Was New Years Always This Dumb A Holiday?

In most years, the last couple weeks of December are a frantic rush to make sure I have New Years plans. Not necessarily anything big, even, but an opportunity to bring a few friends together, share a bottle or two of champagne, and watch Ryan Seacrest be a dipshit on TV. Making these plans is usually pretty stressful, because I know that if I spend yet another New Years alone, drinking shitty beer and playing a game of Civilization in which all of my cities are named some variation of Gooch — Goochtown, Goochville, Fort Gooch, Buenos Gooches, Stratford-Upon-Gooch, you get the idea — it’ll be a little bit depressing.

This year, though, I had an excuse to not make any New Years plans, because of the pandemmy. And it was…magnificent? I made dinner, took multiple edibles, watched Greyhound (it’s not a terrific movie!), and went to sleep at 12:30pm. I woke up feeling distinctly un-hungover and, besides the usual existential malaise one naturally feels upon waking up to realize the world is still turning, pretty fantastic.

It makes one wonder: has New Years always been such a useless holiday?

Like, I get that it’s a natural occasion to celebrate. The passage of time, new beginnings, fond nostalgia for the last year, posting all your stupid pics on Insta, etc etc. But are there not better ways to celebrate? For instance, getting high as balls and watching a joyless Tom Hanks pace around a destroyer in the North Atlantic?

Here’s my proposal: let’s all just agree to not celebrate New Years anymore. No more starting the year hungover, no more fretting about plans, no more making out with your friend’s high school friend in a suburban basement. How about we all just stay at home, watch a movie, notice that it’s past midnight, and go “oh wow, guess it’s 2022 now. Huh,” then promptly go to bed and have dreams about getting married and opening up a Bed-and-Breakfast with Elisabeth Shue.

Hey dude, just calling to check in and also to ask you to use all your institutional capital on my behalf

Hey dude! How’s it been? Long time, I know.

Anyways, I was just calling to check in. And also to ask you to take what little institutional capital you’ve built up at your job and expend it on my behalf. 

It’s been a while. What’s new with you?

That’s great man. Really nice to hear. And how’s your new job going? 

Cool cool. Listen, I know we haven’t seen each other in person since pretty early into the Obama administration, but I have a question for you: Would you be willing to take the credibility you’ve built up this past year and use it to vouch for my recent job application? Sure, your manager probably just started pronouncing your last name correctly, and yes, even our Instagram interactions have trailed off the past couple of years. But hey, bud, it would mean a lot to me if you stuck your neck out for somebody whose sole qualification you’re familiar with is my ability to hit island cups in beer pong. 

You’ll see what you can do? Oh, sorry, you’ll “see if you can see what you can do.” Thanks man, that means a lot. 

Can’t wait until all this is over and we can catch up again in person. And please, if you can, it would mean a lot to me if you’d pass my info along to the coworkers who you’ve barely just started feeling comfortable emailing yourself. 

Thanks again. Your friendship means a lot to me. As does the shred of goodwill you’ve accumulated at your job that I’m asking you to expend on me. 

Cheers bud. 

Here’s the precocious child on the train that we’re avoiding eye contact with this week

Name: Caden
School: Dalton (no ‘the’; no ‘School’ nor ‘Prep’; only bright, sensitive minds)
Eye Contact: Disturbingly strong
Reading: Anna Karenina: The Graphic Novel
College Savings Plan: Larger than your student loans
Listening to: Been getting into Belle & Sebastian’s early discography recently
Nanny: Has more degrees (2.5) than you (.5)

What if we taxed weed to pay for reparations?

On December 1, 2019, Michigan legalized recreational marijuana. That day, I saw a line that stretched at least two city blocks filled with people waiting to buy. It was one of the most diverse (racially, economically, Kid-Rock-meets-Bernie-Sanders-y) crowds I could remember seeing in Ann Arbor since the city’s last Hash Bash. Ann Arbor’s dispensaries sold out of product for the next several days after it was legalized.   

Weed has always been practically, if not actually, legal for white, relatively affluent people like me. But I never stood around in the freezing cold for an hour to get it while listening to people tell stories about how their dad had to come bail them out after they were caught possessing in the 70s.

In Michigan, the tax on weed is 16%—a 10% excise tax on adult-use products and a 6% sales tax. In the first week alone, Michigan generated $270,000 in tax revenue off weed sales, and the state is projecting to rake in around $150 million per year starting in 2021. And that money goes to some good causes: researching the medical benefits of marijuana, funding schools, improving roads, and putting money in state and local coffers. And some states are taxing weed even more heavily than Michigan is, although they might start lowering taxes to avoid turning the weed enthusiasts of today into the Grover Nug-quists of tomorrow.

