viernes, 11 de abril de 2008

The Middle Class Trap

Here in San Francisco making twenty dollars an hour, or even thirty, will not get you very far. Everything is overpriced. Everything. Parking meters, depending on the area, will give you 5 or 6 minutes for one quarter. Food, both at the supermarket and at restaurants, unless you are willing to eat some really bad crap, will likely be anywhere from $8 to $15 per person without drinks. Movie tickets are $10.50. Gas prices are some of the highest in the nation, averaging $3.90 a gallon as of today. Rentals -don't get me started! In my building a one bedroom apartment goes for $1,895 a month, and that is actually not that bad compared to the rest of the city.

Now, before you begin asking yourself, "then why does she live there?" let me say that you are asking the wrong question. I live here because in spite of all the financial difficulties we face, we want to live in a place where you can be who you want to be and not be afraid of it. It's that simple. When I moved here and saw queer people, inter racial couples, just all kinds of different people all over the city holding hands, kissing, laughing, living their lives, it was the most profoundly beautiful thing to me. So it is not a matter of "if you don't like it, or can't afford it, get out". WHY SHOULD IT BE THAT WAY? Why are people who earn less money less worthy of living happy, productive lives in a city of their choosing? Especially when those people are either a) working for non- profit organizations providing a range of much needed services (like homeless outreach, AIDS/HIV support, health care, legal advice and representation, and much more), or b) the people who need those services the most since they clean, cook, and serve all of the rest of us, whether rich or poor, and without whom the city would collapse into a heap of garbage (and here I am thinking of servers, dishwashers, cashiers, cooks, delivery people, etc.) WHY?

Our friends started to leave the city years ago because they wanted to *gasp* own a house or they had a kid or they were just priced out. That tends to happend when you are a bike messenger making 10 bucks an hour. And I remember thinking that I wouldn't let that happen to us. I also remember wondering why the heck would anyone want to have kids in such a non-kid friendly city. What a dope I was. What was thought process? That only people without kids should live here? Right. Instead, what I want to know is why shouldn't we be allowed to be parents? Now that I have a kid I have seen how this has become a whole industry, a very expensive one that charges you as much as possible for services that everyone should have access to like child care. It costs anywhere from $1, 000 to $2, 000 a month and whether you have the money or not you have to be on a waiting list for a year or two. I am not making this up, in San Francisco, it is easier to get into law school than nursery school.

What makes all of this even harder to cope with is that we do not qualify for any sort of help from anyone. We "make too much." To which I say, are you fucking kidding? But it is true, there are no city services that can help us out, so we are too rich for help but too poor to make ends meet on our own. Welcome to the middle-class trap.

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