Saturday, October 29, 2011

Folks Don't Understand Being Broke

I was having a conversation with about the Occupy movement came up. My friend said something to the effect that instead of occupation what the young folks should do is collectively buy stocks in corporations and effect change from within the system.

Now, I might be misinterpreting his words or not understanding conceptually what he meant.  But I'm going with what I think I heard which is something to the effect of "there can be no change by what they are doing, get into the system and fight."

It is not a bad suggestion. Not a good one either. I get it that he is trying to find his answer.

I did point out to him that many of the people protesting can't find jobs or are locked out of employment. There was a gruff acknowledgement but then he said some of those people that support the movement could do it.

Not Really The Point

When I was broke, busted, unemployed and things where looking kinda dicey I can truthfully say that I did not have money to buy stocks or mutual funds.

I had choices like a bag of discount frozen french fries or toilet paper.
Off code meat or day old vegetables.
Finding soda cans that could get me bus fare to look for work.

I didn't have family to turn to. I did have people that took me to dinner once in a while. Thank Sprint for Craigslist. Other folks gave me good advice. . None of which involved going to a broker and putting a tenth of one percent of share on a company.

Being broke and fighting for survival is a full time job. It is more than just not having income. It is a feeling of being powerless. It is knowing that you are trying your best to do the right thing only to be told that you are a loser.

Gotta tell you that is a cultural mind fuck that hard to overcome.

Bootstrapping Is a Myth

I think people want to understand but we still have that mentality about bootstrapping. First you must have a boot. Then good laces. Then the foot to put into the boot. Libertarian 101 embedded in our fabric of influences.

That is not a bad thing. We as Americans pride or false pride ourselves as being self sufficient. And yet you need a community to support the making of goods and services. You need the infrastructure to be able to buy and sell. Skilled craftspeople are also necessary.

My point is that no, there is no self made anybody. We are interdependent with each other. We can chose the degrees of interdependence, and that is a good thing because there are some folks I want nothing to do with or held at arms length.

Yet applying the bootstrapping metaphore the questions still kick up. What do we do when industrial, manufacturing and many service jobs have been exported overseas? How do folks get a job when technological advancements have eliminated a range of labor and management positions?

You see, there is a space of disconnect that has to be talked about and damn if we are doing our best not to even try.

So no,  I am not going to tell folks scared silly about where the rent is coming from next month where to find a good broker.

I want to know more about alternative infrastructures and financial systems. Not to get rid of capitalism but maybe find other systems that helps folks cope a bit better than being told to shut up.


  1. Another thing that folks don't understand about being broke is that, if you come from poverty, you're often the only bank your people have so you CAN'T get ahead because you're so busy keeping your relatives from sinking even further. You have a couple hundred bucks and your brother's car breaks down - there goes your savings, because your brother drives himself and his wife and your other brother and his wife to work and the kids to grandma's house for child care, so if that car is lost, four jobs are lost. Nobody has a credit card to tide themselves over, so you become the credit cards for each other.

  2. Exactly! So while the more strident members of our society say they have no responsibility for another life but their own we are connected.

    For example, if the brother doesn't show up for work you the owner are one person short which isn't going to put you in the best light with your customers.

    The blinders don't work anymore but we still put them on.