Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life — Terry Pratchett

was originally published on Meandering home

Advertisements

How a slew of privileges earned me a Basic Income

I don’t think it’s because I am white. My online clients don’t always see my profile photos and my first name, Kamiel, doesn’t radiate whiteness unequivocally, while my inofficial surname, Choi (최) is unambiguously Korean. Though the name might play a role, I am sure there are other factors. I was once given two academic degrees, likely due to a financial and bureaucratic incentive of the Dutch universities rather than to my own merit (I was a rather lazy student who lacked the raw enthusiasm to penetrate his subjects as deeply as he could). These ‘degrees’ signal a certain intellectual wherewithal and personal ambition and goal-directedness that human resource managers like. The mere abbreviations ‘m.a.’ and ‘m.sc.’ seem to signify that I have certain economically exploitable qualities. I enjoy the crude irony of the fact that these qualities, if I ever possessed them, have fully evaporated over the course of the past decade.

But there might be other privileges. I was able to buy a cheap and good laptop computer in a European country people with rubber boats desperately seek access to. I once passed some ‘tests’ to prove I understand my native Dutch language, which is spoken by some 25 million souls and considerate buying power backing up its economic relevance. I know how to navigate the Internet and write letters to win potential clients. I am a man.

All these things put together have earned me a basic income. Why do I call it a basic income when I ‘work’ for it and I don’t receive it from the government or even as a passive income through advertising? If I still have to work for it, isn’t there still a condition, a dependency?

I call it basic income for two reasons. First, because that dependency is distributed. None of my clients have any real power over me because I can just do a project for another customer. Nobody decides where I have to sit at 9am or in which country I have to reside at any given time. At any moment I can walk away from a project I am working on, without losing my income. This guarantee of personal freedom gives it the feeling of an unconditional income stream. It is there, as long as I keep my habit of doing the work.

The second and more profound reason why I call it basic income is that I find the work absolutely meaningless. I can’t discover a shred of purpose or value in what I do ‘for money’. It is a mind-numbingly ‘blank’ activity. If I start to think about it I end up hating it to a suicidal degree, so I rather don’t. Unfortunately, conventional people identify me with what I ‘do’ to ‘earn’ my income, and this bothers me a lot because my identity is merely negatively related to that labor (never say ‘has nothing to do with’ – it always has). So what is my identity? I am a rather mediocre philosopher-poet and writer of commentaries like this one. But conventional people will never call me that until somebody pays me ‘for’ it.

I am aware that others, who don’t have a white-sounding name, who weren’t born in a wealthy country with considerable buying power and a demand for translations or comparable services, who weren’t given university degrees, or who don’t have the 300 Euros to buy the Means of Production (a second hand Thinkpad x220 laptop). So I should temper my enthusiasm about this self-paid basic income. It is just an alternative, parasitic use of the slew of privileges that I was blessed, and perhaps cursed, with.

How a slew of privileges earned me a Basic Income was originally published on Meandering home

Weightism

Image Wikipedia

The obsession with equality, forged in the boredom of the post-war world order, has spawned concepts like ableism, genderism, and so on. By claiming to be fully inclusive, they make the denial of those differences not protected by the neologisms all the more cruel. Manufacturing an -ism for each difference, alluring as it is because of the ensuing discourse that would give it a place in the minds of those who were ignorant, condemns the differences that haven’t been put into -isms to irrelevance. Take for example, weightism.

Our entire cultural narrative presupposes that when ‘we’ eat too much, we gain weight. Our waist line is perpetually threatened to expand, belly fat is something ‘we’ must get rid off. Every article I read that makes a mention of body weight treats it like humanity’s nemesis, renders gaining weight as our natural sin and exercise as the absolution. Eating less, starving, is portrayed as a virtue and not touching that brownie is akin to buying an indulgence from the holy Church. Every food magazine, yes the packaging of processed foods itself, is filled with this obsession over our body weight.

This grossly insults those people, like myself, with a very fast metabolism, who have tried everything and would love to finally put on some weight. Not to comply with the societal norm that requires men to have muscles as much as it rejects excess meat on a female body, but in order to stay healthy.

I say to hell with weightism. I demand my equal rights as a skinny person. I demand that magazines limit flippancy about ‘the expanding waist line’ and compensate puns that cater to the potentially obese with healthy jokes for thin people. I would like to read, for example “Be careful to add enough sugar to the rhubarb or you risk your scale not getting out of the danger zone” or “Don’t do too much cardio fitness to preserve the padding of your thighs” or “Just sitting on the couch and watching television has the additional benefit that it can make you gain weight.”

Weightism is a crime against equality. People who have fast metabolisms deserve more respect. Just like blind people or people in a wheelchair can navigate the world because of braille and elevators, skinny people should be able to navigate grocery aisles, beauty magazines and gyms in a way that makes them feel included and respected as citizens of the wonderful world we live in.

Disclaimer: The cis-gender heterosexual white male author measures 1.78 and weighs 57 kgs.

Weightism was originally published on Meandering home