But there’s a better use of this money: reparations. Let’s call this “The Case for Reeferdations.” Actually, don’t, but thanks for considering it. 

The War on Drugs has resulted in profoundly unequal outcomes along racial lines. As Michelle Alexander, author of (required reading, or at least required referencing) The New Jim Crow put it, “Nothing has contributed more to the systematic mass incarceration of people of color in the United States than the War on Drugs.” And mass incarceration is just one recent entry in the history of American racism that stretches back to our original sin. Racist and classist drug policing left deep wounds everywhere from housing to the right to vote, and it’s time to start paying up—and to use funds from marijuana legalization to do so. 

This isn’t a new idea. Evanston, Illinois has proposed using its weed revenue for race-based reparations in the form of direct payments for its residents to purchase homes or pursue higher education, two areas where the effects of racism remain particularly salient. And governments experimenting with reparations to correct past harms is not unprecedented. Chicago, for example, created a $5.5 million fund for victims of police torture, while the U.S. issued a formal apology and $20,000 in compensation to people of Japanese descent who were forced into internment camps.

There are legitimate, salient reasons to not do this. For one, using marijuana tax revenues for race-based reparations could further exacerbate the racialization of drug use. And reparations raise extremelythorny and hardtoresolveissues. But, as a counterpoint, the Redfordations program in Watchmen seemed to be working out… about as well as you could expect in America? 

Estimates vary, but it’s not crazy to say that legal marijuana will be generating $30 billion per year in sales in the near future. That’s more than the NFL’s revenue—a product that actually is dangerous. At a 5% tax rate devoted to our hypothetical reeferdations, we’d be generating around $1.5 billion per year. 

What could we do with this money? Far smarter people have thought much harder about this than me. But here are just the first five ideas that come to mind: 

  • Appropriate the $12 million needed, under H.R.40, “to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.” Immediately. 
  • Direct payments. Cost estimates vary, and even our hefty $1.5 billion/year is nowhere close to the (very roughly) $400 billion to $2.6 trillion owed to make economic amends for past injustices. But it never hurts to start, and depending on how trickly your economic views are, maybe a rising economic tide could lift all boats. 
  • Make more targeted direct payments. Perhaps in the form of pension payments to low-level drug offenders caught up in the war on drugs. Or maybe we take that money and use it to equalize the amount of school spending per student throughout the nation. 
  • Contribute to Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and any other legal organization combating racial inequity in the legal system. Hiring more public defenders wouldn’t hurt either.
  • Invest in housing, education, and businesses to build up the generational wealth of Americans who had it systematically stripped throughout the course of our history. 

We’re not going to paper over the racial crimes perpetrated by America over the last several centuries by cutting checks in the next few years. But it would be a worthwhile use of our tax dollars to take money from a product that represents one of the most harmful elements of American public policy and put it toward a productive result that can at least start the process of making amends.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting to Pay Off Your Student Debt for 30 Years

Congratulations! After years and years of trying, you’ve finally done it: You brought tens of thousands of dollars of debt into your net worth! This is a big moment for you and the people you love—including your favorite corporation–people entities (big shout out to my dawg, Citizens United). Like any proud or reluctant parent, you’re probably filled with questions like, “Can I pawn this off on someone else?” and “Will the government do literally anything to help me with this? No? Seriously?!?” Like your parents, we’re here to give you some unsolicited advice. Here are five tips on what to do when you’re expecting to pay off your student debt for the next thirty years.

1. Invest in Yourself: You’re going to spend a lot of time in the next the-rest-of-your-life worrying about how to best care for your joyous debt pile. Answering questions like “Oh god, how did it get so big?” and “How soon can I ask my partner to pay for it?” will consume a lot of your free time. During these stressful times, you need to remember to take a step back and prioritize yourself. Invest in yourself. Not, like, actual investment. You don’t have the money for that. Lol. However, doing special little things like springing for the good ramen and using the soap stuck in the bottle to make a hand bubble bath in the sink will help to remind yourself that you matter, damnit.

2. Smile: You’re all alone, nobody will help you, and it’s only going to get more difficult with time. But science says smiling can trick your brain into thinking it’s happy—so yay smiling!

