Culture and Society

What I Do Not Understand

There are realities in life that simply baffle me. These are circumstances and situations that exist because of complex reasons. They do not present easy or simple solutions, and in fact, they seem impossible to undo.

This week, I thought I would share some of the aspects of modern life that I find confounding. Here is my top three, but I have others.

  1. Gentrification
    It happens everywhere, and I have seen it change and complicate the landscape of an urban center. Here in the Nashville area, it has happened in the form of affluent white people moving into low-income neighborhoods comprised of mostly people of color and historic older buildings. Gradually, overzealous realtors and developers start to come in and market these areas as “hip”, “trendy”, and “affordable”. Rental rates start to increase, and the poor folks who have lived in these areas for years get priced out of their own homes. Shops and boutiques that use the word “artisanal” and “bespoke” pop up, and the neighborhoods start to look more clean and pristine (and less artsy and far less diverse). It boggles my mind why this keeps happening.
  2. Why isn’t there a cap on rental rates?
    Before I stopped living in Nashville three years ago, I paid $650 for a one-bedroom apartment that was less then 10 minutes from downtown. Rental rates have gone up significantly since then. In places like San Francisco and New York, it is not unheard of for a small apartment to cost $3000/month. How are these prices justified? If you are not the owner of a profitable tech-startup or in the medical field, how could you afford such astronomical prices?
  3. Why aren’t there limits on daycare prices?
    My sister and her husband have three young daughters who are not yet old enough to go to school. They both have to work full time jobs to support themselves and their kids, and they pay hundreds of dollars per week for daycare services. I get that caring for children is a valuable and delicate undertaking, but it all seems like highway robbery. There is no such thing as a reasonable daycare rate. It is all expensive.

These three points have a lot to do with money and economics within a capitalist society. I am not convinced that we have attained the most benevolent way of existing as human beings. Our version of economic prosperity is full of inequality and disparity. The poor remain poor and the rich grow progressively richer.

I hope that someday we can evolve into something better. I do not know what that looks like yet, but we should not stop until we have found it.

-Roqué

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