when the status quo frustrates.

The Price of Being Broke

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

The economy is crap right now. Everyone who has a passing connection to the economic world is aware of that fact. Everyone says it- to reassure one another that our unemployment isn’t because we’re unemployment, or to respond to that despondent friend, family member, or acquaintanceship when you sit comfortably from the valued ranks of employment.

But, it is hard to believe. It’s hard to believe when you tell it to yourself. It’s hard to believe when your parents ask if you have a job yet. It’s hard to believe when you fill out your 65th application for employment. It’s hard to believe that there just isn’t something wrong with you, and everyone else is doing fine (even when you take a look around at your friends and see them not doing fine as well). If the economy is so bad, why are there all of these job applications? If the economy is so bad, how come I’m not seeing boarded-up windows? Logic can tell you plenty of things, and your eyes plenty more but that doesn’t stop the very strongly internalized message that employment is a major source of someone’s identity, and money is a major determination of a person’s worth. I’ve sold things, things I didn’t even know were valuable to me, to get thorough my uneven periods of employment. I’m not even talking about my harp and a DVD Player. That sucks, but less of the loss of the items. I’m not even talking about the extortion at the hands of Sallie Mae, whom I’ve just ended up throwing away $150.00 so they could stop harassing me for a whole three months about the loans I am in NO position to pay back. I’ve sold a few of my morals.

A friend of a friend of mine is pretty high in a particular non-profit. In December, we were at a mutual Christmas party, and when he heard about my job difficulties, he told me to send him my resume after the Christmas season, and he’d see he could find me something. Last week I did. This weekend, I need to drive my dad about 3 hours away and spent the night at our old family friends, the Olson’s*. I have fond memories of the Olson’s of when I was a child, but I have less-than-fond feelings towards them as an adult. They are high in their respective fields, seemingly have no memory of being in their early 20s and struggling (for our middle class versions of struggling), and sneer at the fact a good chunk of scholarships are for “People who would rather not work rather than hardworking people”. They live in a place that I feel could easily be described as a “mansion” on a lake, take long, exotic vacations at least once a year, and have enough money to complain about taxes. I smiled politely at them when I was there, swallowed anything I had to say about how “lazy poor people are”, and quietly excused myself when they started talking about “Hajis”. I also sent them a Thank-You card for letting them stay at my house and to send me an email if they hear about any job openings.

I know a good chunk of the world would say “So what? You’re starting to network, that’s how you get jobs”. A few of you might even consider it maturing. But, think about what that innocent little word means. “Network”: I am not spending time with you because I like you, or because I enjoy your company, but for what you could possible get me. “Networking” doesn’t just mean that I’m possibly taking a job from someone equally or more qualified than me just because I’m tangentially connected to them- it also means that I’m viewing someone as a means to an end. They have gone from a friend and companion to the equivalent of a line on my resume.

And I don’t know where it’ll stop. I’m slowly selling values, and that doesn’t just cause cognitive dissonance. But I start wondering where it ends. A friend talks about a temporary job her company does that they don’t really advertise and I get it. Well, that’s okay, it’s just a temporary job. I start having friends-of-friends take my resumes. I write birthday cards to people I don’t even like so they can keep me in their mind. Pretty soon I’m censoring everything I say on a blog, or stop blogging all together, because that’ll keep me from having jobs, and deciding that red isn’t professional enough. Eventually I internalize it to the point where I think “Well, of course it’s reasonable to businesses to ban tattoos and earrings”. Or “my company really needs this by tomorrow, I guess I’ll just have to be late for my husband’s birthday because, hey, I got to have a job”. Slowly, but surely, I’ll start washing over, rewriting, and forgetting any morals, not because something has come up to change my mind, but because of fear. Cowardice will overwhelm any moral code. And that has to be the most expensive thing I could think to sell.

*Name changed to protect the family. Or, if it wasn’t, do you realize how many Olson’s there are around here?

