10 January 2012
Zeno's second paradox or my $60 cup of coffee
"anything but the bottom step of the ladder, it keeps getting higher and higher. Dawn comes soon enough for the working class, it keeps getting sooner or later. This is the game that moves as you play. How does it feel, how does it feel?" - X
I got a traffic ticket a while back. Nothing important, failure to yield and registration. Scheduled a date to appear - show proof. Correction cuts the fine in half. Well that appointment got lost in the shuffle, which apparently upsets the court to the tune of three hundred. I thought I might go on down and plea for lenience since no one was interested in hearing me through the phone. Of course they are only available through business hours, but I am fortunate to have a malleable schedule. The fellow in front of me has a similar problem, yet more exaggerated - a $25 dollar ticket has somehow managed to inflate to $1200. We both figure we can make an honest presentation to the court and pay more reasonable fees. Turns out, the court will not see you until you pay the fee in its entirety...got that. Then what are they going to do? Give it back?
I'm making installments.
Previous to this bucolic bureaucratic experience, I had though to splurge on a cup of coffee (get that - splurge). So I get through my first cup and figure its about time to feed the meter, but first the bathroom and when I return, lo and amazement - a parking ticket. 58 dollars.
Thats all prologue, because as much as all this inconveniences me and my family in our effort to climb out of our socioeconomic status, to surmount that lip of stability that comes from our particular circumstance, ability and life-choices - as much as it helps us maintain the current uncomfortable state of our finances - how is this system engaging those less fortunate. Or even those less able to make the wise life choices which I am so capable?
Consider someone making minimum wage, not to mention those making a more reasonable wage (say $15 an hour, working regular business hours full time as some of my former college educated coworkers did) What can this type of situation do to them?
What if you cannot get off work. What if you can and you lose that pay? What if you cant afford to pay and lose your privilege to drive? What if that's how you earn your income, or now you have to take public transit which adds an hour to your commute both ways? What if you have children in childcare and now have no practical way to pick them up and what does it matter because those extra two hours a day just pushed the cost benefit of childcare/work below water? et.al.
Zeno's second paradox is a situation where Hercules, starting after the tortoise, will never be able to catch it, as he must always travel 1/2 the distance before he can travel the whole, and each half will have its own half unto infinity.
The working person at the bottom, looking up, will find the incline forever and increasingly precipitous as they approach that point of stabilty.