@John C. Calhoun Yeah, I came to say this. I'm not going to argue that any of this is good, per se, but I do wonder if, say, San Francisco had at some point in the past annexed some of the somewhat more affordable suburbs immediately to its south (S. San Francisco, Burlingame, Daly City, etc.), or even if there had been a Five Boroughs-style consolidation that had unified SF with Oakland and Berkeley, if the tenor of the conversation would be different. Yes, the Bay Area as a whole has severe affordability problems, but it's true that there's a certain mystique of living in San Francisco proper that both drives the gentrification there and masks the fact that the Bay Area is essentially one unbroken metropolis divided into arbitrary jurisdictions.
One of the things I found most hilarious about UC Berkeley was that there were special parking spots reserved for Nobel laureates. There was a small cluster of them over by the science buildings, but there was a singel Nobel spot near my humanities building, since there was a Nobel-winning poet on the English faculty. Since on-campus parking was very hard to come by (although Berkeley was easily accessible via public transit, so this wasn't such a disaster), this was a real perk to winning a Nobel Prize for faculty, who could use the spots for life.
I work at home (and we have a washer and dryer at home) and so I'm the designated launderer for our two-person household. We can go pretty long between laundry (usually a couple of weeks) but when I finally do it I usually end up with two loads of sheets/towels and 4-5 loads of actual clothes (a load of lights, 2-3 loads of darks, and a load of clothes I segregate out because they don't go in the dryer and I don't want to sort through a pile of wet clothes). Despite doing laundry 20+ times a year, I sometimes manage to always forget that I get maybe half as much work done on laundry day as I do on regular days. The folding is in fact the hardest part. I try to fold them as as soon as they get out of the dryer, but sometimes I just leave them in a pile on the guest bed for as much as a day, especially if that last load comes out of the dryer late at night, as it sometimes does. On the emotional side, I put away all my clothes as soon as I fold them and leave my wife's for her to put away, and often she takes several days to get around to it, which I always vaguely resent even though I know it's totally irrational. The clothes aren't hurting anyone or affecting our lives in any way (well, I do have to keep the guest bedroom door closed or otherwise the cat will sleep on them). But I do sort of feel like "I did this whole chore and you only have to do this one thing at the end and you HAVEN'T DONE IT and it won't be done until you do, argh", which I'm trying to work past.
Economic theorists, even conservative ones, tend to love the idea of a minimum gauranteed income, because economists in general believe that giving poor people money directly is more efficient than giving them aid with strings attached. One form the idea has taken is a negative income tax, which basically creates a progressive taxation structure in which the lower brackets are negative -- so poor people get money back from the government rather than paying it. The idea was proposed by conservative superstar Milton Friedman way back in 1962. And in fact, Earned Income Credits, which were greatly expanded under George W. Bush, are a form of negative income tax, though because you only get them when you file your taxes instead of year round in your pay check they aren't the most efficient form. (This by the way is why you see so many pop-up tax preparers in lower income neighborhoods -- they're essentially payday lenders for the earned income credit, which most poor and working class poeple in the US get). The problem is that once the idea gets out of the conservative academic/think tank space into actual conservative politics, people seem to notice that it just involves handing money to poor people and they recoil. Even the half-assed negative income tax that is the earned income credit goes a long way towards explaining the notorious "47%" figure of people who pay less in federal income taxes than they get back in benefits from the gov't, and we all saw last year what a hot-button issue that turned out to be for conservatives.
Just the factor of people finding out what you do and then asking you to do your job for free, because you know each other socially, is an interesting phenomenon in and of itself probably worthy of an article. This is in my mind because I was on a long bus ride yesterday and this guy struck up a conversation with me (while I was trying to get work done) and found out I'm an editor and said that I should help him with a paper he was working on for his MBA program, "since we have an hour until we get to New York."
@jfruh Related: SF Chron columnist Jon Carroll's annual "Untied Way" column: http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/carroll/article/JON-CARROLL-2544018.php
Would honestly love to see something like this that gave money in the U.S. (Not that I'm against giving money to Kenyans, obviously, but the reality that giving no-strings-attached money is often quite helpful to poor people is just as true here.)
OK, maybe I'm missing something obvious here, but ... why would you feel like you had to renew your license in Oregon? Wouldn't it be easier to just get a license in New York, where you actually live? Shouldn't you be doing that anyway? What's the point of keeping an Oregon license? LOOOOOGAAANNN
I feel vaguely compelled to point out that the common perception of the Horatio Alger myth is itself a myth! What actually happens in most Horatio Alger stories is that a virtuous and hardworking but poor young man becomes rich not because he works hard but because he has a shining moment that catches the attention of an older rich man (often he will do something heroic, like save a baby or something). The rich man then plucks him out of poverty and gives him a good-paying job at his company. It actually is a pretty accurate depiction of how the economy works, in that you have to be both hardworking and competent and also in the right place at the right time, and have non-economic qualities that are attractive to people with money and power.
@Eric18 You know who had to do those things and a whole lot more. EVERY GENERATION before you. Actually there are a lot of people in every generation who didn't have to do this, because they came from circumstances that were already pretty financially solid. Those people are, ironically, often the loudest proponents of bootstrapping! You missed the whole point of this discussion pretty hard, is what I'm saying.