Joys of Being Broke

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

The Obama administration has broken down and agreed to extend the Bush era tax cuts for not only the poor, middle class, and rich, but also the mega-rich in exchange for extending unemployment benefits. Some jerk-ass abuses food stamps and is amazed to find what you can purchase food. It seems like the most privileged people in the world have no idea what it is actually like to be poor, and therefore feel perfectly comfortable being superior asses about it.

But, let me tell you about being broke. My last temporary job ended early in November, and no new job has been forthcoming. Hubby’s still got his job, but since he makes less than a manager at Taco Bell as a pilot, this means our budget is stretched tighter than it can sustain. My credit card is maxed out, my Sallie Mae loans are past due, and we owe the hospital about hundred bucks for a bout of tonsillitis that I’m still paying off. We’re in a pretty bad place, but I still say “broke” instead of poor because our bills are paid, I haven’t accrued interest on my credit card yet, and fuck Sallie Mae, I’m never getting those loans paid off anyway. The hospital is working with us. But, because we’d like to have enough food to last us until the end of the month, I went and did that humiliating process that me, a good chunk of my friends, and probably most poor people have done at some time in their life or another: I rounded it up what stuff which was of value in my apartment (and that Hubby and I could bare to part with) and went to the pawn shop and then a book dealer’s.

I hate pawn shops. I hate how they basically scam on people who are desperate, I hate how they look at me when I bring my stuff in, and I hate how powerless I feel when I walk in. I know the stuff I have is crap. We have never had a ton of disposable cash, so we really don’t have anything worth pawning. We have a few pieces of weaponry that are family heirlooms that we basically wouldn’t get half of what we’ve spent on them, and a few pieces of jewelery that, again, we wouldn’t get a quarter of what we spent on them (I know- the last time I went to the pawn shop, it was to pawn a gold bracelet with diamonds and sapphires in it. An ex boyfriend gave it to me- he bought it new for a thousand dollars. The pawn shop was willing to give me fifty. I ended up selling it to a Cash for Gold place and getting 60 for it). I have a computer with a monitor that isn’t mine, a second-hand printer, a tv that’s half-way to broken and a pair of cars we couldn’t get $500 for. So, what I had of value in the apartment was a DVD player, and a harp. For the pair of them, I got twenty-five bucks.

The used bookstore wasn’t any better. I had about 30 books, all in good condition, popular reads, and for the lot of them I got…24 bucks. I have no idea which books cost which, or what the rubric was: they refused to say individually what book was getting what- I had a “you get 24 for the whole lot, take it or leave it” attitude.

I took it. I liked my books, I liked my harp, I liked my DVD player. Honestly, the utility I got for those items probably outweighed the cost I spent them for. But since real life is not economics, the money was more necessary than the items. This will cover gas and groceries for the rest of the month. I find it ironic- the people who have the ability to say “no” and walk away are the ones who have the most power when it comes to these sorts of negotiations. But if you’re at the pawn shop door, clutching your instrument, you aren’t in a position to say no. You aren’t the person who goes “Fuck it, I’ll wait it out and see if I can get better on Craigslist” or decide to see if Amazon can get you anything. You’re already in a position where you need the cash. It’s like a job interview in a terrible economy- you’re trying not to look too desperate, but both you and the interviewer know which one has the power. If you want better hours, better pay, better whatever *shrugs* sucks to be you. There’s a line of a hundred other people out there that can do that job as well as you can. If you are more experienced, more learned, more whatever, and you try to get those same features, you’re “overqualified” and it’s better to ask the row of people behind you to work for less.

Being broke is a constant battle with your pride and your values, and have to have people look down at you because of it. It’s begging to get a little more for your prized possessions, and groveling for a job you know you’re going to hate. It’s constantly assessing your value, because hey, even if you don’t believe them there are five million conservatives squawking about how unemployed people are just lazy, or even worse, your family and friends talking about how unemployed people are just not looking hard enough (but I don’t mean you, of course). Being broke is being tired, because you have all this time, but no money to really do anything, and nobody to do it with.

