9/07/2007

The Omnipresence of Economics

Today’s Chautauqua investigates the omnipresence of economics in our lives.

I struggle with the fear that most things in life are a zero-sum game, and that my efforts, however much, produce the same bottom-line sum of happiness. Let us view three categories of life through the prism of economic analysis.

Employment

With regard to employment, the amount of bullshit is commensurate with compensation. Everybody wants to do something prestigious for work. Most prestigious jobs require credentials, training, experience and education (all pains in the ass). When you total all the aforementioned bullshit, it offsets the couple extra zeros in your paycheck. Also consider professional-level jobs often extend beyond the 9-5 workday, cause great stress, demand hard work, commitment and creativity, and put one shoulder-to-shoulder with consummate assholes. Furthermore, there’s the constant worry of losing your job. Losing a great job is a major source of stress. Nobody worries about losing a crappy job. Do you think a porn shop janitor loses sleep at night, grappling with the possibility of losing his job? The world needs plenty of jizz-moppers, he smugly reminds himself as he slips into a slumber. One discovers that most jobs from janitor to CEO have a coupled pair of assets and liabilities that make it equal in value to other jobs. Take your pick: they all suck.

Every once in a while a great line of work presents itself. It doesn’t last long. Why? Because 100 million malcontents are rifling through want-ads, attending career workshops, reading “What Color Is Your Parachute, You Homo?” and soliciting the advice of friends with seemingly cool jobs – looking, searching, hoping to find a job that doesn’t suck as badly as what they’re doing now. So with time, thousands of people flood the alluring line of work. Employers take notice. They suddenly see themselves as the blonde with big tits; everybody wants to buy them a drink, so to speak. So, they demand more and pay less. They ratchet up the responsibilities, screen out less-qualified applicants, pay less money, scale back the benefits, and expect the impossible from employees. In short, they up the bullshit factor. Poof, there goes another sweet job. This is why so many veterans at the workplace look back fondly on the good ole days of their profession. They regale the newbies with tales of 2-hour lunches, yearly bonuses, casual dress, in-office cocktails and other nostalgic bygones.


Material Possessions

Take, for example, the latest electronic gadgets. They do miraculous things. Just as miraculous, however, is their capacity to aggravate the piss out of the owner. I speak of mp3 players, digital cameras, “smart” cell phones, computers, navigation systems and high-end audio/visual gadgetry. In the end, each of these items tends to negate the pleasures it brings with the aggravation it wreaks. How often have we purchased one of these gadgets and assured ourselves it was going to change our lives forever? It was going to revolutionize they way we organize days, entertain our families, or access pornography. Often, it fails to deliver as promised. Other times it does what it's supposed to do, but brings with it a whole new group of problems. Either way, it turns out to be just another sophisticated piece of silicon-based crap.


Romance

Significant others: the hotter they are, the bigger the pain in the ass. Why is this? Because they own mirrors. Hot people know they’re hot. They know they’re in demand. They know they have many “resumes on the desk,” so to speak, and that therefore, they can treat their current “employee” like crap. Unlike the business world, there are no wrongful termination suits in the world of love. So the hot mate can fire your ass and have a replacement (working for less dough and bennies) fetching his or her coffee by lunchtime.

Admit it. Every one of us has a pretty good idea how attractive s/he is. We know our “Kelly Blue Book” value. Much like the KBB, we take into consideration our mileage (age, partying habits and sun exposure), upgrades (boob jobs, hair plugs, tummy tucks) and features (raised cheekbones, veneered teeth, sports package genitalia). When we rummage the planet for a mate, we subconsciously seek out an even trade. We don’t want to be taken, nor do we want to add much cash to the deal. Our perfect match is somebody with about the same bottom-line value. Sure, we might take the Corvette for a test drive – just for fun. But we know the payments and upkeep are way too high. Better buy the sensibly priced sedan.


Conclusion

What does all this mean? Economics is omnipresent. It extends far beyond interest rates, bank accounts and spending habits. It drives every facet of our lives. And ultimately, we’re combing the universe for a favorable economic anomaly -- whether it’s a job, a product, a service, or a mate -- that offers more pleasure than pain. We’re searching for something that the universe and the sheer force of probability haven't converged on and brought into equilibrium, so that at this moment, it’s a bargain. These anomalies are rare. But they exist. Maybe it’s a girl with an OK face and a killer body who still believes she’s unattractive. Maybe it’s an old fashioned employer who still runs payroll by the “honor system” instead of a time clock. It might be a pornographic channel that your cable company has accidentally left unscrambled. Free soft porn! Or, maybe it’s an appliance or automobile that operates well for a long, long time because the manufacturer hasn’t decided to cheapen it up, cut production costs and increase “marginal utility.”

