Point #3 in this project:
The Discipline of Passion is about a responsible and realistic relationship with money
As an aside: one night over dinner last week Daniel and I were at the Petite Jacqueline bar and this book was sitting there. (The Secret Language of Birthdays) We both read our birthdate descriptors- mine was dreadfully accurate, and went something like this (paraphrased) “you are a strong judge of others, but have trouble seeing yourself accurately.” Keep that in mind as you keep reading this tumblr. I’m one of the most judgmental people I know- I’m smart, and I make a concerted effort to see the other side- but I can’t see my own biases well.
Our national debt is $16.2 trillion dollars. i.e: 107% of GDP. Does it matter? I don’t know, but I’d love to see the federal government shrinking, not growing.
I’m also pretty sure most people don’t really understand the difference between millions, billions, and trillions. I say this because I periodically question the people around me- college educated people- to see if they can readily identify the difference.
The federal government of the US has grown a half trillion dollars in size over the past four years and grown by 123,000 employees in those same four years. That is four million dollars per additional employee added. (cnn link)
As a comparison, Walmart worldwide is $419 billion in net sales, and 2.1 million in employees. ($200k per employee) Obviously, not a direct comparison, since net sales is NOT THE SAME as government expenses. (source) Also, obviously a good portion of the growth in the federal government is passthrough to welfare programs.
Something a dear friend (who I think reads this) quoted to me- and I’m going to mangle it- “wealth is no more than proximity to capital.” In context, this means- you want to earn lots of money, go do something that is close to the money.
The bit that drives me crazy is that people don’t recognize this as a choice. If you want to study some esoteric academic thing all your life- something that there really is no financial market for- that’s cool, just don’t through words or actions try to punish people who want to study money. (occupy wall street.) It’s no different- money is as interesting to some people as esoteric acadamia is to others.
(moreover, if you are priviledged enough to be studying some esoteric academic thing anyway- you should just be quiet. Because you obviously aren’t recognizing your own priviledge.)
The point is, money is a choice. Focus on doing things that earn money, and earn money. Focus on doing things that have no market, and live a simpler lifestyle. It’s a choice. Remember: our poor people are fat. Being poor in the US is nothing like being poor in a third world country. We are so focused on our first world problems that we’ve stopped caring about the philosophical & ideological approaches that made this country interesting.
Why anyone would take a loan for tens of thousands of dollars to get an education? I do understand why someone would borrow 2 grand to get a computer- because that’s all you need to get an education. That and reading everyday. Not watching videos- which take dramatically more time and make it difficult to get numbers out of- but reading the newspaper for an hour or two everyday.
I think living simply is a really virtuous choice: it’s environmentally low-impact, clearly. It frees up time to do things that may be more creative or spiritually fulfilling. But things get warped when living simply is viewed as a hardship, OR, as evidence that people who aren’t into living simply are doing something wrong. Because: everyone is developing on their own moral/ experiential timescale. Some people really, really want to experience lavish living and are willing to pay for it via hard work.
From personal experience: everyone I’ve ever met who was really wealthy also worked really hard, basically non-stop, for most of their life- or was the child/spouse of someone who did (good karma?.) And they LOVE working. But the key thing is: they worked really hard on projects that have a market value. Now of course, I personally know tons more middle class people: who appear to take much more time off, and spend much more effort on their hobbies, families, children, etc. THIS IS A CHOICE! And I don’t really understand what would drive someone to choose the former, but why make it seem like something worth punishing?
So, combine these ideas: we have a federal government that is growing at a crazy rate: $4m per added employee. And we have a president who wants to punish hard work.
We have a democratic majority in the senate that is overly focused on making women act like hysterical illogical people (rape & abortion! rape & abortion! — it’s propagandish. ) - and distracting from the really important elements of our government- overspending and overspending.
We’ve made immigration into a huge issue because it’s linked to our extensive welfare system. We should be reorganizing our welfare system, simplifying our tax code, and welcoming more immigrants (who, historically, are fans of hard work.)
We’re trying to fix our marketless healthcare system by adding 16,000 new IRS agents. That’s $64Billion at current government employee cost structures.
So. The point is: a realistic and responsible relationship to money recognizes a few things:
one can live a simple, healthy, and pleasant life on $20k a year, easily- in a small, walkable city.
government employees cost us $4M a year- 200 times the prior number.
financial lifestyle is a choice.
education does not come from universities.