But fuck 600 billion dollars a year- rich people need a new yacht, right? And isn’t it the greatest injustice in the world that poor people can get candy?

In Defense of ReGifting

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

I like to give gifts. And I mean real gifts- gifts that I’ve thought about, gifts that I’ve dedicated myself, gifts that give a part of myself to my friends and loved ones. Gifts they think they’ll use. I make my gifts to my friends, generally. Some friends get Christmas cookies in tins that I pick up from the thrift store. And, sometimes, I regift, or give hand-me-downs: books that I think my sisters will like that I’ve already read, a bed-set that I’ve used for my friend that is currently using a couch pillow and a comforter, sewn mittens for a friend using fabric scraps I caught on clearance, or something I found in the thrift store in the first place. And, if I am to listen to the mainstream media, by doing so I am committing a social faux pau on scale with farting at a wedding.

Now, one could make the argument that criticizing the mainstream media is picking the low-hating fruit. That’s probably true- after all, all of those ads on the side of the page for “Brand New Shiny Toy” and “Get Rich Now” aren’t there by accident. These sorts of messages are designed to make one think that worth is something you can put a price tag on and getting the bauble that “everyone” (or Every Woman, or Every Man) wants can be a substitute for the time and energy that pursing an actual relationship takes. The point of these messages can basically be boiled down to “More expensive gifts mean you care more” and it’s quieter message of “If you don’t spend a lot you don’t care that much”.

But, it isn’t just the mainstream media. My mom is paranoid about being caught regifting, I was once told by an ex-boyfriend (who came from a wealthy family) that no gift is better than a cheap gift. And seriously, what a fucked-up idea is that? If you aren’t rich, if you don’t have a ton of disposable money to go buy the shiny, you shouldn’t give a gift? You shouldn’t enjoy the feeling of making someone feel special by giving them something all done up in wrapping paper and bright ribbon? The warm feeling when their face lights up? Or, equally as terribly, if your social circle is broke, you shouldn’t enjoy getting gifts from them? Is it really so much more terrible to get a book that’s already been read as opposed to getting nothing at all?

Getting upset about regifting is a mark of class privilege that is disgusting. Now, of course, I still of the dear belief that you give gifts because you WANT to, not because you HAVE to. I am not an owed a gift, nor is anyone beholden to give me one. But, if the gift is used, but it is still clear that it’s giving was after thought about what YOU would want and need, is that really worse than giving you a shiny that you have no use for? I say “no”. It is the thought that counts, and it is clear if thought has been given.

I know that gifts are not always given out of love. There’s social obligation, there’s expectation, there’s giving to brag. And it’s really sad, because at the end, that’s what makes the holiday season stressful and annoying, as opposed to a time of warmth and joy.

Ooh The Hypocrisy, It Burns!

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Jon strikes again. :D (via)

(Jon does also take on ACORN, pretty hilariously, here.)

We’re Those Stupid Kids

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Hubby and I are BROKE. Very broke. We’re trying to pawn stuff to make rent broke.

How’d we get into this deplorable situation? By being a pair of those stupid kids that got sucked into debt.

Hubby and I have, about, 200,000 dollars worth of debt. About 6,000 dollars of that debt is credit card debt, the rest is student loans. See, back in the day, Hubby turned 18 and went of to school to be a pilot. The very first day, they offered him a free t-shirt and some other things just to fill-out his information. Hubby went “what the hell. They can’t possibly approve me, I have no credit”. A little while later, a credit card with a 7,000 dollar limit came in the mail for him, and a 22% interest rate. Hubby went “Holy fuck. Well, it’d be nice to have an emergency stack of money on hand; I’ll just keep it at home, just in case. And, I heard having a credit card helps build your credit score.”

