The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.
Terry Pratchett, “Men At Arms”
This is one of the best breakdowns I’ve ever seen of how expensive it is to be poor. (via slephoto)
this is true on so many levels
I always think about the money my parents have spent fixing up our house or various used cars over the years
This is actually a widely acknowledged “theory” in economics (I say theory because some idiots will argue against it but it’s been pretty well evidenced). Tax cuts to people making under 200,000 are generally more effective because people making under that usually have to consume every dollar they earn on a year to year basis, so the money they gain back in a tax break circulates within the economy. Where as those making above are more likely to save the money, or invest in a way that doesn’t add money back into the economy.
Heh! Someone finally planted the Maple. Rah’s had it since before she wrote up her thesis proposal: bought it at the Japanese Gardens during a sale near her birthday. She’s carried it in a pot with her through two years and four apartments.
May 20, 5:34pm
So after all that, your writer worked a full day. It was the most relaxing day I’ve ever had on the job. I had the chance to recount my adventures, and some people who had lived in New York shed telling light on why Rah’s building budget had gotten so high so fast: We’d been using debit cards instead of cash to buy many of our purchases, which in the smaller local shops added up to sales tax.
In New York, you have to spend money in order to spend money. The sales receipts Rah kept confirmed the story. My co-workers also gave me some first-hand accounts of how they had experienced being homeless in New York. A lot of it matched up to the observations Rah and I had made, and there were some surprises and clever solutions we hadn’t even guessed at as well.
Off the clock at 5:30 pm, I was eager to return home so I could bathe and sleep…but I had to stop when I saw the demolished garden in the daylight.
“Mm?” She’s already wide awake, dressed for the convention, cream-gold and black skirt and strappy shoes and a black and white sash, and trying to eat something in spite of not being that hungry just yet. I’ve just sat up from a dream about painting fish and I’m currently sizing up my day.
We have an airplane hanger full of people, a cab ride, a new airport, a very long plane ride with a layover in Minneapolis again, a max-line trip and a bus ride home…and then for me, back to work. This was technically a very long vacation and I’m still not sure what my work schedule will look like after this. I decide to complain about the obvious.
“I don’t know how you got me through customs. Is it just California and Canada that have problems with folks smuggling their exotic fruit over the border?” Rah smiles. She’s worrying about me, which means she won’t be worried about herself. That’s something at least.
We’ve gotta go meet Deb if we’re riding in. Hope I can score coffee and that both of us are ready for breakfast by the time we reach the Javits center.
Re:Boot! - So, Two Introverts walk into New York...
(This photo dedicated to Martin French, Head of PNCA’s Illustration Department. We both immediately thought of you when we passed by.)
Deb peeked in around the time I finished the prior post to ask us what our plans were. Dinner as a group was still nebulous and Team Fishboot was both quite done for the day…and had yet to really explore New York. And here we were, in the heart of Manhattan. Earlier in the trip noises had been made about us visiting the Highline park, and so Rah chirped up about going there.
Deb lit up with a smile like sun through a fogbank.
Yesterday, I kept minutes on twitter, but I was not able to blog. We were very busy setting up, or we were very busy…sleeping. We got back home around 7pm New York time, showered, crashed, woke up at like, five in the morning, crashed some more. This morning, we feel a little more like human beings again.
In lieu of being able to write about it, I took some pictures of yesterday!
Rah is made of sterner stuff than I. We crawled into bed at about 3:30, and about 30 minutes ago she hauled herself back out of it and back down to the studio. She asked me if I was coming with, and I would have gone but sleep paralysis hung on for another thirty minutes. I only just now got my body to move again. Food tea and studio, and when I’m there I can post the image of where we left off last night.
Axels arranged. Everything which is not on the fish already goes on later today. Rah is pumping tires. Why is Rah pumping tires. I can no longer take pictures because the entire world is out of batteries. Rah. Raaaah. As your official sanity buddy I insist that we rotate ourselves into a landscape format. Rah? Rah?
Oh thank god. Good luck Anna. You are a gem and a miracle worker. I hope your homeless wall goes up well.
Four days into the project, and Rah and I are both officially broke. But that is a tale for later. On the bright side, we have everything we need, and all we have to do left is paint this beast. Group dinner will happen tomorrow, but some amazing soul ordered pizza in for everyone who has returned to the studio to finish their projects for ICFF, so Rah and I could recharge just a little.
We managed to find some wooden dowels which will work for the axle, and a square metal rod which can be fashioned into the bike hitch. I’ve chosen to conserve our camera’s remaining batteries and wait until it’s completed to show off its paint-job. It is a delightful splash of canary yellow, cherry red, a darker red, and soon it will have orange, gray, turquoise, and finish with black, gold, and copper detailing.
Back from materials run (a very successful one, as the art store down the block is closing and we scored 14$ worth of stuff for only 6$) and Rah has been fed. She’s now busy taping up the boot while we wait.
