Sunday, August 19, 2012

How to Earn More Money and Enjoy Your Life More!

Don't worry. This isn't really a self-help blog, and I'm not selling a new "system"or get-rich-quick scheme.

A few minutes ago, on Facebook, I tried to explain some economics basics to someone who has historically been very unresponsive to these kinds of discussions. Well... That's an understatement. She's actively hostile, unfortunately I would say mostly because she actively misunderstands core concepts and definitions.

Note: "Equilibrium" is a non-attainable construct, fyi. 
She complains that she works really hard, and she's done everything that she needs to do to be successful, but she still doesn't earn a very good living - and that this is because employers, from self-owned entrepreneurial ventures to international megacorporations are all greedy, selfish and evil. Now... She has a chronically negative attitude, and she also has - in the past - not only acknowledge, but expressed pride at being "bitchy".

And ok... Not that it has to be this way, but for what it's worth, she also prides herself on being a super liberal feminist.

I'm not saying all super liberal feminists are bitchy, but.......... this one is, and she has made it clear to me that she wants to be that way. She considers it "being herself". I think the philosophy she's chosen to accept as defining of who she is has a big role to play in all of this, but that's not really the subject of my post. But for the record, philosophy matters. If you view the world as a place primarily of exploitation, and in terms of polylogistic Marxism, you're much more likely to look outward when things don't go your way.

Instead of asking, "What can I change about me?", you're more likely to ask, "What aspect of the Patriarchy is at fault for my situation?". This is what this particular woman does... and... even if she was right that "The Patriarchy" is keeping her down (and she really isn't), there's still not much she can do about that, and there's a lot she can do about her own attitude & actions.

But... As I said, she has made it clear that she likes her attitude just as it is.

And I guess that'd be fine... except that she also constantly complains about this and blames everyone else for what strike me as the obvious consequences of her choices. So today, in a fit of stupid procrastination, I comment on a predictable "Walmart is evil!" type of post, and point out that in fact, Walmart has made many millions of poor people's lives much, much better off by affording them the opportunity to attain a standard of living that higher priced stores would never have done prior to Walmart.

This gets us into a discussion of exploitation, and of how she's spent her life working low paid, menial jobs, and how awful all this has been for her.

So...... I say, as I'm sure I've said before, "Why don't you develop some new skills, and find a better job?"

Usual excuses ensue. To the effect of:
  1. You don't know me, I have plenty of skills
  2. All the employers I've ever worked for were evil, greedy, profit-hungry jerks and I've been exploited
  3. I work really, really hard and get nowhere
So... I try to explain to her a few things. Most important among these things is the idea that the way to get ahead and develop a better income is - at root - simply to make sure that the hard work you're engaging in is directed in a way that is highly valued by other people, and that this isn't personal, and it's not an issue of exploitation. It's simply an issue of supply & demand. If you're hoping to earn a living doing something that's either in high supply (like being an actor or a musician), or in low demand (like selling fried chicken in South Beach), then you should not expect to earn a ton of money.

This isn't because everyone hates you. It's because you're doing the wrong things.

Her response:
"i guess i don't work hard enough and have enough VALUE for people like you."
So I attempt to explain again. It's not that she doesn't have enough "VALUE" for "people like me", whatever that really means, it's that she's not offering (or participating as the employee in offering) a good or a service that is in high demand... That's all.

It's not about how you should feel about yourself, or how other people should feel about you as a person. It's just... an error. That's really it. But... Again, her response is:
"Right, let me live my life as VALUE for others. PASS!"
Honestly. This just makes me sad...

I'm sure she works plenty hard... but she treats my discussion of value as if it's something personal about her when it's got nothing to do with that.

She seems to believe that everything anyone does is equally valuable - and perhaps in our own minds, that's true - but that asks and answers a very different question than the question of value in a market where you are trying to find ways to increase your standard of living through mutually beneficial trade.

What we do in that context is not at all equally valuable at all!

She even said that she felt like this discussion is a "personal dig" at her, and that I was judging her life in one way or another. But that's not even the case. I'm not judging "her". I'm just stating the obvious. However hard she is working now, or at any other time in her life, if she's still complaining that she's a middle-aged woman stuck in a dead-end anti-career and barely scraping and she doesn't like her life this way, then she needs to make a change.

I used a different example with her, but... it's like this:

If everybody wants ice cream, then give them ice cream. If everybody wants frozen yogurt instead, and nobody is coming to your ice cream shop anymore... make the change to frozen yogurt. That's not a personal dig against your ice cream making skills, it's just accepting that in reality, other people want something else now.

If you desperately want to make ice cream, and loathe frozen yogurt for one reason or another, then your path is going to be a bit harder... You need - in that case - to make the best damn ice cream anybody has ever had, or you need to start finding your niche with all the hold-over ice cream lovers and hipster iconoclasts who eat ice cream ironically now that froyo is too trendy.

It's not about living your life as "A VALUE" for others in the sense that you subordinate yourself and everything you think about to someone else's every whim. It's simply about recognizing that material success and earning high incomes and the improved standards of living that go along with that are mostly dependent on what you can offer other people based on what they want... The better you are at doing that, the fewer hours per day you'll even need to work and you can live for yourself even better.

Best of all, you can do what I basically do, and find the intersection where the things you're passionate about, are skilled at and love to do actually overlap with what other people value, and do both simultaneously. That way you'll not only enjoy what you're doing for a living, you'll be paid better for it as well. It's not as hard as this poor woman wants to believe that it is, and it isn't predicated on waiting for everybody else to just start being really nice to you.

It mostly just makes me sad that this woman is so angry and closed-minded to this basic concept... So I thought I'd quickly write this blog for other people's benefit. Hope it helps.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

After having a terrible morning trying to explain to a bunch of feminists that some people disagree with their principals from a logical and not political stance - I gave up.

They were very rude and condescending to every point I made, and it quickly became obvious that they weren't really interested in discussion.

As a woman, I am embarrassed by feminism and the idea that everything you do is being held back by the evil patriarchy. These women don't want to take any responsibility for improving their lot, and I appreciated your commentary on the subject.