self awareness

“Rich people exploit, poor people are exploited”

Howpeoplegetrich

Honestly, I hate this graphic. Not based on its artistic merit, but because of what the repercussions mean for those that buy into the message.

If one agrees with the graphic, one must necessarily agree with the following, more than likely, unconsciously:

  1. Being wealthy is either immoral, or purely the product of luck.
  2. Since wealth is obtained by either of these means, we’re completely justified in expropriating said wealth, and distributing in a way we prefer – either as punishment for immoral wrongdoing, or to adjust for fate.
  3. I wasn’t born to wealthy parents, therefore the only avenue available for me to enrich myself is by immoral means, which I’m not going to do.
  4. My actions are immaterial since I’ll never be wealthy anyway. I am exploited and acted upon by outside forces which deny me my fair share.
  5. People who have achieved, earned, received more, were fortunate, and anyone could be fortunate. Those with more don’t deserve what they have.

These ideas are poisonous. 

In a free market, the forces of supply and demand are well understood, though seldom reflected upon when talking about the labor of people. Perhaps, because we can easily get emotional about a public school teacher making $35k a year, while raising two kids on her own, but it’s harder to feel that way about the price point of a blender.

Nearly half of the millionaires in this country are business owners, and they have risked mightily to start and sustain their businesses, while employing the majority of people in the US. Eighty percent of Americans with a net worth of north of one million dollars are first generation affluent. From The Millionaire Next Door:

“As a group, we are fairly well educated. Only about one in five are not college graduates. Many of us hold advanced degrees. Eighteen percent have master’s degrees, 8 percent law degrees, 6 percent medical degrees, and 6 percent Ph.D.s”

Hard work, doesn’t count for much, because hard work is in abundant supply. You don’t get a cookie for breaking your butt stocking the shelves at CostCo. Working at CostCo is what you get for playing it safe. For failing to procure an education for yourself that has value. For failing to see the world in such a light that you can provide a greater value than the next person. And CostCo pays little, because there are millions of people capable of doing that job with no training.

It’s also the same reason Lebron James NBA salary this year tops $30 million. There’s only one of him, and there’s more than 4 million people in retail, earning an average of $25k per year.

That sucks. I’m sorry. I know. I worked a ton of odd jobs in early adulthood, and a ton of manual labor. I get it. But believing the lie in the graphic above isn’t going to help you. It’s not going to add a dollar to your pocket, but it will keep more dollars from finding you.

Every moment you tell yourself one of the things listed above, is a moment you’re not telling yourself that you can have whatever you want, as long as you want it bad enough. Losers play the wall. They shy from engaging in actions that can meaningfully improve their financial situation. Playing it safe, and making $40k a year is fine, as long as that’s what you want. But if you want more?

Scarcity value, is where the real money’s at. If you have, and develop, a set of skills that will make your work more valuable, because your work is more rare, congrats – you’re going to be wealthy.  If you think a college degree alone is the ticket, you’re in for a real jolt.

Becoming a: welding apprentice, plumber, window setter, or contractor, are all easy (ha!) ways to become a millionaire in a few decades. But as the Wizard of Menlo Park said:

Opportunity.jpg

Eric Thomas does a great job of communicating a better mindset in this video from 2012. He makes the point in the first minute of this video, so don’t be scared away by the running time. You’re going to love it.

“Some of you want sleep more than you want success.” And that’s the truth. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But don’t be hypocritical about it.

I could stand to lose 25-30 pounds. Having a shorter, endomorphic body type, of hearty German and Irish ancestry, with a deep rooted love of potatoes and pizza, keeping weight off for me is a real chore. Meanwhile, my friend can eat  whatever he likes and can’t gain a pound.

That monster. I should shove his thin-privilege in his face like so much delicious hickory smoked bacon… mmmmm, bacon….but I digress.

I could bitch and moan about how it’s not fair that he doesn’t have to work hard to be thin. I could dwell on how I wish the government would take away choices from me, so there was a greater chance I wouldn’t purchase sugary drinks. I can put my place in the world on everyone and everything else, but that doesn’t drop a single pound off this frame. That doesn’t change my situation in any way.

Likewise, people preaching “Rich people are lucky or immoral” are the leper’s bell. They’re not focused on success, they’re making excuses for their failure, before they’ve even failed. All the while, it takes the typical millionaire 32 years to get there.

If you don’t want to be a millionaire, fine. But stop lying to yourself about why you are where you are, and why the guy who’s taking four cruises a year is where he is. You could get there, in your own fashion, but it’s easier to upvote the distraction – the gewgaw that tells you you’re a good person, and those with more are bad or merely just lucky.

