Tag Archives: income inequality

I Don’t Want to Go to Work

It’s been a month since I wrote anything here and I could pretend like I’ve been busy and you’re my friend that I really just don’t want to hang out with but…nope, I’ve been pretty useless. Unless you consider drinking too much and re-watching 30 Rock to be useful. Since leaving my job behind and moving to Minnesota in the last couple months I’ve gone through the typical range of emotions from unbounded freedom and optimism about a fresh start to crushing disappointment, sadness, and the compulsion to become forever wedded to my new neighbor Lake Superior. But for better or worse for my mental health and general productivity it looks like I will be going back to work next week. I really had no intention of doing this when I was basking in unemployed bliss this summer but funny thing: I forgot that I still need money. And now that I don’t have any I guess it’s time to start earning (read: looking pensively at the article I’m reading to simulate concentrating at work) that pay check again.

This would be fine if not for just one thing: I don’t want to go back to work. No. I really don’t want to go back to work. No. I really, really don’t want to go back to work. No. I really, really, really…well, you see where I’m going here. It’s not so much that I think I shouldn’t go back to work, it’s that there is no part of me that misses, well, anything about the office. Sure, those moments of reliving Office Space or being in a meeting where someone actually uses the term Synergy un-ironically are worth a good laugh, but I’m okay with keeping them as memories. The paychecks? Never that great, I’ve recently weighed their benefit vs Plan B which involves cashing out my 401k, donating plasma, and hoping that “future me” has something better.

I know that I’m grasping at straws here but I’m desperate. And to be honest, you’re no fucking help. Seriously, for anyone that says “if you are that miserable at the office then you should try a new career”, please consider how useless this advice is before offering it next time. Unless of course you are actually offering a job opportunity to me or another lost soul. You know, an opportunity to someone who has no experience whatsoever in this new and better career because they spent their life doing something unrelated. No, you don’t want to take that risk? Then step the fuck off. Also unhelpful is reminding people that everyone hates their jobs. I’ve heard this so many times but I can’t understand how no one has noticed how terrible of a strategy this is to getting through life. If I ended an unhappy relationship and was hesitant about starting a new one would people suggest that it’s a good idea to just go for it because everyone hates their relationship anyway? Hell, if I wasn’t enjoying my sandwich but couldn’t figure out what else to eat, would anyone tell me “Hey, don’t worry about it, everyone hates their sandwich”? WHY THE FUCK DO WE KEEP EATING THESE SANDWICHES?

It’s not only worthless advice but also enforces this idea that other than a minority of people whom miraculously like their jobs that most of us are supposed to be A-OK with detesting something that we spend 40-60 hours a week. That’s insane. I suppose if we were being compensated fairly for our misery it would less depressing, assuming you either could improve your life in other ways with the additional money, or maybe if you save the extra income from your hellish job you could one day stop going and live off your misery-earned savings. But we know that’s not how it works. Not in this great society. Most of us will live paycheck to paycheck doing something mostly forgettable while repeatedly just waiting for the week to be over. Yes, I’m depressed. Why aren’t you?

I don’t want to go full Bernie Sanders/Larry David on you, but the income inequality going on has really gone from a political opinion to something that actually makes me nauseous and question if working for the rest of my life is really worth it. I think what pisses me off the most is, if we are going to have to do something we hate, shouldn’t we all at least be able to make enough money to pay for a place to live? If you were outlining the tenets of any basic society wouldn’t it be food, water, and a place to sleep for starters? You could argue about where plumbing should fit in these rankings but how can we not even get to number three on the fucking list? In one of the richest countries in the world we have to work for decades to afford a down payment on a place to live? Then work for a few more decades to pay off the rest of what we owe on that home. Then, if we’re lucky, we can finally retire from the place we hate going to (but needed to continue going to go to so we could have a place to live) only to soon have to sell the place we finally own just so that we can afford to live a little longer somewhere else. But, hey, life’s not fair. Yep. Why think about how fucked up it is that someone can make (earned is a misnomer for sure) in one day as much money as you would need to live comfortably for a lifetime when you can rely on cliches to hold down your own class?

