Several of Iowa City's larger employers -- the county, the city, the state, ACT, and HyVee -- pay their employees every two weeks on a Friday. The biggest by far employer, the University, pays its employees on the first of the month.
About every 14 months or so, those paydays align, and everybody gets paid. And that's today. Let us celebrate with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
As Layzie Bone and Krayzie Bone explained, in a middle finger to middle class sensibilities, the "1st Of Tha Month" is the happiest day in the `hood, because everyone gets their welfare checks.
'Cause it's the 1st of tha month and now we smokin', chokin', rollin' blunts
And sippin' on 40 ounces thuggin' come come we got the blessed rum
Chris Rock called it a "welfare carol" and parodied it: "I wish you a merry welfare and a happy food staaaaamp!"
"1st Of Tha Month" was a big hit back in `95, a year before Bill Clinton signed the welfare reform bill in August 1996. Being poor is, of course, expensive, even on the first of the month. No one writes about this more eloquently that Barbara Ehrenreich, whose new book, This Land is Their Land, re-explores the theme.
In her previous book, Nickled and Dimed, Ehrenreich traveled about the caountry anonymously and tried to survive on minimum wage jobs. She writes:
I chastised a coworker for living in a motel room when it would be so much cheaper to rent an apartment. Her response: Where would she get the first month's rent and security deposit it takes to pin down an apartment? The lack of that amount of capital —- probably well over $1,000 —- condemned her to paying $40 a night at the Day's Inn.
August is a tight month for a lot of people in Iowa City, as the rent comes due. In a college town, all the leases simultaneously expire, and everyone plays musical chairs with their apartments. In August, you have to pay a new security deposit before you get the old one back -- or should I say IF you get the old one back.
Fortunately, the government comes to the rescue with the sales tax holiday, which also starts today. The tax free weekend was a gimmick passed back when the Republicans ran the legislature. A tax break to help parents shopping at back to school time sounds good. But think about it: would you go racing to the store if they ran an ad that proudly proclaimed, "SIX PERCENT OFF?" (It's a seven percent solution if you're in a local option sales tax county.)
You can get 100 percent off on furniture during moving weekend if you have a truck and no shame. The junk, good and bad, piles up on the curb, and the junk crawlers and "curb shoppers" take the best and leave the rest.
There was a total eclipse of the sun today, too, but you probably slept through it and you could only see totality in Greenland, Siberia, or China. As for the U.S., only a tiny bit of a barely partial phase is visible from the extreme northern tip of Maine. And, thought the tiny nick out of the edge of the sun wasn't worth a Lear jet trip, Nova Scotia.
Two solar eclipses ("Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun") were visible from Nova Scotia in the early 1970s. The first eclipse, on March 7, 1970, was visible in the USA, but the second one, on July 10, 1972, was not. Warren Beatty's mother was born and raised in Nova Scotia.
The next time the payday planets line up, there's also a three day holiday weekend and a new digit on the decade odometer. Watch out on January 1, 2010: There's a full moon that night, too.