I miss my bar, Pt. IV: Three years of this

What to say. It’s the third anniversary of my Last Normal Day, so I have to say something. I did go back to my barbershop for that haircut last year, but then the numbers went up and I haven’t been back since, it’s just clippers and enlisting my partner to help with the scissors whenever I can’t stand how shaggy I’m getting.

2022 was not a good year. A sudden loss in the family, topped off with a health crisis for one of our cats which has drastically shortened his life expectancy, and also no one with any power to improve anything about Covid has seemed the least bit interested in improving anything about Covid.

Oh yeah, also there’s the first major land war in Europe in generations, the fascists are still trying to take over the United States and do genocide to queer people, a bunch of people I had previously thought better of decided that participating in a doxing and harassment campaign fomented by the neonazis at KiwiFarms was just fine if the target was someone they already thought was “cringe”, and Brendan Fraser, whose comeback everyone was rooting for, destroyed all that goodwill by starring in a feature-length adaptation of Monty Python’s “Mr. Creosote” sketch, which I can only assume Darren Aronofsky and/or A24 straight-up bribed reviewers to call “sensitive” and “humanizing”.

Fraser, naturally, won an Oscar for being sad in a fat suit, less than two weeks after James Hong’s touching speech about how when he started out, white actors would tape their eyelids up and affect stereotyped accents to play Chinese characters. But the speech and the Oscar were this year, so I can’t leave them in the 2022 paragraph.

You know how sometimes when things are pretty bad, it’s not really clear that anything you, personally might have to say would be any use toward making them better?

As I write this, ultra-wealthy fascist techbros have also just openly engineered a bank run in order to hold the entire economy hostage, and thereby succeeded in getting the federal government to agree to the principle that ultra-wealthy fascist techbros have a fundamental right, which the state must protect at all costs, never to lose money. Plus, everyone’s either been hoodwinked by the mystification, or is just too starry-eyed a dreamer, or is in on the con, so we’re all pretending that glorified big-data-scale Markov chains are probably brand-new sentient beings, maybe, and anyway we’d better shove them into every software product whether or not there’s any clear reason to think it’d be an improvement. But at least no one’s talking about NFTs anymore.

There were a lot of headlines a little while back, when the administration made the announcement, to the effect of “Biden: Pandemic Emergency to End on May 11.” Of course that’s absolutely false, and (as is often the case) the patently disingenuous framing and credulous reporting drove me up the goddamn wall. What is ending on May 11th is the federal state-of-emergency declaration, and with it the last tattered shreds of a semblance of an effort to look like the government cares about controlling the spread of this highly contagious and potentially lethal virus which is known to cause serious long-term disability including damage to the lungs and brain. The actual emergency will, in fact, remain ongoing, and is all but guaranteed to worsen, and the White House saying “everything’s fine now!” will do nothing at all to dissuade SARS-CoV-2, which being a virus is even less sentient than ChatGPT and is unaffected by whether or not people are worried about it or are tired of the pandemic or whatever.

Finally, thanks to decades of sabotage largely, but not exclusively, by Republican governors, Boston’s MBTA transit system is in the worst shape it has pretty much ever been. Certainly the worst of my lifetime! Perhaps they’re simply trying to do their part to ease the housing crunch by driving property values down.

This one’s been kind of a bummer, friends! We’ve got a nor’easter coming through right now, and very loud rain pounding my bedroom windows all night did not a restful night make. That’s where I’m placing the blame. And hey, at least I finally managed to quit twitter for good. I gather they’ve fucked their API stuff all up over there now, so maybe WordPress won’t be able to auto-post on my account anymore, in which case I should probably just go ahead and delete it entirely.

Let’s try again next week, then.

(Oh yeah, I still miss my bar.)

You have to quit Twitter.

If you’re staying on Twitter because you don’t want to let go of the positive role it once played in your online life, you’re only prolonging your own suffering.

Sometimes a thing can’t be fixed.