But it’s not that bad, you could be making minimum wage. Great, someone is more fucked than me. When did that become the symbol of America? Should I really be happy that someone else is struggling worse than me? That sounds pretty depressing in its own right; that people are so pathetic that the only way to feel better about their situation is to compare them to those less fortunate. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever understand the pricks who spread anti-Fight for $15 memes. Well, sure I get it from the rich assholes who actually own the fast foods corporations, but from regular working class folks who say “The cashier at Burger King can’t make $15, that’s barely what I make!” and don’t realize that the problem isn’t someone fighting for their right to a living wage but the vast majority of us who aren’t putting up a fight at all.

I really can’t fathom how minimum wage workers keep going. At worst I’ll be starting a job that pays twice as well and is probably much easier. And if I was actually tempted by this carrot, I also have the potential to move up in the company and make more money; potential that millions of people getting paid too little have no chance of obtaining. I’m not saying they should just give up on life…I’m just saying that I would. Hell, I’m not sure that I’m not giving up on life now. So that probably makes me a quitter. I guess I have to accept that. And that’s the real problem. Maybe it’s just my distorted, depressed, and confused impression, but it seems that everyone else is just better at accepting. At accepting that life is not fair, that everyone hates their job, and that it could always be worse. It’s nice to accept. Accepting is everything and everything is awesome, therefore accepting is awesome. That’s how that works, right? We accept that home ownership for the middle-class is a dying breed, that the Top 1% own more than 90% of the wealth (Feel the Bern!), and that we can delude ourselves that we’re not that poor as long as someone else is poorer. Me? I guess I just need to accept this job so I keep on accepting. Seems worth it, right?

Welfare Frauds

Let’s talk about Welfare. Or better yet, let’s stop talking (bitching) about Welfare. If there is one thing (although there are hundreds, most of them inane) that seems to drive the “middle class” in America nuts, whether they are actually hard-working or skeet skeet skeeting on by, we seem to hate these damn “freeloaders”. Personally I don’t think there’s anything wrong with government programs that help the poor. Actually, I wish we would expand social programs for more people. Screw the rich, why have so much money as a country but let so many people live so poorly? I know even our poorest doesn’t compare to other countries around the globe, but it’s certainly not fair or equal. The top one percent owns 40% of the Nation’s wealth. Well I say, Fuck that. I’m riding the Bernie Sanders train to the end and declaring enough is enough, let’s get rid of this “rigged system”!

But I’m not going to try to convince anyone to come over to my way of (gasp) more socialist thinking. If you think we should spend less money on social programs, then yippee skippee for you, this isn’t really about income inequality. Well, not just income inequality. It’s about picking and choosing what to pay attention to and how dumb it is to bitch and moan about the people abusing welfare when people at all levels of wealth are no better. Isn’t there something obviously wrong with the picture of people standing around in an office complaining about people living on the dole because they should work for their money? Well, I’ve seen this scenario plenty of times and I doubt that I am alone. Where does the moralistic high ground come from when you are ripping off your company to voice out your uninformed opinions about others taking advantage of the government, instead of, you know, actually doing the work that you are getting paid for? And what about the state workers that I’ve heard at the bar complaining about “welfare queens” when they are getting paid by the same government to literally drink on the job? Are we all just that unhappy that someone else doesn’t have to work for their money while we have to at least pretend we are working by showing up at the office? Also, why am I at the bar at lunch to witness this conversation? Well, because I earned it!

