Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

A defense of "extravagant" dining


sara
 Share

Recommended Posts

That, my friend, is simplistic crap. 

First, There are a number of nations in which not only is income disparity less than the United States, but they eat better at restaurants (on the whole).  Look at the G-8 meeting this weekend and think to yourself that the U.S. has the greatest income disparity of any of the nations there, save, perhaps, Russia.  Gosh, I wish we could be more like them.

Second, the problem isn't just the income disparity.  It's not exactly news that some families bring home more than others; presenting that fact as though you're revealing a profound economic truth is more than a little condescending.  Aside from the fact that our disparity is unusually large by non third-world standards, the really troublesome thing is that it's growing larger.

Finally, as much as you'd like to believe otherwise, this growing disparity is exacerbated by a chattering class that backs policies that ship good-paying job overseas; suppress unions; tax capital gains at a lower rate than wages and salaries; have shrunk the social safety net until it is tiny by European and Asian standards; and pressures developing nations to lower labor and wage standards through multilateral organizations.

Let's not start on schools, networks, racism and classism...

Sure, any free society is "bound to have winners and losers," (another revelation there, thanks) but rigging the game against the losers is wrong and, ultimately stupid.  

Hey, we all like to eat well. But the creation of an emerging cosseted class that travels to and from four-star restaurants in black sedans and forgets that the waiters, busboys and line cooks that serve them have less chance than they hav had in 80 years to go from server to diner is wrong.

At least Grimes was intellectually honest to admit that the issue exists.  I'd like to see a little of that honesty here.

I fail to see what the inherent problem is with this income disparity.

Everyone in the U.S. has the opportunity for a free public education up to the high school diploma level.  Every person in the U.S. has the opportunity for higher education for free or near free through scholarships obtained through hard work during that K-12 stint, through athletic or artistic merit, or through service to the U.S. military.  Anyone who wants to make something of their life has the opportunity to make something of their life.  If a person is living life as a bum, it is because they have made poor choices. 

The teenage mother who dropped out of school to care for her children, the man addicted to heroin and thus too sick to get to work, the teens who can't get into college because they spent too much time cutting class and goofing off, all have made bad choices in life, and later in life will pay the price for those choices.  If you live life like the rules do not apply to you while your peers are working hard establishing the foundation for their future, you deserve what you get when your life suddenly crumbles around you. 

Sure there are a very minor number of true tragedies out there and people who are put out of a life they deserve due to circumstances beyond their control, but those are so few and far between as to be statistically irrelevant.  What it comes down to is that if you are able to dine at these fine establishments it s because you worked hard in life to get where you are, and you deserve every bit of it.  If you can't, well, hope you had fun while you were off doing things other than what you should have been, but it's time to pay the piper.

I knew we'd get to the "they're morally inferior" argument, sooner or later. However, if you had read my post correctly , you'd see that 1) I didn't argue against the existence of disparate income, I argued against growing disparity.
Aside from the fact that our disparity is unusually large by non third-world standards, the really troublesome thing is that it's growing larger.

If you read below, or any of my other posts, you will see my concern is not with your straw-man welfare mothers and junkies, it is with people who are statistically in the middle -- the "hard working middle-class Americans" one hears so much about.

Finally, if you believe every American of equal intelligence and drive has the same opportunity to succeed, you are living in a dream world, my friend. Not that I am arguing in favor of some kind of vast Vennegutian welfare handicap scheme, mind you. But smug assumptions that the middle class are not dining at ADNY because they're too stupid or lazy to get a decent job are more than a little self-serving (remember those Puritans who believed they had money because God had blessed them for their religious ferver, while the poor got what they deserved?) and, I think, wrong.

this growing disparity is exacerbated by a chattering class that backs policies that ship good-paying job overseas; suppress unions; tax capital gains at a lower rate than wages and salaries; have shrunk the social safety net until it is tiny by European and Asian standards; and pressures developing nations to lower labor and wage standards through multilateral organizations.

Let's not start on schools, networks, racism and classism...

