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.


Jamison said...

huzzah to your post. i have come to realize that I very much agree with you that it isn't a matter of people not liking "good art" - yet somehow popular film, music, etc. tends to be geared towards some sort of "common denominator." I feel like a solution to the problem of making artistic enterprises financially viable is there, in the fog, because deep down, people want good art, just like they want good, healthy food. it just isn't what is given to them. i see it as a matter of shifting the collective conscious to such a degree as to basically revolt against the "status quo." in some ways I see it happening in very small increments, but it feels a bit like digging a hole in the sand: slow and arduous. there's got to be a better way. there is a better way! society is too slow to the punch, and sadly, we are at its mercy in a lot of respects. maybe there is a way to fulfill these aspirations without being hemmed in by societal norms? my brain is whirring right along with ya my friend. thanks for the ever-inspiring insights. :)

jcox3000 said...

And thanks for throwing your wisdom into the pot! I was talking with my brother last night about this and we started thinking along what would be called utopian lines. If everyone had the opportunity to do: a) what was necessary to help maintain everyone in the community (ie, assist with food production, energy production, housing development, health maintenance, raising children with attention and love, and other work that is meaningful and not just profit motivated) and b) what they really loved doing (ie art, technology, sports, prepared food, etc) then we would probably all be energized by our work and not need the quick and easy comforts of fast food and much of the television programming. I envision people feeling empowered, energized and wanting to go see performance and music; wanting to bring home fresh food and cook together; having the energy to go play... This may be going to far afield from what is possible now, but I am renewing my commitment to co-creating in our collective evolution.