XXXVI. on the Sino-British trade deal

The deal has been announced, a £40bn deal concerning exports, imports, £40bn, steel, nuclear power plants, worth £40bn. It is rumoured to be worth £40bn. The trade deal signed between Britain and China — between David Cameron and Xi Jinping — has just been announced, and it is given the value of forty billion pounds. Immediately, there are two obvious and ignorant questions posed to the P.M. for making this deal: 1) They are the bad guys, what about their human rights? 2) What about British industry?

1; their human rights record is atrocious; indentured servitude, widespread abuse, life is cheap, infamous working conditions. Mr. Cameron‘s own answer is valid — that you can have a trade deal while continuing a frank discussion about human rights — but truly, and perhaps callously, it is irrelevant. The question implies that we not only have a responsibility to improve their human rights that includes sacrificing our own country’s wealth, but also that their human rights problems are a black hole which cannot be fixed through friendship. Take Russia, for example; after the Cold War, with connectivity, the emerging market, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, their human rights have improved drastically. Now, most would argue that there is still room for improvement, but they are on the right track. The same will happen with China.

2; the understanding that economics is not a zero sum game goes some way to argue against this, but the main problem is our (ever increasing) minimum wage. Jeremy Corbyn made a fuss about this. British industry has been an impossibility for decades, now, even before Labour‘s insane push to try to prop the mining industry up. The bottom line is that industry will move forward, and if the law literally disallows the people of this country to compete with international labour costs, then unskilled industry will move forward without us.

XXXV. on tipping

I think the practice of tipping is generally good. When I have a sit down meal I always tip. There are times when I eat a meal and feel that my server has increased the value of my experience past what my money (to keep the restaurant and their job going) provides. In England in most restaurants a tip of probably 10% is most common. Some places declare that they charge a 12.5% service charge, mostly in London and big cities.

When it comes to America, though, I hear constantly that servers live off their tips, that their employer doesn’t pay them and so their tips are their only source if income. Now, as an outsider reading your law, it seems tips can only be used to offset the minimum wage, which employers still have to meet. It’s illegal for the restauranteur to only pay someone in tips unless the tips they make amount to more than minimum wage.

At least, that’s how it reads. Is it widespread practice for restauranteurs to break this law, age it goes unreported? Or is that not what people mean when they say that their employer doesn’t pay them?

Unskilled service is a hard job, but there are many hard unskilled jobs that earn minimum wage. And from personal experience in England, it is very easy to find a place to learn silver service, which pays upwards of £10 on ten hour shifts. (Once again, it is a very small percentage of people who earn minimum wage for a significant amount of time.)

Finally, about 40% of U.S.A. tips go undeclared as far as tax is concerned. I go back and forth on this, but at the moment I don’t think avoiding to pay taxes is an acceptable thing in the long run, either for personal gain or intentional sabotage of the state.

XXXIV. on Schopenhauer and pessimism

Certain it is that work, worry, labour and trouble, form the lot of almost all men their whole life long. But if all wishes were fulfilled as soon as they arose, how would men occupy their lives? What would they do with their time? If the world were a paradise of luxury and ease, a land flowing with milk and honey, where every Jack obtained his Jill at once and without any difficulty, men would either die of boredom or hang themselves; or there would be wars, massacres, and murders; so that in the end mankind would inflict more suffering on itself then it has now to accept at the hands of Nature.

I think about these lines — or this concept — often. Pessimism has, in the mainstream, & even amongst many philosophers, come to be synonymous with unhappiness, with glumness, & with nihilism; that to be a pessimist is to be a weak person, to give up your hands to Fate. I think it has in it this implication: because there are many things that should make a man unhappy, I will be unhappy.

Schopenhauer’s passage is the traditional starting point of Pessimism (capital “P” for emphasis); it is only stating truths, and drawing no conclusions other than those which are clear from Nature and experience (we know of the mouse utopia). But from there he can make all the assumptions and jumps he needs, & there is little argument for how well he makes them. Appealing to the brute’s way of life, having children only as a thoughtless act…. Pessimism is (and should be) a great way to embrace the struggles in life, and once the strife is accepted, & you understand that you have to work, worry, labour and trouble, you can find allconsuming happiness (however fleeting) in meaningful ways. Good as a positive, but also not as the absence of evil; we need not turn to God.