...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dear Mr. President,

As you finish your final months in office, you must have many important duties to fulfill. There are people you have to pardon, post-term speaking engagements to settle, long-term contracting deals to sign, and maybe some final political scores to settle.

Within the last year your administration has begun to publicly acknowledge the economic downturn that the nation currently experiences. There are other negatives that have been reluctantly mentioned as well, such as failures in overseas diplomacy, military action, and the worldview of the United States. Maybe you haven't addressed these directly -- it may just be my optimistic imagination -- but even if you have, I am not entirely certain that you, your advisers, or cabinet members can see our nation's day-to-day collapse due to the blindfold of Wealth.

My girlfriend and I (yes, we live together and are not betrothed) recently moved to another apartment. No, we are not homeowners. Despite the fact that we both have jobs that pay well, we still cannot afford to purchase a home even amidst the current housing market disaster. Our new apartment, mere feet from luxurious Beverly Hills, surrounded by seven- and eight-figure houses, is not of the inexpensive sort, but not unreasonably priced either. The apartment and the building themselves are of quality and the nights are exceptionally quiet by Los Angeles standards. The problem with our place resides with the things within, objects and labor. American products and American work. To summarize:
  • Uneven kitchen tiling of different heights that can cut bare feet. Tiling which was installed two weeks later than needed, thus keeping us out of our apartment for two days after we had already moved in.
  • A dishwasher that sometimes washes dishes when not activated and does not dry them once it is activated. It is brand new.
  • A freezer door that does not seal the same as the refrigerator below it, thus potentially causing high utility bills. It is brand new.
  • An oven installed on a slight slant so that burning hot trays can slide out and hit passersby. An oven that may not reach the actual temperatures that it indicates. It is brand new.
  • A stove top that is slippery, thus causing burning hot pans to slide off and hit passersby. It is brand new.
  • A toilet that was installed under a shelf so that the toilet cannot fully open. Without going into graphic detail, I will just say that it presents a problem for both men and women. This was installed 20 to 30 years ago in every apartment in the building.
  • A shoe rack, new in the box, with three broken pieces so that it cannot be assembled.
  • A shoe rack, new in the box, with at least two missing pieces so that it cannot be assembled.
  • A shower rack, or caddy, with metal so flimsy that it cannot serve its own purpose, bending out even without holding a single bar of soap. It has shelves that cannot stay straight due to flimsy rubber wedges, causing anything placed on the shelf to come sliding off, hitting naked surprised bathers. It is brand new.
  • Screen doors that do not open. Screen doors that do not open are no longer doors, but walls for exhibitionists.
  • Cabinet doors that either do not open or do not close.
  • Closet bars that will collapse under the weight of the clothing hung upon them.
  • Front door locks that do not lock.
  • Kitchen shelves installed on a downslope causing dishware to, yes, slide off and hit passersby.
I will stop here, Mr. President, because to go further would likely seem to be nitpicking. What I hope is apparent is the shoddy nature of these American-made products, this work, this labor provided in America, this sliding away of the last shards of American quality. My girlfriend and I do not live in a $600 studio in South LA, these things are happening within the middle-class.

When I do my job, I do my best, focusing on the clients, vendors, and people who are affected by the results. If we Americans know that we cannot afford a house, cannot afford to get sick, cannot take any pride in our international standing, cannot assume that our jobs are stable, cannot afford to travel, cannot expect to get our Social Security back when we are old, cannot expect privacy laws to be upheld, and cannot assume that it is okay not to be afraid anymore, what are we supposed to do when we come home from work to an apartment full of broken things. Shoddy labor going into shoddy products. The complete lack of effort and pride.

You, sir, set the example.