Working Doesn't Work
George Thorogood is a superlative philosopher, in that he is either the best or worst philosopher one could ever listen to. His strongest argument is that one should never cut one's hair and join the legitimate workforce.
This is his magnum opus, and we will explore the depth of this truth and some reasoning behind it today.
6. The 401K that you work so hard to fund is probably emptying itself.
I don't need to tell you, Dear Reader, that your precious retirement accounts (401ks, 403bs, IRAs, delightfully socialist pension plans, etc.) can be wiped out in a single economic downturn.
The existential angst I experience over the paltry amount in my own such account informs me that other people, who earn non-negligible sums of money, must be racked with anguish. I check my account every month or so (all I can stand), and am sometimes delighted to see the green text that informs me that my account has gained money (generally only by the staggeringly small amount I have contributed). More often, I am saddened deeply by the red text that informs me that, despite my superficially responsible behavior, I have lost money (even the contributed monies, which could have purchased some cheap vodka, even after taxes).
5. Inflation is laughing at you every time you put in a late night or weekend.
Even if the whore of Wall Street and her collaborative clients weren't losing my money for me at an alarming rate, the inflation we have seen in the past informs me that my little account would have to make at LEAST 2% in interest annually for me to break even.
Inflation is like the ninja money assassin that you never see coming until you are on the street, 65 years old and drunk on cheap vodka (see above). As the spending power of the dollar decreases (as it does every year), you have to increase the number of dollars you have just to keep up. My account isn't doing that, even when it isn't actively losing money. I suspect yours isn't either.
4. The value of the skill set you are working so hard to accumulate is being decided by people you will never meet.
Remember Wall Street and her collaborative clients that I mentioned earlier? They are doing more than just losing your money. By steering the economy this way and that, they are gambling with your future (your future, in this metaphor, is a fraction of a white poker chip).
Say an elected official is on the golf course with a Captain of Industry (I have never been golfing. I assume the entire game is dominated by politicians, Captains of Industry and alcoholics), and the Captain convinces the official that pouring tax money into some venture or another (that the Captain just happens to be heavily invested in) would be "good for the national economy".
Now imagine that said enterprise is directly counter to whatever industry you are in. Do you farm? You had better be raising the crop that is being subsidized. Do you manage a local specialty store? If the Captain is the CFO of a big box mart that needs a tax payer supplied location in your town (to boost the economy) from the City Council (they golf, too, right?), you had better get used to wearing a blue smock. Your entire skill set and the career you have built up to this point could be forfeit. Congratulations! You are the egg that had to be cracked to make a delicious omelet of collusion.
3. The company where you are building your career is also at the mercy of remote guys in ties.
I don't mean to slander omelets, but they are going to have to be the egg I crack to make my distasteful omelet of lazy truth (meta-omelet references are wicked awesome). Do you work as a CPA, or in an accounting firm in any capacity? Is your company tied to real estate in any way? How about higher education? All of these industries exist in their present form at the pleasure of politicos and the golf-addicted bureaucrats previously mentioned. A simplification in the tax code could make many accountants unnecessary. A quick update to real estate law could create an army of unemployed home appraisers. Austerity measures applied to student loans have the potential to shut down some tuition-supported universities and force the rest to lay off large portions of their workforce. I am just not sure Starbucks can handle the infusion of this many workers at once (I also question who will buy their overpriced coffee if no one can afford to be an idle, increasingly indebted college student).
2. Money is inflating faster than you can save it.
We talked about this above, but it deserves its own list item. Inflation is real and it is eating up your savings like a famished pothead. Every time some Captain of Industry asks for it these days, our golf-crazy friends lend them more money. Only they don't have any actual money to lend, so they print out some through a confusing and exceptionally complex mechanism that involves hoping China doesn't ask to see our credit score.
Doubtlessly, the Captains of Industry are investing this new money wisely and not wasting a penny, nor are they enriching themselves on the backs of the people. How dare you say otherwise, Dear Reader? I won't tolerate that kind of rudeness.
Your outbursts notwithstanding, you are right to be concerned. Every new dollar reduces the value of the dollars in your savings account. This is why the McDonald's double cheeseburger used to cost $1 a couple of years ago, but now it is $1.20 in my town. The brain geniuses will recognize this as 20% inflation, on this highly scientific index. A dollar isn't worth a double cheeseburger, now. Let that sink in a moment.
1. Even social security is not a secure bet.
All the hyperbole in the media notwithstanding, the US population growth is slowing, while the population itself is aging. Social security relies on payments from new workers to pay the old workers, like a giant Ponzi scheme that you got invited into with your first paycheck. While it seems unlikely that it will ever disappear completely, it is entirely unknowable whether it will be able to collect enough from then-current workers to support your old ass. The reality of inflation and the difficulty in predicting the impact it might have adds further noise to the "will I starve or won't I?" signal.
Now off to your responsible career, citizen! Your hair looks great.
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