The cost of that $19.99 dress, as Thomas outlines in her book, is truly horrendous working conditions for other women — and massive ecological impact. But we’re removed from the conditions that produce it, the living conditions that result from it, and the realities of the waste it produces. All we see is a deal.

    All we see with an Uber is convenience. All we see with a cheap yoga class is the ability to spend money on other things. None of this is discount what rideshare has made better, or mainstream yoga affords in terms of access. But there’s a disconnect between things that we value and our willingness to pay what they actually cost — what those conveniences, that “affordability,” does to the actual humans who provide them.


    Are you willing to pay $4 more for your yoga class (YOUR YOGA CLASS!) so that your teacher, who you likely venerate, can have some semblance of the stability/peace you yourself are attempting to find BY GOING TO YOGA???

The problem with this whole line of thinking is that it presumes I'm the problem. Me. I'm the asshole who undervalues yoga. Okay, so I demonstrate that I'm not an asshole by paying an extra $4. No, wait:

    Back in 2015, the New York Times published a massive investigation into the nail salon industry, appropriately titled “The Price of Nice Nails.” One of the conversations immediately prompted by the piece was simple: can I still get my nails done? Of course, the answer seemed to be — but, well, mindfully, with attention to the type of place you go to, the types of protections offered employees (specifically from noxious chemicals), and the way you tip the person doing your nails. My personal decision was to start tipping around 80%: if the pedicure cost $25, which they often did, I’d tip an additional $20. Yes, this makes the pedicure $45. But is that actually an exorbitant amount of money for service offered — especially if half of it goes directly to the underpaid technician?

Great - you can now get your nails done by an extremely thankful technician who has exactly one customer who pays her two-for-one. Your nails will probably look glorious. You have that warm'n'fuzzy feeling. But the lady you're feeling warm'n'fuzzy about is still doing everyone else's pedicure for $20, of which she probably takes home $6.

So I pay $4 more for yoga. My yoga instructor makes an extra $4 per session, assuming I'm in it. Let's say she teaches three sessions a day, each with eight students in them. She teaches four days a week (because she sure as shit ain't making a living at this) of which I come to two. Her gross income is $20 x 8 x 3 x 3 = $1440 of which she probably makes $15 an hour so $135. If I pay an extra $4 twice, I've increased her take-home pay by 6%. If fuckin' YogaWorks increases her takehome pay by $5 an hour, their profits go from thirteen fucking hundred dollars to twelve hundred and sixty fucking dollars and my yoga instructor has gotten a 33% pay bump.

This is like the snarkers who say "you don't really care about global warming or you'd work harder to recycle" or "if you cared about our future you'd bike to work instead of driving a prius" when everyone and everything you interact with is 11% of the problem:

I get my hair cut at Great Clips. It costs me $18. Last time I got my hair cut my stylist, whose name I don't know, was in early labor. She has three other kids. I used to get my hair cut at Rooster's Men's Grooming Center. It cost me $70. There were two people who cut my hair there, one of which had just bought a used BMW convertible the other of which was happy not to be cutting six heads of hair an hour at SuperCuts. Thing is, SuperCuts, Great Clips and Rooster's are all owned by Regis. The lions' share of the profits goes to a faceless corporation in Minnesota with 50,000 employees.

I can (and do) tip my early-labor stylist at Great Clips. But I don't for a minute pretend that I'm "alleviating burnout" by sopping one prole in a profoundly unfair economic system. This is the fundamental bullshit libertarian equation: if you don't like the way someone conducts business, do not frequent that business. Okay, but my favorite toy store still went out of business when Hobby Lobby opened across the street, despite the fact that I walked through the doors exactly once and the fact that I made a point to frequent my favorite toy store for every toy-buying opportunity I had. Hobby Lobby doesn't need my business to stay afloat whereas my local toy store needed me times a thousand.

You have to change the thousand, you can't change the one. Changing the one only makes you feel better about yourself while the world crumbles around you. And pretending otherwise is selfish to the point of monomaniacal.

posted 238 days ago