Well, I fell off my “post every Friday” routine pretty quickly, huh. Let me try to get back on it. This one’s pretty straightforward!

It should, in my opinion, have been clear to everyone weeks, if not months, ago, that there was no saving Twitter — at least, no avenue available to users, not once the sale closed and Elon Musk owned the company. Surely it is undeniable now, as features continue to break, and accounts of leftists and journalists are purged despite never having broken any Twitter rules except the arbitrary, hastily-drafted post-facto ones the undoubtedly beleaguered skeleton crew remaining at the company had to come up with to pretend there was some principle at play other than “Elon doesn’t like them”. (“Elon likes them” is also, of course, the only real reason so many prominent neonazis have had their long-suspended accounts restored, in some cases after nearly a decade.)

Musk is a shallow, incurious, thin-skinned — indeed, perhaps the most thin-skinned, if not in all recorded history then at least of our century — right-wing authoritarian who believes that his inherited wealth and the “success,” such as it is, of companies he bought his way into (not to mention the abject sycophancy which was, up until very recently, the press’s default attitude toward him) prove that he is a world-historical genius destined to save humanity through his benevolent (well, benevolent toward some, at least) dictatorship of Mars or whatever. This means the only Twitter users who have any hope of influencing him are the masses of 4chan-brain-poisoned neonazis and other edgelords who lavishly praise his every shitpost and bark at every dogwhistle (such as when he carefully crafted a fourteen-word sentence warning of “civilizational suicide”, or “casually” tossed the number 88 into a tweet). Journalists, moderates, leftists, and regular people in general have no currency or leverage here: none other than ceasing to use the service at all.

You have to quit Twitter.

It’s done now, it’s over. There is no reason to believe it can be restored. It sucks that this is the case, it’s awful. Twitter always had a lot of problems, but it was also a really important medium for political discussions, for marginalized groups organizing all over the world, for people to make their livelihoods, for people to talk with friends, reconnect with old friends, make new friends. It is very bad that one rich asshole can simply buy and destroy such an important service because he feels like it! Nonetheless, that is what has happened. There is nothing any Twitter user individually, or Twitter users as a group, can do about it now.

You have to quit Twitter.

DM with your friends to make sure you have their email addresses, Fediverse or Cohost handles, Discord server invites. Go back to blogging. Try out web forums, or IRC. It’s entirely reasonable to be sad, to mourn the loss of an important mode of social interaction, but you do have to quit.

If you’re staying on Twitter because you don’t want to let go of the positive role it once played in your online life, you’re only prolonging your own suffering. Close the tab. Take the app off your phone. Download your archive, use Semiphemeral or Twitter Archive Eraser to delete your old tweets, and when you feel you’re ready, deactivate your account. It’s time. Sometimes a thing can’t be fixed, and this is one of those things. I understand not wanting to lose the connections you’ve made, wanting to keep a foot in Twitter in case it gets better again, but in this case that just isn’t going to happen. It’s too late for that, and you won’t be able to start learning how to feel at home on other social media sites until you accept that there’s no saving Twitter, and that you have to quit.

You have to quit Twitter.

Even Shorter Blog Friday: Whooooops! Edition

Damn. I knew there was something else I was planning to do today. This was going to be a big post about Mastodon/the fediverse, and related topics, but on the one had I kind of forgot about writing it for a lot of the day and on the other hand, well…you might say a lot has been going on in the social media world, especially with respect to the app from which a record number of people are decamping to Mastodon.

There was also a bit of rather significant politics news, in that Nancy Pelosi announced she won’t seek another term as Democratic Leader in the House, but I don’t have anything much to say about that, I think she’s been a very effective leader but I think her decision makes plenty of sense.

Really going to try to get that Mastodon post written before next Friday though, I promise. And maybe next Friday I’ll just talk about guitars or something.

