Sunday, December 01, 2019

You’re Still Wrong Mykel's Blog December 2019 or My Equality Ain’t Equal to Your Equality!

You’re STILL Wrong
December 2019 Blog/Column
My Equality Ain’t Equal to Your Equality

by Mykel Board

PART ONE: Why don’t they just get a job?

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. -Anatole France

Columbus Circle… almost in Central Park… splendid view… overlooking the magnificent greenery of the park. A glass of wine sits on the table in front of me. It was poured from a bottle with a label picture of a very long house… etched in red… with a flag on top at one end of the house and the word: POMMARD underneath. I don’t know that word in French… maybe it’s a name… or a place… or has something to do with an apple.

The waiter… a thin white guy… mid twenties with a perfectly trimmed beard… brings a plate of something and sets it in front of me. I’m not sure what it is. It looks like a baby lobster tail covering a pea which is in turn covered with a sauce carefully dripped over the legume… puddling slightly on the right side of the plate. No, there’s something yellow-brown in there. It looks like a grape. A spiral of onion sits on top.

The dish is one course of a prix fixe dinner offered by Per Se, a fabulous French restaurant with a different fixed menu every day. A full course meal… including desert… is a flat fee... Just $225 a person… plus another hundred and a quarter for wine… plus tax and a tip... of course.

That’s for ten courses, including nice homey comfort food: macaroni and cheese… French style. Oh it’s just too droll.

After wining and dining my way through the dinner, I have just enough room left for a couple dollar slices of pizza and a mug of Yuengling. I’ll grab them on the way to the subway.

I’ll take the D train to Broadway-Bleecker St. I can stop at the Bleecker Street bar between the station and home.

Notice: The NY Transit system is downsizing. Trains run slow. Finding a working escalator or elevator is as likely as finding a Social Justice Warrior who doesn’t find me offensive.

Yet they’re downsizing the repair and most other transit departments. Fewer people to do EVERYTHING except one job. And in that one job, the plan is to increase the workforce by 500 people. Did you guess it? TRANSIT COPS!

Instead of building restrooms in stations, they can arrest people who piss off the platform. That’s something I’ve done myself... more times than I’ve farted in a Mexican restaurant. But wait! There’s more: instead of giving poor people free transit passes like I’ve heard they do in Chicago, they can arrest people who jump over the turnstiles. Instead of building public housing… they can use jails to house the blanketed homeless who live underground.

“They could just get a job,” say those who are annoyed that cardboard box houses on the platforms are offending their visual space, “but they don’t.”

Yo asshole! They could just have a crowbar up their sleeve and smash your head with it. These people are hurting no one. They are causing no pain, destroying no resources. That’s certainly more than can be said about the bank-working keyboard tappers in the skyscrapers next to them. Or the scummy Real Estate Agents who do nothing but work for companies that raise rents and throw people out on the street… or the useless IT developers who bank thousands from moving electrons around to make it easier for your cellphone to collect information to sell to advertisers so they can market more directly to you.

Street begging is the highest form of work-- and the least destructive. They ask for money and you give it because you want to... the purest of transactions…. In return you get a smile, or maybe a god bless you. The perfect vendor-customer relationship. Why penalize these vendors? In the meantime, you have quarter-pounder tossing minimum-wage burger flippers… who (barely) earn their living by destroying people’s health. What’s in it for them?

Meanwhile people spend $300 on minuscule dishes with some god-awful French wine.

Look, buckaroos, you don’t end poverty by making it illegal. You end poverty by taking money away from those who have too much and giving it to those who don’t have enough. You don’t blame the police for mishandling the mentally ill. You train people to handle the mentally ill so you don’t have to rely on the cops in the first place.

Last month, I wrote about my time in Punxsutawney PA (see part two) with the working poor of a small town famous for one day a year. The roofer who just likes being under the blue sky. The former college professor who is fed up with students who don’t want to learn how to think and schools that don’t want to teach how to think.

There may be homelessness in Punxy, but I didn’t see it. Yes I saw poor people. Yes, I felt people hanging out at the library who were somehow… I donno… off. But there were no cops throwing them out. There were two restrooms, available to all.
There were things I didn’t see… and my friend Vincent seems to think I’m romanticizing a bit. He’s the one who sent me the email in PART TWO.

PART TWO: Department of Corrections

It’s rare that people I write about answer what I write. It’s rare that they even read it, I’m afraid.

