Sunday, August 15, 2010

Log #6

It's been awhile since I've given an entry on my journey through unemployment and it feels like a good time to add a new note. It's been almost 10 months. I've cut my monthly spending to around $150 and even that has become a squeeze. I've sold a lot of extraneous things and have a few more to go. I'm still trying to wrap my head around this system of ours. What I've come to is this:

There is always room for entrepreneurs. If you want to get a PhD in English, chances are, the only practical function you have is to teach other people how to get a PhD in English. If you love science and pursue it to the utmost, it seems as though you will end up in a university. If you want to be a musician, painter, sculptor, writer, poet, performance artist, etc., it seems you will probably be a server in a restaurant or a barista or work in an art supply store, a music store, a record store, etc. Essentially, you will work for someone else, who had the foresight to become an entrepreneur. Frequently, becoming an entrepreneur means inserting yourself as a middle man, raising the price of items and reselling them. You see this very clearly in drug dealers, but it seems to be the same model for every shape and size of retail store and almost every online business from on down. On the street, the only businesses that are really adding value or putting creative energy into what they sell is the expansive myriad of restaurants that populate streets and strip malls. Running a business does not really require an "education". "Education" is the debt that business owners use to keep college-graduate employees from leaving jobs they don't like. Got to pay off those loans! The business-owner, entrepreneur system allows many hands to get paid for a single commodity and allows for many jobs so that there aren't as many unemployed people as there should be. Much progress is stopped because if the technology that has been created was allowed to make our lives easier, then there would not be nearly as many jobs. There are plenty of homes in America to house everyone, but more keep being made because contractors need to keep busy. There is more than enough food, but that has very little to do with the food industry. Right now, there are a lot of people that are committed to making the lives of others more enjoyable, more fun, more connected with their world, more connected with each other, and more meaningful, but unless it is marketed toward the wealthy, it can be very difficult to sustain. Additionally, an attitude of catering to the rich is still working within the system without yet working toward reform.

Where this touches me is trying to understand how to move forward. Is it best to be complicit in the system until... something else? I am very wary of the popular retirement-mentality in our country - "I'm just doing what I have to do, saving up until I retire and can do what I WANT to do". I've worked jobs that were ultimately harmful - Subway-esque sandwich shops, restaurants that didn't make any food that was particularly healthful, a bullshit online retail job (which, incidentally paid me more than any other job and required much less). So I've helped deteriorate people's health, I've helped create waste, and on and on just to live a lifestyle that has more security than I now experience. Maybe I'm justifying my selfishness, but I don't want to be a middle man! I don't want to work for someone else that is part of what I see as the problem! I don't want to help pollute people's bodies, the environment, or our collective consciousness! Why doesn't volunteer work pay? It's not that I think "art isn't appreciated" - I think most people enjoy art and music. It isn't that I think everyone likes stupid music or that people don't know the difference between good art and bad art. Honestly, I don't know that all that matters. I feel committed to making our world happier and I've chosen music as my avenue to that - I just can't get over the fact that there are so many hoops to jump through to make putting a smile on someone's face a sustainable "career". What the fuck, right? Nobody really likes frozen spinach that much, but that is a viable industry, whereas I can play on the street for an hour, make a bunch of people smile and dance and still come away with less than our community deems as minimum wage... I'm not pissed at anyone and I refuse to be too cynical about all of this, because I think there is a solution, I just haven't been able to come across it yet. In the meantime, I'm trying not to give in to fear and nurturing my hope.