A few years later, he’s trying to finish a spring course, in an attempt to keep up with his aviation classes. Finishing classes is hard- taking aviation classes literally depends on the weather. It’s harder when you’re also trying to work one or two jobs so that you don’t have to take out extra loans for living expenses. And, if you don’t finish the flight course in a certain amount of time, you have to retake it (which is more time and money). So, he signs up for a few summer classes, and applies for summer loans…which are late. He goes to the horrible green trolls* at the loan department at our alma marter and asks what he can do. The only person who has the authority to give him an extension on his tuition is out for the summer. He asks what he can do. They say “I’m sure you’re loans will be in in plenty of time, after all, you used a reliable bank”. Another week or so passes; loans are still not in (this was actually a refrain for most of my friends and I for college; no matter how early we applied, they were still ALWAYS late. By my last year, I just had the forms for tuition extension filled out at the beginning of the year- it was just another thing to do). In the meantime, he needs money to continue flying and so, he makes the decision to use the emergency credit card to pay for the flight fees, with the idea that he’d pay the credit card off the second he gets his loans.

The last day to pay tuition lapses, and he still doesn’t have his loans in, so they drop him from his classes. He goes to the HGTs to see what he can do. A HGT goes and finds his loan approval sheet, and there are the loans. Hubby goes “Great, can you sign me up for classes again and give me the loans?” HGT goes “You can’t get loans unless you’re registered for classes.” Hubby goes, “Well, put me back in the class and I’ll be registered for it”. HGT says “I can’t register you for classes until you pay your tuition”. After going over this Catch-22 exchange a few times, up three different levels of authority, Hubby leaves in a fit of frustrated passion.

5 years later, we’re still trying to pay down that credit card. Hubby has never missed a payment, but Hubby has also never been able to pay off more than the minimum amount, either. We were doing okay (if still accruing debt), until I left school and we moved down. Now, I have loans to pay off too, and 2 months of unemployment combined with a job that doesn’t pay nearly enough to make ends meet means things are getting tight. Some days, I almost wonder if going to college wasn’t a shell game- if I would have just been better off not going at all. But, too little, too late. Some days it gets bad- Hubby will go off in rages because he doesn’t know how to fix this. Occasionally, I break down and cry a little; over the money that we don’t have and need, and over my lack of ability to help anyone else because I can barely help myself and my tiny family. Most of the time the analogies of debt is a mountain that you slowly chip away at, but to me it always seemed like a looming black hole that I’m throwing money into- maybe the bottom of the hole is actually getting closer, but it’s still so deep that I can’t see the bottom to check. It doesn’t help my depression, that’s for sure; more than once I’ve looked into the law to see what would happen to my debt if I were dead.** Compounded by this is we were both raised in the “don’t every go into debt” style of money management; which may have been possible for our parents (though, since both sets have had mortgages and car payments, I rather doubt), but were not anywhere possible for us.

I’m very glad the credit card bill was passed, even over the objections of people who think we should spend the rest of our life in debt, and that usury is just the free market. People occasionally wonder why I take politics so personally, and the answer is because it is personal. When you tell me that 28% is a reasonable amount of money to charge, and that’s it’s tyranny to have the government control it, you’re telling me that because we made a mistake, we deserve to be in debt forever. That’s personal. When you tell me that women just aren’t as good as men, in all the myriad of ways that people say that, that’s personal. When you say that good health and life is a reward for the rich and not a right of a person living in a modern society, that’s personal. This isn’t some amorphous group of “other” out there, this is me, my friend, my family, my life. And I can’t think of anything else that is more personal than that.

We’ve made our mistakes early, hopefully we can live to see a debt-less existence. (Assuming, of course, that neither of us has a catastrophic health care problem). And we’ve got some things to our advantage- we’re young, we’re educated, we’ve middle class markers (accents, social norms, dress, et cetera), we’re white, and we’re considered “able-bodied”. Right now, we both have jobs (thought that can always change). We’ve got a leg up on a lot of people.

But it’s still hard to not feel a little desperate, from time to time.