Try instead, to tell yourself these five things:

  1. I can likely have whatever I want, as long as I’m willing to be proactive in my pursuit of it.
  2. I understand success, of the uncommon variety, requires substantial risk, sacrifice, and deferred gratification.
  3. My future success means more to me than my immediate comfort and hobbies.
  4. I can set myself apart, and increase my earning power by learning new skills, and marketing myself.
  5. My path is my path, and focusing on those more or less successful has no impact on my path, it only distracts.

Or, agree with the graphic at the top. Let the siren song of abandoned responsibility wash over you and take you lovingly into the rocks of being poor and bitter.

Ultimately, it doesn’t alter my path. I offer this merely as a warning to those that I care about that could be lulled into the rocks of a terrible outlook on life – one that sacrifices their initiative at an altar of blame.

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It’s all a Dream?

You know how they say in your final moments your whole life flashes before your eyes? It appears then, that I’m presently dying.

The only question is if it’s the slow, inexorable march towards entropy, or like, my severed head is replaying everything that’s ever happened to me? Where is my mind? If it’s the slow train to dirt-nap city, would that be enough to cause all of this sensory feedback?

Is it all a dream? 

But seriously, I feel unstuck in time, like Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse Five; existing everywhere, and when, at once. I can feel the cushioning of my untied Nike Cortez ’72’s from 2001, and the spring of the concrete pads of the stairs in my apartment breezeway, and how they sang as I bounced down them on my walk to the office, where I worked.

vonnegut-1

Kurt Vonnegut wrote a book called “Breakfast of Champions” which is why this is ridiculous and great.

The way my hands looked on my balcony in ’99 when I stared at them trying to see what they looked like, via the memory of my 84-year-old self. The grips on my bike in fifth grade, tooling around the apartment community where I lived in Sarasota.

The feel of running behind my Tonka truck at age 4, and the subsequent rug burn that came with sliding on my knees behind it. The smell of the latrine at camp in ’91 and how I never wanted to be within 100 yards of it. 1995, the newspaper ink on the tread of my right hand, crossword puzzle being blackened like Prince William Sound.

I recently had the overwhelming compulsion to purchase this guy, for some inexplicable reason. It was my most prized possession when I was 7 years old. Thanks to Ebay, and $11.25 via Paypal, it was mine again.

img_2352

People have pointed out the resemblance. Penny for scale.

They were a series of toys called M.U.S.C.L.E. MEN, that came in little opaque trash cans and featured, hard rubber wrestlers, mutants, and stuff. The whole series ran about 140 of them and this guy was the rarest – likely on the account that he was the announcer and who the hell wanted the announcer?  Seven year olds, apparently, were not without a sense of scarcity-value.

But why did I think of it now? A sense of my own mortality in the face of the sea of dead celebrities? It certainly wasn’t to buy back my youth, I can tell you that. Cause they don’t sell that on Ebay – not that I looked.

I don’t know. Am I dreaming? Am I having a Jacob’s Ladder situation where I’ve actually been shivved for my little guy here, and in my last moments I’m imagining all of this? If so, bravo 7-year-old-Rob. You have quite the imagination.

Maybe it’s the holidays? The end of every year finds me with an insatiable hankering for creative expression, it seems. This year, I’m thinking of a retrospective through all of letters from friends from high school. I still have hundreds of them, in date order from everyone I corresponded with. I don’t know of anyone else that still has that stuff, but I think it could make for a cool project. Maybe I’m just a solipsistic pile of shit?

Maybe I need the project to distract me from the fact that I’m already dead? or “already dead”, in the respect that I’m aware that I’m a finite creature that is aware that we only have so much time left in this crazy world?

They don’t understand. What’s the master plan? …Yes my man, I’m true to that.

It could be the hallmark of the first introspection I’ve allowed myself to have in a while. I haven’t wanted anything in sometime. Not really, anyway. Not outside the superficial wants I think we perpetuate just to continue to feel human. Perhaps I bought that Kinnikuman figure because I should want it? Right?

I think when we want stuff, like really want it, we’re blinded to everything else around us until we get it. And then, when we get it? What then? You think Leo is made whole at the end of Gangs of NY? I don’t. I think Bill realizes the futility as well, which is why he declines to put another hole in him; which is why he holds his hand as he fades to black. It’s all over with.

Am I all over with? Hardly, unless I really am laying somewhere with my head in a gutter. If your head gets severed, they don’t tend to do open-casket, do they? Even with aid of a turtleneck?

extinction

Maybe time is a flat circle, heh, Rust Cohle? Maybe the detailed rememberings of simple and uneventful things is something everyone experiences from time to time? Maybe it doesn’t mean anything at all.

What I am sure of is that I’m definitely dying, as are you. I just don’t know if I’m doing my best impression of Usain Bolt, or Stephen Hawking as I beg Lachesis for a hefty pull.