I think it was Tocqueville who first said it, but whoever, it’s true: Revolutions only start when the Middle Class realizes its inevitable downward trajectory.
We’re not there yet. So long as there’s cheap credit, I don’t know if we’ll ever get there (since, of course, if there’s no longer cheap credit, it won’t be just the Middle Class burning things in the street). As it stands, there’s still an out for most members of the Middle Class, or at least for their kids: Get a government job.
You can live like royalty as a parasite on the Parasite State. I had this lesson driven home to me back in grad school, when I considered getting a summer job as a letter carrier. I lived in one of those college towns that has a handful of full-time residents, and the political economy to match — all the townies took their summers off, too, so getting mail delivered was actually a bit of an ordeal. So I went down to apply….
…and was told, in so many words, fuhgetabouttit; call back when you’re a disabled transgendered Latino lesbian with a veterans’ preference. Which sucked almost as much as the realization I had just afterwards: “Wait a minute, take a look at that salary, divide by hours, carry the two, cosine, square root…. holy shit, throw in the bennies and I could make more — way, waaay more — as a letter carrier than I’d make in my first 5-10 years in a tenure track job.”
Now, a few caveats apply. A tenure track job, in case you don’t know, looks like a decent bit of scratch on paper — 40-60K, depending on where you go, and of course the chance of guaranteed lifetime employment for no further work. But it’s also about an 80 hour a week gig, when you factor in grading, endless “university service,” committee work, directing dissertations, advising students, etc., not to mention your own research (publish or perish). You can’t make that kind of dough out of the gate as a letter carrier, but — short work hours, decent bennies, an even easier set of job duties than preaching Marxism at hungover undergrads, and of course once you’re on that G pay scale, guaranteed lifetime employment, all for the low low price of some union dues and a pledge to vote Democrat forever (and bring three or four of your deceased relatives to the polls with you). So, you know, the same deal as getting tenure. Being a quasi-numerate sort of guy, I’d rather work 20 hours a week for $1K than 80 hours a week for $2K. And that’s just delivering mail! Imagine what a “diversity outreach coordinator,” GS-15, pulls down.
That’s what I’m telling my kids to shoot for. Of course, I’m also teaching them to stash every penny away, learn survival skills, and get ready to bug out to a less insane country when the shit starts coming down the road at a decent clip, but I’m paranoid that way. Most bourgeoisie aren’t, but hey, that’s their lookout. They still know that getting a government job will keep the wolf from the door a few years longer, and until that doesn’t apply anymore, the revolution will not be televised.