Go forth and unearth those economic anomalies, minions of Economics.

Adam Smith: you’re a cunt.

44 comments:

OldHorsetailSnake said...

What? They say Social Security will be broke by 2020. Who gives a shit? I got mine now, and I'll keep on getting mine while the rest of you bastards have to worry about it. Economics is taking care of yourself, Bub. Stick it to Uncle Sam while you can. At least that's been my motto, which is also my mojo.

Memphis Steve said...

So all I need is a tummy tuck and a Corvette and I can get me a piece of Jessica Alba's ass? Shazam, I am there, buddy!!!!

I SOOOOO wish.

NWJR said...

"Significant others: the hotter they are, the bigger the pain in the ass. Why is this? Because they own mirrors. Hot people know they’re hot. They know they’re in demand. They know they have many “resumes on the desk,” so to speak, and that therefore, they can treat their current “employee” like crap."

Fucking-A, LBB. FUCKING-A!

Cynic with Flair said...

I love your comparison of employers to blondes with big tits. This is the way it is - "you're lucky to have a job" is the constant refrain. And, interesting point about the romance economics, as well. I've dated the Corvette, and the light duty truck, and the old man sedan. I don't know which is better, but it sure as hell ain't the sensible choice. Great post!

snowelf said...

A zero sum game--though I have never looked at it in this perspective--it is so incredibly true!!

--snow

wally said...

LBB, you are wise beyond your years.

Little Wing said...

We know our “Kelly Blue Book” value.
ROTFLMAO!!!!!!!!

Oh great One said...

That's why I love you LBB. You always have a unique perspective. I would have never paired economics with romance and yet...you make it make sense! You rock!

Violet said...

When I was fresh on the job market, I always wondered why the people who were close to retirement were always so bitter. I swore that I'd never end up that way. Then I spent a few years in the industry, watching the way that the "perks" slowly get plucked away, with the promises of a better tomorrow always just out of reach... Bastards.

Miss Cellania said...

I used to have such a cool job that I managed to stay under the poverty line for decades. When it ended, even without unemployment benefits, I managed to live just as well without it. Working for someone else sucks.

CruiserMel said...

"in-office cocktails"????? Where do I sign up?

Ari said...

1) I think when you've figured out that life is the kind of game you're describing, you've FINALLY left your naivete by the roadside for pickup. It took me about 35 years to do that. Instead of feeling less idealistic, I just feel like I figured things the fuck out for once.

2) Hi ho, the c-word! I've been trying to quit myself, after being contaminated by too much British internet stuff (they use the word like they breathe air apparently). Oddly, seeing it here made me feel a happy solidarity.

Ari said...

There's an awesome Austin company that puts out corporate "training videos" and lots of othe stuff in the art of demotivation. You might like them. They're at:

http://blog.despair.com/

tornwordo said...

I can't disagree with you there. And the What color is your parachute, you homo, made me burst out laughing.

Palm Springs Savant said...

Well said. I agree with just about everything you say. Although I might add something about: Choosing your attitude. I think it was Abraham Lincoln who said "most people make up their minds about how happy they want to be". This is true in life: work, relationships or whatever. Even with a shitty job, you cn choose your attidide and muddle through.

good post

dalia said...

i'd like to think that my KBB value is pretty good! your analogy made me laugh way out loud...

poor adam smith... LOL

IDigHootchAndCootch said...

love the name “What Color Is Your Parachute, You Homo?”

reminded me of those "guys" on Oprah promoting their book "He's just not that into you" and my efforts to publish something similar "He's Already Fucked You and Now Wants Nothing to do With You Unless its Another Bang That Requires no Effort on his Part"

Tuyet said...

Nobody reads my blog, and this upsets me.

Elaine said...

DEAD ON on the Kelly Blue Book value when finding mates!
Brilliant as usual.

Queen of Dysfunction said...

I'm so glad you enlightened me to the practice that veterans engage in wherein they regale newbies of what "used to be".

...and all this time I spent thinking that I was road-paved-with-gold repellent.

Susan as herself said...

Yeah, I am still kicking myself for throwing away my grandmothers old all-steel parts Hoover vacuum cleaner several years ago. Even ancient and a little broken, it still worked better than the six machines I have purchased to replace it. They sure don't make 'em like they used to.

And my Kelly Blue Book Value? Does the category "no true monetary value, but some nostalgic appeal" count? Lord, I hope so.

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

You had me at "jizz-moppers"...;)

Jenny! said...

