03 October, 2007

Dear Mr Lebron James, Millionaire

Sir, let me first say that I appreciate you remaining in Cleveland and playing for the Cavaliers, and continuing to support the community. Certainly, I do not need to remind you that Cleveland is a city with numerous image and economic problems, and while I do not agree that having a successful sports franchise is in any way a panacea or even a suitable Band-Aid for our city's ills(*), I cannot argue that your continued support does do some good.

That said, when you (allegedly) tell your friend not to tip a valet because "they get paid to do that anyway," I feel I must take offense and correct you. Certainly, valets are paid. Usually, they are paid a fraction of the minimum wage. The reason this is possible is because they are employees, like waiters and bartenders, who earn a portion of their income from tips.

In July, the minimum wage for Cleveland, the lowest in the nation, went up to a dismal $5.85. According to the text of the bill, an employer may pay 'less than [the proposed minimum wage] but not less than half of [the minimum wage] if it can be demonstrated that the employee also earns tips.' Half of the minimum wage is $2.93, and you can bet that almost every employer will pay their tip-earning employees the exact minimum the law allows.

So, sir, with all due respect, if you do not tip valets, and if you tell others not to tip valets, then that means that not only are you a cheapskate, you are also a douche-bag.


(*) Regarding the phrase "successful sports franchise", I do mean a winning one; in the words of Stringer Bell to Omar Little and Brother Mouzon, "get on with it, motherfucker."

A Recipe for Sadness

I just finished watching a surreal interview with Chris Matthews and Jon Stewart on last night's The Daily Show.

"This is the worst interview I've ever had in my life!"

Damn straight, Matthews.

The book is called "Life's a Campaign: What Politics Has Taught Me About Friendship, Rivalry, Reputation and Success." If that doesn't make you NOT want to read this book, I don't know what won't.

In fact, if that title does make you want to buy that book, you are probably a fucking scumbag.

I will not deny that there is a place for politics and political tactics: politics. But there is a reason that "politics" gets a bad name: politics are bad. Politics is what politicians are doing when they aren't helping their constituents (voters, not companies) -- which is my not so subtle way of insinuating that politics is what politicians are doing 99.9% of the time.

And what are the lessons, the aims of politics: get out there and make the most money, say the most whitewashed generic things you can say, do not offend anyone by not having any distinguishing characteristics, smear your opponent and have no soul.

The person with the combination of the most charisma and cash "wins." What do they win? They win the chance to shill for their corporate and special interests masters while failing entirely to accomplishing any of the lofty goals they may have had decades ago when they first decided to enter politics; "to make a difference."

Or perhaps your goal is to win for the sake of winning. This makes you a perfect "candidate" for politics. More likely, if you don't play the "game" right, this makes you a perfect mark for people selling self-help books or "The Secret" DVDs. You are a prick with a false sense of entitlement, you think the Universe owes you something and you are willing to compromise ethics, morality and common sense to get your way.

Pat yourself on the back, if this is you, and go out and buy a copy of Chris Matthews' book.