I work four hours a day in Korea. It’s great. In the States I’d be working more than twice that to maintain the same income. Even more hours would be needed to realize the same lifestyle I enjoy here (nothing outlandish, I assure you). The Koreans with whom I work are not paid as much as I am for the same work. They work more hours than I do as well. They face similar problems to those of the US middle class, [i] especially with regards to competition for a good job, as exemplified by the fierce academic environment.
High levels of unemployment are staggering all across the globe. At home in Minnesota, most friends of mine are able to maintain jobs, though some can’t find enough hours to make ends meet. Just a few have incomes that keep up with inflation. With regards to the nation, only the top 5% of Americans have earned enough money to keep up with the rising housing costs since 1975. The income gap widens each year[ii], as ultimately, the government serves those who keep them in office. If this were a fairy tale we would desperately need Robin Hood right about now.
The only things that are trickling down are diminished benefits and lack of upward mobility. Indeed, “degree inflation” encroaches the college-educated job seeker and effects future prospects for all workers.
That old interview question “where do you see yourself in five years?” is irrelevant. Nobody knows the answer to that except those who had retirement plans that they are now putting on hold, or banking executives who seem to be laughing at us, even at congressional hearings.
Crony capitalism has severe side effects. Jobs are being lost at exponential rates due to increased red tape for employers and a slew of regulatory measures which are put into place by unelected bureaucrats.[iii] How is this our reality? What are our ever-so-vigilant media conglomerates missing?
Contrary to nearly every statistic offered up by the news, here are some more facts. As of 2007, the bottom 80% of American households held only 7% of liquid financial assets.[iv] It’s a difficult number to surmise, but if unemployment rates are anywhere close to the 7.2% reported by the Bureau of Labor than 1 out of every 5 of Americans wouldn’t be relying on food stamps.
It is numbingly enraging to know we have to watch Wall Street bonuses increase year after year. This is something the media reminds us pretty constantly, so it loses its effect. There is no more shock when we hear about it night after night, for five straight years. After the “wolfs” tore apart the market in which all of us were forced to place our money,[v] they got to pay themselves off with government money- taxes we’re forced to pay but have no say in how its spent. Has anyone paid for their crimes with any time? That’s a dangerous idea according to Eric Holder. He maintains that “if you do bring a criminal charge—it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.” [vi]
Well it already has, and the fact that nobody has brought forth criminal charges shows us that the US Department of Justice has no plans to prevent it from happening all over again.
It now takes a staggering 35 weeks, on average, to find a job in America. This does not leave for much room when it comes to bargaining for salary. As well, 40% of those who are employed are through low paying jobs. This is the reality of the new “lost generation.” It’s no wonder that we are having a difficult time. There’s no way to develop or grow (as human beings must do to thrive) when living paycheck to paycheck, and 61% of employed Americans are doing just that.
We must help ourselves, since nobody on top is going to look out for us. I maintain that it has always been our responsibility to make decisions and learn from our own mistakes. By raising our children in loving and caring environments and allowing them to grow we can foster a better environment for morally fit leaders in the future.
We’re being held up by the banks, and the getaway car is being driven by our own government. To begin, we require a state and laws that aren’t bought and paid for. A plutocracy will never allow for fair competition. Considering now, for the first time in history, the banks own more of US residential housing net worth than the rest of Americans combined, it may be a good time to look at alternatives.[vii]
Hopefully, we can lower our material desires as consumers instead of increasing our debt. Eventually a tide will turn, when corporations become victim to their own assaults of government collusion. At some point company executives will be the only ones who can afford their own products. Only when it comes full circle, will this vicious cycle come to a halt.
We need a new paradigm. Working 40+ hours a week is no longer something we need to do. We must instead focus on helping each other become healthier and happier people. We’ve got the technology to allow us to live more fruitful lives. We just haven’t been utilizing it correctly (see NSA). We may find a balance if we have time to devote to creative and spiritual endeavors. There’s a huge mess to clean up here. A few jobs will be opening up along the way. Where do you see us in five years?
Ben Haynes has resided in Seoul with his wife, Ren, since 2011, where he is regarded as a local hero. He has the foresight of a community channel televangelist. He leads with the fortitude of Aurelius. His sweat is sweet as freshly squeezed juice. Villagers whisper giddily when he walks by. He enjoys a good book and cold glass of beer.
[ii] 66% of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1%
[iv] BusinessInsider fdrurl.com/un2
[v] New laws are being passed to force employees to participate in company 401k plans. http://www.moneycrashers.com/new-401k-law-helps-companies-force-employees-into-saving/
[vi] New evidence sheds light. As was earlier suspected, Eric Holder is indeed, a dick http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/jan/09/financial-crisis-why-no-executive-prosecutions/?pagination=false