Someone Else's Fault

3 April 2001

This morning in the newspaper, a woman was complaining about the rise in power rates. It was not fair, she said, that she had to pay more simply because other people were using lots of power.

Let's introduce some vocabulary words: market. Supply. Demand. Everybody know those? Good. Would it be unfair if she had to pay more for one of those silly PT Cruisers because lots of people want to buy them? And who is it, precisely, that owes this woman cheap power?

We see this problem even more out here in California than we did at home: everything is Someone Else's Fault. Urban sprawl: someone else's fault. A woman in Livermore with five children was complaining about how other people wanted to move into Livermore. Sprawl! Ack! This woman had lived there for ten years, and she would not have newcomers causing sprawl in her lovely area. The idea that she could move out of Livermore herself -- say, to a region of the country where high-rise living can replace sprawl as a solution to population concerns, if she's really concerned with sprawl -- never occurred to her.

Traffic is another way in which people will do this. "Cultural" issues are another -- there are always people getting mad that the "new" people (or the "old" people) are supporting different cultural events than their own crowd. Everything, pretty much, falls into the category of "people are not doing it my way, and they should" out here. The residents of the Bay Area seem to want the benefits of living in a large city with a diverse population, without acknowledging that large cities and diverse populations combined will mean that other people will make inconvenient choices for them personally. That, in fact, you cannot simultaneously have a diverse population and a population that agrees with you in every facet of lifestyle choice.

I'm glad that there are people out here whose lives are significantly different from mine. And I plan around the traffic, rather than trying to drive north on 880 at 4:30 and whining about how many other people are doing the same thing. I do realize that not everybody has the flexibility I have. But I also know that I make trade-offs in transportation: if I take BART, I "have" to walk further at my destination, maybe, and I can't leave for home exactly when I want to. I may have to stand. I may have to be crammed up against some other standing people. If I drive, I'll have to deal with traffic, find parking, pay for parking, and so on. But the key point is: nobody owes me an easy journey. Nobody is supposed to get out of my way so that I can get where I'm going quickly. I am not the most important person in the Bay Area. Neither are you, if you're out here.

I don't recall that having my house the precise temperature and light level I prefer is on the Bill of Rights. It's not even one of the sections that gets routinely ignored. I like my technological comforts, but I recognize that they are not my birthright. I pay for them. I am willing to pay for them. Is it unfair that I should have to? Only if I think somebody owes me cheap computer use, cheap lights, cheap cooking and refrigeration and washing machines and everything else I use. Who would that person be? It's not you. And there really isn't anyone else.

In other thoughts...I'm listening to Dave Matthews sing "Long Black Veil," which was originally done by somebody else whose name I know but can't recall. This strikes me as an incredibly stupid (although well-done) song. The premise is that the guy is hanged for murder because the truth of his alibi is that he was with his best friend's wife. And neither of them speaks up and he dies, even though he's innocent.

Hey. Forget the wife for a minute -- what kind of a best friend is that? If Michelle was on trial for murder, and I knew she hadn't done it (which I would assume), I'd be leaning over to my husband muttering, "Tell them you were with her." If I wasn't saying it myself! If you wouldn't perjure yourself to save your best friend's life, I would claim that you are not much of a best friend at all.

Anyway. I'm going to get cleaned up, get the house cleaned up a little (maybe), and try to get some work done. Preferably novel work, although short story editing is also on the list. I worked on four different fiction projects yesterday. I love having different stuff to juggle and think about. Wheee!

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