One of the many things I’ve learned in my 60 years of shit-slinging is that if I write about anyone (except my pal Sid Yiddish), that person will not like it.

I could write: She was beautiful… like a Roman statue.. alabaster… if it weren’t for the tiny birthmark on her chin, you wouldn’t believe she was real.

The next day I’d hear. “What’s the matter with you? Why did you write about that birthmark? You’re making me look ugly to people who’ve never met me. You’re an asshole and I hate you.”

Writers lose friends by writing about them. So it was with much trepidation that I opened the email from my Punxsutawney friend that I called Vincent, the former college prof.

Instead of hating me, he was correcting me. Something I usually pay for from ladies in tight black dresses… with riding crops.

VINCENT: Your revelations about " Vincent" are not accurate. I left academia after 9 Universities given their idiocracy failure to teach students how to think critically; that is, none of the liberal arts/philosophy/scientific methodology is taught in these middle-tier institutions. Most of these students have no interest in curious learning and WE should not encourage most of them to pursue a liberal arts education. Instead, two year vocational training is much more practical, and would save them money and professors a great deal of misery.

Indeed, most of the small town citizens are friendlier than those of large cities. Nevertheless, you were not here with sufficient time to encounter their abject dismissal of the benefit and, perhaps, their disdain of the intellectual life. My friend MB hates lawyers, politicians, and other professionals who have invested years of study to achieve their status. While I understand his animus, he and the others despise book learning as a waste of time. Why? Because they had difficulty in abstract thinking in school. I have begun to understand that sentiment, I have realized that cognitive ability varies a great deal; and a person can earn a good living engaged in hard physical labor. Hence, I advocate schools that direct most students to consider vocational training and faster employment; we as Americans must not claim that everyone should pursue a liberal arts education.

MYKEL: Good reason to quit academia. If there is anything lacking in the American people it is the ability to think critically… or think at all. There is too much teaching what to think… especially enforced by narrow-minded students and greedy administrations… and not enough HOW to think.

But I disagree on the solution. Vocational training is the PROBLEM… not the answer. Students use their educational training for an occupation. They’ve invested in an “education” as job training. They have no interest in “curious learning” but they should. Higher education should not be a kind of air-conditioning repair school on a $100,000 budget. The purpose of higher education --and the purpose of education in general-- should be to encourage thought... exploration... wonder... logic.. in the students. Let them do with it as they will. We put too much emphasis in getting a job, earning money. There is no dignity in picking up garbage for the city… or shuffling electrons for a bank. There IS dignity in being able to use logic, compassion, innovation, in every day life.

VINCENT: The notion of "Trump country" for these people is that such LGBQT and illegal alien rights do not deserve special treatment. Alternatively, you might be surprised by the number of Lesbians in this town. I am not; many of them have experienced difficult relations with men and decide to raise their children alone. That is a cultural aberration.

MYKEL: I don’t doubt that most people oppose “special treatment” for people different than they are. (Though I don’t expect they would mind special treatment (under a different name: politeness, consideration, fair compensation) for themselves. In most cases, though, it is not the “special treatment” that is the problem. It’s defining what special treatment is. For example, gender-neutral restrooms are not “special treatment.” Everyone has access to them equally and can use them in the same way.

I’ve written a lot on the subject of gay marriage, but the unequal treatment is not in the gay part, but in the marriage part. Why are certain rights: extended health insurance benefits, alimony, hospital visitation, in some cases even sexual contact… given to married people, but not to singles. The “special rights” are to those who are married regardless of gender. Marriage is a religious institution and should be treated as such. The government has no business in encouraging it with special privileges.

VINCENT: "Earnest" was misunderstood. He has been a "roofer" for over 12 years, long before Trump had any influence.

With respect to gun ownership, this is "hunting" country. I do not understand the shooting of a stationary animal and how it is in any way "sporting." Yet, even those with significant education love it.

MYKEL: Thanks for the correction about Earnest. I’m sorry for the error. There is also another good point here. City or country… not all the people are the same. The fact that there’s a hunting show on in a bar, doesn’t mean everyone in that bar likes hunting.

VINCENT: This town has fallen economically because the coal industry deteriorated over time, including the factories and supporting industries. Those individuals having reasonable intellectual ability have left, e.g. my class in 1975. The result is that most of the residual residents can earn only marginal incomes, at least for a number of years or until they can secure a better paying job; and the latter often depends on nepotism or otherwise knowing someone having some power.

