The Joys of Fame and No Fortune
I wouldn't pick Barbara Ehrenreich as she presented herself in "Bait and Switch, the Futile Pursuit of the American Dream." However, that character seems to have picked me. Try as I might, I can not escape the fact that Ehrenreich's adventures in that best-selling book are much like my own.
The biggest difference is that I didn’t get to write about my failure in the job market and make a bunch of money on book sales. I just got to endure my failure and realize that my life was a statistic.
That's always fun.
I've also read about myself in the pages of the New York Times. (See, I must be famous and they just forgot to tell me!) I'm so flattered when a guy like columnist Paul Krugman writes, "a college degree has hardly been a ticket to big income gains…the real earnings of college graduates fell more than 5% between 2000 and 2004."
Paul, I'm glad you know me and I hate to criticize, but you got it wrong. For this college graduate, her income fell 100%, not a measly 5%.
But the gist of Krugman's writings, that the obscenely rich are getting more obscenely rich and everybody else is falling, is completely accurate. This economic unbalancing act is happening for lots of reasons, one of which is white-collar unemployment and under-employment.
My point is that my woes are not just mine. Many people are like me. I see them every time I make a trip to any retail outlet, folks who used to work at professional jobs selling lumber, light fixtures or lettuce. Older workers who may not have the pep of a 21-year-old; they have what the workplace DOES NOT reward, wisdom and experience.
I do not pretend to understand the irony of that; I just know it to be true.
To avoid falling into the same trap as my former white-collar buddies, I have elected to start an Internet business instead of taking whatever menial, low wage job I can find.
In part, I made that choice because I couldn't find a menial, low wage job. I interviewed for five. None wanted me. It must have been the orange skirt I was wearing that made me look like the great pumpkin.
Barbara Ehrenreich's job coach gave me that tip. (I couldn't afford my own job coach so I borrowed hers.)
Self-employment is risky, but it's the only way a person like myself will escape being a wage slave. The Internet is still open to the little guy so even though I'm a little late, I'm merging onto the information super highway.
Which brings us to the net neutrality issue. How much longer will the Internet be open to the little guy? If the big guys get their way, not much longer.
What option would be open to me then? Welfare handouts? The big guys would balk and call me lazy and undeserving. "Find a job, damn it," they'd bark.
"I'm trying," is all I would be able to holler back from my merry-go-round as it whirls past them, lazily enjoying their weenies and ice cream cones.