Short Blog Friday: Politics Edition

A short and dull post is better than no post at all, right? At least I assume it is, if the goal is to keep up a habit of blogging regularly. I have a draft I’m working on to discuss some of the back-and-forth about (and on) Mastodon/the Fediverse lately, but there’s a lot to cover there, so I’m not going to try to rush it today. I hope that once it’s done, it will be at least a little useful and informative.

In the meantime, well, that “Red Wave” everyone was so excited about sure was a bust, huh? I guess it turns out that Americans like abortion and democracy, don’t love fascism, and also don’t really hate trans people nearly as much as the fascists want. As of this writing, three Senate seats and 30 House seats remain too close to call, and it looks very plausible that the Senate might remain 50-50 instead of falling into fascist control. The House is even more uncertain, and I’m not equipped to make any major prognostications there. Democrats vastly overperformed both historical midterm expectations for an incumbent party with an unpopular president, and a lot of polling that made Republicans look stronger than, in the event, they were.

Here in Massachusetts, there were no real surprises. Whatever rational elements might have remained in the MAGOP are represented now only by the lame duck Governor, the rest has been subsumed into the Trump cult, and accordingly nominated a democracy-hating psychopath, for whom even Massachusetts’s electorate — historically, shall we say, reluctant to elect women — wouldn’t vote against Maura Healey, an accomplished AG who ran on a relatively moderate platform. In fact, that aversion to putting women in positions of power may finally be substantially eroded, as MA elected women to every statewide constitutional office except (of course) Secretary of State, which Bill Galvin will hold on to just as long as he pleases, thank you very much, they don’t call him the “Prince of Darkness” for nothing. Also very importantly, the fascists failed to stop Question 1 (albeit narrowly) and Question 4 (with a slightly more comfortable margin) from passing, which hopefully will mean Massachusetts continues to become a better place to live for everyone.

If only we could get some more housing built and fix the goddamn T.

I miss my bar, Pt. III: Two years of this

In which I commemorate the second anniversary of my Last Normal Day, and wax doomy about the state of the pandemic. But nothing lasts forever.

So it turns out getting back into the blogging habit is harder than I thought — failing at my attempt to quit Twitter didn’t help — but here I go trying again. The pandemic has, as I think for many people, scrambled my sense of time anyway. It feels like it must somehow still be 2020, but also like it’s been a lifetime since what used to be “normal”.

It’s March 14th, 2022, the second anniversary of what I think of as my Last Normal Day, when I walked to the barbershop and had my last professional haircut. I’ve been making do at home with clippers and my partner’s assistance, but in a fit of likely-premature optimism, I did book an appointment for this week, so I’ll see my barber again for the first time since then. Still masked, of course; I’ll stick to trimming my beard at home for a while longer, that’s much easier to do anyway.

Pretty much every jurisdiction in the US has dropped mask mandates now, as far as I know, though they’re still requiring them on planes and trains for another month (I’m sure compliance will be even worse than before). In Massachusetts, the average test positivity rate is down around 1.5%, which is great compared to the peak of the Omicron wave (officially 23% in early January, a figure well past the “we cannot possibly accurately measure how much of this shit is out there” threshold) but not great at all compared to last June’s low point of below 0.3%. I miss my bar, but for a glorious couple of weeks there, before even Delta, let alone Omicron, I felt like it was safe enough to go back a few times.

But if letting our collective guard down last summer when case rates were so much lower, because we figured the Alpha wave was done, left us so vulnerable to the worse variants to come, it seems flatly insane to be ending all mitigation measures even though the rates are higher and the new variants are more transmissible. Not to mention insisting on the importance of “getting back to the office” and proclaiming COVID “endemic”, as though the bare assertion would make that true despite over a thousand deaths a day in the US alone. As I said on Twitter a few days ago, it’s like deciding we’re tired of putting out a fire and we need to get back to stacking oily rags everywhere, and those smoldering embers in the corner are probably just going to quietly go out on their own, so we need to just learn to live with constant smoke inhalation.