3. Appreciate the Process: It took you a lot to get here. Four years and an invaluable anthropology degree brought you to this point. Now that you’ve made it—savor every step of the way. Every time you click submit on the loan site. Every time you check your bank account before going to the grocery store. Every time you tell your parents that, yes, it is truly crazy that monthly subway card prices have gone up by $100 again so, yeah, they may as well just add $200 to your bank account to be safe this time (stop asking about it, mom). Your life will literally never be the same, so you should appreciate every minute of it.

4. Drink: C-O-P-I-N-G! What does that spell? Unending darkness.

5. Never, Ever, Ever Have Another: Your beautiful little bundle of permanent financial instability is so special, you may think about getting another. You’ll see your friends getting another happy lump of crippling debt, maybe one in a little tie or one in a powdered wig, and you’ll be tempted to do the same. Take it from us though: DEAR GOD, DON’T DO IT. You’ll be okay. Sure, you may not be invited to a party or two where everyone went to the same debt adoption center. And yes, it is fun to think about how much of your new, big salary you can sink into your even bigger debt baby, but JUST DON’T DO IT. Follow our advice and you’ll have a chance of becoming an empty nester before you die.

The kids are not alright (and it’s your fault)

The New York Times once said that every generation gets the beach villain it deserves; no one knows what this means and I already used my four free articles to read about koalas so I won’t be finding out any time soon. But what if that’s absolute horse shit? What if the reality is that every generation actually gets the content it deserves?

To that end, I thought we should check in on the Zoomers to see how they’re doing… And folks, the kids are not alright.

It would be easy to extrapolate too much from a few posts, but everything from the data to the teens’ reaction to war with Iran paints the same bleak picture of a jaded Gen Z coming of age with a mix of hopelessness and righteous indignation.

And honestly, who can blame them? For as long as most Zoomers have been alive we’ve been at war overseas and ignoring the climate crisis at home. Think about the toll that never having known peacetime takes on a generation’s psyche, then compound that with a lifetime’s worth of existential dread over the looming environmental catastrophe

Then add in the fact that for the majority of Gen Z’s life we’ve lived in the shadow of the Great Recession, an omnipresent reminder of just how tentative the entire economic world order is. As they now reach college age, Zoomers are quickly discovering that the costs to enter that cherished world order are even steeper than imagined—and growing quickly.

So yeah, they get to be pissed. Shit’s fucked, etc. But their anger isn’t directed at the government specifically like the Boomer rage of the ‘60s, or at individual industries like the Millenial anger post-Recession. From Greta Thunberg’s famous “how dare you” to the rising support for dismantling capitalism as an entity to “ok boomer” as a whole, the Zoomers are targeting their ire at pretty much everyone who failed to stop the multiple unfolding catastrophes that have defined their worldview.

Including you. Actually, mainly you. 

No, according to our cutting-edge MailChimp analytics, you’re probably not a Boomer. But don’t think your age will protect you from their wrath. Because while you probably think that Millenials and Gen Z are on the same page, the relationship is probably something closer to this. And once Gen Z realizes that Millenials not only failed to fix everything, but barely even tried, they’re going to come for us.

Uh oh, the guys from Platteville are here and they’re looking to start a rock fight

Well chumps, we can’t just stand around here all day—we gotta do something! Here’s who we should round up to try and put up a fight: 

  • Billy. He’s old for his year and has had a hair-trigger temper ever since his dad moved to the big city with his new girlfriend Trish
  • Smelly Ted
  • Janice. She once hit me in the eye with an iceball so hard it gave me an orbital fracture. And she vapes, which is edgy
  • Former Philadelphia Phillies Starting LHP Cliff Lee
  • Caden 
  • Braden
  • Jaden
  • Almost Famous–era Billy Crudup
  • Brayden

The Top Ten Lists of 2019

10. The New York Times: The Year in Photos
9. Celebration Rock: Best Albums of the Decade
8. McSweeney’s: Ten Questions to Ask Someone Instead of “When Are You Going to Have a Baby”
7. The Ringer: The Best Memes of 2019
6. The NBA: Whatever ballots gave Carmelo the Western Conference Player of the Week over Harden and Luka
5. Banner Society: Naming THE definitive national champ for each season, 1869-2018
4. Pitchfork: The 200 Best Songs of the 2010s (having your only Taylor Swift song be “All Too Well” is an iconic move)
3. The New York Times: What Did the U.S. Get for $2 Trillion in Afghanistan?
2. The Mueller Investigation: 7-Count Charge Against Roger Stone
1. Left on Read: The 10 Best College Football Games of the Decade