Our Classless Society

‘I Had My Backpack and 20 Cents’: How Cheryl Strayed Does Money

“We had a happy life. I would say I really had a very happy one, even though we lived in poverty, on food stamps, government cheese, and sometimes the food pantry shelf,” said Strayed.

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ManServant Trying to Make “Porn For Women” Happen

Have money? Hire a sugar baby / ManServant! Want someone to be nice to you? Pay them! Is this the natural, though cynical, extension of a market economy?

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Is There a Class Component to Catcalls

By now you’ve surely read about, if not watched, the Hollaback video footage of a normal, 30-something woman walking around NYC for ten hours getting catcalled by men. The unwanted attention is astounding, despite the fact that she’s dressed in regular clothes and neither speaking nor smiling.

It brings back all sorts of memories for me, especially one awful pre-ear-bud summer when I was a self-conscious teenager working at a non-profit in DC. I got catcalled every day. All I wanted was to be invisible and instead guys shouted things out of their cars about how they wanted me to “Lewinsky” them, or walked by and said something savvy and sophisticated like, “Tits!”

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Experts Maybe Not So Expert-y After All

We talk a lot around here about the people who hold themselves out as financial experts, and how they’re mostly full of bologna. And while we’re on the topic: Donald Trump! Why does anyone think of that dope as a paragon of financial acumen? The dude was born rich and still managed to go bankrupt.

We also dispense a fair bit of advice, or, at least, ponderous suggestions and strongly held opinions, even though none of us is, in any way, a certified expert in matters fiscal. Luckily, that doesn’t matter, because, as a new study reveals, professional mutual fund managers, who presumably would know a thing or two about managing their own money, are just as profligate, impetuous, and generally pound-foolish as the rest of us.

One of the researchers involved suggests that the main takeaway is “average investors might be better off managing their own stock portfolios rather than paying a high-fee mutual-fund managers, because beating the market is rare and very difficult.” That is surely true, but doesn’t go far enough. Average people, who mostly don’t invest in anything beyond groceries, rent, and used cars, should take great solace in knowing that even to the experts, money is basically inscrutable and advantageous decisions are elusive. So go ahead and lace up your fancy sneakers, put your iPhone in your pocket, and go buy a latte. There is a reason they call economics “the dismal science.” There is also probably a reason they call boxing “the sweet science,” but let’s not worry about that just now.

Photo by the author.

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M4F: Married Mormon Dad Seeks Companionship, Pays Price

A married Mormon dad with money and secret poly impulses started paying women to pay attention to him because the Internet.

Boston began soliciting dates with women aged 31 to 63, stating in his profile that he was married. “Winks” from women showing their interest in his profile—some of them alarmingly attractive in a blow-dried Laguna Beach way—started rolling in at the rate of three to four a week. And so Boston became a dating machine, landing rendezvous with about 30 women so far. The leggy brunette in hot-pink stilettos. The busty artist. The therapist. The real estate agent. The UC Berkeley student.

Boston makes a $40 bid for an initial coffee date or dinner to vet a woman for compatibility. His date may then design a fantasy night out—for which he handles all expenses. He also compensates the date for her time if she asks, matching what he calculates as her overtime wages, sometimes $25 to $50 an hour. The woman can choose—and Boston emphasizes in his profile that he respects her choice—either “good clean fun,” like hand-holding and small kisses, or “friends with benefits.”

Beyond the costs of the dates, Boston has helped with other expenses: an Ikea bed, a transmission, a Tiffany bracelet. “Some people spend money on cars or a vacation,” Boston says. “I prefer to spend it on people I have a crush on.”

He calls this a kind of “philanthropy.” (?!) Not everyone agrees. His decisions have cost him his wife and his church: one divorced him, the other ex-communicated him. Now he lives in a trailer. Worth it? Je ne regret rien, says he.

he evinces no regrets when he talks about his new life: booking as many as three dates a week and nurturing three to four ongoing liaisons, including one with a dominatrix from Oakland to whom he pays $1,000 for four dates monthly. He even seems excited about a date who pickpocketed him.

We are all about self-actualization around these parts, whether or not it takes the form of a typical male midlife crisis. Still, it sucks for your self-actualization to come at the emotional and financial expense of your family.

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Kids Trick-or-Treating Across Class Lines Makes 1%er Feel Faint

Halloween, as much as Thanksgiving, is a holiday about generosity.

