I am a builder who works for billionaires because I favor the company of excellent craftspeople who, like me, prefer to use excellent quality materials. Regular people like us cannot afford this standard. How can I free myself of this burdensome addiction without a socialist revolution or anarcho-syndicalist takeover? —Sadly Pursuing Quality in All Things
Dear Sadly Pursuing Quality in All Things,
Your dilemma is shared by many artisans, including fashion designers, high-end chefs, landscape artists, and visual artists. Even many progressive teachers grapple with it; finding they cannot, in the public-school system, teach the way they believe children learn best (without high-stakes testing, for example), some end up working in private schools where their labor benefits the offspring of hedge-fund managers. One of the problems with capitalism is that, too often, only the 1 percent get to enjoy the fruits of our best labors. Keep working for the billionaires, Sadly, because you deserve the best working conditions, and because making beautiful things is worthwhile in itself. But also consider donating your labor to build something beautiful for the common good. The other day, for example, my son’s public school was looking for a volunteer to build a bookshelf. I imagine opportunities like this arise in your community all the time; ask in your library, senior center, or local school. The materials would be substandard, certainly, but you and the public could enjoy your work collectively.
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My daughter, a transgender girl, is turning 11 and wants to join a girls’ soccer team in Brooklyn. She will be going on hormone blockers when she hits puberty and identifies strongly within the binary as a girl. We disclosed her trans status to the club officials, who insisted their policies were inclusive, but asked me to check with the league rules. The league said that with a note from a health professional verifying her gender identity as female she could play. She was readily accepted after tryouts and was very excited to play for them. Over the summer, her team switched leagues and informed us that she is no longer able to play because the new league mandates she play on the club’s boys’ team. The club offered her a tryout for the boys’ team, which they halfheartedly claim is coed, though there are no girls on the team. My daughter is not interested in being an activist. She just wants to play soccer on the team whose identity reflects her own. I know that trans people’s participation in sports can be a touchy subject, with some gray areas, but my daughter is not yet 11 and will never even be exposed to testosterone. I’d like to fight for change because I think it’s important, but I don’t want to expose my child; her school friends, many of whom play for this team, know her as a girl, and she does not want to “come out” as trans right now. I believe that until the individual soccer teams stand up to the leagues they will not change their policy, and without parents agitating for change nothing will transpire. How can I fight the system and protect my daughter’s privacy? Or am I being oversensitive and she should just play wherever the league deems fit? —Mom Seeking Justice