I know that I get mad. I’m furious… at the people who won’t stop complaining about those getting government assistance for healthcare, food, and like. Because dammit, they are distracting me from reading baseball news at my job. Face it people, there is waste in every facet of life. For those “making it on our own”, we’re not always working hard; hell, some of us are actively trying to stretch the limits of hardly working. Among those receiving assistance from social programs, there are plenty of people working way harder than those whom like to judge. Just because their shitty job doesn’t pay well enough that they need a government supplement to get by, doesn’t mean they are any less valuable to society than you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen those racist reports on the news about welfare queens committing fraud, selective narratives do not prove that everyone receiving benefits is ripping off the system. Just like you personally refusing to take advantage of a bad system doesn’t mean that those “hard-workin” folks around you aren’t.

The level of hypocrisy is obnoxious. But what gets to me just as much is: it doesn’t fucking matter! Even if it were true (and again, obviously I don’t believe it is) that everyone receiving government assistance were lazy, undeserving, drug addicted, government exploiting, and any other misguided stereotypes that you’ve heard or believed, it’s preposterous to spend as much time bitching about it as people do. Do you have any idea how much our government spends on stupid shit? This year we are expected to spend $3.9 trillion dollars. Do you know how big a trillion dollars is? It looks like this: 1,000,000,000,000. Holy zeroes Batman! Every year our government is spending on things like studies on monkeys gambling and mountain lions running on treadmills, or $3 million dollars to study World of Warcraft, and of course, an unfathomable amount of money on military technology and equipment including $297 million on a blimp that never even worked.

We are a rich (and wasteful) country that spends a ton of money on everything, so why not for social programs to help those that really need it? Sure, not every social program is for the poor but I find it hard to understand that reasonable people would object to social spending on the things they most ardently support (at least according to their bumper stickers: like our Veterans (Support the Troops!), the Medicare population (We love you #1 Grandma!) or Healthcare (because every life is precious, isn’t it?) But what usually pisses people off the most are those damn lazy, poor Americans living off the taxpayer’s dime. Fucking welfare is going bankrupt This Once Great Country™. Of course, on what could actually be considered “welfare” the federal government only spends about $212 billion dollars. Sure, that may seem like a lot of money, but we have a lot of fucking people in this country. Soo many people that when we spread it out, we’re not really spending that much individually. To elaborate this point, this breakdown shows how much the federal government is really bleeding us for. For someone like myself who makes about $50,000 a year, I would have to pay $36.82 annually to pay for food stamps. People are actually getting upset about 0.0735% of their income going to provide food for the needy because some undetermined percentage of people might take advantage of it? Are you people fucking nuts?

Seriously, who gives a shit about 36 dollars? I’ve spent more in one night getting a cab to the last place open for Chinese food at 2am. And this would be the yearly cost for someone having the food they need to live? Take a long walk back and toast a bagel when you get home you cheap prick. As for state money, yes, Massachusetts is one of the highest spending states for welfare assistance and everything else. It’s not called Taxachusetts without reason. But how could anyone move away from a place with such miserable weather, unbearable traffic, and an undeservedly high cost of living? (Side note: I will be moving away the first week of August). Still, even in Massachusetts with high taxes and welfare waste rampant enough to encourage statewide reforms, why are we complaining about the people trying to get enough money to live comfortably instead of the people creating a system that can make it less profitable to work than to receive state and federal assistance? (A point that isn’t entirely truthful on its own.)

Does anyone really think the problem with someone on welfare making as much money as someone at an entry level job is that the poor should be more poor instead of the middle class having more money? Maybe your state like mine is taxing your hard-earned income and giving away your earnings to too many people. So why isn’t it the responsibility of those creating and/or exploiting the poor communities to provide for them? I personally don’t think fifty grand is bad salary to live on, but I can’t see any reason why someone who makes that in one day can’t spare some pocket change to fund state and federal social programs.

Why do we as a society get mad at the poor and unemployed instead of the rich that kick and scream about giving up a sliver of their money that they and their children’s children could never spend? Why do we bitch about the “welfare queens” scamming the government for $2000 a month but ignore the banks and CEO’s for rigging the system for billions of dollars a year? (Elizabeth Warren excluded) Our government/economy is now a plutocracy. My fellow Bay-Staters (Massholes), what in great patriotic fuck happened to “No Taxation Without Representation”. Our salaries stay the same while the rich get rich and use their money to influence policy decisions. And we’re left to pick on the poor for stealing our $36 lousy bucks?