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tommy
and those town cars? don't get too bent out of shape: they're usually paid for by the company.

The fact that, once you reach a certain level, corporate tradition and the U.S. tax code kick in to double-cosset the gilded class is not reassuring.

it's oftentimes lower-level people making 50k a year being whisked around. regardless, a towncar has little correlation with the salary of the person inside.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tommy
and those town cars? don't get too bent out of shape: they're usually paid for by the company.

The fact that, once you reach a certain level, corporate tradition and the U.S. tax code kick in to double-cosset the gilded class is not reassuring.

it's oftentimes lower-level people making 50k a year being whisked around. regardless, a towncar has little correlation with the salary of the person inside.

I have been in those Town Cars -- it almost like living with you, on the top. :raz:

And yes, my now wife, even when she was a lowly paralegal got the occasional ride to a swell closing dinner in New York. She claims that nothing ruins a good meal like a bunch of lawyers and investment bankers talking shop.

However, I'm betting that there is a pretty strong correlation between time spent being whicked about in dark sedans and average income.

I find white stretch limousines to be the more egalitarian hired ride. :laugh:

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

depending on the year and other factors, i'm thinking a good amount of servers at top NYC restaurants make more money than a pretty good percentage of us on egullet.

Ths is true. I did a study of restaurant hiring practices, wages, and sex discrimination in 2001, and reached an estimate for Le Bec Fin, our 'finest' Philly restaurant--their full-time servers earned about $55-65K /yr in 2001. And that's Philly, not NYC. Average check there at the time was about $350 for two.

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is the point at which your argument collapses into self-parody.

As the data gathered by the good left-wing brothers at the Office for Social Justice in the Archdiocese of St. Paul underscore, during approximatley the last 20 years, after tax income for the top 1% of families has tripled, for the next 4% of families it has risen 53%, and for middle income families it has risen a paltry 15%. The top fifth of families now control half of all household income. Disturbingly, these are both reversals of trends that held during the boom years between 1945 and, roughly, 1972.

Until the last sentence of the paragraph, you are stating established sources without bias. The last sentence, saying that these statistics are "disturbing," clearly does have a bias, but I'll pass over that point to get to a bigger one.

My original comment, to which this was part of the reply, responded to your reference to "an emerging cosseted class that travels to and from four-star restaurants in black sedans and forgets that the waiters, busboys and line cooks that serve them have less chance than they have had in 80 years to go from server to diner is wrong." These are the "facts not in evidence." You've produced no data showing that this "class" is "cosseted," or that they travel to and from four-star restaurants in black sedans, or that they have the attitute towards busboys and line cooks that you've attributed to them. This lack of objectivity is found in just about every paragraph you've offered on the topic so far.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That income would have put them smack dab in the middle of family incomes (see chart referenced above) in 2001 -- other household income would likely have drawn it up somewhat. And that was the most expensive restaurant in Philly, and the Phiully income is likely higher than the national average. ]

So, I'm not convinced that the bulk of employees (remember, I also mentioned busboys, line cookes etc.) in up-scale restaurants make more than eGulleters.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Every person in the U.S. has the opportunity for higher education for free or near free through scholarships obtained through hard work during that K-12 stint, through athletic or artistic merit, or through service to the U.S. military.

Simply untrue. Unless you really mean that all students who can't afford college right off the bat should go military in order to afford it--and boy, if that ain't problemmatic.

Check out the report by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education called Losing Ground. Here:

NCPPHE

Some highlights:

"From 1980 to 2000, the percentage of family income required to pay for tuition increased for all families, except for those in the top 20% as measured by family income. The largest percentage increase occurred for low- and middle-income families.

In 1980, tuition at public four-year colleges and universities consumed 13% of family income for low-income families; by 2000, that figure had risen to 25%. At two-year colleges, tuition increased from 6% to 12% of family income during the same time period.

From 1992 through 2001, tuition at four-year public colleges and universities rose faster than family income in 41 states. Tuition at two-year colleges rose faster than family income in 34 states.

