order to inflame anger against Google, shouted out the bus windows: "This is a city for the right people who can afford it. You can't afford it? You can leave. I'm sorry, get a better job!"  This was supposed to be scandalous and controversial, but it sounds pretty realistic to me.  What is he suggesting, that people should be entitled to live anywhere they want, whether they can afford it or not?  What is that supposed to look like?
I'm actually hopeful that the tide is swinging away from trickle-down, back toward a kinder-gentler mindset.  Obama got re-elected.  Obamacare, a gateway to single-payer health, got enacted.  And I read today that 70% of voters support an increase in the minimum wage.  There's been a ton of displacement, and these things take time to rectify, but I see broad support for channeling economic flows back toward the middle classes, and I don't see broad support for predatory free-market policies.
On the other hand, success depends on personal skills that are learned at home, not on policy.  The social capital in this country is notoriously degenerate.  We may already have a permanent underclass of people who just have no clue how, or inclination, to behave responsibly.
One more remark: I myself hold a fair amount of resentment toward "yuppie douchebags," and I'm somewhat conflicted about having to adopt certain values and sublimate others in order to work among them.  So why do I do it?  The answer is simple, "I like flexibility and independence," and money is the best way to achieve that, and a good job is the easiest way to get money.  I often find myself humiliated at behaving the way I do.  But in my experience the alternative is an existence of scrounging and foraging which, while not humiliating, is not particularly rewarding, either, and can be downright depressing. 
Depression, or humiliation?  Tough call.

I asked for clarification on the conflicted bit, and received this reply:

For example, having to buy new and "on-trend" clothing, instead of wearing thrift shop stuff.  And eliminating the sarcasm, negativity and vitriolic social commentary.  Foregoing challenging people on stupid remarks or behavior.  In other words, becoming a mellow predictable pleasant acting dweeb.
I have to say though, my experience has been, by simply sanding down my edges and prettying up a little, I am getting noticeably more mileage socially and work-wise.  Noticeably.

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