an updated and revised version of this piece will appear in Fifth Estate Magazine’s Summer 2012 edition
On The Money
Financial Advice for the Working Class
You can’t turn on the news these days without hearing about unemployment. Headlines proclaim, week after week, that over 400,000 people filed new claims for unemployment benefits this week. The national unemployment rate hovers at about 9%, although experts agree that the number of people out-of-work far exceeds that 9% figure. The 9% figure only reflects the number of people actually looking for work. It does not count the growing number of people who have stopped looking for work.
I think this “not working, not looking for work” segment of the population might be on to something. Face the facts, jobs really don’t pay like they used to. Fewer jobs than ever actually provide a living wage. Housing costs came unhinged from wages years ago, and still have a long way to fall for most working people to have affordable housing. Affordable housing means you have a place to live that costs no more than one-quarter of your monthly emolument.
Most employers expect workers to have both a phone and reliable transportation, regardless of whether or not the job even pays enough to cover those costs. These costs often preclude the workers providing for their own physical needs. For this meager existence, workers trade roughly half of their waking hours, and 60-80% of their life energy.
When you think about it that way, its a wonder anyone wants a job. So, lets look at these people who have stopped looking for work. How do they do it? How do they get by? What are they doing that’s working for them? Are they dealing drugs, robbing banks or hacking computers? If I had any talent in those areas I’d work it for all it was worth, but they can’t all have the talent to deal, rob and hack.
Half of the world’s population lives on less than $1 a day. Why can’t we? If living in a storm sewer and eating spit-roasted rat isn’t better than working for a living, its gotta be close. Look, I’ve long ago abandoned my middle-class aspirations. It’s about time you do too. The middle-class is killing the planet!
Everyone knows that the planet cannot sustain the consumptive habits of the middle-class, at its present size. China’s newly emerging middle-class is the fastest growing source of global-warming gasses on the planet. Whether it’s habitat loss to suburban sprawl, energy consumption and climate change or landfills and wasted resources, you’ll find the middle-class lifestyle at the heart of the problem. We can clearly no longer afford the illusion of middle-class affluence, without catastrophic consequences for everyone. The middle-class must go!
Most of us already know that we’re never going to be “super-rich”, but if you no longer aspire to be middle-class, a job no longer seems like such a necessary evil. “So, how will we make money?” you ask. I say the biggest problem the world faces right now is too much money. Too much money caused the housing meltdown. Too much money caused the Fukushima meltdown and too much money caused the polar ice-cap meltdown.
See, we’ve got about 7 billion people on the planet, and damn near every one of them wants to make money. So they all start making stuff out of the rocks, trees, and animals they find around them, to sell for money. People who do well at this soon have more money that they need, but they don’t stop making stuff, instead, they expand. They buy machines that help them make more stuff faster and cheaper.
Soon, they have even more money, so they loan it to other people to expand their businesses, so they can make more stuff faster and cheaper. So that way, they make even more money, but nobody wants their money just sitting around doing nothing. No, everyone wants their extra money to make even more money, and most people don’t care how it happens, as long as it happens.
So, all of this money really, really, wants make even more money out of whatever rocks, plants and animals that are left on the planet, creating our present situation: We have rapidly increasing amounts of money chasing dwindling numbers of rocks, plants and animals, all over the world.
Today, this money exerts tremendous pressure on all of us. It constantly works to find new ways to extract more of your life force, and more of the planet every day. It never rests and does not care about anything else but making more of itself. Money has become a monster. Stay away from it.
From this perspective, unemployment is not our most serious economic problem. Unemployment is the solution to our most serious economic problem. Don’t try to make money, that just exacerbates our global problems. Just find someplace to live and something to eat. If you need money, take it from someone who has too much, but don’t work for it.
We cannot afford to be productive workers any longer. Our own industriousness got us into this mess. The more money we make, as workers, the more resources the capitalists take from the commons. So, a few people get rich while the whole world becomes impoverished, polluted and enslaved. Been there, done that.
We deserve a planet full of trees, rocks and animals, and we deserve the time and energy to enjoy them. Let them keep their soul-sucking, planet-raping, low-wage, no-benefit, endless grind of a job to themselves. Do something different with your life. Spit roasted rat is not half bad. There’s a view of the unemployment problem that’s On The Money.