The federal government and the states have increased financial aid for those college-eligible students who have financial need, but these increases have not kept pace with tuition. The average federal Pell Grant award (aid to financially needy students) at a public four-year college or university covered 98% of tuition in 1986, but only 57% in 1999. State grant aid awards (need-based and non-need-based) paid 75% of tuition in 1986 and 64% in 1999."

Higher education is, in my view, the clearest example of treating what should be a basic right in this country as a privilege instead. Look at those percentages! Keep in mind low-income families spend only about 10% of their income on food, and think about asking them to pay 25% of their income on college--at a public school no less, where 8 times out of 10 the returns to the degree aren't as high as if the student went to private school!!

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is the point at which your argument collapses into self-parody.

As the data gathered by the good left-wing brothers at the Office for Social Justice in the Archdiocese of St. Paul underscore, during approximatley the last 20 years, after tax income for the top 1% of families has tripled, for the next 4% of families it has risen 53%, and for middle income families it has risen a paltry 15%. The top fifth of families now control half of all household income. Disturbingly, these are both reversals of trends that held during the boom years between 1945 and, roughly, 1972.

Until the last sentence of the paragraph, you are stating established sources without bias. The last sentence, saying that these statistics are "disturbing," clearly does have a bias, but I'll pass over that point to get to a bigger one.

My original comment, to which this was part of the reply, responded to your reference to "an emerging cosseted class that travels to and from four-star restaurants in black sedans and forgets that the waiters, busboys and line cooks that serve them have less chance than they have had in 80 years to go from server to diner is wrong." These are the "facts not in evidence." You've produced no data showing that this "class" is "cosseted," or that they travel to and from four-star restaurants in black sedans, or that they have the attitute towards busboys and line cooks that you've attributed to them. This lack of objectivity is found in just about every paragraph you've offered on the topic so far.

You have done nothing to refute the fact that income disparity is rapidly widening. You can't. You have done nothing to refute the fact that it is a reversal of a long post-war trend. You can't. You're just parsing the rhetoric.

By the way, I didn't include it in my earlier rant, but -- re: moving from busboy to diner -- there's some interesting data on class mobility in the St. Paul website. Seems one study found that the chance of moving from the lowest quintile to the highest is about 1% over a period of many years. Didn't include it because I don't know enough about the study to rely on it (we liberals only trust the Catholics so far), but it's an interesting, and possbly revealing -- number.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That income would have put them smack dab in the middle of family incomes (see chart referenced above) in 2001 -- other household income would likely have drawn it up somewhat. And that was the most expensive restaurant in Philly, and the Phiully income is likely higher than the national average. ]

So, I'm not convinced that the bulk of employees (remember, I also mentioned busboys, line cookes etc.) in up-scale restaurants make more than eGulleters.

Another way to see it...If this is just Philly, then I'd put the salaries of top servers at top NY restaurants around $80K, or higher. Do remember we're only talking individual, not family/household earnings here (the chart is household earnings)-- and we don't know what % of servers are single parent, or otherwise. That would put those servers around the 80th percentile, sure, certainly making them wealthier than me, and the entirety of my Egullet friends (at least I think so!), but then again, maybe that's not much money for the NY Egulleteers! Jason--have stats on this demographic for us? :biggrin:

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Seems one study found that the chance of moving from the lowest quintile to the highest is about 1% over a period of many years. Didn't include it because I don't know enough about the study to rely on it (we liberals only trust the Catholics so far), but it's an interesting, and possbly revealing -- number.

Busboy, if you're interested in it, there's lots of non-Catholic good academic social science data on this topic, particularly out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Sociologists have been studying status attainment and social mobility--in other words, the probability that a son or daughter will achieve a higher social class (earnings, education, occupation) than their father--since the late 1960s. They've also studied mobility for the same people over time, using 30 yr+ longitudinal data (such as the Wisconsin Longitudinal Survey, which followed men from high school on, see work by Robert Hauser). It looks like there's been far less mobility over time-- income is no longer stable at all, it doesn't move you up. And the returns to education are somewhat less influential, now that many people now get higher degrees. So the chances of moving from poor to rich over your lifetime--putting our IT revolution aside for a moment, although it's a nice case study in how things are reversible--yes, they are very slim.