Medical consensus is growing that somewhere in the range of 10 to 30% of COVID cases result in “Long COVID” chronic post-viral illness, which can be debilitating for some; it also appears that even mild cases can cause physical damage to brain tissue that is visible on scans. The risks of both scenarios are probably reduced by vaccination, but public health officials insisting that it’s silly to try to reduce cases to zero makes me feel like either they’re completely detached from reality, or I am.

What a happy note to end on! I suppose this was always going to be a gloomy anniversary, but I will try to get back to posting a couple times a week. I have other things I’d like to talk about. Keep wearing the highest quality, best fitting masks you can afford whenever you might be indoors with other people outside your own home, use rapid tests (and get your second set of free tests from covidtests.gov, if you haven’t — or your first and second, if you haven’t gotten either! — a measly eight tests per household is wildly inadequate but they won’t do more if there’s not even a demand for this) if you think you may have been exposed, get a PCR test if a rapid test is positive or you have symptoms, get vaxed and boosted if you haven’t, and try to protect the unvaccinated and vulnerable people in your life, since the government has decided that’s just not really their job.

I said up top that my sense of time is scrambled, and I have that Groundhog Day-like feeling that it’s both been forever and no time since the world changed, but a while ago a friend said something I’m holding on to: “Nothing has ever lasted forever before.” Everything ends, and the pandemic will too, but it hasn’t yet; and the more we act like it’s still a real danger, the sooner it will be over.

Enough rambling for now. Maybe next time I’ll talk about guitars. In the meantime, here’s a picture of my cat.

Moss, a small black long-haired cat, sitting in a sunbeam on a rug. A guitar amplifier is in the background.
This reminds me I really need to vacuum the living room rug.

…So, uh. Remember blogs?

I kind of forgot this one again for a while.

Anyway, there’s been talk lately about “self-defense” and whether, and when, one has a right to it, and it had me thinking of a purely hypothetical thought experiment. (Hypotheticals and thought experiments are, of course, always imperfect and not necessarily 100% applicable to any real-world situations that might seem similar.)

Suppose you see me walking down the street, and you throw a rock at me. (Maybe you recognize me as the guy who got you kicked out of your family home due to some small paperwork error your great-grandfather made and no one noticed until last year, so now you and your family live in a cramped apartment in a shitty building.)

From here, there are a few possible outcomes.

If I do nothing, and the rock hits me, it will probably hurt, and might leave a bruise. If it’s a big enough rock, and/or you throw it hard enough, it might even break a bone or give me a concussion. In this scenario, I clearly have not defended myself.

A second possibility is that I see the rock coming, and can dodge it, or raise my briefcase up to shield myself, and so while I may be startled or surprised, and may not even recognize you as the victim of a real estate transaction that was mostly just abstract to me, I have not been physically harmed. Clearly here, even if this is the end of the encounter, I have defended myself.

Third, perhaps I avoid the rock or perhaps it hits me, but either way I see that you threw it, and I pursue you and whack you in the head with my briefcase, maybe even hard enough to knock you down. I probably yell some choice words, too; but having struck back — and having hurt you more-or-less as badly as your rock was likely to hurt me — I leave it at that if you do. This is probably a little less clear-cut, in that I arguably attacked you back rather than (or in addition to) simply defending myself, but I think most people who didn’t know about the real estate swindle would regard the harms as proportional and my actions as more-or-less justifiable. They might say “well, he probably shouldn’t have, but I get it.”

Fourth, suppose I don’t just hit you back once, but I knock you down, then strike you repeatedly with my briefcase and kick you while you’re on the ground, until you stop resisting or trying to escape, or until I exhaust myself. (If this is the real-life me, it does not take me long to exhaust myself, but let’s suppose for the sake of the hypothetical that I have more stamina.) In this scenario I have probably hurt you much worse than your rock could have hurt me. I may have rendered you unconscious, broken several ribs, concussed you, possibly harmed your eyes or broken your teeth, etc.; it’s far from out of the question that I’d have caused potentially life-threatening injuries. It’s very possible to outright kill someone by kicking them while they’re down. This is again not necessarily entirely clear-cut, I’m sure there are some people who’d argue that my disproportionate violence is useful in order to deter future attacks (memo to those people: we live in a society, actually). But I think that most disinterested observers would agree that my actions went well beyond reasonable self-defense, and ultimately I’m the one in the wrong.

