RE: Resentment

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sat Jul 07 2001 - 07:40:44 MDT

Samantha wrote

> > > Too many people that do have better lives have more
> > > debt than savings and are only a few paychecks from
> > > bankruptcy and perhaps homelessness.
> >
> > In every case, this is due to a lack of education---specifically
> > the memes of thrift, prudence, and determination.
> BULLSHIT. It is also due to a culture that has bought hook,
> line and sinker that mass-consumerism is the only thing that
> keeps us all from poverty and guarantees economic "health".

When you say "also", it sounds like you are agreeing; but
"BULLSHIT" makes it sound as if you aren't. So what do
you think are the odds of someone having (admirably)
more savings than debt, and being a lot more than a few
paychecks from bankruptcy and homelessness provided that
they are thrifty, prudent and determined? Surely you
agree with me that the probability is very high.

I think that I understand what you are saying here: namely,
that our culture's embrace of mass-consumerism is also responsible
for people being in such frightful debt. I agree. But you make
it sound as though people had bought into a philosophy. No, they
have not. They are simply doing what their pleistocene genes are
commanding: get as much stuff as you can. There are very few
memes and systems of belief that say "Go forth and buy, Thou
shalt consume and consume". But everyone hears Benjamin Franklin's
maxims and lots of other advice, e.g., from the pulpit. People
know about this good advice, and know that it would be best for
them to follow; it's just that they find obeying those wise
prescriptions to be difficult. It sounds like you want to
blame wall street, or someone.
> Have you worked in software? I've seen the pace accelerate
> and re-accelerate not out of any joy in creation or creative
> zeal but out of fear of falling behind, of not delivering
> something/anything before the competitors did, of scrabbling
> for something anything to sell rather than often making any
> real dent in the real needs of the industry. Every year I
> have watched it get a bit worse and more pervasive.

I work in software. Perhaps you are being both strongly
attracted and repelled by the current conditions? You love the
creativity, thrive on the intellectual challenge, and feel
fulfilled by addressing "the real needs of the industry". (Very,
very few people are so lucky in their jobs.) But you are also
strongly repelled by the competitiveness, the deadlines, and
the pressure. I once had a job with all the former but none of
the latter; it was in the heyday of the industry, when we
were expanding into "free space"; there were so many things to
do, and so little competition, that fun *and* high-paying jobs
were plentiful. But it couldn't last. It would be asking too
much to believe that the economy could produce such jobs, even
for a tiny minority, forever. Maybe later, when we have even
more wealth.

> Some of us even put in way more hours because it is our only
> hope of "getting ahead" enough to squeeze in what we believe
> really should be done.

You may be stuck. It's possible that you simply couldn't
stand doing technical writing, or selling insurance, or
teaching school, or working at McDonalds. I myself have
been spoiled. However, I still think that I could run a
general store, but it sure wouldn't pay as well.


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