The problem with economic coercion
MAN: Will you sleep with me for a million dollars?
WOMAN: Are you trying to set up that old chestnut?
MAN: No, it’s a serious offer. [Shows briefcase full of money.] I’m very rich, you’re very beautiful, and I’m willing to pay you a million dollars for a night of glorious sex.
WOMAN: Rape! Rape! Rape!
WOMAN: Rape! You’re using your million dollars to force me to have sex with you!
MAN: What? All you have to do is say ‘No.’
WOMAN: You don’t understand, ’cause you’re rich. It’s a million dollars! It’s an offer I can’t refuse! It’s economic coercion being used to force me to have sex with you. Rape! Rape! Rape!
There's quite a few things about this modification of an old joke that seem profound. We all have a tendency to do things for money that we otherwise wouldn't do. In my case, despite trying for many years now to spend as little time as possible in the programming world, it's still my main bread (and margarine). Programming messes me up - I have to think in English (although I have been somewhat successful in thinking in Spanish while programming on my own projects, working on other projects requires thinking in the standard language), which affects my ability to communicate down here. I get seriously OCD; Nerdy. My relationships suffer. I have a hard time sleeping as I can't turn my mind off. My back hurts, as do my fingers, and while I am deep in a project, I have a hard time fitting in other things that are good for my health. I put myself through death marches...
I have a list of 20+ other sorts of work I can do that don't mess me up, but none of them can bring enough revenue to keep a roof over my head. Do I cry, "Rape!"?. No, but the joke does have a point. I THINK that I can handle 6-8 months a year of it, spread out some, but really have to watch myself lest the computer take over my brain entirely, during the project. Living where I do now, I have that choice available to me. Were I still living in the USA, I'd be back inside a 70 hr week, 50 week a year grind, and still only barely making it. I joke now, that I used to work 18 months out of the year.
I remember a character in a Neal Stephenson book, who had "Poor Impulse Control" tattooed on his forhead - it didn't help. I have a friend, with "Never Again", tattooed on his chest, in reverse, so he can see it in the mirror every morning. That doesn't help, either.
It would be nice to live in a world where you could work at pretty much anything, and get by, and never have ethical or physical conflicts, and do what is right for you, long term, all the time. I don't think such a world has ever existed, except for people that worked hard at identifying what was good and what was bad, for them, and made the difficult choice when faced with a suitcase full of money. And they needed to have the time to contemplate their ethics, long before the suitcase entered the picture.
Sort of related to this is that earlier this year I was buying and drinking soda by the case. I couldn't control my intake, so I just stopped buying it, switched to water, and lost 5lbs in the weeks afterwards. I know that if I still lived in town I'd buy it a lot more often, but living far from civilization means that I only have to exert self control - very consciously - twice a month, when I go to the store. I work off my list, and just my list. I think a lot of people - including myself - can't cope with or function within the minute by minute temptations of the modern world.
Side note: Recently I got interested in the somewhat perverse history of Stevia
, a natural sugar substitute
. I also learned (actually, I'm not convinced this is true, yet) that due to the amount of sodium in most sodas - that you need to drink more in order to meet your water uptake needs! The "Pause that refreshes", actually, doesn't.
I think I'm going to learn how to grow Stevia(if it's legal here) and make my own sodium-free and sugar-free soda, and see what happens, or maybe try a cane extract.
Does the ready availability of nearly-narcotic substances like sugar, coupled with sodium, amount to "Rape! Rape!" as in the joke above, or do I need another word?
Late last year, there was a huge thread on my blog about the real issues of health care
. I'm still working through the comments on it (one of my regular commenters, cpm, was on a roll!), and would certainly like more people to weigh in.
Some of that kind of comes down to this sort of economic coercion - where bad foods like fritos cost less than good foods like vegetables - or, where your taxes are used to pay for other people's problems, so why not abuse the system yourself? - or being constantly subject to advertising that tries mightily to convince you you will be sexier, more handsome, richer if only you'll buy the product being advertised....
Also, in the blog entry, I recalled a story I'd written years before about a dystopic future where it made more economic sense for a young and healthy individual to sell off their extra organs rather than find a real job. Economic Coercion? Rape?
I'm REALLY bad at handling advertising
, and run with as many as filters on my internet connection as I can so I never even see them. While this too, helps, it leaves me vulnerable whenever I leave my safely cocooned connection for someone elses - I do make it my mission to install adblock plus on every other friends computer I touch. It's not altruistic. It's self defense. Should I cry RAPE!?
Ah, well, I think, after writing this, I'm going to go do a few laps. At a basic level you still can choose to do what is right for you, for many things.
Labels: economy, joke