What Every Fourth Grader Knows


Ask any fourth grader. Unfairness is what pisses people off.

It’s not infuriating when no one gets candy. It’s infuriating when one person gets it and another person doesn’t. For no reason.

Injustice is how wars start. Many people have died inflicting it and many others fighting it.

So when Gavin Newsom issued his executive order last week, it’s no wonder I felt the bubble of fury rise from inside and ooze through my blood stream.

The next day, a tenant called me and said he wasn’t going to pay rent. Until June. That’s his plan. “The governor said I don’t have to,” my tenant said.

That’s not what the governor said, but it’s what my tenant heard. The executive order encourages local governments to forbid evictions until May 31st. It seems reasonable because no one should lose their home over covid. We all have enough to worry about.

But remember that science project you did in elementary school? The one where you drew a chain connecting the polar bear to the wildebeest to the fox to the chicken to the egg to the snake to the bug to the grass… that sacred chain that connects us all, that shows our dependence on each other? That same chain happens in the economy.

Business provides the wage. Wage provides the rent. Rent provides the mortgage. Mortgage provides the tax. Tax provides the infrastructure.

You can’t chuck an axe in the middle of the chain without bolloxing up the entire system. If you do, the ones who suffer first are the ones closest to where the axe lands, but eventually, the resulting chaos spreads to everyone.

It’s ironic that huge multinational banks have access to 0% interest, but American Express can still charge individuals 30% when they buy groceries.

And it’s ironic that Gavin Newsom thinks I can provide housing and not get the income it requires to sustain it.

How does he imagine it will work.

I asked my state rep if I could forgo paying property tax since I won’t get my income. He said the state can’t get by without that income.

Yes, that’s how it works.

We look to our leaders. A republican president flings irrational insults at reporters asking reasonable questions. And a democrat governor callously disregards my livelihood.

But here, towards the bottom of the chain, my hope is that kindness will triumph. That people will have manners. That we’ll pay for the goods and services we need to the best of our ability. And that goodwill and charity will sustain us.

All of us, even the landlords.

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