*may be a slight exaggeration. They were more moss than true green.
**Based on what I can tell, nothing. The loans are my own; no one co-signed with me. Hubby and I have kept all of our finances legally separate; we don’t even have each other’s names on our bank accounts. They’d go after my “estate” but I don’t have an estate. They can have my 5 dollars in the bank, and my two coming paychecks. Again, this really isn’t great on the “It’s better to stay alive” ledger of the “kill yourself/ don’t kill yourself” scale.

A Job is Not a Gift

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

I am moving to a new city at the end of the month, seeing as I hate where I live and also because I’ve decided to flee the world of academia for a little while (possibly forever). Hubby and I already have a new apartment, which is nice and close to where he works. But, new city means I have to do the unthinkable; get a new job.

I always hate getting a new job; mostly because I have to beg to get a job that I know is going to make me miserable. It always seemed wrong to me; I have to do all the work of constructing an advertisement for myself so I can submit to giving up the bulk of my waking hours doing menial shit that I’m never going to see the point of. But, unless this lottery ticket pays of, and since I’m awful fond of being able to pay for the rent on this new place and eating (and paying off the jackals at student loans) I’m searching for someone who wants my skills.

Probably the worst thing about job searching is the advice that I should take the first job someone is willing to give me. I am sick to death of people saying a company “gives” you a job. I am also sick to death of pundits saying that tax cuts means that more “investors” will “give” people a job. I’m also sick to death of companies seeming to think that employing people is a barrier to their wealth and growth, and talking about it as if employing people was some sort of altruistic action.

It isn’t. This goes double for the government. When they’re debating this “stimulus” package, they need to know that this is them investing in the health and growth of our own country.

Employees are where owners get their money. I realize that this sounds counter-intuitive to some, and completely “duh” to others. But without employees, businesses don’t DO anything, don’t produce anything, and surely don’t make money.

Take, for instance, the airline industry. Airline travel has decreased 7 percent, or so it is projected. Now, a bunch of different airlines have laid of employees, and shut down whole wings of airports. What is the result of this? Well, first and foremost, it means that their quarterly stock price goes up 2 percent*. In the mean time, it means a few different things. First and foremost, getting a plane down, unloaded, and off-again (called “turn arounds”) are much, much longer. This means that customers have a greater level of irritation with the flight (because no one likes waiting in a plane). But, I suppose, more importantly for the businesses, this means that they are losing money by the boatloads. Take 350 lbs of jet fuel/ hr, per side for an engine at idle on a CRJ-200, one of the most common commuter jets. Axillary power unit unit, extra 150 lbs fuel/ hour. Then there is battery power, or an external power source.

To sum; you have four different places you can get power for a plane; the engines, the APU, a battery, or the external power source. If you have people on the plane, you want some source of power, (you need lights on). Ideally, if you’re on the ground, you want to be connected to an external power source as opposed to burning fuel of any kind. But, in order to get connected to the external power source, you need a ground crew to maneuver you into position, and to hook you up. If you have very few ground crew people, each plane’s going to be going off the APU or an engine longer. A rampie costs $12/hr (if they have some seniority time; I believe they have been advertising a starting wage of $9/hr). Jet fuel costs 4 dollars a MINUTE (240 dollars per hour- this is a Hubby and Captain calculation, and they should know). A time savings of 3 minutes pays for the rampie’s wage for that whole hour. This is just one example in one industry of how less people means less money.

Additionally, having less employees also means that traveling is going to be more uncomfortable, with longer lay-over times (because of fewer flights) and more crowded planes. In the long term, this is going to mean that less and less people will be inclined to fly commercially if they have other options (like businesses deciding it’s in their best interest to get private jets) and other people foregoing the vacations entirely. So, to me, it looks as if they’re trying to fix a cut by cutting off their whole leg. If you cut off your employees, you’re cutting off the people who make your whole company run.

That’s why I say we should change the entire look of jobs; these aren’t gifts, and you shouldn’t be grateful for your company for hiring you. If I’m grateful to a company, it’s what they gave to me that they didn’t need to (additional training above the job I was hired for, flex-time, and actual interest in my well-being, bennies that weren’t there in lieu of a pay-check raise), not the stuff I contracted to do for them.