Finally, maybe after I bat the rock away with my briefcase, I press a switch on the handle, which causes the shell of it to drop away and reveal a submachine gun, like in gangster movies, and I spray the street with bullets indiscriminately, wounding and killing a dozen people, probably including you. And then, because I did recognize you after all and I know that the rickety tenement building just down the block is where you and your family moved to, I use the built-in launcher on the gun to fire a high-explosive grenade that critically damages the structure and causes the entire apartment building to collapse, killing and maiming dozens more people who weren’t even aware anything was happening.

That last one really doesn’t seem like “self-defense” anymore, now does it?

I miss my bar, Pt. II: A year of this

It’s the Ides of March (by the way, check out Dessa’s Ides project — a new single each 15th, for the first six months of the year — so far “Rome”, “Bombs Away”, and today’s drop, “Life on Land”) and the weekend was full of musings about the anniversary of the pandemic “becoming real” for most Americans. Here’s mine.

A year ago this just-past Saturday was Friday, March 13th, 2020. That was the last time I sat and drank a beer at a bar, chatting with the bartenders and fellow patrons, a weekly social activity I feel the lack of very keenly; over the summer I did occasionally go back to have a pint at the outdoor tables one of my regular spots set up, but it’s not the same. I haven’t been to my other regular joint at all, save to pick up a to-go Easter dinner last year.

A year ago Sunday, on Saturday, March 14th, 2020, was the last time I had a professional haircut. I bought some cheap electric clippers and with my partner’s assistance have been able to manage an adequate job, especially since hardly anyone sees me without a bulky headset on anymore, anyway.

Daylight Saving Time also just kicked in over the weekend, so I’m in that awkward period of adjusting to the missing hour. (My Senator is trying to do something about that, at least.) I’ll spend the rest of my life, I guess, adjusting to this missing year, and I know I’m one of the luckiest ones — I’m only missing the year, not my health, not any loved ones. I have friends who did get COVID, and who are still unsure whether or how badly or how permanently they’ll have any of the long-term symptoms that seem commonly associated with the disease, but all of them survived it. Over half a million in the US (well over, as the official tallies are known to be drastic undercounts) did not, mainly because of the actions of the federal and state governments over the course of 2020.

How, as a society, do we recover from something like this? “Carefully,” as the dad-joke goes, I suppose, but we won’t even fully understand all the harms we’ve suffered for years, if ever. Trauma can settle, like varicella zoster in the nerves of the spine, where we don’t really notice it, and produce unexpected effects long after the event.

I’m not going anywhere with this, I don’t have a conclusion, other than “things didn’t have to be this way,” but that’s true of everything. It just seemed worthwhile to mark the anniversary of my Last Normal Day.

[Update: I failed to link to Emily Hauser’s vital pieces, from October and from February, which get at this issue far better than I can. They say the worst thing a movie can do is remind you of a better movie you could be watching instead, and Emily’s a better writer than I am, but I didn’t link to her until the end of the post, so you had to read my thing anyway. So there!]

Shtory: update

Work on Shtory continues, but has been a bit slow. The first three weeks of January were a pretty wild year, what with the fascist coup attempt which nearly resulted in members of Congress being lynched, and in the end just barely managing to keep some semblance of a representative democracy intact long enough that now we have a chance to actually improve things. So it was a little hard to concentrate for a while there.

That said, I still expect to have Shtory up to nearly-MVP-level functionality this week, and “ready enough” to put up on github by the end of the month.

