Wednesday, October 12, 2011

You'll never be rich

Part of me is impressed that pizza mogul Herman Cain has gotten as far into this Republican primary three-ring circus as he has, and then the rest of me remembers that he's neck-and-neck with a Mormon robot and a woman who makes Sarah Palin look like a rational human being, and I go back to being completely appalled that we don't want people who should run our country running our country--we want ourselves to run our country. Because what's important to the presidency is relatability! Law degrees or experience in public policy? Sounds like some liberal elite faggot shit! What kinda beer does he like??

But Cain really blew my mind after this past debate session, when he explained that the Occupy Wall Street protestors and all of the people who back them, who have ended up tens of thousands of dollars in debt from college with no jobs or prospects to pay it all back, should "blame themselves" for being under- or outright unemployed. It is our own fault, he explained, that we are not rich. Anyone can be rich if they want to be. We're all just shiftless and lazy.

There is a lot wrong with what he said, and most of it is obvious. And better than I can explain that, Bill Maher can in his recent interview with Rachel Maddow, so why not let him?

However, the issue I have with Cain's interpretation of the overeducated and underemployed goes much further, because it is the feeling of many people here in America--not that people like me are necessarily lazy, but that everyonecan be rich someday. Not only is that impossible and silly, and just would not fuel any modern economy by any stretch of imagination--it is also a detrimental approach to our lives.

We live in a society that doesn't realize (and won't let itself realize) just how poor we are. Ask most people and they'll tell you that they're a part of the "middle class." They likely aren't, unless they're at least in some minor management position. Do they work in a factory? A hotel? A restaurant? They're grunts like you and me. But we're convinced we're just one great idea away from being millionaires. It's the American Dream: you work really hard and then you get everything you've ever wanted! We are not poor, we're just "pre-rich" and waiting for our big break. It comes out in how we vote on policy; no hard-working steel mill worker actually has any love for his union-busting company head, but he still votes against his own interests in a progressive tax system because someday he, too, will make $250k a year.

He won't. Most of us never will, even with college degrees. Especially with college degrees, at this point, with the market flooded and debt up to our eyeballs. And the sooner we all realize that, the better off we'll be. You are not a special little snowflake that is so wonderful and so talented and so full of promise. You are a grunt, just like me. At my current job, I make roughly $23k a year. That means it will take me ELEVEN YEARS to make that $250k we're all so sure we're gonna get, by golly. I'll have to work FORTY-FOUR years to make a measly million, and most of that will go into rent, loans, and if I'm ever stupid enough, a car and a house someday. Hopefully someday (soon) I'll find a better job that pays more, but there will still be people working at the hotel where I'm currently employed, working for the same or less than me, right up until the day they die because they can't even afford to retire. Don't believe me? Come on by and I'll introduce you to them.

They'll never be rich, and you won't be either. Not like the people you're protecting. So let go. Be proud of the work you do and understand your place in this life. It can improve the lives of many other people like you, whether you want to admit they're like you or not. We're the 99% after all. That's the majority of us.

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