The Bonkaroo

The Bonkaroo is googling, and reading book reviews on the internet.  She’s not sure what she’s looking for, but she thinks she wants to learn microeconomics.  She mostly wants to figure out how to “make ends meet”.   She makes $20 / hour, way more than the living wage of just $15, that progressive politicians are pushing for.  And now her boss is feeling anxious about paying her sick leave, because last year she used up all six of her sick days.  She runs a small business.  It’s a far cry from a big company, and she’s afraid that if she offers the same benefits to the Bonkaroo, that a large company offers to its employees, she’ll go broke.  The boss agreed to the sick days, during their negotiations in January of 2019, but she didn’t expect the Bonkaroo to actually use them all.  The Bonkaroo works hard, and she has the same needs and expenses as other working people do.

The Bonkaroo’s Christian name is Megan. She has a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.   Had her parents been more practical, they would have pressured her into a career in finance, engineering or nursing, then money wouldn’t be so tight.  But the Bonkaroo paints with such confidence and grace.  She paints with big brushes, and her brush strokes are thick with paint.  Her father tells people about the time he was looking over her shoulder as she sketched a figure, with paint, onto her canvas.  “It’s not going to work”, he said to himself.  “It’s too complicated.  She should focus on the figure and take out most of the background and surrounding area.”

Painting never came so easy to him as it does to Megan.  He sketched his figures with a pencil, and then colored them in with paint.  The Bonkaroo knows how to draw with paint.  When he returned, a couple hours later, he was surprised by how much detail she had captured with those big brushes.  Watching her as she worked, he thought, “Where does she get that kind of confidence?  She seems to have a feel for it”.  In its way, it’s comparable to cutting open someone’s skull and doing brain surgery or flying a commercial airliner.  Where do you get the confidence to take people’s lives in your hands, like that?  What makes the Bonkaroo think she can so effortlessly take what she sees and put it down in paint?

When she told her friend Baldwin about her finances, he said, “That’s not what microeconomics is about”.  It’s not your personal experience.  It’s abstract.  It’s “homo economicus”, an ideal consumer, armed with knowledge, who passes by merchants in the marketplace, who are asking too much for their ware.   It’s about getting the best price for goods and services.   It’s businessmen, getting people to work for them for the lowest wages.  It’s letting the miracle of the marketplace do its thing, so businesses and consumers can agree on the right price. 

This made the Bonkaroo’s eyes glaze over.  She didn’t want to hear it.  When she went shopping, she never felt like she was “armed with knowledge”.  She bought what she needed.  And she hated the idea of her boss trying to get her to work for less.  Why not be fair about it, instead of playing these games?