*Can anybody explain to me where these prices come from? Seriously, I’m nearly convinced that these numbers are voodoo and magic but I never went beyond microeconomics in class, and people frequently say the same things about other “soft” sciences, which I know isn’t true because I learned about them.

The Passion of Ayn Rand

Monday, April 27th, 2009

That is the title of her biography, written by one of her ex-adherents who also happened to be the wife of a man Ayn had a long-term affair with–given all that, one would expect the tone of the book to be rather more unsympathetic than otherwise. However, that’s not really the case. I read it over a decade ago for a college class–the one and only women studies course I ever took required us to choose and write an in-depth paper about an influential woman of the first half of the twentieth century. I chose Ayn Rand, for three reasons: first, because she fit the criteria as presented; second, because I have a rebellious streak and knew full well that we were expected to choose a feminist, regardless of what the criteria explicitly stated; and third, because I was genuinely interested in the woman behind Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

(more…)

Don’t put away your #amazonfail tags just yet

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Amazon wowed and amazed us this week with their stunning ability to shoot themselves right in the feet, and while I haven’t seen what the formal resolution to that problem was yet, the general consensus was that they seemed to be trying to do something only moderately shady and fucked up hardcore. On Sunday the interwebs were furious, and by Tuesday they were begging Amazon to just fix the problem and give us a plausible mea culpa so that we could go back to loving them once again.

Unfortunately, they didn’t love us enough to give us even a plausible lie, and now people like my roommate, who care not for GLTB literature but do care about getting fucked on the internet, are seeking out – and finding – new reasons to never trust any Internet business that isn’t NewEgg.com.

A careful review of your account indicates that you have required refunds on a large majority of your orders for a variety of reasons.

In the normal course of business, the occasional problem is inevitable. The rate at which such problems have occurred on your account is extraordinary, however, and cannot continue. Effective immediately, your Amazon.com account is closed and you are no longer able to shop in our store.

There are so many things wrong with this, I feel sure there must be an error:

…3) I am now unable to access archived copies of the Kindle books I’ve purchased legally, and have no other way to legally purchase DRM’ed books on the device.

4) I also have no access to videos I have purchased from Amazon.

5) Since I can’t contact customer service, I cannot get any warranty service for my current Kindle, and the email explicitly states I can’t return anything (not that I’d want to!)

I’ve never had to return anything to Amazon, because I rarely return books and so far I’ve had good luck with non-book purchases, but this would make me pause before purchasing more from them. Returning too many products makes your Kindle not work? That seems a tad harsh. After all, not all Amazon retailers are selling top-quality merchandise (it’s easy to buy crappy electronics when searching for the best deals) and Kindles are not cheap. At any rate, heavy Amazon users might be well advised to look carefully at the terms of service before deciding to stick with what they know. I know I don’t often return things, but I’ve also stopped shopping at box stores if I heard too many scare stories about excessive banning of so-called expensive customers, and I don’t see myself making an exception for the internet stores.

This Christmas, why not give the gift of cultural imperialism?

Monday, December 29th, 2008

This was at Whole Foods.

Quoth someone who works there and shall remain nameless: “What the fuck? They put those out? I hid them in the back of the store room. I should have just thrown them away.”

What the Bloody Fuck is Wrong With Burger King?

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

I haven’t eaten at Burger King ever since their “Man Food” commercials, (which wasn’t exactly a huge imposition since I didn’t think their food was that great in the first place); but if I ate there, this would be enough for me to kill it again.

Their newest ad campaign apparently decided that sexism wasn’t selling, so they went for the racism angle. The premise of it is this: they go to “remote” third-world villages, and give the people there a Burger King Whopper or a McDonald’s for the world’s “purest taste test”.

