I swear every time I go on vacation, there’s an outbreak of stupidity. One symptom is a ridiculous plaint by law professor Todd Henderson, who whines about barely getting by on $450,000 per year.
No, really, I’m not kidding. I suppose the rest of us should just eat a bullet or something (and bullets are cheap!). Thankfully, Michael O’Hare and Brad DeLong (aka ‘Mr. Deling’) tear down this staggering display of narcissism. I would only add that when one has $500,000 of student debt, you probably shouldn’t buy a million dollar house. Or maybe, you’ll have to forgo part of the $100,000 annual donation to your retirement funds. Because personal responsibility should not be the sole purview of single minority mothers. Perhaps Henderson’s outburst should be chalked up to the influence of degenerate white culture or our
finishing school ‘elite’ educational system. But I digress.
Like I said, the narcissism is utterly staggering and indicates a bewildering lack of empathy with most people–the median household income in the U.S. is around $50,000, which means half of all households make less than $50,000.
But I’m here to help (we like helping!). First, Ian Welsh:
When I was poor and working in lousy jobs I used to look in the mirror and see myself at 50, or 60. I expected to still be working at grindingly hard jobs, being treated badly by bosses (because there is no rule more iron than that the worse you are paid the worse your employer will treat you), and still being paid little more than minimum wage. That was the future I saw for myself.
And when I was on welfare, after having failed to find a job for 6 months, and even being turned down by McDonalds (in the middle of the early nineties recession) I wondered if I’d even ever have a shitty job again. I ate cheap starchy food, turned pasty and put on weight. My clothes ran down. When my glasses broke beyond the point where tape would keep them together I literally had to beg the optometrist to make me his cheapest pair and I’d pay him later. (I eventually did.) My life was a daily grind of humiliation.
And that’s what I expected my life to be….
Living without that safety net, knowing that if something goes wrong, that’s just too bad, changes you. Living without any real hope of the future, knowing that the shitty job you’ve got now is probably about as good a job you’re ever going to have, changes you.
And it changes your sense of what hard work is, of what it means to be deserving….
And they know that they’re one bad break away from losing even the little they have–one illness, one plant closure, one argument with their boss.
They don’t have a lot of hope for the future, except that it won’t get worse. The life they live now is the best it’s probably gonna get.
Living like that changes you. It makes you see people differently. You understand that there are a lot of bad jobs out there, and that someone’s going to be stuck with them. You know that most of those jobs are either hard or humiliating, and often both. You know that for too many people, a shitty job where they’re abused by their boss is as good as it gets.
John Scalzi (and read the whole thing):
Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they’re what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there’s not an $800 car in America that’s worth a damn.
Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.
Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends’ houses but never has friends over to yours.
Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won’t hear you say “I get free lunch” when you get to the cashier….
Being poor is feeling the glued soles tear off your supermarket shoes when you run around the playground.
Being poor is your kid’s school being the one with the 15-year-old textbooks and no air conditioning.
Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal.
Being poor is relying on people who don’t give a damn about you.
Being poor is an overnight shift under florescent lights…
Being poor is not talking to that girl because she’ll probably just laugh at your clothes.
Being poor is hoping you’ll be invited for dinner.
Being poor is a sidewalk with lots of brown glass on it.
Being poor is people thinking they know something about you by the way you talk.
Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise.
Being poor is your kid’s teacher assuming you don’t have any books in your home.
Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap.
Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor.
Henderson graduated from Princeton, and, presumably his spouse, who is a doctor, is also well educated. That he can not responsibly get by on ~$450,000 per year and that he does not understand how ridiculous he sounds complaining about his ‘hardship’ can only be viewed as a massive ethical failure of our ‘elite’ educational system.
And next time I hear someone talk about the irresponsibility of the poor, I’ll be sure to point them to this asshole.
An aside: Unlike DeLong who wants to help him, I come to bury Henderson. He’s not a child; at this point, he’s a lost cause morally.