All jobs suck...hot people suck...and jizz moppers rule!

Maniac said...

Love it. "No wrongful termination suits in the world of love." Priceless, man.

Sassy Blondie said...

Quite possibly the best and most accurate evaluation of romance that I've ever heard. Bravo LBB! Bravo!

Video X said...

"Every once in a while a great line of work presents itself. It doesn’t last long."

I'm so realizing this and couldn't much get past your first topic since I'm stuck there. Realizing I found the perfect job, only to then realize I'm still dealing with assholes who really don't want me to do work. Realizing I'm dealing with f'ing mother f'ing idiots. (Yes, I'm grappling with this currently...all my illusions of doing a good job because I like my job are being destroyed.) It really sucks realizing that ...that many people really are that stupid.

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Hilarious, wise, and brilliant, as usual. I need to read this shit more often. Yep, zero sum game, but all things being equal, I'd rather be bitchin' over the cell phone about why the liquid crystal TV went out, than about why my new spooge mop came without a spit guard. I'm just sayin'...

phlegmfatale said...

This is just so spot-on that I have nothing to add.

Chrissie said...

LMAO... another awesome blog from LBB! From jizz moppers to your personal KBB value... all tied up with a neat bow... you rock! ;)

James Burnett said...

I would much rather have studied economics under this "curriculum" back in the day than the one I took involving actual numbers ;>)

Superstar said...

WOW! Just what I needed was a daily dose of sarcasim and a post that DRIPS with distain!!! LOL ;o)

SignGurl said...

Bravo!!

Loving Annie said...

Good Wednesday evening to you, Lightning Bug !

i love the comparisons. So true. For the most part. Actually, all true, the cynic in me observes wryly.

And here I was thinking you were going to do an Ayn Rand 'Atlas Shrugged' dissection...
And you did - in modern day terms :)

Thanks for coming by to visit my blog, and leaving the nice comment - I appreciated it !

From one properly valued car to another, :)
Loving Annie

mckay said...

you rock my world.

Loving Annie said...

Good Thursday morning to you, Lightning Bug,

I did read it. And loved it. Blink summarizes all of the reasons why we feel as we do instantly, and why there is so much logic behind it.

I also confess to hugely enjoying Mitch Albom's various books, and a very old one of Shad Helmstetter's called 'Choices'.

Have you read Paul Dobransky's 'How We Fall in Love' ?

Anyway, off for my morning walk, so have to get going for the day...

I have an erotica blog too, by the way... 'Mhmmm Yes I Love That'

Loving Annie

Loving Annie said...

Read farther down to some of your older posts, Rich.
Glad that you are giving yourself the freedom to write more of what is personal and real about you. The tao of ta-ta's - that was a good one :)

Loving Annie said...

p.s. sorry, I keep thinking of more things - you may really really like a blog called 'Skywriter' http://www.lighthawks.blogspot.com

The woman has an amazing command of language and is beautifully descrpitive/really thought provoking.

I'm also going to add you to my links later today on my nice girl blog. I've lurked here on and off occasionally for a few months. ow that we are cyber-chatting, it's worth a more permanent address.

jali said...

I think I'm a pretty lucky chick in that I luuuurves my job.

The romance section makes sense (have I been readding too much lbb?)

P.Brownsey said...

Whatever Adam Smith would say, you probably set out a pretty good case for Marx's notion that the ideas prevalent in a society tend to reflect the economic basis of that society. Love'n'sex infused by thoughts and practices from capitalist trade - thoroughly Marxist. You might add the notion beloved by some counsellors/psychotherapists, that relationships should be envisaged as resting on a 'contract'.

Paul Brownsey

Rach said...

Epic rant! What's going on with Adam Smith then?

MONA said...

so true about the jobs. The better you have the more it sucks!

Material things...the 'more more more' factor just adds to the woes! All possessions add to your woes too. If you have nothing you have nothing to worry about!

Romance...I am still trying to figure that one... just like words & my life!

Adam Smith is a cunt? I thought s/he was male! LOL!

Midas said...

If my job sucks, I can only blame it on my head as I am my own boss....wait...my baby is my boss. He dictates exactly when i can freaking work.

I like Kelly Blue Book value. It's quite true!

PBS said...

Yep, all too true. I'm working what was a fantastic job that has turned to poo. You really ought to write a book with your theories and earn some big bucks instead of giving it away for free.

Ashley said...

I have just entered my "dream" industry and I can already see how the older crowd acts threatened by the younger crowd...I keep thinking we have so much to learn from them but I feel like they are going to keep it from us...I hate it!