Paint run hasn’t happened yet, but Deb should be back in about 20 minutes. We don’t know if the axel arrived yet, but Carolyn knows some people to call. No luck on the bike hitch or water jugs just yet.
Rah projects that we’ll break again at 4pm or so, and again for dinner at 6. And then back to the studios by about 7pm for as long as it takes to finish the job.
Our amendments to the projected plan for today are as follows:
1) Rah’s camera is just about out of batteries and I don’t know how long it will last. I’m tinkering with Rah’s phone and hoping I can borrow a camera from someone else if I can’t get it to work.. Ah, okay. This will work. It’s clunky but it will work.
2) Debera is adamant about the fish design for the boot. She did not like the design I made up for it yesterday at all: too serious. (Sleep and chocolate have returned my sense of humor to me once more and I am at this point enjoying the conversation happening before me.) As I’d sort of suspected, it was the color -and- whimsy of the Stupid Unicorn Boot’s Blue Handprint Boot’s paint job that had grabbed Deb the most about Rah’s thesis Boots.
I went to Luigi’s pizza place across the street for Pizza: Carolyn had recommended it, and it would take less time and energy than cooking. When I came back, Rah had made a thing! And it was looking more and more like a thing!
Last night, Rah hit her biggest wall of frustration with the missing drill-bit. Today, I hit mine when we learned that the Boot must be colored in a bright and merry way, and therefore a clear design for the painting job must be made. I had misunderstood the conversation unfolding in front of me between Deberah and Rah as an official approval of the goldfish design she had whipped up during our plane ride over.
What had actually happened was Rah showing that she’d had some ideas in mind, and Deberah telling Rah what kind of color scheme we could expect the boot to be living in during the convention. And so the task of designing what would go on the Boot had been left in my capable hands.
Deberah stopped in with Carolyn, and had some important announcements which will be important to keep in mind as we’re working.
The booth space will be pretty small, but the Boot should fit nicely enough. We’ll have people tomorrow to help us paint the boot (and we’ve been told the painting part is mandatory, as one of the things which caught their attention most about the project was the bright colors)
Rah saw this part coming, and has a lovely simple koi fish design ready. All we will need are the paints and the extra sets of hands. Deberah informs us that there will be extra help after Graduation tomorrow, so we’re looking forward to that.
My twitter feed will start having a lot of different hashtags to automatically retweet to the right places and people. I’m hoping I figure out how to do that right.
And, it appears that our dormspace as well as our studio space will be shared by the group which will be coming in sometime this evening. We’re progressing rather well, and with luck we will be in very good shape by the end of the day. Signing off to go see if I can be useful now.
The studio has internet access! I can do these blogs live while staying out of Rah’s way + being close at hand when she needs someone to hold something steady. Noise canceling headsets are the greatest invention ever. While she drills I am going to go back to my prior posts and and put up pictures from the safety of my make-shift office nook. Let no-one say I don’t know how to make myself comfortable.
These posts will probably be interrupted frequently. She needs the extra set of hands.
I was awake long before I was willing to get out of bed, and while I pretended I was asleep I listened to Rah dutifully eat breakfast…go play bejeweled…put clothes on…stop halfway through and sit back down at her desk…play bejeweled…lie down for a bit…get back up and go wash out the chef Boyardee bowl she re-purposed as a cereal bowl…sit down at her desk…sit down on the bed again….“Graham?”
I opened my eyes this morning to see Rah sitting on the bed opposite mine, putting her socks on and looking very sad. “I know this puts a wrench in the plans I made last night, but will you help me?”
Of course I will. “New York can be a very friendly place, lovey.”
We finally met Deberah, the master coordinator behind our presence in New York! After a cheerful talk, she went home like a sensible human being and we turned once again to the task at hand. Alas, the mistakes of the frustrated and fatigued which we had hoped to shake off during break arrived shortly after we resumed work, with reinforcements. We had not eaten, which I will count as the first error. About thirty minutes in, we encountered our first real setback: the shiny new drill we were lent had every drill bit imaginable…except the screwdriver head. Without this, putting the screws into the frame would be impossible.
On account of our abbreviated timetable, we are not ending our work-day here. We are taking a well-earned break and going back to finish the base. I am blowing bubbles and waiting for my tea to steep. Rah is playing bejeweled. Soap-bubbles are sheer poetry and a balm on the scuffed up edges of my thoughts.
We have successfully collected all but four items on our materials list: one more 2 inch circular vent, a tupperware bowl-sink, and the bike hitch and picture frames, which both of us keep forgetting. The rest of it is in our workspace, within easy reach.
The Coroplast sheets were fun to find: we headed up to Emerson place, and found ourselves in a warehouse labyrinth.
Re:Boot! Steel Nipples, Strippers, and Flashing...