The tentative feature list for the V1 milestone is:

  • local operation only — no following remote users
  • shtory list command and lisht alias (also the default behavior of shtory with no arguments): list users with current stories, marking users with unread stories with a *
  • shtory post command and posht alias: read stdin until EOF, then post to current user’s story
  • shtory read command: read all unread posts from followed users
  • shtory read <user> command variant: read all current (read and unread) posts from specified user, whether or not current user follows them, if they have not blocked the current user
  • shtory follow <user> command: follow specified user, if user exists and has not blocked current user
  • shtory unfollow <user> command: unfollow specified user, if current user follows them
  • shtory block <user> command: block specified user from following current user or seeing their stories
  • shtory unblock <user>: remove specified user from block list, allowing them to see stories from and follow current user if they choose to

End of an era

This doesn’t fix the underlying conditions, but it does shift the possibility space.

And not a minute too soon. In many ways — often aesthetic, but also his unabashed corruption and criminality, willingness to openly embrace the extreme right in ways even Reagan wouldn’t — Trump was anomalous, but in just as many he was an inevitable outcome of what we are accustomed in the United States to calling “conservatism”. (In the GW Bush era, we used to call it “movement conservatism”, trying to draw a distinction that might always have been more spurious than we wanted it to be, between it and a more “traditional” notion of “conservatism”; but “movement conservatism” won decisively, and there is no other kind of “conservatism” anymore.)

The transfer of power doesn’t instantly fix any of the horrors Trump inflicted, but it does prevent him and his array of accomplices and sycophants — the Millers, Bannons, Barrs, Pompeos, Kushners, et al. — from continuing to worsen them, and it gets a lot of open white nationalists and would-be genocidaires out of positions of power. It doesn’t fix the underlying conditions, too many and complicatedly interrelated to get into here, but it does shift the possibility space: it’s not a given that Biden will do everything right (indeed, it’s a given that he won’t do everything right) but it’s a more realistic possibility that he can be pushed to do most things better.

Fascism isn’t dead, and the next four years will, I fear, see a lot of homegrown right-wing terrorism; there’s going to be a lot of work to do in and out of politics to try to make real progress on repairing the harms of the past and building a better future. A lot of that work will be done pushing against the Biden administration, not necessarily in cooperation with it, but it’s still a plain fact that this government will not be so resolutely opposed to progress as the previous one was, and will be more responsive to pressure toward doing the right things.

We can’t be sure of a better future, but there’s a little more reason to hope — if enough people work hard enough at it — for one than there has been for the past several years. That’s not nothing.

On minimum wage

No one asked for my take, but here it is anyway.

Democrats in Congress are looking to pass a $15/hr federal minimum wage as part of their first big bill when the Biden administration takes office, so naturally Online is full of Discourse about the minimum wage.

No one asked for my contribution, but, in keeping with the finest traditions of the internet, here it is anyway.

First of all, $15/hr is more than twice the current federal minimum wage, which has remained unchanged at $7.25/hr since 2009 — the longest stretch without an increase since the federal minimum hourly wage was first passed in 1938.

The previous record-holder was 9 years, from the 1981-01-01 increase to $3.35, to the 1990-04-01 increase to $3.80. In 2020 dollars, those are the equivalent of $10.03 and $7.68 respectively. (I’m using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ CPI Inflation Calculator for all relative value figures in this post.) $3.35 in 1990 was worth the equivalent of only $2.26 back in 1981, or $6.77 in 2020; in other words, over that nine year span, someone working full-time — that is, 40 hours a week, with two weeks off a year (that should also be reconsidered, we should consider a 20- or 30-hour week the “full time” standard and organize our society accordingly, but that’s a whole other argument) — at minimum wage went from making the 2020 equivalent of about $20,000 a year to about $13,500 on 1990-03-31. Then the next day, our hypothetical worker got an oh-so-generous raise, of about $1800/yr in 2020 dollars.

