Privilege & Responsibility

What ethical responsibility do we have to consider problems that are not our own?

Bill - Airport

I love this story so much I’ve told it a thousand times 😀 but I was sitting at a bar in a restaurant in midtown Manhattan, NYC, USA, with my excellent homegirl, sipping drinks that cost a gazillion dollars, and explaining to her something about how I was trying to understand how it feels to be an assembly line worker whose only skill as far as earning potential was putting a door on a car.

Obviously I wasn’t trying at that very second! 😀 but I meant that mentally, philosophically, emotionally, I was attempting to access the same set of feelings I might have had in a circumstance like that.

I originally started thinking about this mainly from seeing the documentary Roger & Me:

Cascade of Destruction

As soon as I saw this film… Well probably 1/3 of the way through watching it, I said to myself something to the effect of “A whole lot of American workers are screwed. :(“

This is because I immediately saw a bad situation.

If you have a job instead of a career and that company is moved to China, Mexico, or anywhere else that you don’t intend to move yourself and your family even if that were an option they gave you, you have a major problem.

Actually, several.

Your earning potential goes from $26/hour to zero.

Everybody else who was doing what you do had the same thing happen to them.

All’a youse are going to be trying to get the same local jobs that are available.

If you can’t get an available local job, you have to move somewhere that has work.

Except the only work you can get paid $26/hour for is being rapidly & consistently globalized out of the USA.

This means you probably have to take a job for $13/hour and hope that still pays all the bills for your family, because if not, your wife has to get a job.

If your wife has to get a job, you need to pay for childcare if you don’t live with extended family.

If your wife can get a job at all with the thousands of people just like you who had their work exported out of your locality, it probably won’t be one of those $13/hour jobs you got, so now your family’s paying money for childcare and bringing in less money than when you weren’t.

You get the picture. It’s a disaster.

The restaurants that served lunch to the factory workers go out of business.

The people who used to work at AND OWN those businesses are now looking for the same $13/hour jobs you are.

The people who cleaned the workers’ clothes go out of business.

If people move away to look for work, the people who took care of their kids lose customers.

By the way, I’m being generous by saying $13/hour. As recently as July 10, 2017, the federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour. thebalance.com/2017-federal-state-minimum-wage-rates-2061043

So if you can get a job at all in a deindustrialized town and that job pays minimum wage and you’re working 8 hour days, that’s $58/day = $290/week = $1,160/month = $13,920/year when according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the poverty level is $12,060/year for a single person.

So (A) you had better be single, and (B) you had better not have any kids.

Obviously this became a major problem for people who not only had spouses and kids, but MORTGAGES that were all being sustained properly at $26/hour and are impossible to sustain at $7.25/hour, assuming you can get a job at all.

Who?

So I’m explaining to my homegirl that I’m trying to empathize with and feel like one of “the people”, and she’s giving me this look that basically means she feels like I’ve gone off the rails, but she’s containing her laughter so I keep going until she can’t stand it anymore.

I finish my explanation, and after a pause, she asks “So… How many of these ‘the people’ do you actually hang out with?”

I’m like “none, but” and she falls out laughing at me while I sip my over-expensive drink waiting for her to finish rolling.

I love that story because that’s how my life goes. I consider things that other people don’t think about or care about. Not because they’ll ever happen to me, but because it’s good, and I think important, to consider such a doomsday scenario so that if it ever DID happen, you could act swiftly and get your life back on track ASAP, giving you the chance to get through that entrance before the door shuts on everyone who acted more slowly than you did.

Because of this, I have to suffer slings and arrows, and that’s ok. 😀

I enjoy providing entertainment and raucous laugher opportunities for my excellent friends.

I also enjoy telling things to intelligent people and having them give me their opinion on what I said or ignore me completely.

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

If I tell someone something and they don’t care about it, that’s valuable information for me because that’s one of the ways I test my logic.

In this particular situation, I was wondering how people allowed this to happen to them, because it had to be something they weren’t paying attention to, so in figuring it out, I could potentially see things I wasn’t seeing about my own life.

At this point, because of online interactions with friends over the years, I’m sure I know assembly line workers.

Are any of them from Manhattan? No, because we don’t have factories like that.

So even though, no, I don’t spend physical time with “the people”, I think it’s important to consider the potential trajectory of your job or career and plan for the worst while hoping for the best.

Moats

As an adult, I’ve never had a job. I’ve always had careers.

I was a computer programmer and then a video editor and then a music mixer (meaning making records, not DJ’ing haha).

You can’t pop up out of nowhere and do what I do.

In business, that’s called a moat. Like the water with the crocodiles in it around the castle. Moat.

If you can do what I do, there’s no reason for anybody to hire me for more money than you’re asking for.

I have to be faster than you, better than you, more available than you, better at dealing with clients than you, SOMETHING, or else I’m part of the rank & file.

Another advantage I have is that my skills are in demand by several clients, not just one.

There’s no such thing as someone exporting my job to Mexico or China.

Of course there are Mexican and Chinese video editors. 😀 What I’m saying is that I get hired for the particular and unique experience of working with ME, not working with any random person.

Moat.

Another advantage I have is that I work over the internet, so I don’t have to physically be in a location to get paid there.

Actually, I just reminded myself of an element I left out from the Flint, Michigan doomsday scenario.