Four of the 15 richest motherfuckers in America are members of the Walton family, famous for that little dept. store chain you may have heard of called Wal-mart. They really can’t spare some of those billions to help assist the poor people that work and shop at their goddamn stores? According to Forbes, there at least 394 people in America worth $1.75 billion dollars, or you know, 35,000 times what I make each year. I’m generally okay with my tax dollars going to the poor, but now that I think of it, why the hell am I responsible for anything? For me it would cost 10 cents a day to provide federal food assistance. Pretty reasonable. But it seems a lot more fucking reasonable for the absurdly rich to subsidize the poor instead, doesn’t it? If it wasn’t for poor people in America and around the world, the wealthiest jerks of the lot wouldn’t be able to get so damn wealthy. Why don’t they fix their own mess?

Of course the rich worked hard for all their money so they shouldn’t have to take the full brunt of the cost even if they could easily afford it. Yes, that’s probably right. WHO KEEPS REPEATING THIS NONSENSE?! Okay, but it’s not just about the money. It’s about hard work. And pride. SURE. But anyone with half a brain probably isn’t totally convinced that every one of the top 1% are self-made men who pulled themselves up by the bootstraps. Still something about soaking the rich makes people uncomfortable in America, even if they are soaking the shit out of all us, just more subtly. For some reason supporting wealth distribution makes people think you’re some sort of communist radical. But I’m not proposing we make everyone’s salary the same or anything, there’s just a big gap between what is reasonably fair and what is happening in the US today.

Think about it in smaller, easier to digest terms. Say you are on a team of 8 people at work, one manager, one assistant manager, and 6 associates. It doesn’t matter what your field is, but let’s just assume these are the positions needed to make your department run efficiently. If you say everyone will make $30,000 per year, people will gripe. Why does the new hire get paid more money than the person with 10 years’ experience? Why does the management get the same amount of money when they have more responsibilities and ideally, more skills? So we make adjustments. Something like this.

2 Entry Level Jr. Associates make: $30,000 each/year

2 Associates (with 5 years experience) make: $40,000 each/year

2 Sr. Associates (with 10 years experience) make: $50,000 each/year

1 Asst. Manager makes: $60,000/year

1 Manager makes: $80,000/year

Sure, people will still complain (as we do about everything because we’re ungrateful assholes) but in general it is a structure that corporate America accepts as fair. If the country was set up roughly like this workplace it wouldn’t be quite communism, as people would be rewarded for their work and experience. Maybe depending on what industry you worked in, the costs are too low. So let’s just double everyone’s salaries and say this is the high end of what the everyday Americans will make (for the record the average American household income is just over $50,000 per year):

2 Entry Level Jr. Associates make: $60,000 each/year

2 Associates (with 5 years experience) make: $80,000 each/year

2 Sr. Associates (with 10 years experience) make: $100,000 each /year

1 Asst. Manager makes: $120,000/year

1 Manager makes: $160,000/year

The lowest person will make $60,000 and the manager earns $160,000. No one in any of the five tiers should have any problem living comfortably on these wages. You could even take 10% from everyone to fund those who are disabled or struggling with poverty due to other reasons. Everyone would be okay, but not the exactly same. But that’s not the way things work in our current system. When our country’s actual wealth is split in fifths we find that the top 5th owns 84% of the wealth, while the bottom two tiers combine for 0.3%. And let me clarify that the 2nd system of fifths is not earned income like the semi-communistic example above, but it is wealth. We need to remember that Wealth Inequality is not just based on income but all the other fun ways that rich people obtain more money, like being born with money and turning that into more money, without doing much more than being alive and rich, or taking advantage of the pathetic tax system we have. There are your real fucking freeloaders, America.