The careful reader will have noticed that one thing that happened in between those two minimum wage increases was the entirety of the 1980s, and all of the economic, societal, and moral damage that the Reagan era did to the United States. Indeed, if you look at the 2020 equivalent minimum wage over time, there are two very distinct eras: from $1.00 ($9.72) in 1956 — I’ll use the “nominal (2020 equivalent)” convention from here on, to save typing — to breaking $10 at $2.00 ($10.61) in 1963, a high of $1.60 ($12.19) in 1968, through to the 1981 increase to $3.35 ($10.03); then a sharp drop in the neoliberal ’90s, and hovering in about the $7.50–$8.50 (in 2020 dollars) range ever since.

If our worker starts a full-time minimum wage job on January 1st, 1979, and works 2,000 hours a year without fail for 42 years, bringing them up to today, their pay has declined from $5,800 ($22,120) a year to $14,500 in current dollars. Over approximately the same period, median rent in the US has gone from $308 ($1031) in 1980, to $600 ($1226) in 1990, to $1064 ($1287) in 2009 when the minimum wage was last increased, to $1588 ($1669) in 2018.

YearAnnual PayAnnual RentRent as % of Pay
1980$20,760$12,37259.6%
1990$15,360$14,71295.8%
2000$15,900$15,57697.9%
2010$17,440$15,54089.1%
2018$15,240$20,028131.4%
Annual pay at minimum wage vs. median annual rent, per the sources linked in this post

Obviously it’s been some four decades since it was even remotely possible to live on a single full-time minimum wage job without other ways of generating income or reducing costs. Indeed, even an increase to $15/hr — $30,000 at full time — would only return minimum-wage workers to approximately the 1980 norm of spending “just” two-thirds of their pay on rent.

A quick note here that opponents of raising the minimum wage like to insist that it’s “not meant to be a living wage,” that it’s supposed to be for “starter jobs” for teens who still live with their parents, etc. But this is an absolutely ahistorical claim in the first place — at the time the original Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in 1938, it was understood to establish a wage standard that would support a “minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency and general well-being, without substantially curtailing employment” — and wouldn’t be morally acceptable even if it were true, because the plan fact is that millions of people who are not dependent teens supported by their parents do, in fact, work minimum-wage jobs. This is all the time I’ll spend on that garbage argument.

So ultimately my position is that passing the biggest minimum wage increase we can as soon as we can is great, and if that means the increase is only to $15/hr in order to get a bill passed in Biden’s first hundred days, well, that’s fine. It’s a lot better than not passing an increase or taking longer to pass one, and it’ll help a lot of people, but it’s also not enough. (I believe I read, though I don’t currently have a source to link, that the bill would also close the loophole that allows employers to pay disabled people less than minimum wage, which is very good if true; I don’t know whether it would eliminate or even change the tipped minimum wage, which is also something that really needs to be done, because that’s a major vehicle for wage theft.)

The thing is, the government has data on various costs of living around the country. If someone asked me what the minimum wage should be, I’d say: it should be automatically set every January 1st to the higher of 1) whatever it currently is, or 2)

let r1r10 be the median rent in the most recent year for which data is available, in the 10 largest cities in the country
then let r be the mean of r1r10 (r1 + r2 + … + r10) ÷ 10
then let y be r × 12 to give the mean annual rent
then let s be y × 3 to give an annual income high enough to pay that rent and still have a decent standard of living
then let w be s ÷ (40 × 50) for full-time employment, giving an hourly wage over a year of 40-hour weeks with two weeks off.

If we assume the median rent figures above are close enough to current to substitute for r, instead of hunting down the individual components of that mean and calculating it, then we have r = $1669, y = $20,028, s = $60,084, and w = $30.04/hr is our new minimum wage.

So $15/hr is a big improvement, but it’s literally only halfway there, and unless the law is changed to incorporate a formula (maybe like mine, though mine is very off-the-cuff) for automatically adjusting it on a regular basis (maybe every year, maybe every two or five years; I think more than five years without an adjustment is clearly too long), even raising it to the $30/hr it should currently be would only be good enough temporarily.