I haven’t posted in forever because the everlasting glory of studying for the bar for 12 hours a day leaves me just enough free time to drink a beer and stare into the middle distance before crying and going to bed. Today I decided to leave my study cavern in Orange County out of the hope that the assholes at Mac Fusion would have repaired the laptop containing all my notes. I was wrong in that assumption, so I ventured on over to my apartment in Long Beach.
A few squad cars were at the door, meaning that either my white supremacist neighbor had been arrested again or my mentally unbalanced and drug addled neighbor had attempted suicide for the 7th or 8th instance since moving here two years ago. Sadly it was the latter, and to make matters even worse it seems that she succeeded this time.
Thirty years ago this lady would have had at least a chance at a bed and around the clock supervision in a state hospital. Instead Saint Reagan was allowed to nuke all inpatient mental health care while drastically scaling back any treatment options that would have been available for someone with a serious chemical dependancy. Presently if my neighbor lived in any other industrialized country she would have access to state-funded medical and psychological care designed to treat her diseases, instead of a country determined to discover cool new ways to shift the costs of caring for her onto spottily funded charity organizations.
In virtually any other place but California in the 21st century this woman’s life would have undoubtedly ended in a better place than the apartment building where the majority of people (myself included) spurned her calls for help out of the convenience of ignorance. We live in an era where elected officials on both sides of the political spectrum are intent for no good goddamn reason on slashing the tattered social safety net, and where the stigma of mental health problems persists as a matter of statute. Given this acceptance of the subtle violence of selfishness it becomes incredibly easy to allow even those who sleep not 20 feet away from us to slip into the darkness of depression and desperation.
Happy Monday. I wonder if they will replace the carpet before they re-rent the place.
Long Beach Bike Path (via Facebook)
So a few weeks ago I had a few professional setbacks that contributed to some intense feelings of hazing a sad. Luckily for me however I am less than two blocks away from a long stretch of paved beach path here in Long Beach, so I went for a 12 mile run one morning and almost instantly felt better about the world. It’s a privilege to have access to such an outlet, and there in lies a major problem in the way we conceptualize “needs” in this country.
The expense of maintaining this resource here in Long Beach cannot be too immense on our city government, especially compared to the large number of people who use it on a daily basis. Sure some that immense annual use is undoubtedly due to the mild climate of the area, but it is the sort of public resource that frankly any city can (and should) undertake.
Me running by the Belmont Pool
The benefits of a maintaining communal place to exercise are not just limited to the waistline and blood pressure for the individuals who use it. The beach path functions as a great pedestrian walkway and it reduces pedestrian injuries from our busy roads. The path also allows for people across the city to mingle with other community members that they otherwise would not associate with (for better or for worse).
However if you were to judge the importance of this resource by the press it receives or by the various commentators who speak about this path and similar public parks you would be under the impression that these places are dens of sin and putridity. The homeless person who sleeps near the path is seen as a “blight” instead of a human being whose desire to seek the serenity of that area is just as important as those same desires from everyone else. The beach itself is seen as less than hospitable for tourism by folks outside of Long Beach because of the (and here is your thinly-vieled racism) “diversity” of the locals. Apparently the prospect of having to share sand with large Mexican families is a traumatic event for people from Newport.
Many of us all take comfort in this form of passive aggressive hate, where exclusion and self-imposed isolation is seen as a solution to the inherit problems in promoting a “community”. (There’s a reason that the once universally available urban public pool more or less disappeared once they were ordered to be integrated). This ideology is the result of a generation that sought to avoid the contention of a past where associating with one another just was not worth it, so as a result we cannot not see the value in something as seemingly uncontroversial as publicly available recreation. Want to maintain your weight while reduce stress? Buy a thirty dollar a month gym membership. Want to walk around outside in a safe environment near unrivaled splendor of the Pacific Ocean? Better hope that you inherit that house on Balboa.
The good and simple things in life are for those who can pay for it, not for you and me. That is a value born out of a society that celebrates unadulterated selfishness as a moral value, and the bipartisan nature of such disgusting beliefs is itself a tragedy.
His speaking fee is more expensive than your Honda
Looks like the Daily Tina’s week of self-immolation is continuing into the weekend:
Harvard Professor and author Niall Ferguson says John Maynard Keynes’ economic philosophy was flawed and he didn’t care about future generations because he was gay and didn’t have children.
Ferguson asked the audience how many children Keynes had. He explained that Keynes had none because he was a homosexual and was married to a ballerina, with whom he likely talked of “poetry” rather than procreated. The audience went quiet at the remark. Some attendees later said they found the remarks offensive.
Ferguson, who is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, and author of The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die, says it’s only logical that Keynes would take this selfish worldview because he was an “effete” member of society. Apparently, in Ferguson’s world, if you are gay or childless, you cannot care about future generations nor society.
Good to know that the stodgy defender of American Imperialism has moved on to plagiarizing new and uniquely awful scholars, like Scott Lively.
Alright so maybe I was feeling a little overwhelmed yesterday about my rather unsure place within the very precarious world or lawyer-dom. Nevertheless I will study for this fucking test, pass it, and help the people out there who are so goddamned desperate that even assistance from someone as awful as me is necessary. I just need to stay both motivated and disciplined about this whole process, and on my run this morning I thought up of the greatest possible image to keep in mind whenever I am feeling down:
It’s no “Car Pool Or HITLER WINS” but it will do.
My parents took me out to dinner a few nights ago after an event at my law school. The conversation inevitably turned to the issue of what I’m doing after I graduate, and the rather stark yet ambiguous future that awaits my nascent professional career.
In the midst of talking about the lack of legal jobs, the decades of flatlining wages for entry-level positions, and the horrendous six-figures of debt that I have assumed, my mother attempted to put things in perspective by speaking about her own experiences:
“I had to teach 13 classes my first semester as a professor in the late 1980’s and I only made $29,000 Stefan”.
Now the game of comparing woe-as-me stories is a long standing tradition on her side of the family (Thanksgiving is basically the annual unveiling of each other’s chronic health problems as entries into the corresponding contest of who has it worse. The winner gets first dibs on the Turkey), but in this case Mom utterly failed to win this game of poverty Highlander.
“Yeah Mom my best hope is to work at an office for free from anywhere from six months to a year while also working several low wage service jobs in order to pay the bills. I would kill for a job that pays 29k a year, especially since that would match my previous salary from 2010 before I went to law school.”
Paul Krugman’s columns and Chris Hayes’ show are the only consistent voices within the mainstream media markets that speak about the completely hopeless situation that a growing segment of this country are finding themselves. The narrative of the “kids who do everything right and still fail” has been attached to my generation for over a decade now and is recognized by people in power across the political spectrum, and yet no one seems to want to do anything about it. The boomers blew up the system 20 times over and now feel compelled to ignore the problem entirely and leave us to deal with the consequences of long term unemployment and systemic income inequality, all without dependable sources of economic support like the social safety net, public sector employment, or low-skill middle class service/manufacturing.
I am so very fucked at this moment. So the fact that I have the privilege of dressing in a black robe and getting a nice piece of paper with my name in fancy calligraphy isn’t exactly bringing a smile to my face right now. It’s not that I feel above asking “would you like fries with that” for the next fifty years, I just wish that someone would have told me that this was the future. I wouldn’t have wasted so much time deluding myself with fantasies to the contrary.