I have to conclude that your years of experience have not exposed you to the struggling masses. Most of the women I know are working 2 or 3 jobs just to survive. However, in the history of labor in this and other nations is this unusual? NO! We cannot guarantee a perfect life with each person receiving a fantastic income.

MYKEL: I don’t know anyone who wants a “perfect life”… or wants one guaranteed. Life itself is not perfect… we all die. But the society CAN guarantee a DECENT life for each person. That is a home, enough food, heat in the winter, cooling in the summer. Some untorn clothes (except for the punk rockers who like TORN clothes). We don’t all need $300 prix fixe meals, but we all need food and drink.

VINCENT: You are correct that these plebeians--including myself, I guess--will continue to attempt to survive. Se la vie! Yet as you have implied, they are the salt of the earth--if they instill in their children the traditional values of Americans.

I don’t think the “traditional values” of Americans have much value. I’ve already mentioned the fallacy of the “dignity of work.” I also dislike the idea of self-reliance. My Japanese students don’t get it when I explain that Americans think it’s better to do something yourself than to ask others for help. They see the society as SOCIAL. And that if they can offer help, they should… and if they need help, someone else should offer it. I agree with them.

VINCENT: I am not saying or implying that you are denigrating these rural folks. However, I do believe that your analysis was a bit skewed in some ways. I guess mine would be too if I tried to assess New York City denizens.

MYKEL: Again, you’re right. I was only in Punxsy a month. When I was in Mongolia one of the professors at the university told me, “You’d better write that book in the year you’re here. After that time, you’ll realize how much you don’t understand.”


ENDNOTES: [You can contact me on facebook or by email at Through the post office: send those... er... private DVDs..or music or zines... or anything else (legal only!) to: Mykel Board, POB 137, New York, NY 10012-0003. If you like my writing, you can be notified when anything new is available. Subscribe to the MYKEL'S READERS Yahoo group]

Nice Try dept: Mashable reports that Droogie, the handle of a California hacker, figured he could outsmart the DMV by choosing a license plate that would throw off the computers. He chose NULL, figuring that when the computers read the plate number, they’d toss it out. He figured wrong. What happened is that all the tickets on cars with plates that couldn’t be read went to Droogie. He was the null one, and he got all the NULL tickets-- $12,000 worth. I don’t know that this proves or disproves anything, but it’s fun to read about.

Sucker dept: True Activist website posted a story that McDonalds has adopted a policy that bans buying food for homeless people. Since I was in the middle of writing this blog. I had homeless on the mind, and thus was perfect sucker-bait. The story is false. Evidently some employees of a McD’s in Manchester UK told customers that, so that they could get some odoriferous people out of the building. They made it up on the spot. I need to be more careful.

Whoops dept: The government of South Dakota had started a campaign to inform people that they were working to reduce methamphetamine use in the state.

This follows on the… er… heels of another South Dakota campaign, this one aimed at teaching drivers not to jerk the wheel to correct an ice skid:


I read that the search engines like lots of links... and it's also nice to support my friends --and enemies-- in their blogs. So facebook me or email me if you have a blog, webpage or something else to connect to. I add you. You add me.

Here's a start:
  • David Goldberg's Busy Microbes Blog
  • And another Goldberg:
  • Poetry and humor fans will like Justin Martin in The Latency
  • And my friend Mike R has a nice site with recipe hits from the past! (He cooked for me once... great stuff.) Check out Yesterday's Recipes.
  • And here's one by a member of ANTI-SEEN... a tour diary of sorts.
  • Andy Shelton has an interesting blog here.
  • Savage Hippie is a guy who has been YouTubing for a long time. Our opinions largely overlap... but he complains that I'm a Communist. I'm not! I'm a communist.
  • Chris Stecher publishes a zine called PRECIS. You can see the back issue links there... and he promises a new issue soon.
  • George Fertakis has a very nice graphics-heavy blog... with music and books featured prominently. If there’s no link here (I can’t find it temporarily), then Google… er… Duckduckgo him for information.
  • And my long-term pal Sid Yiddish contributes with his Mishegas Master Blog.

Let me know if you have a blog… or a PRINT zine and want to be added to the list. You show me yours… you’ve already seen mine.

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