Saturday, October 29, 2011

Their lies, your power.

People sympathetic to the Occupy Wall Street movement have frequently noted that the 1% have done nothing that justifies their massive share of the wealth. As Krugman says, "They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs." They're really just a bunch of boiler room hucksters our of Glengarry Glen Ross. Elizabeth Warren reminds us that no one gets rich on their own.

The myth that the rich are responsible for well-being of the economy is the strength of the working class. Things don't grind to a halt if Wall Street stops working. Sometimes it even helps things: that's why Roosevelt declared a bank holiday. They talk about "Going Galt" but they know if they did nothing would change. But if everyone else stopped doing what they do, society would stop. Wall street cannot call a general strike, but main street can. The economy exists because people wake up every morning and make it exist. And if we don't like it we can make it go away. This is the power of nonviolence. They can shoot rubber bullets, but you control the fabric of the world.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Adventures close to home

There's an estate sale around the corner from us--about 100 yards down our street and another 100 yards down the busy street ours comes off of. Molly sent me there and authorized me to pay up to $100. They had this great workbench, with 8 drawers and wheels and and a vice for 75 dollars. So I say I'll take it. I say, "I guess I'll have to clean all that stuff out of it."

This is when I start running into trouble. The guy says he'll throw in the contents of the bench for another $75. I say $25. He says, we'll lets look what's in it. Couple hammers, some files, copper wire, pipe cutter, trowels and gardening stuff. Ok, I'll pay 75 for it. "That's just for the stuff in the drawers. Another $25 for the stuff on top." "Ok."

He totally upsold me! What started as a good deal for $75 became a crappy deal for $175! I think Cialdini has something to say about why people always fall for this. Ungh.

In any case, since I don't have a car, and its only about 200 yards back to our house, I decide to roll the thing home. Its heavy, the wind is picking up, and I have to push it up hill. I get about 25 yards and a wheel breaks off, the drawers all slide open facing downhill and the whole thing nearly tips over. I'm trying to figure out how to finish wheeling it home, but I really only have the strength to keep it from tipping over.

"So you bought Marcellus's old workbench." A guy who has raking leaves up from his yard has come over to see what's up. We chat. I say I'm going to get a wagon to carry the contents of the drawers away so the thing is manageable. It looks like with his help, though, we can roll the thing up the hill. We get to the top of the hill and turn onto our street when another wheel breaks. Well, the nice man has helped me out enough, so he leaves and I go to get a wagon to empty the thing.

There's a lot of junk in it. Old mouse traps, the kind from the cartoons with the spring and the thwapper. A lot of wood files. Will I ever use these? The electric sander does a fine job for what I need. Nails. Screws. Thistle seed. People plant thistle? Should I plant thistle? A broken gauge of some sort. "2004 Classification and Handbook of Dahlias." Sockets for a socket wrench. Metal things that look like dental instruments for dinosaurs. Drill bits of various sizes.

Even with all the junk out of the drawers, the workbench is hard to roll down the bumpy sidewalk. I go back for twine to tie the drawers in place. It is still tough going. Then another wheel breaks. Well, there's no way to move it with just one wheel. So I home, get the kid's wagon, take of the sides, and plop the whole workbench down on top of it. By some small mercy, the whole thing is stable, and I get the bench home.