9.21.2010

Some Random Opinions

Or, "Spouting Off"

Nothing literary today, I'm sorry (or you're welcome, whichever the case may be).

Briefly


"Please leave us alone." I can appreciate both sides of the story, but it just seems like one of Apple's media relations peons could have just given the girl a quote in less time than it took CEO Steve Jobs to personally be a douche to a college kid.

Braylon Edwards charged with DUI. Drunk driving is incredibly stupid (especially when your employer provides you with a free service specifically so you can get hammered without having to worry about driving), and Edwards made a decision that costs 10,000 or so Americans their lives every year. But. If you're so much more well-adjusted or less likely to do something stupid, by all means, throw the first stone.

Not so briefly

(The following is colored by the fact that I am not a political/economic expert, nor am I particularly optimistic about our government's ability to intelligently handle things like my money, so I tend toward trying to address the issues from my side of the equation, where I have more control. Vote, and participate in the process as much as you'd like, but the more of us who are concerned primarily with thoughtfully attending to our own affairs, the better off we'll be.)

Is $250,000 a year really 'rich'? Um, yes. Yes it is. Chicago law professor Todd Henderson doesn't think so, but he's wrong. Despite living in an affluent area of Chicago (in a house I'm prepared to assume is not small), listing some form of daycare twice, paying for someone to mow the lawn and clean the house (because apparently you can't do those two things AND work outside the home), and paying for TV (but not for those movie channels; oh, the suffering! I wonder: did he have his lawn-mowing guy tie him to the hood of one of his cars with wax in his ears to avoid those particular sirens?), he still has a few hundred dollars of discretionary income at the end of each month. We come pretty close to that in the non-summer months, and we pull in 40k, gross. I'm sorry, but Obama should visit Mr. & Mrs. Lawyer/Doctor to see how rich=regular? Take a step back from what you think you need and/or deserve: rich=regular=American standards out of whack. I invite Mr. Henderson & family to take a break from his struggle to live with $200,000 over the median, come to Depew, NY and check out our lives $20,000 under it.

I'll grant Henderson this: $100k is a LOT of money to pay in taxes each year (and probably seems like even more to me, because it's 2.5 times what our yearly household income), but it still leaves you $100k MORE to work with than a lot of people make every year (or two or three). I'm sorry you're working to pay off your loans, but your choice of field comes with certain drawbacks, like paying way more in taxes as an indirect result of wanting to make good money--of course, I actually doubt making $250k a year was your main motivation for studying toward and marrying into traditionally affluent occupations, but I also doubt you were turned off by the prospect.

And yes, I suppose there's the whole varying cost of living thing to take into account--I guarantee it costs more to live in Chicago than in Depew, but that's rather beside the point. Anyway, I seriously doubt living in Chicago means you are legally required to send your kids to private schools and pay people to mow your lawn and clean your house. (I guess the previous snarkiness should serve as the full disclosure that if Henderson is a whiny rich person, as many of the comments on his post imply, then I'm a reflexively whiny poor person.)

I am more convinced by Henderson's apparent desire for the government to spend his much higher taxes wisely (or perhaps more accurately, give contracts to companies more motivated by doing good than squeezing extra profit) than I am by his concerned opining about what he & his wife could cut back on to bump their discretionary income from the low hundreds to (I'm guessing) somewhere closer to a thousand dollars a month. That kind of whining (which he admits to in the comments) doesn't help or have a place in essays meant to be serious in nature.

In the end, Henderson points out that if Obama's plan doesn't work, he'll have to downgrade in both the housing and automobile departments, but he worries that his current house and cars have depreciated in value and will be difficult to sell. He didn't mean, to, I'm sure, but he's pointing to part of the problem: his house and cars aren't worth as much because people are being forced by the economy to get by with less, that they need less. He, along with the rest of us, would do well to realize that we all need less than we've been told we need (by whatever bad guy suits your taste: the media, society, parents, the Joneses, whoever they are), and we'd do well to think about it before we buy anything.

I hate clichés, and I love clichés. I hate how they tend to depreciate, but I love that they're usually true. That said, here's my point: less is more. Embrace it.

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