Not waiting = privilege

I’m interested in the idea of time in capitalist terms. In The Culture of Waste, Bauman considers the idea of waiting a waste of time, assuming that time is valuable, worth something, a commodity. Something that everyone seems to be saying as well is the idea that if you are higher up on the social scale, you are somehow exempt from waiting. I couldn’t help thinking about the relationship between Time and Money. The idea that it is a privilege to be able to avoid the process of line ups. I was recently waiting in an stagnant airport passport line with thirty or forty cranky others. A customs officer near the front was handing out flyers for a new “Global Entry” program where with a pre-screening process and an annual fee, you can avoid ever having to wait in a customs line at the airport again. I found this strange. Not the idea that you can pay to bypass the dreaded waiting process, but the idea that you can somehow get away with being thoroughly checked at the border, at the expense of other passengers, just because you can pay more money. You are paying to have more of your own time. Same goes for the privilege of paying a little more to get VIP advance entry tickets to a show, healthcare treatment, getting an advance copy of an album from your favorite band, etc.  Privileged people don’t have to wait in lines.

 

By Vicky

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3 Comments»

  cindypound wrote @

There are so many examples of the correlation between status (most often wealth but sometimes just social status) and decreased waiting. We pay to go up to the Empire State building faster using the VIP pass. We obtain status on airlines so that we can board the plan first. There is a new airport security pass/status you can get (CLEAR?) so that frequent travelers can circumvent screening. Carpool lanes (status = eco-conscious.) The slowest subway and bus lines always seem to be in the poorest neighborhoods, the best running lines connect the most prosperous neighborhoods. And what about the people that pay people to stand in line to get a new iPhone, for example? In Kasia’s example of communist lines, everyone is made to wait in the same line which has both an equalizing effect on wealth distribution and also is a reflection of it (ie: same status for everyone.)

  jennykane324 wrote @

except that even in communist society there are those who are more equal than others — “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”. (george orwell)

  lockbird wrote @

I have to admit that I hadn’t thought about that idea before reading Bauman’s text, but it’s one of the most logical things I’ve read. Yes, people who have [more] money [than others] don’t wait; they have others waiting for them. Time IS money, and you can use money to get more time and, of course, you can spend time to make more money. As about that “Global Entry” thing you mentioned…OMG, it is absolutely absurd!


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