We have completed the Hardware store run. Rah and I are not mature adults and so the labeling system of the aisles kept us very entertained. Our ride and coordinator Carolyn met us there, waited very patiently for us to finish shopping, and navigated us smoothly out of the parking lot and through the packed streets of New York in her station wagon. Rah and I took advantage of our small statures and rode shotgun together while Carolyn told us a little bit about the history of the neighborhood we were traveling in.
Re:Boot! One does not simply Walk through the Hardware store...
7:24 AM, May 13 2013.
I’m rather groggy this morning, and so I type to wake up as I wait for my morning tea. Rah has already been at the sugar cubes I see. It’s like watching a very sensible hummingbird who knows how to fold laundry. Last night I got Rah to write up what she intends to get done today. I will post it now for my own personal amusement later, when I write up what actually got done.
The clock on my cellphone says 3:56, New York time. My poor laptop says it’s 12:57 am back in Portland, and so does my body. I’m sitting in front of an open word document, watching Rah play Bejeweled, and asking her what voice I should use this week while blogging about the bootstrap workshop we’re about to run. She tells me she’s been using a demi-semi-hemi formal voice. Demi-semi-hemi formal it is. Hello there, my name’s KG Schmidt and I will be your hapless blogger for the next eight or so days. If you are so inclined, I am also keeping minutes in real-time on my twitter account @Aetherbocks as the project unfolds. This is day one.
The Problems With Boots, as catalogued by their maker, two months after completing the fourth Boot.
1)Even though they’re legal, parking enforcement tends to target them, because they’re clearly ‘homeless.’ I would need to talk to the City Council and clarify this with them, and possibly fight a legal battle to get parking enforcement to apply the laws evenly.
2)It’s very difficult to stay in touch with the occupants, and therefore difficult to arrange for repairs or transfer of units. If I wanted to stay in touch properly, I’d have to do a city search weekly to find the various Boots out there and ask their occupants about problems. Although the library offers internet access, and some people have phones, very few actually try to stay in touch with me.
3) Community builds are both an asset and a flaw. They give a community stake in these creations, and educate and connect people, but they also depend on people’s generosity and belief that these will help.
4) The Boots themselves are heavy, unwieldy, and highly visible. While some people are strong and idealistic enough to deal with this combination, other, more vulnerable people are not. They prefer to be as hidden as possible. They would appreciate the amenities and the privacy offered, but are put off by the public relations job essentially foisted upon occupants. They want to get back into normal apartments and live normal lives.
5) Visibility is both an asset and a flaw. The Boots are meant to be attractive, and certainly they have gotten many positive responses. However, they also attract negative attention. They attract attention, period. Homelessness is a volatile issue right now, and being visible can be scary.
Lastly, I know better now what resources are available to homeless people. Shelters aren’t the only solution out there: rent help, rent share, and various other services strive to keep people’s ordinary lives running smoothly until they catch their stride again. I think these projects are deserving of more time, attention, and money. I can help by spreading the word about Transition Project, 100k Homes, EDAR, and roommate services.
Lots of people have been interested in the project. Parts of it are still very good ideas. I’m going to take some months and see if I can untangle them from the pieces that are not.
The two Boots that Sunnyside School raised money for can begin at any point. I could use some help getting building materials from Home Depot to Sunnyside playground. However!
I have some pretty hard news to share: I don’t think Bootstrap Homes is helping people enough or in the right ways. I still believe that community-sponsored, beautiful shelter can be a part of the solution to homelessness. I’m going to keep working on the design of the Bootstraps, to make them lighter and cheaper. However, I am not going to supervise the building of any Boots after the two that Sunnyside school raised money for.
If the students choose, the money raised at the fundraiser can go to projects that I feel do more good than the Bootstrap Project: EDAR, Transition Projects, Dignity Village, or 100KHomes.
The design will be freely available for modification and construction. I will continue to maintain this tumblr for the project. I will not be gathering funds for the construction of more, unless I come up with a design and business model that I think fixes the flaws that I’m seeing now.
The main ones are the impossibility of staying in touch with occupants to get feedback or maintain the Boots, and their weight, expense, and lack of maneuverability. I am certainly interested in suggestions.
Thank you all very much for your help and interest.
My apologies for the recent lack of posts. The two Boots at Sunnyside finished up well. They are now occupied and the kids raised enough money to build two more with all the trimmings. I am taking a well-earned vacation near Hermann, Missouri, where there is no internet unless I climb to the top of this hill to commune with the ticks. The hike itself is lovely, but the ticks have no concept of personal space!
11:15 I have sunscreen. 11:17 I have forgotten all about my sunscreen. 4:13 I regret that.
The two Boots at Sunnyside are coming together quite nicely. Since we decided to build a mini storage Boot as well, Jan’s son had to run out and get more materials, and some of the kids didn’t get to work as much as they wanted today. I’ll be going back there this evening, most likely, to work alone for a while. Right now, though, I’m sitting back with a glass of milk and the last of my chocolate, and seriously considering a nap.