José Tapiró y Baró
Portrait of a Moroccan Man
Watercolor, 67.6 X 47.6 cm.
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In Poe’s time, life was far more precarious than it is today. You were almost bound to have lost a sibling or a parent at an early age. Medicine was crude, diseases abounded. No social safety net, no childhood vaccines. Yet people were not indifferent or psychologically hardened to their condition. It hurt as much to lose a child then as it does now. Twain and Dickens and even Lincoln attest to that. Poe’s tales are like an inoculation, a milder form of the virus we are trying to avoid. We take the vaccine and call it fiction, and lay down the book. His life was in his stories, and the truth as he knew it. There was not much spring or summer in his worldview. It was all pretty much late autumn and winter, the sun fading, the shadows growing. Perfect for this time of year.
Although the national minimum wage was raised a few years ago, it’s still very low by historical standards, having consistently lagged behind both inflation and average wage levels. Who gets paid this low minimum? By and large, it’s the man or woman behind the cash register: almost 60 percent of U.S. minimum-wage workers are in either food service or sales. This means, by the way, that one argument often invoked against any attempt to raise wages — the threat of foreign competition — won’t wash here: Americans won’t drive to China to pick up their burgers and fries.