March 15, 2016

Source: Bigstock

Should current trends continue”€”although “€œtrends”€ seems too grand a word for what amount to quotidian, repetitive habits and chores”€”my husband and I will celebrate our 20th anniversary next spring.

At least, that’s what I”€™d been telling myself, and him, until I actually Googled “€œthe year Frank Sinatra died”€ and realized we”€™d actually met in 1998. I”€™m mad at myself for getting it wrong, but not because I was planning some big party. By “€œcelebrate,”€ above, I meant we”€™d go out for sushi or steak on some random evening. Gifts would not be exchanged. Flowers would not be delivered. Neither of us remembers the year we eventually got married, although we both agree that the month had a “€œJ”€ in it. So recalling our first date has always been easier, or so I”€™d thought: Pretty hard to forget April 1.

Clearly we”€™re a pretty low-maintenance pair. Having similar Catholic-below-the-poverty-line childhoods”€”take that, Bernie Sanders“€”means we share too many values and points of reference to fight over much.

But we”€™re still a mixed marriage:

I was a punk, and he wasn”€™t.

“€œI was quite possibly the only freakish teenage girl at the time who, when she wasn”€™t binge-listening to Crass, was also glued to Free to Choose.”€

Ask Arnie about “€œmy”€ music and he”€™ll affect a mock-ney accent, wobble back and forth, and “€œsing,”€ “€œI”€™m poor! I”€™m poor! Woo-hoo!“€ Now, lyrically speaking, while the “€œI”€™m poor”€ part is pretty accurate, the only exemplar of “€œwoo-hoo!”€ I can think of might be Stiff Little Fingers”€™ “€œSilver Lining.”€ Sure, punk’s implied fix”€””€œwealth distribution“€”€”was patently stupid. Paradoxically, though, staying poor contradicts the genre’s unavoidably entrepreneurial, do-it-yourself ethos, at least if you were doing it right”€”as even one of its most radical proponents told a taken-aback interviewer.

(Amusingly, but behind a paywall: “€œRotten’s desire to perform before “€˜the poor people of America”€™ was hardly realised, despite the low price of tickets at around £1.75. Poor whites and kids from the black and Hispanic ghettos were little in evidence…partly because it is natural to espouse a music which offers an escape from those ghettos rather than one which seeks to emphasise bad social conditions….”€)

So while Arnie and I both applaud Donald Trump’s (frankly, well, Sinatra-esque) middle finger to political correctness and find his comments about Mexicans and Muslims painfully obvious and sensible”€”but his ideas about the First Amendment and Kelo troubling”€”I”€™m the only one who gets a rash when Trump talks about tariffs and trade and “€œbringing back manufacturing jobs.”€

Look, I have the same generic nightmares as anybody: I”€™m naked in the shopping mall; I didn”€™t study for finals. But I also dream, with alarming regularity, that I”€™m screaming whole paragraphs of Economics in One Lesson in some unfortunate’s ear.

That’s because I was quite possibly the only freakish teenage girl at the time who, when she wasn”€™t binge-listening to Crass, was also glued to Free to Choose.

Whereas, while this wasn”€™t written by my husband, it easily could have been:

Free trade is great, in a macro sense. It sure helps enrich the donor class. But go tell the guy who lost his $25 an hour job because NAFTA let Carrier move its air conditioning plant to Mexico about Milton Friedman’s “€œFree to Choose.”€ What’s he free to choose? Long-term unemployment? Making a fake Social Security disability claim? Or taking a job greeting at Wal-Mart for $8 an hour?


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