Friday, December 31, 2004

Let Them Eat Sushi

Being called a skinflint got George Bush into a swivet. He said we’re the most generous country in the world. Then New York must be the most generous city in the most generous country. Evidence of that appears in the Dining section of the Times. Its critic took a guest -- at least twice -- to a new sushi joint in midtown where the tab comes to $500 apiece, minimum, counting tax, tip and a glass of sake. The critic went out of his mind at the first bite of raw fish, and his bliss only deepened as he went course after course to the end. Four stars. He’d evidently have given more if the Times had any more stars to give. One might say that the stars are based on price more than on the quality of the food -- for in the el cheapo column down below no stars are given, though the critic raved about the raw fish in a whole block of restaurants costing $25 or less.

Considering the rents in midtown, what can they be paying the help? I think of dishwashers earning less for 40 hours of hard work than the $500 the Times is enchanted to pay for its four-star tasters. And their workers have shlep home to wherever they can find shelter -- with rent controls going up and the MTA panting to raise fares and cut service. For the workers the choice is often whether to buy medicine .or groceries. But here in Wall Street, generosity is in the air. It’s year-end bonus time, and the big firms are dishing out packets of up to 20 million and more. So bring on your $500 sushi -- and don’t you dare call us skinflints.