Burger King

(My own Transcript after the Fold)
(more…)

I’m Broke, Not Poor

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Somebody decided to post on, what I thought was, a dead thread. It is talking about some of the problems a poor person has to deal with that middle class people just don’t have to deal with, and the moralizing that goes on when poor people get “frivolities”: little things to make their life happier.* The moralizing inevitably had to do with how lazy poor people were and how they just couldn’t manage their money, and why should me, the epitome of pulling myself up by my bootstraps, have to fund their laziness and irresponsibility?

On some level, it’s easy to see where privileged people get this idea. In some ways, it does seem like you’re doing things on your own steam, when you’re in college and your just making ends meet. I work just under the 20 hours a week (Bar rules, no more than 20 a week while in law school) plus law school itself which is a hefty time suck. Hubby works a lot, and is barely home, but is generally not flying when he’s not home, so it means he doesn’t get his full pay-per-hour. We get paid crap: after working for 4 years in the same technician job I make a little over 8 dollars an hour, and after 200,000 dollars of student debt and an aviation degree, he makes a little over 12 dollars an hour. We fall under the poverty line, and we can’t purchase near what we want. He gets packed lunches, and 90 percent of our stuff is donated, dumpster-dived, or purchased second-hand.

But we aren’t poor. No one’s going to complain to me that I don’t deserve to go and eat out, or see a movie ever now and again. (In fact, the only time I get called “irresponsible” is when I donate to charity, funny that). My cat was a welcomed addition to our house, because she makes us calmer. My iPod was stolen out of my car, as was my contracts book. I waited until Black Friday, and purchased the slightly cheaper one: but I still got an iPod. No one said it was a waste of money (particularly considering I refuse to work-out without one, and I’m not immune from “concern” from my friends about my weight). I have enough to get a replacement Contracts book: I’m not going to fail (although the loss of my notes is a hard one). I got sick, and went to the doctor to see why: no charge (insurance through the Hubby’s work). The reason I’m “broke” and not “poor” is because unforeseen expenses don’t cause any life-shifting change.

And this is not because I’m particularly hard-working, nor is it because I’m particularly good with money. I leave my credit card at 500 dollars maximum because I can’t keep track of how much money I spend. I don’t think I’ve paid rent on time once. I have direct deposit on all of my bills that I can so I don’t have to worry about going into arrears. If I were poor, I would be fucked.

(more…)

Spiritual journeys are marked by suffering. Other people’s, primarily.

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

This morning, they had Michael Lewis on, talking about the long-term effects of Wall Street, as it continues to gently slide into the sewer (or into, uh, some deeper sewer). He mentioned, amongst other things, that the utterly-ridiculous salaries and bonuses that once characterized Wall Street are probably at an end. He also thinks that the ridiculousness of Wall Street bled into ridiculousness in upper management everywhere, leading to CEOs regularly drawing paychecks and bonuses in the range of tens of million dollars—so that’s probably going to crash pretty hard, too. This is, I think, a little naïve, but he’s the economist. If he’s right, I will regard it as “nice.” It’s impossible to muster too much excitement, though—I expect we will still be living in a world where CEOs draw seven-figure compensation at a minimum, whilst their line workers draw minimum wage, and their slaves draw, perhaps, barely enough to minimally survive (unless the harsh realities of the market force their wages down, of course).

And then there’s this,

A few months ago, Lewis visited Princeton University, his alma mater, “to find out what the kids who were going to be investment bankers were now going to do with their lives.” He says he was “so frustrated with how unimaginative young people had become in choosing their path in life that I thought that someone should establish a kind of ‘Scared Straight’ program for Ivy League students.” He’d require them to spend a week with a hedge fund manager in Greenwich, Conn., “just to see how miserable” they’d be after 20 years.

The plunging market has changed many of their plans, Lewis says. “The kids … who thought they were going to be financiers are having to rethink the premise, and that’s a very good thing.” ‘Liar’s Poker’ Author Sees Upside To Market Crash, NPR

So, one of the keen benefits of a global market crash—you know, the thing that’s leaving some people struggling, and lots of people dead—is that extremely privileged white people will really have the opportunity to find themselves.