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Heartbreaking Story About Homelessness in San Francisco

The myth of the “good poor” kills me, the idea that people should have to point to their accomplishments and credentials to make clear that they don’t deserve to have to live on the street. No one should have to live on the street.

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Link Roundup! “Breaking Bad” Dolls, Men’s Watches, Last Call for Holiday Flights

+ Sorry, guys. Since a Florida mom complained, you can’t buy “Breaking Bad” action figures at Toys R Us anymore. Note: the NPR article about this story uses “dolls” and “action figures” interchangeably, but I feel like I read something in the New Yorker once delineating the subtle but fascinating distinctions between the categories — which matter a lot for import tax reasons. Does this ring a bell with anyone? Did I dream it, like I dreamed last night that I got mauled by someone’s pet tiger? (“He’s usually very friendly,” the person said, cleaning my wounds.)

+ Remember those happy days when there was a clear hierarchy to men’s watches?

If you’re scaling your way up the ladder of rich douchiness, you start with a middle-class-friendly Casio or Timex. After your first six figures in the finance industry, you move to an “entry-level” luxury watch, like a Rolex, by 30. Then, in your 40s, if you’re lucky, you park your annual bonus on a high-end Swiss number. And in your 50s, feeling both flush and the literal press of time, you rock the equivalent of a Porsche on your wrist, before passing it on to the next generation as a family heirloom.

But since 2007, the whole system has been disrupted by something called “the Ice-Watch” (??), at least in Europe, where everyone, even rich people, wants the cool fun watch that costs only $200. The best part of this article is that it says the Ice-Watch “cock-blocked Swatch.” Wow. Mike would wash our mouths out with soap if we talked like that.

+ Haven’t purchased your flights home for the holidays yet? There’s still time, maybe! A little time, not much. Some years the cheapest flights appear 10 days out, right before prices spike. And holiday flights are actually super expensive in July and August, to punish those of you who might otherwise feel good about being on the ball.

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I Don’t Get Las Vegas

Las Vegas Boulevard, commonly known as the Strip, is a singular example of government and private industry working together to extract every last dollar from every last man, woman and child in America. The sidewalks themselves are in on the scheme.

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A Drunk Stole My Kale. You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!

Today’s Link of the Day, a gripping tale of tragedy, redemption, and kale, comes from the vibrant, increasingly yuppie Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC.

About two weeks ago, my Tuscan kale plant disappeared. … we wrote it off as lost, a casualty of the urban environment in which we knew fenceless gardening to be a risk. And then, over the weekend, we found this wet note sticking out from under a flowerpot. [Note reads: "To: Wonderful Gardener. From: A Remorseful Kale Thief (I was drunk & I'm very sorry."] Attached to the back was a $25 gift card to Ace Hardware, where we plan to restock our gardening supplies in the spring. Never has my faith in humanity been more emphatically restored. Kale thief, if you’re reading this, all is forgiven and then some.

Back in the early days of our relationship, Ben borrowed my laptop and left it attended for a moment in the law school library. Some other enterprising law student, no doubt bound to be one of those shysters who advertises on billboards using dollar signs, made off with it. Ben was devastated — so upset, in fact, that I ended up calming down so that I could calm him down. (Good trick, btw, if you can pull it off.)

What’s the most valuable thing anyone has ever stolen from you? Did the thief make recompense somehow? Or have you ever had to express your remorse for taking something that wasn’t yours?

Photo via Washington City Paper

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Working While Pregnant

Sometimes the Gray Lady does a good deed. I mean, she spends a lot of time preening, and baiting us with the travails of the city’s most obnoxious, narcissistic 22-year-old as he searches for a $3700-a-month apartment big enough to decorate like an Orientalist bordello, complete with a huge oil painting of himself. But sometimes she also manages to help an unfairly fired pregnant woman get her job back:

Ms. Valencia, who earned $8.70 an hour as a potato packer for Fierman in the Bronx, was told by her supervisors in August that she could not continue working unless her doctor gave her a full-duty medical clearance. (Ms. Valencia, who had a miscarriage last year, was told by her doctor that she should work only eight hours a day, no overtime.) Lawyers for Ms. Valencia said the company had violated New York City’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. Her story was the subject of a Working Life column on Monday.

My god, what employers will try to get away with when they think nobody’s looking. Sadder still is that most of the time, nobody is looking. If you’re working while pregnant, know your rights.

 

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