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That income would have put them smack dab in the middle of family incomes (see chart referenced above) in 2001 -- other household income would likely have drawn it up somewhat.  And that was the most expensive restaurant in Philly, and the Phiully income is likely higher than the national average.  ]

So, I'm not convinced that the bulk of employees (remember, I also mentioned busboys, line cookes etc.) in up-scale restaurants make more than eGulleters.

Another way to see it...If this is just Philly, then I'd put the salaries of top servers at top NY restaurants around $80K, or higher. Do remember we're only talking individual, not family/household earnings here (the chart is household earnings)-- and we don't know what % of servers are single parent, or otherwise. That would put those servers around the 80th percentile, sure, certainly making them wealthier than me, and the entirety of my Egullet friends (at least I think so!), but then again, maybe that's not much money for the NY Egulleteers! Jason--have stats on this demographic for us? :biggrin:

What was it Reagan said? "Don't confuse me with the facts!" :biggrin:

But, as we're all envying the life of those ADNY servers and regressing incomes, please remember the original statement: "the waiters, busboys and line cooks that serve them have less chance than they have had in 80 years to go from server to diner is wrong." [Emphasis added.]

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I knew we couldn't just stick to food.

Personally, I know very few Americans who would be willing to make the kinds of sacrifices it would take to have a society closer to the European or wealthier Asian model. It only works in these societies because they are willing to give up a much larger percentage of their personal income in taxes and are more willing to tolerate government restrictions and follow more codified standards for behavior. Plus, there is a greater association with their class thus more of a willingness to fight for their class privileges---on every class level. It's partly because Americans believe they have a right to move fluidly between classes that they can't organize well enough to protect their own interests. Can we accept less mobility for greater security?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Everyone in the U.S. has the opportunity for a free public education up to the high school diploma level. Every person in the U.S. has the opportunity for higher education for free or near free through scholarships obtained through hard work during that K-12 stint, through athletic or artistic merit, or through service to the U.S. military. Anyone who wants to make something of their life has the opportunity to make something of their life. If a person is living life as a bum, it is because they have made poor choices.

You mean like the fact that your parents live in the wrong school district and no teaching or learning takes place in your school, and you show up at community college having never been taught how to behave properly in class, take notes, understand what you read, or study, and it's your fault that your parents - if they're around - were illiterates and couldn't teach you what you weren't taught in school? Your viewpoint might be a little more nuanced if you had taught at Bronx Community College and Queensborough Community College like me. Don't get me wrong: I do insist that my students take responsibility for their education and fail them or give them low grades when they don't. That's part of my job. But the idea that low achievement is solely due to poor choices is - well, I think I'd be best advised not to use any adjectives here. I know very well that the fact that my parents are both intellectuals and my older brother has always been a science and technical whiz helped me more with my education than most of what I learned in school through at least the end of high school and probably further. But I suppose it was a good choice for me to have those parents and older brother. :raz:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Seems one study found that the chance of moving from the lowest quintile to the highest is about 1% over a period of many years.  Didn't include it because I don't know enough about the study to rely on it (we liberals only trust the Catholics so far), but it's an interesting, and possbly revealing -- number.

Busboy, if you're interested in it, there's lots of non-Catholic good academic social science data on this topic, particularly out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Sociologists have been studying status attainment and social mobility--in other words, the probability that a son or daughter will achieve a higher social class (earnings, education, occupation) than their father--since the late 1960s. They've also studied mobility for the same people over time, using 30 yr+ longitudinal data (such as the Wisconsin Longitudinal Survey, which followed men from high school on, see work by Robert Hauser). It looks like there's been far less mobility over time-- income is no longer stable at all, it doesn't move you up. And the returns to education are somewhat less influential, now that many people now get higher degrees. So the chances of moving from poor to rich over your lifetime--putting our IT revolution aside for a moment, although it's a nice case study in how things are reversible--yes, they are very slim.