For those in the supposed middle class, our income is basically our wealth. Actually, with all the debt we have to carry to survive in this economy, our wealth is often much less. It’s a tough cycle and it gets worse when factoring in the less money you or your parents have to start with. Our inheritance if we are lucky is enough to pay off a car loan, not the GDP of a small country like our unofficial ruling class. We don’t have piles of money to turn into bigger piles of money. We have handfuls of money to turn into down payments for things we can’t afford and to buy consumer goods used to distract us from the fact that we’re getting the big screw. If our salaries reflected the kind of economic inequality that our country actually features, people would probably (hopefully?) be outraged. What if our salaries looked like this:

2 Entry Level Jr. Associates make: $20,000 each /year

2 Associates (with 5 years’ experience) make: $40,000 each /year

2 Sr. Associates (with 10 years’ experience) make: $60,000 each/year

1 Asst. Manager makes: $200,000/year

1 Manager makes: $700,000/year

Well that doesn’t seem great. I know I’ve only been here a year but there is no way my manager works 35 times harder than me, but, hey it’s not the worst thing I could imagine. Yeah, about that… (You can take it from here, Lumbergh) that breakdown above only reflects the income inequality. We’re going to have to go ahead and set it up to reflect the wealth inequality. Um, yeah. Now, it might look more like this:

2 Entry Level Jr. Associates make: $15,000 each/year

2 Associates (with 5 years’ experience) make: $40,000 each/year

2 Sr. Associates (with 10 years’ experience) make: $100,000 each/year

1 Asst Manager makes: $1,000,000/year

1 Manager makes: $15,000,000/year

Well, fuck this party. Most of us are not working because we love it, but because we need to in order to live. We know that people make more money than us, but we accept it as long as it’s within the same scale. Does it suck that your supervisor who is mostly useless gets more than you? Of course. But someday you can probably move up to their position and decide if you want to take it easy or give the extra effort for a whopping ten or twenty thousand dollars. What you never will be is a tier 1 leader that makes $15 million a year, and you’d probably be more pissed if you realized that was the case.

We need to make a change. Step 1: give up the delusion that you will become one of the top 1%. Step 2: Stop believing what rich politicians and corporations sell you. There is no reason for someone to be 1000 times more wealthy than another. No, not even Taylor Swift. But our economic system keeps us in a bubble where we complain about those making less (which basically has to be those unemployed and receiving govt. benefits) or those middle managers directly above us making slightly more but one day attainable. Just keep dangling the carrot while you sit in the cart with sacks of gold. It’s deplorable. Our lack of awareness of how rich certain Americans have become is the biggest thing enabling us to be systematically used and turned against each other with petty complaints and maintaining our blind eye to the real villains.

But we’re not dumb. At least not all of us. And we’re not greedy, or unrealistic. We acknowledge that we can’t all run the company and that those that do actually do deserve to earn more money than us. Maybe 5 times more. Maybe 10 or, hell, even 20. But our CEO’s make 354 times more than the average worker. WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE? We get more worked up about Caitlyn Jenner, Deflated footballs, and Netflix not having last season up before the next season starts. If our lives revolve so much around money why don’t we care how it’s distributed?

Please try to wrap your head around how vast this difference is and tell me you don’t want to throw up. I make $50,000. They make $17,700,000? Aren’t we both just human beings made of the same water, carbon, and elevated sense of importance? Why am I considered a radical liberal for being appalled by this? Why do we ignore the ways the rich scam the system for more money each year than we will ever touch in a lifetime, but get our backs up about people who realized they were doing fine collecting from the government instead of going to their depression –inducing, dead-jobs? I mean, why are we bothering to work at all when most of the time it’s 40 unrewarding hours for the tiniest (fraction of a) piece of the pie? Maybe we don’t have a choice right now. But we can for now stop wasting our time getting heated about small distractions like welfare misuse when the entire system is one big fucking fraud?