Apartment hunting, day 2

Yesterday, I was reasonably optimistic about being approved for the Alden, an apartment complex in Baldwin, in the South Hills area around Pittsburgh. This morning, the problem I described in western Massachusetts[1] reared its head as the complex called me to inform me that my application had been declined: Allegedly, neither my mother nor I have credit.

Actually, we do. Mine sucks because of high balances stemming from a catastrophic 2018 and, of course, student loans in the hundreds of thousands of dollars skyrocketing (tens of thousands of dollars per year) with interest. My mother has been somewhat more successful, but both of us have had to put freezes on our credit reports. Hopefully, we can work through this.

In the meantime, the search goes on. The first place I went to today turned out to have nothing available in my price range for the foreseeable future. Another place responded to my inquiry saying that they don’t take co-signers. Finally, I went out to a place that’s a long ways out but a little larger than the place that, at least temporarily, turned me down.


The featured image for this posting of the Irregular Bullshit is from the CityLab article my mother sent me (see Pittsburgh, below). It is one of several the article draws from the University of Pittsburgh’s Smoke Control Lantern Slide Collection.[2] The collection itself appears fairly voluminous. (Fair use.)


Pittsburgh

My mother was not impressed when I sent her the the article about declining and—to hear the American Lung Association tell it—terrible (straight F’s) Pittsburgh air quality.[3] No, not even one little bit. She sent me another article in response, saying this[4] is how it was when she was a kid. The comparison, of course, is a little unfair, and my mom surely didn’t mean for me to take it very seriously: The pictures reveal particulate pollution; they can’t show ozone and other gases that are also worrisome.

Ben Schwartz, “A New Plan to Correct a Historic Mistake in Pittsburgh,” CityLab, April 25, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/design/2019/04/pittsburgh-penguins-hill-district-history-redevelopment-plan/587896/


Ageism and Sexism

Susan Chenery, “Poverty and ageing: ‘we’re swept under the carpet and pushed aside,’” Guardian, April 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/apr/25/poverty-and-ageing-were-swept-under-the-carpet-and-pushed-aside


Moral panics

Isaac Stanley-Becker, “‘Free speech isn’t free, is it?’: A story on a teen porn worker could cost a high school journalism teacher her job,” Washington Post, April 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/04/25/free-speech-isnt-free-is-it-sensitive-story-could-cost-high-school-journalism-teacher-her-job/


Uber

And [Uber] points out that it is likely to make the drivers even more unhappy in the future, both because it is investing in autonomous vehicles to reduce the numbers of drivers it needs, and because it plans to reduce payments to drivers in order to increase its chances of turning a profit: “As we aim to reduce Driver incentives to improve our financial performance, we expect Driver dissatisfaction will generally increase.”[5]

So, um, that didn’t take long.[6]

Kari Paul, “Uber drivers plan shutdown over ‘poverty wages’ as company goes public,” Guardian, April 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/24/uber-drivers-strike-ipo


Meter Maids

Yes, I am preferring the disparaging term for folks who have been accused in San Francisco, if not elsewhere, of eating their young.

I am well aware of the difficulties of finding a “real job,” which I define as fulfilling the standards in Article 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, a treaty in which the U.S. has joined a very small number of countries in failing to ratify.[7] I have failed to find such a job for eighteen years. And I appreciate that many such workers have families to support.

But ethical employment is not employment that principally harms others. While it is far from being uniquely so, parking enforcement is principally a harm, especially in places like San Francisco, which obviously invests in and reaps rewards from it as a reliable source of revenue, a tax by any other name.

To be fully human, one must act ethically. When we act otherwise, we are acting as sub-humans. To do so for employment is to professionally reduce oneself to a sub-human level. And to do so is to deserve sub-human treatment.

Alex Johnson, “Chalking tires to enforce parking rules is unconstitutional, court finds,” April 23, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/chalking-tires-enforce-parking-rules-unconstitutional-court-finds-n997326


Joe Biden

But the larger argument against Biden comes from the progressive wing of the Democratic party, which sees him as a dinosaur holdover from the party’s unenlightened past. Already progressives have charged Biden with a litany of political errors (or crimes), including his maladroit actions as the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee during the 1991 Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings (which allegedly showed his regressive attitudes toward women) and his support for Bill Clinton’s 1994 crime bill (which is interpreted as callousness about high levels of African American incarceration).[8]

Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, was even more pointed. “Biden’s chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee during the Thomas nomination reflected his sense of institutionalism a lot more than any sense of feminism. None of this would be disqualifying but it does not stand up well to the feminist sensibilities of the #MeToo era.”[9]

Even setting aside my concern about how Anita Hill was treated, Biden sounds like he’s going to be yet one more mainstream Democrat who will continue the Party’s rightward push—because that’s the way the Party has been pushing since George McGovern’s landslide loss to Richard Nixon in 1972. Neoliberalism will be fine with Biden, no matter what he says about it on the campaign trail.

I can’t live with Donald Trump. But I can’t live with neoliberalism either.

Geoffrey Kabaservice, “Joe Biden is the ultimate centrist Democrat. Is that a liability or strength?” Guardian, April 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/25/joe-biden-2020-democrats-choice

Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Carl Hulse, “Joe Biden Expresses Regret to Anita Hill, but She Says ‘I’m Sorry’ Is Not Enough,” New York Times, April 25, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/25/us/politics/joe-biden-anita-hill.html


  1. [1]David Benfell, “If you don’t like homelessness, here’s an idea: Make it possible to rent an apartment,” Not Housebroken, April 19, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/04/19/if-you-dont-like-homelessness-heres-an-idea-make-it-possible-to-rent-an-apartment/
  2. [2]Mark Byrnes, “What Pittsburgh Looked Like When It Decided It Had a Pollution Problem,” CityLab, June 5, 2012, https://www.citylab.com/design/2012/06/what-pittsburgh-looked-when-it-decided-it-had-pollution-problem/2185/
  3. [3]Kristina Marusic, “Pittsburgh’s air quality continues to decline, new report finds,” Environmental Health News, April 24, 2019, https://www.ehn.org/pittsburghs-air-quality-continues-to-decline-new-report-finds-2635280543.html
  4. [4]Mark Byrnes, “What Pittsburgh Looked Like When It Decided It Had a Pollution Problem,” CityLab, June 5, 2012, https://www.citylab.com/design/2012/06/what-pittsburgh-looked-when-it-decided-it-had-pollution-problem/2185/
  5. [5]Julia Carrie Wong, “Disgruntled drivers and ‘cultural challenges’: Uber admits to its biggest risk factors,” Guardian, April 12, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/11/uber-ipo-risk-factors
  6. [6]Kari Paul, “Uber drivers plan shutdown over ‘poverty wages’ as company goes public,” Guardian, April 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/24/uber-drivers-strike-ipo
  7. [7]International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, December 16, 1966, United Nations, General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI), http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cescr.htm
  8. [8]Geoffrey Kabaservice, “Joe Biden is the ultimate centrist Democrat. Is that a liability or strength?” Guardian, April 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/25/joe-biden-2020-democrats-choice
  9. [9]Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Carl Hulse, “Joe Biden Expresses Regret to Anita Hill, but She Says ‘I’m Sorry’ Is Not Enough,” New York Times, April 25, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/25/us/politics/joe-biden-anita-hill.html

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