The shot at the Catholics was actually a joke. I don't think they were crunching their own data, just posting other studies, and I just didn't have time to read closely and see if the numbers were valid enough to work into my argument (I do have to do some work).

But the studies you reference are interesting and support a premise of my argument -- that there is a growing economic disparity in the U.S. that appears to be the result of forces not related to the shiftlessness of the poor and middle class.

Now, back to the original argument...

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If a person is living life as a bum, it is because they have made poor choices. 

Statistically seen, it's more like the great physiologist Aastrand said: "In order to win an Olympic gold medal, you should carefully choose your parents." :smile:

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, I'm not convinced that the bulk of employees (remember, I also mentioned busboys, line cookes etc.) in up-scale restaurants make more than eGulleters.

i didn't say that. you make it very difficult to have a discussion.

It appeared to be in response to my original statement about busboys et al, hence my "correction." Changing my premise and then refuting also interferes with the free flow of ideas, etc.

If that is not what happened, I apologize for doing to you what it appeared you had done to me.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ahem.

Kids, play nice.

Just a gentle reminder that we really need to keep this food and restaurant related. Socio-economic factors and statistical data -- hell, even completely unfounded opinions -- are all welcome as long as we stick to the topic at hand, Grimes' article. We're drifting pretty far afield at the moment.

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The shot at the Catholics was actually a joke. I don't think they were crunching their own data, just posting other studies, and I just didn't have time to read closely and see if the numbers were valid enough to work into my argument (I do have to do some work).

Lucky for me, that stuff IS my work! (asst professor of higher education policy and sociology)

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Grimes' statement ""income disparity may be immoral, but that's not my issue to discuss," is simple avaoidance of an issue that he doesn't care to discuss.

Ok, I'll discuss it. Income disparity is not immoral. Any society offering free choice is bound to have both winners and losers, as well as every gradation in between. Can you think of very many counter-examples? Well, perhaps you'll think of something, but in general the societies without income disparity are the societies without income.

Absolutely to the point!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, I missed a lot of conversation today.

Busboy -

You are making the argument that the gap is getting larger, and that the middle class is the most effected currently? How do we define this middle-class? Is a middle-class person someone with a $30,000 annual income, $50,000, $80,000 ? If you use any of those a dinner at ADNY, Le Bec Fin, Per Se, The French Laundry, etc, is certainly not out of the question as a special occasion, if fine dining is a priority for that person . Heck, in the $80,000 case it could be done in a much more willy-nilly fashion. If our gap is due to the rich just getting richer rather than the poor getting poorer, there is no reason to be upset, be proud of other's acievements, try to match them yourself.

Sara -

My point was not that someone from any economic class/background is statistically equally likely to be able to get a higher education, merely that it is possible. We pay for our choices all of our lives, and sometimes the choices that we make very early on can haunt us much later. Maybe a child's parents have no formal education and do not value it, and therefore the child dismisses the efforts of his teachers to get him on the right track from the very earliest of grades. The longer the child stays off the good path the harder it will be for him to correct his actions, and this could be seen as unfair, a child being punished for his parents' ignorance, but if you look at it closer, that child made a decision to value the lifestyle and choices modelled by his parents more than the advice given to him by his teachers, a poor choice. So it is unfortunate that a choice made when you are six years old can lead to a demise of your future, but there are plenty of public education programs in place to let kids know how important it is to be on the right track, even from that early age. It might take much more drive, much more effort, and much more sacrifice to make it into college from the depths of the ghetto, but it is just as possible. Now, an interesting spin on this related to dining will be how this person will feel about high end dining and high culture by the time he has reached college. Perhaps his drive to succeed included expanding his horizons and mind and he will embrace them, or perhaps he has sacrificed so much of his energy and focussed so hard on simply making it due to the multitude of oppositions that he won't know any culture apart from what he has been able to scrape up from the pennies not squirelled away into that college fund. I think it would be very interesting to see data on patronage of higher end restraurants and high culture activities based on socioeconomic class whilst growing up.

