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Occupy this.

Posted by NumberSix , 23 October 2011 · 521 views

I graduated high school but dropped out of college twice. Sometimes I regret that until I see how other college graduates behave. Degrees can help, but they are not mandatory for all job options. I spent twelve years at my first job, ten of those in management. I have now spent eleven years at my second job, which I earned because a decade of managerial experience was considered an acceptable substitute for a college diploma. I grew up lower-class but worked my way out of it, slow and steady. Instead of doing whatever I wanted, I did what I was good at, and what needed to be done. Solvency is not a substitute for joy, but it comes in handy more often.

I keep shoulder to the grindstone till it hurts. I make myself an essential part of an essential department in a company that does above-average in an industry that finds new ways to be useful, despite occasional acts of evil by our competitors. My bosses and our executives, who know more than I do, make more money than I do. I find this logical.

If they went under, I would be very surprised, but my local paper has classifieds and job placement services. I would be willing to settle for less, lower my standard of living back to my mid-20s levels, shop at Aldi if I had to, and not turn my nose up at work that would be "beneath me" if it would keep my family fed and our home bought.

I have had rough times. I have lived in scary apartment complexes. I declared bankruptcy at the end of my young-stupid-male years. I spent the next decade reestablishing my credit rating and learning from my mistakes, even when it meant accepting unfavorable lending terms for several non-negotiable transactions. I have never had an issue with a bill collector that was directly my fault, but I dealt with the two that were not my fault anyway.

When my ten years' penance were up, my wife and I bought a house at a price I knew we could afford because I had already done my own math. That price was well below what the mortgage company swore we could afford. We have not missed a single mortgage payment, even when it hurt. I'm down to one active credit card, which I pay in full every single month, even if it means micromanaging my checking account down to single digits, which hasn't been necessary in at least three years. My bank offers a form of free checking with no fees whatsoever and almost no perks, which are sometimes confused with rights.

I have savings, retirement funding, and occasional daydreams of how Social Security would factor into the equation if it should happen. In order to accomplish this, it means that sometimes I can't have fun with money in every single way I can imagine. I cope because Fun is not my God.

Funding for my son's existence has remained a top priority since before his birth. He attends public school and makes the most of it. When the most is not enough, he finds ways to learn indepedently. He is well aware that some colleges cost more than others, and seems to be strategizing accordingly. He may have a rougher time entering the working world than I did. I expect to offer guidance and extended parenting as needed until he learns the ropes and establishes his independence. If he comes to believe that he is entitled to unlimited lifelong codependence, he will learn the ropes the hard way.

My taxes are not crippling. I do the reading and learning to ensure that I pay no more taxes than what their laws say I must. If the government wants to make taxes even less crippling for others, that is their call to make as the large body that supervises the country as a whole and prevents a resurgence of 14th-century feudalism and hygiene. I spend very little time looking at the other side of the fence and wishing that finer shades of green were outlawed, or that the grass could be redistributed from one side of the fence to the other just to make everything "fair", which is a four-letter word I prefer to avoid. I knuckle down and do what I can within my means to improve the verdancy of my own grass because my side of the fence is my responsibility, not someone else's. They would just do it wrong anyway.

I have medical insurance. It costs money. We pay it. It would be nice if medical costs decreased so the insurance company would not have to give them as much money and could therefore lower our premiums. That will not happen because all doctors would refuse the drastic pay cuts, resign and become plastic surgeons or chiropractors instead. We pay premiums anyway so that we can receive a discount on the necessary treatment for my eventual first heart attack. A bill for a couple thousand dollars is still less than a bill for several thousand dollars. In that sense, insurance is like couponing minus consumer respect. I will concede that our family has no ongoing severe conditions, and our hearts and prayers are with those exceptions who do.

I give to charity out of neither guilt nor pride. Exact figures are my own business, but they are more than loose change. I do not pay attention to whether or not members of the upper class give charitably, but I am heartened when they do, even if it means that some buildings are altered out of gratitude to assume unattractive names. I am skeptical about whether or not members of the middle class give as charitably percentage-wise as they think the upper class should. Perhaps mandatory flat-rate donations would solve this, but it would not change any hearts and would not inspire anyone, least of all the middle class, to give above and beyond the bare minimum. Charity would merely become another tax for everyone to hate.

I have my bouts of anger, frustration, and despair like any human. With time they pass. There are ways and means to have those yokes removed without resorting to scapegoating, blameshifting, simple jealousy, or prolonged displays of performance art that add no minutes to the day and bring no one to repentance. Expression is not a substitute for action. Cranking the volume up to 11 will not bring conscientious accountability to an intended audience that has no reason to tune in. Gathering a crowd of angry needy people and enabling their impression that they are the first needy people in world history is not only dishonest to them, it is insulting to third-world nations whose denizens lack mobile phones, cable TV, refrigerators, and walls.

I am the 99%.

But I feel fine. I do try to be grateful every day for it.

So would it be okay if the rest of you found a new slogan that doesn't lump us together with a loaded sweeping generalization?

My suggestion: "It gets better."

Six, you make my heart happy :)
Good God a Bear
November 12 2011 08:54 AM
Wow! Awesome read!

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