Oct. 23rd, 2015

prgrmr: (lionize)
There is something of a debate going on recently about "following your passion", "doing what you love", "chasing your dreams", and the like.   While this debate is nothing new, it has been recently energized by the on-going problem of onerous student loan debt, by graduates not being able to find employment (gainful, or otherwise) in the field for which they got their degrees, by Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers (of whom I am one) complaining about the Millenials complaining (which I have done). It has been intentionaly overly-dramatized by a media struggling to stay relevent.   There have been many opinions offered, many observations (valid and otherwise) made about the debate, the participants, and the consequences, both short- and long-term.

Most of the above has been well-intentioned at face-value.  There as been the ususal amount of posing, of whining for its own sake, and of pot-stirring.  This is also nothing new, and thus I'm going to ignore that.

What bothers me is the either/or-ness about it all. As if following your passion and chasing your dream doesn't involve making a living, doesn't make you financially stable, then you shouldn't do it. Or that you can't. Now, clearly, people who are not otherwise independently wealthy need to make a living.  Whether that is having a job or running a business or that something in-between known as consulting, it's gotta happen. People need to eat, after all.  But that doesn't necessarily preclude doing what you love. Or at least what you like.

Even in the face of the most economically divided time in the US between the haves and the have-nots, in the most imbalanced era of corporatism in this country since the break-up of Standard Oil, for all but the most financially destitute, doing *something* that you like is still possible.  And for those at the lowest end of the economic spectrum, we, as a nation, should be doing more so they too can do what they like. 

Politicians have completely failed to recognize what having copious amount of leisure time has done for this country, and what further economic potential that holds. This is in part because a certain amount of the coporate intererst that Congress has already whored itself out to (Hollywood and the Entertainment Industry as a whole, for starters) already depend on descretionary income.  It is also in part because, aside from any individual politician's special interest, all economic activity is viewed as equal. A dollar spent is a dollar spent, and not much beyond looking at if it was spent with a US-based corporation appears to matter.

What polititicians in general are appearing to ignore is the Tom Sawyer effect: that which we are obiligated to do is work, and that which we are not is fun. And people are so much more willing to spend money on fun than on work.    There are many reasons, I think, behind this tunnel vision.  Politicians are generally more well paid and more wealthy today than any other time in this country, since its early days when generally socially prominent men were wealthy men. http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Senate_Eight.htm Today's Congress is the richest ever. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/09/how-did-members-of-congress-get-so-wealthy/379848/

My point here being that the pursuit of happiness and providing the means and opportunity to do so, is potentially as lucrative as it it is enjoyable.  If you are among those who can say you love what you do for a living, count yourself fortunate, for you are in the minority among Americans.  If you are those who say you pursue your dreams and follow your passions depsite that not being your day job, then congratulations on not giving up, and on not buying in to the thinking that you can only do one or the other.

January 2016

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