I am always behind on what I want to accomplish versus what I am actually accomplishing. Whether this is because I am overly ambitious, or I don't understand how long it actually takes to do certain things, well, it's probably a bit of a mix, but there is one thing that I have been meaning to do for months, and my inability to complete is not my fault.
One young friend was trying to figure out what to do about a career and schooling, and then there were others expressing the same concerns. I thought that it would be good to write something up, because I have been through that, and I have learned a few things. Every time I try and start, I get paralyzed, because of the way things are different now.
I was lucky. When I graduated a lot of employers were happy to see the BA, but they did not particularly care what it was in. There were a lot of jobs available, and because of those, employers offered pretty good wages and benefits. My actual student loan was about $6000, and I had run a balance on some credit cards, but the amounts were relatively small. I had those loans paid off a few years after graduation.
That was not due to great planning on my part. I took the classes and the majors I wanted to take and that I was drawn to, ending with a dual major in Romance Languages and History. I didn't worry about it too much, because the plan was always that I wanted to be a writer, and if that didn't work out I was also interested in teaching, and I just believed it would all work out. When I ended up in various technology jobs, it was still biding my time to be a writer, but it did not matter in the least that I had not been planning to be in the tech sector.
I can't tell these kids that it will work out like that. Going to school will probably result in crippling debt, and there is no guarantee that an employer will pay them enough to support themselves, let alone pay off their debt. Not getting a degree will surely bar some paths too. I know that you don't have to do your dream job to be happy, because plenty of jobs can suit you, and life satisfaction does not have to come from your job - it might be better if it doesn't! But I want to be able to tell them that they will be able to find a job that does suit them and on which they can support themselves, and I can't.
That should not be the impossible dream. We're not talking about wealth here, or not having to work too hard. It feels like we are setting the bar at avoiding misery, and it is still set too high. So you will work long hours at Wal-Mart, more hours than you get paid for actually, and still have the people in line behind you judging you when you use your SNAP card to buy groceries.
(I'm sure that SNAP is a double boon to Wal-Mart, because not only does it allow them to underpay their employees, but I'm sure a lot of the SNAP users shop there, taking advantage of the low prices and thus supporting the system that pushes them down.)
Or maybe you will not need SNAP because you were able to get two menial jobs, but you will use meth to get through, and it does get you through the overwork and the despair, but not in a good way. And then maybe you will end up in jail for that, which will take care of room and board, but also separates you from loved ones, mentally beats you down more (probably without getting you off drugs), and takes a lot more of taxpayer money than the food stamps would have.
Is this really the world we want to build?
If this was truly what pure capitalism built, that would be an excellent reason to reject capitalism. That is not even the issue. Subsidizing corporations and deregulating and cutting programs is not simple free market and Adam Smith would back me up.
Also, even if you decide that you don't care about human suffering, this system is clearly unsustainable. I have thought for a while that we seem to be heading towards feudalism, but it is scaring me more now. Too much money is being pulled out of the economic flow as the wealth is concentrated, too many people are losing homes and job, and it just feels like we are approaching a breaking point.
Finally, think back to last Monday's post, on how drought increased the instability in Syria, and being a year away from global riots (that's a few months old, actually). Think about the people here who have been so sure that the problem with the world is everyone else. They know they are surviving because of their hard work, and everyone else is a loafer. How are they going to take it when the loss comes to them?
We have seen sometimes how badly people lash out, killing themselves but taking along their families, or strangers, or first responders, and setting fire to their homes or other buildings. That's not just despair. That is rage, and hatred of the world. I don't like that the people promoting "us versus them" are also so big on gun ownership.
So, those are the things that worry me, and that's what I'm trying to fight. I hope that some of the things that I say over the next two days can be helpful for that.