BTW - I didn't intend to suggest that everyone should join the military who is too poor for college and can't get a scholarship, but it is a choice that is open. It is all about priorities, is having that American Dream worth risking your life? I also would respectfully disagree about your comments on public schools. In the K-12 world you can get an education just as good as at a private school at almost any public school. Sure public schools have a rougher undercurrent, and lower overall test scores due to having to deal with the dregs of society, but if you are willing to work yourself to the top, the education is just as good. With regard to higher education, I would say public schools are even more competitive with private. Other than a very few rather snobby fields anymore does the name on your diploma really matter (well, as long as we are talking about all acredited respected schools here, there are always some, both public and private, that are going to be fairly trashy and known as such).

Pan - In my experiences I have never been through/taught in a school district where the teachers were not at least attempting to instill the basic values and behaviors neccessary for life. No matter what your parents allow you to do or do themselves at home, a student needs to be able to make the distinction that at school the teachers and administration are in charge, and are there to help. Perhaps I am letting personal emotions get into my opinions too much, but I have absolutely no tolerance for lack of discipline or respect towards authority. If someone is goin to bite my hand and ignore me as I try to help them, I have no problem if they never get helped. Responsibility for one's own actions is sorely lacking these days.

On another spin with dining issues: is perhaps the pricing at some of these places deliberately designed so as to not allow the lowest classes in? I am by no means extremely elitist, but I know that dining at 'family' restaurants there are often other diners present who completely ruin the experience for me. I know I am making a sweeping generalization here, but upon observing them, more often than not, they appear to be of lower socio-economic status (or perhaps they have money and simply no taste, which is just as bad if not worse). If I were to go to a $100+ per plate restaurant and ended up being seated next to a party such as this, I would be most displeased, and would likely not return to that restaurant.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also would respectfully disagree about your comments on public schools.  In the K-12 world you can get an education just as good as at a private school at almost any public school. Sure public schools have a rougher undercurrent, and lower overall test scores due to having to deal with the dregs of society, but if you are willing to work yourself to the top, the education is just as good.

You are a school teacher, right? I am really surprised you think this. You have probaby experienced the difference between teaching a classroom of 12 students vs. teaching a classroom of 40 students. It is hard to teach even the best students in such a distracting environment. And frankly, eventually even the best students come across something they just don't understand and need help with. Especially when it comes to something like (my area) math. And if the help isn't there, there is a stronger chance disadvantaged kids will fall through the cracks.

What I tend to find is that kids from better educated families will assume the subject is hard, and will work harder at it, whereas student with less-educated families will just assume they are incapable of doing the work, and give up. To get away from the class issue, this is something I see very often between boys and girls in math classes. Boys typically will just assume a subject is hard, and work harder, whereas girls will assume there is some biological reason they don't get it, and shut down. And usually, the performance differences between the two groups are not all that great to begin with. I don't mean to make arguments from personal experience, but most of the reasearch I've read tends to support this.

Finally, in poorer schools there is less access to computers, lab equipment, well-trained teachers, well-educated parents who can help with homework, etc. My experience comes from having volunteer tutored inner city elementary students in math. Their teachers could barely handle keeping the class quiet, didn't really know the material well enough to have some flexibility in explaining it. The younger kids were very clever and enthusiastic but as soon as they reached a certain age it just seemed like all the environmental factors around them would conspire to make them really cynical and unresponsive. And frankly, I couldn't blame them, as even the most hardworking students just couldn't write well enough to get into anything but a junior college, which, unless you plan to transfer, is barely worth the money in terms of the job it will get you. It was just so depressing to watch those kids get lost in the system.

I am getting off this subject now as this is a food forum, but this notion that people get stuck being poor because they lack some sort of ability really frustrates the hell out of me. And that "dregs of society" comment is shameful.

(edited for clarity. And also, I would love it if we got off this income disparity issue.)

Edited by Behemoth (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, I missed a lot of conversation today.

