Speed Reads

the times is on it

The New York Times' Paul Krugman wonders where people with tattoos work

Economist Paul Krugman published a blog post in The New York Times that consisted primarily of him wondering where, exactly, people with tattoos work, a musing that came about while he "crowd-watched" at a few concerts in Brooklyn.

I'm perfectly OK with topknots and tattoos, but obviously a lot of employers won't be. So where do all these people work? They can't all be baristas …

But that, surely, is part of the point. Probably not an original observation, but surely one main goal of personal styling is to make it clear that the person so styled is not, in fact, part of the workaday bourgeois world, that he or she doesn't work at a 9-5 office job during the week and put on trendy attire for the weekend. It has to be a cultural version of [economist Thorstein] Veblen's conspicuous consumption, where the point is not to display your wealth but instead to display your indie cred.

Again, I'm fine with it — and the scene is producing a lot of music I really like, so it's all good. [The New York Times]

While you can usually rely on the comments section for some good, old-fashioned incredulity, many readers of the Grey Lady's economics blog were equally as perplexed as Krugman. From commenter "tb":

Mr. Krugman, I'm south of half your age and can't help but wonder the same things. In what corporate setting can 25-35 year-old men have that widely popular undercut hairstyle, where it's buzzcut on the sides with long hair on top (see: Macklemore). I've always assumed most of them are angst-filled waiters, bartenders and baristas — or simply unemployed layabouts. I theorize these hipster adults fell off the economic wagon during the recession and perpetually struggle to regain momentum. There is absolutely a rhythm to professional success; a disruption of the rhythm via failing to graduate from college, or taking longer than four years to finish a bachelors degree, or failing to secure a job before your final semester ends, or a lengthy employment gap bears both HR red flags and serious mental hurdles. In short, I believe the hipster lifestyle is merely a face-saving tool to rationalize stunted professional accomplishments. [The New York Times]

Also of note: the former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson has four tattoos and counting.