The Bubble

I’m going to take a little departure from wine today but will be back on topic over the next few days,…

Yesterday,  I was having a discussion with someone in the locker room at the gym about my trip to Colorado last week. One thing led to another and as we waxed and waned gloriously about the more liberal parts of the country she mentioned that we were lucky to live in “the bubble.” I’ve had this discussion many times since the election and me doth protest.

California has the sixth largest economy in the world. The Bay Area is the world leader in tech. California was the first state to have medical marijuana (1996). Boulder was the first city to issue a same-sex license (1975) and Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage (2004). While some would like to try to convince those who live in left-leaning places that we live in a bubble it is actually they who are out of touch.

We – those of us who are accused of living in a bubble – may not feel the pain of certain industries disappearing. Yet a lot of people on the left sympathize with coal miners and others who’ve lost their livelihoods and are experiencing a prolonged recession. Our voting records indicate this. We are also very much aware that for decades the welfare of these workers and the air that they breathe played the understudy to the second fiddle of their employers’ profits. It is not that we don’t care but feel a forward thinking approach is the only way to go. Many of us are in favor of retraining – with taxpayer money – so that people in the Rust Belt, etc…who have been adversely affected by the economic transition can have the education and job training they need. As far as taxpayer money is concerned, there is an unfavorable disparity between what the “bubble” states pay in taxes vs. what they get back. California ranks number five and spends more in federal taxes than we receive. Do you hear us complaining? No, because a lot of people in this state realize that in order to live in a functional country with a certain level of economic equality some people and states are going to have to pay more.

I don’t like how expensive San Francisco has become and think there needs to be a counter as a lot of the diversity that has made the Bay Area special is and will continue to be lost. Yet, I also see the benefits of tech and realize that we are not going back to the rents of the 1970’s. To think otherwise would be living in a bubble as well. 

But let’s get back to the bubble that we are constantly accused of occupying, the one that is wrongly associated with socioeconomic factors such as wealth, education, diversity and political leanings. There are certainly people who think that anyone who drives a Mercedes, not a Ferrari, is poor. I wouldn’t say these people are living in a bubble; I’d say they are assholes. Having an education is nothing to be ashamed of and this country would benefit if it was prioritized and properly funded at every level, from pre-K through grad school. Those who have the opportunity to receive higher education are often likely to reside in places where there are high-paying jobs as many have loans that need to be repaid and often that means living in relatively liberal areas. Does this mean that they are living in a bubble? Perhaps in one respect if they only associate with others who are like them but when you look at what a good number of highly educated people do in their professional lives – scientists who spend years trying to find treatments for diseases, engineers who design products that make all of our lives easier and lawyers who take on big companies that exploit their workers – I’d hardly say that they are living in a bubble.

Also, companies that are located in “liberal bubbles” are likely to have a more diverse employee base with a range of people from different ethnic backgrounds, races and sexual preferences and identities. Is this living in a bubble? I think not. Surely many businesses everywhere can do more to diversify their workforce but there has been progress largely because of the population base.

What happens in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boulder, Austin, Boston, Seattle and Portland is usually a preview of what is going to happen in the rest of the country. We might have an administration that is trying to take us back to another century (the 19th, not 20th) but you can’t thwart progress. People are often afraid of the unknown so they demonize what they don’t understand but eventually will come around as so many have on same-sex marriage. Speaking of which, in 2004 when this was a hot button election issue did those who favored marriage equality say that the people who wanted to deny gay and lesbian couples their constitutional rights were living in a bubble? Maybe some did but that was not a common a retort even though I think it was a fair accusation. 

Society has changed and will continue to evolve. We might have taken one giant leap backwards with the election of the nitwits who are running our government (and here I am sorry to say I include most of the Republican party in its current conception) but we will move forward and anyone who accuses people who live in diverse, progressive or urban areas of living in a bubble needs to take a look in the mirror.

And, to anyone buys into the idea that “WE live in a bubble,” stop being an apologist. Embrace being lucky enough to live in a tolerant, forward-thinking part of the country. You are not alone. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, more than half the country is pro-choice, favors marriage equality and feels that the ultra rich should pay a higher percentage in taxes. You are not in a bubble so get over it. There are many others who would love to be in your shoes and perhaps part of this “bubble” accusation has to do with envy. At any rate, it is another divisive tactic being employed by those who benefit from the polarization. Next time someone tells you that you live in a bubble, you can point out all the reasons why this is bullshit and if it is said in a disparaging manner let them know they are on the wrong side of history as has been proven over and over again. Or just tell them to fuck off. 

On that note, have a nice weekend…Rock on, peace out, one struggle, one fight…PSB