Busboy -

You are making the argument that the gap is getting larger, and that the middle class is the most effected currently? How do we define this middle-class? Is a middle-class person someone with a $30,000 annual income, $50,000, $80,000 ? If you use any of those a dinner at ADNY, Le Bec Fin, Per Se, The French Laundry, etc, is certainly not out of the question as a special occasion, if fine dining is a priority for that person . Heck, in the $80,000 case it could be done in a much more willy-nilly fashion. If our gap is due to the rich just getting richer rather than the poor getting poorer, there is no reason to be upset, be proud of other's acievements, try to match them yourself.

Ahem.

Let me restate my case, as it stands now, with the benefit of significant input from eGullet posters. Many of the numbers can be found on .links in my post above.

The United States economy has bifurcated in such a way that incomes for very well off people, are rising dramatically faster, both in real and relative terms, than incomes of middle class families. There may be many arguments as to why this phenomenon exists; I believe that it exists, in large part, as the result of conscious economic decisions made and supported by the media, economic and political elite of this nation that make it more difficult for the middle class and those below to prosper. The game is rigged. The fact that this growing disparity exists is not arguable.

At the same time that trade and economic policies which will probably exacerbate this divide -- and tax policies which will certainly do so -- are becomeing law in the United States, we are in the middle of an "extravagent dining boom," which appears to me, to be unprecedented in its size and extravagence.

The extravagent dining boom is the result of a vast increase in wealth that is flowing almost entirely to those who are already wealthy (that's why income disparity is growing: the rich are getting richer at a rapid clip, while the middle class limps along).

When the people who make and support these economic policies sit around over (figuratively) over plus fours and cognac and glibly dismiss those who have a problem with the reality (others) or the symbolism (me) of this situation, -- as Grimes did -- I find it self-serving and intellectually dishonest. That's what got me into this thing.

There is, to my mind, a problem with what is happening economically in this country. Extravagent dining is not the cause of it, it is a symptom of it. Those who have correctly identified the symptom deserve a hearing. Dismissing them as cranks is the cheap way out.

The correct way to address the problem would not be to run Ducasse out of town on a rail, but to create economic policies that allow more people to enjoy something that we all agree is good, civilizing, and important.

Finally, as to your implication that I am a resentful underachieving wretch trying to pull others down -- "there is no reason to be upset, be proud of other's acievements, try to match them yourself"-- I, well, resent it. I am doing fine, thank you and delight in the success of others.

Notes: Middle class = middle quintile of families by income, mean household income of $51,538 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Rich = top 5% of families by income, mean household income of $280,312, same source.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Finally, as to your implication that I am a resentful underachieving wretch trying to pull others down -- "there is no reason to be upset, be proud of other's achievements, try to match them yourself"-- I, well, resent it. I am doing fine, thank you and delight in the success of others.

I want to sit out of this a bit until I have had more time to read those links you posted above, but I did want to clear this up first. I in no way intended that as a dig against you, and re-reading it, I can see how it might be taken that way. That was more of a personal philosphy statement than anything I intended to give as advice, sorry if it was taken that way.

I simply put that I see no great conspiracy, and no ethical or moral fault in the system as it is now, and my personal goals include getting up to that top of the heap through the means availible.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Finally, as to your implication that I am a resentful underachieving wretch trying to pull others down -- "there is no reason to be upset, be proud of other's achievements, try to match them yourself"-- I, well, resent it. I am doing fine, thank you and delight in the success of others.

I want to sit out of this a bit until I have had more time to read those links you posted above, but I did want to clear this up first. I in no way intended that as a dig against you, and re-reading it, I can see how it might be taken that way. That was more of a personal philosphy statement than anything I intended to give as advice, sorry if it was taken that way.

I simply put that I see no great conspiracy, and no ethical or moral fault in the system as it is now, and my personal goals include getting up to that top of the heap through the means availible.

No problem.. and your post was a chance to, hopefully, draw a straight line from the economic argument back to the original article, for which I am grateful.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...