Let’s say you find work in another town, another city, another state.

That doesn’t mean you’ll be able to sell your house and get out from under those mortgage payments.

So now you’re making less money (or hopefully MORE money) and you’re paying for the place where you live near where you work, AND you’re paying for your place that nobody lives in (or maybe your wife & kids are still there if she has a local job) near your closed factory.

So I work over the net. IDGAF where the business is. I don’t have to be there to do it. I could be on a beach somewhere, in a foreign country, or in a trailer park with Ethernet (is that a thing? o_O) and it’s all the same to me and it’s all the same to my clients.

My doing business has nothing to do with the economic viability of my current location.

I’m not bringing this stuff up to brag. I’m explaining why I was considering the plight of auto workers when I was never and will never be an auto worker.

This is a ******* DISASTER, and a lot of people’s lives have been ruined by greed and globalization.

Loans vs. Purchases

None of this destruction is my fault or responsibility. I have nothing to do with it.

Still, I feel a personal obligation to consider it and crunch the numbers of a problem that is not my own.

If a client of mine hires someone else, I work for a different client.

As a freelancer, I was *already* working for a different client.

The only question is which company my work hours are being billed to.

For some reason, I enjoy (if you can consider wallowing in other people’s depression “enjoyment”) time considering potential solutions for people who aren’t as privileged as I am.

It’s a win-win. If I figure it out, I get to help someone if they listen to what I have to say. If I don’t figure it out, it doesn’t make any difference because it isn’t my problem. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It’s obvious to me from merely Googling around that nobody owns a house until it’s paid off.

If you’re renting a house or apartment near a factory for $3,000/month and your job evaporates, you move to another apartment that’s near a different factory where you’ve already secured work.

If you “bought” a house or apartment near a factory where the mortgage is $3,000/month and your job evaporates, you’re screwed.

I’m not blaming predatory lending or subprime loans or any of that other sneaky underhanded stuff that these creeps did to Americans on the people it happened to.

I’m saying that it’s simple mathematics that if you pay $30,000 for a house that costs $300,000, all you’ve really done is put yourself on the hook for paying $270,000 plus interest.

We won’t even get into what that does to your credit rating if you default.

The recommendation is that you have 6 months’ worth of your baseline fixed expenses saved in case of an emergency.

As of January 12, 2007, 60% of Americans don’t have $500 right now. money.cnn.com/2017/01/12/pf/americans-lack-of-savings/index.html

”Only 41% of adults reported having enough in their savings account to cover a surprise bill of this magnitude. A little more than 20% said they would put it on a credit card, the report said, while 20% would cut their spending and 11% would turn to friends and family for financial assistance.”

If you recognize this scenario in your personal life, you should ***NOT*** “buy” a house because you can’t afford it.

In fact, you shouldn’t even be living by yourself if your situation is so dire that you could be evicted any minute.

Let Them Eat Cake?

Simultaneously, yet less importantly, there’s a lot of media nonsense going on these days that people are losing their minds over for no good reason.

Again.. If I can imperviously dive into other people’s mental states and offer people who can’t mentally or emotionally afford to do that my opinion of why they shouldn’t be as concerned as they are, I’m going to do that.

I’m aware that some of my readers would rather I always talk about fun, music, girls, privilege, Manhattan, overpriced drinks… That’s all well & good for fun and entertainment, but what about people who are mentally struggling with situations because they can’t or won’t figure them out for themselves? o_O

I enjoy (see my earlier definition of “enjoy”) considering certain people’s concepts because I can tell that if I felt the way they did, achieving what they want to achieve is impossible because I’ve crunched all the numbers.

For example, people will watch news content claiming that a group is gathering an organized front and become concerned about it and start making real life decisions based on propaganda.

Meanwhile, I happen to know that that front is ***NOT*** organized for myriad reasons, not the least of which is that they’re divided along the lines of religion, procreation, and even who it is that qualifies to be a member of their group.

If I can offer people a way to stop thinking about this nonsense and get back to being productive in their lives, I will.

It doesn’t mean I’m interested or care about the group I’m discussing. It means that OTHER PEOPLE are concerned about it and I’m offering them food for thought.

Does what happens to auto workers affect me directly? Nope.

That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t allocate any time to trying to help them solve problems they have.

That doesn’t mean any of them read my blog and receive the information I have for them.

But what if you never tried? o_O

What if you could have figured out a solution but you didn’t donate any of your time to considering what’s making someone else’s life miserable?

Even if that solution is “rent, don’t buy, so you can be mobile”.

Even if that solution is “allocate a lot of your free time to self-improvement so you can get a new or better job if the opportunity arises”.

Even if that solution is “don’t have kids until you can afford them”.

Even if that solution is “don’t buy a house until you have the downpayment PLUS six months’ worth of mortgage payments”.

Even if that solution is “don’t rent a $3,000 apartment when you have $90,000 in school loans plus interest to pay off AND a car note you shouldn’t have had to begin with”.

Anything you can offer might help someone not step in the trap.

The more people who don’t get trapped, the faster our civilization evolves instead of devolving.

A rising tide lifts all boats.

Besides all this altruistic stuff, you might figure out a way YOU can get paid for bringing your solution to the public, and then you can sip over-expensive drinks in a Manhattan restaurant bar talking about how you actually HELPED “the people” instead of getting laughed at for thinking about them.

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