Friday, December 4, 2009
this is the life
Well, if you check out that funny little box on the right-hand column of the blog, you may have noticed a question left by an anonymous reader a couple of days ago that asked this:
Do you make enough money on your books to live how you like to live?
First off, I like the way this question is phrased because it's not as specific as the "money question" I get asked every single time I speak before kids at school. So, I'm going to start off with a general statement, and then work my way down to the specifics.
I may be presumptuous, but reading between the lines of the question, I get an impression that the questioner is fairly young. Unfortunately, and coming from a perspective where I deal with hundreds of teenagers on a daily basis, I see kids most often trying to plan their futures based on projected earnings -- going into career fields that promise the highest pay scales.
Kids, this is your life you're talking about.
If you put money as your top qualifier, you're a whore. That explains why there are so many school administrators and principals in our educational system. They're whores. They started out wanting to make a difference in the lives of kids, but then got sucked to the top like fat on milk by the lure of pay. They whored themselves out, drank the Kool Aid, and now they are the destroyers of kids' minds. So, don't get me started on all the whores at school and the damage they do to kids.
Think about it.
Now, regardless of how much money I get paid, I will always do what I really want to do, that which gives me the most satisfaction -- whether I'm cold and hungry, or warm and well-fed.
But, more specifically, does writing provide me with "enough money on your books to live how you like to live?"
The answer is NO.
There is no amount of money that can give me the life I want to live.
Let me explain.
In the perfect life, the life I want to live, there will be no economic or moral rationing device that creates a superclass of equals and an underclass of "others."
The life I want to live is one where everyone in our society has access to decent and universally-granted health care. This is at the core of our American philosophy, but somehow we've become so caught up in the idea of hoarding and protecting our little camps against "others" that we've forgotten it. In Jefferson's argument that governments are established in order to safeguard LIFE (expressed in the Declaration, and again in the 5th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution), we seem too willing to gloss over the concept of what a governmental responsibility to protect LIFE should actually entail. How can we even argue that it's okay for government to establish a playing field (a Monopoly board) that allows for a prerequisite sufficient credit rating in order to have decent health care? How can we allow cost and profit to become more important than LIFE? This is a complete failure to protect LIFE, one of the architectural starting points for decent government as envisioned by our Founders.
The life I want to live is one where everyone can get as much education as they qualify themselves to have. I can't tell you how many brilliant kids I know who are choosing to NOT go to college, simply because they can't afford it. I wonder how many kids who may have gone on to discover a cure for AIDS or some viable, sustainable, and green new form of energy didn't get there because they couldn't afford the financial burden of attending our great universities -- WITHOUT borrowing themselves and their families into the poorhouse?
The life I want to live is one where people wake up and realize the economic realities -- the attainable economic realities -- of these first two "wants" of mine: that freeing society from the burden of having to extract earnings in order to 1) save our children from leukemia or 2) attend a university, will allow everyone in society to consume at a higher level, thus not only spurring on economic growth and driving technological advancement, but boosting employment and raising tax revenues for government WITHOUT increasing personal taxes.
And, finally, the life I want to live is one where basic human liberties are not denied to any groups of people and rationed only to others. The right to marry is a natural, human right. In the life I want to live, everyone will be able to marry the PERSON of his or her choice.
So, no... money can't buy the life I want to live. But in the mean time, until we get there, I'm doing what makes me happy.