Yesterday I engaged a few individuals on the subject of minimum wage. The conversation took a number of turns, veering off into the cost of education, business owners who don’t share enough of the profits, and the ever popular “people can’t make ends meet”. I opined that perhaps if men quit fathering multiple children by multiple women, and if women quit getting knocked up by every loser they pass in the mall, perhaps making ends meet would be a bit easier. One of the people engaged in the discussion then expressed disbelief that I would “blame women”. Inadvertently highlighting the actual problem. Which I shall now detail.
The problem is in fact the victim mentality of modern American culture.
The individual in question only heard what she wanted to hear and completely overlooked the second half of the statement. Why? Because it is easier to say, “How dare you blame women? That’s sexist! Blah…blah…blah” then it is to accept that her life is what she made it. Ironically, the person in question lived with me in the late 80’s, and got knocked up as a teenager by some punk sneaking in through the basement window of my parent’s house. So more or less a living example of exactly what I was talking about. But that somehow escapes her.
Am I perfect? Hell no! I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes. Some of them have set me back years and cost me a ton of lost time and income, like the decision to drop out of high school and not to go to college. But the difference between myself and the broke ass bitches around me is that I have always blamed myself for my situation. I always saw myself as the problem, and myself as the solution. I looked at where I was and correctly assessed that I was exactly where I had put myself, and the only one that could get me out was me. And so I did.
Sitting around in a no skill, no education, job whining about how your boss needs to pay you more money is guaranteed to accomplish one thing. Nothing. Try out this radical idea. Go learn a skill and get a different job. Or…get a second job. Or move to someplace cheaper. Or any one of a number of other possible solutions. Staying in the same spot year after year, pissing and moaning about the pay, doesn’t make much sense.
The simple fact is that as a business man my job is to make money for myself and my family. If the company is publicly held then it is also to make money for my shareholders. Employees are an asset. I need them to make work happen. I will pay them precisely whatever they will accept and not a dime more. My job is not to make them wealthy or care for their families. It is THEIR job to care for their families. My job is to make a dollar and keep every single penny of it that I can so that I can take care of MY family. So if you will work for a dime, I will pay you a dime. If you will work there for 5 years making a dime and never ask for a raise, then I will never give you one. And if you work as a fucking receptionist and you do ask for a raise…I’ll hire someone else that will do your job for a dime, and let you go.
This entitled mentality is what holds people back. You’re like able bodied people standing around outside the Superdome 2 days prior to Katrina, waiting for someone to come help you. How about this…START WALKING! Maybe someone will pick you up along the way.
So, your victim self looks around and sees two types of people. The victims and those who were “lucky”. I am typically classified as one of the lucky ones. But the truth is actually simpler, and more painful. I’m not luckier than you, I’m just smarter; and I don’t give up as easily.
I have an ex that went and got herself a Master’s Degree in Biology (if I recall correctly). She then became a high school teacher in NC. Guess what? Teachers don’t get paid well. This is not a secret. Everyone knows it. But she would call me up from time to time, drunk and angry, and yell at me because I make 4 times as much money as she does. Wanna know why? Because I work in IT. Which does pay well. This is also not a secret. Everyone knows it.
So one day I was sitting in my delivery truck, making my $400 a week, living in a rent controlled, low income, studio apartment, and paying child support for two kids to another ex. The thought crossed my mind that perhaps there was a better way. Perhaps there was something I could do which would allow me to live the life I wanted to live.
I did not think to myself, “Hey! I know what I can do! I’ll pick one of the lowest paying occupations in our society, and shoot for that!” I did not aspire to be a janitor, a receptionist, a teacher, a cook, or a garbage man. I did not go to a job interview and say, “I don’t know shit and have no training or education, but I’d like to make $40 an hour please”.
What I did was drive my truck 5 days a week and go to school 2 nights a week, for 7 straight months, at a cost of $6,000, and come out with a CCNA. Then I took a job running cable on a construction crew. Over time I learned more, got to know people, leveraged those relationships, got a clearance, continued to do shitty jobs, and clawed my way to where I am. Which is still only somewhere in the middle. I am neither the highest nor the lowest paid member of the team I am on right now.
But the bottom line is this. I had child support because I got a woman pregnant. I worked in a shitty job because I wasn’t qualified for a better one. I had no training or education because I chose not to invest my time in training and education. When I finally did, it paid off. And when I looked around at the way things were and the way I wanted things to be, I chose a path that would get me to where I wanted to go.
If you want to find the person responsible for your current financial situation, rush to your nearest mirror.
The choices you have made, including the choices you make in who you elect, have led you to where you are.
Your heartfelt concern for the plight of “poor” people from other countries and your desire to see them live “The American Dream” is part of what is turning your dream into a nightmare. Because guess what? Those other no skill, no education workers… You know, the ones that aren’t here legally, who will work under the table and off the books for a fraction of what you make. The ones that will cram 17 people in to a two-bedroom apartment, and go to work 365 days a year, sick or not. Who will do any job they can find. Those folks are depressing wages at the bottom end, because they are willing to work for less.
So what’s the solution? Find what your good at, or what you want to do, and do it. Hell, if all you’re qualified to do is answer a phone and you want to make more money doing that…try being a phone sex operator. Instead of teaching in a public school, try being a private tutor. If you want to make bead mats, try marketing them on the internet to Indians. Free your mind…the rest will follow. And if you want to do something that really pays well, guess what. You’re going to have to learn some skills.
But if what you want to do is sit at the end of a dead end road that YOU DROVE DOWN and complain about the view… You’ll have to pardon me for not being interested.