July 14, 1983

 

I woke up scared this morning: a broken typewriter and an acute shortage of money.

Iíve been wasting money lately, going out too much, drinking too many beers.

Iíve no one else to blame but myself.

I need to chant: I must cut down; I must cut down.

But how?

Iíve been paying Dr. Thomas for questionable analysis.

My English professor has got it into his head that I need therapy (he thinks everybody does) and that heís the one that has to give it to me..

This may be something of a conflict of interest. But how do you tell a professor that when your grade depends on his good will?

This is a long process, he tells me; cures rarely occur over night.

Cure for what?

This is to not to say I deny being screwed up. Anybody thatís had a family like mine and an upbringing in the mad house in which I lived as a kid will have issues to resolve.

But we sit in his office, I rant on about whatever comes into my head, he nods, mumbles, and tells me to go on.

Now I know why Woody Allen makes so much fun of the process. Few things seem so silly.

I hate the idea of being consumed by money.

Yet I understand in our society money makes a huge difference.

Whatís that old song from Cabaret?

Money makes the world go round?

Money makes a human life turn, and it is an incredible balancing act to know at what point you have enough, and at what point you have abandoned your hopes and dreams in its pursuit.

In America, it really is easy to make money.

Wall Street and the Twin Towers prove that -- all those poor fools selling their souls for some illusive concept pf wealth, creating an economy in which they no longer have to do an honest dayís work for an honest dayís pay, but letís their money make money, while working people somewhere down the food chain actually break their backs for the bottom line.

I canít believe how evil Wall Street really is, how companies will hire and fire in order to keep up the profits to the stockholders, while ignoring the fate of the poor who struggle to provide for families on the pathetic wages offered.

I live in a Polish neighborhood where many of the immigrants still donít trust banks and keep their money in their mattresses -- an honest concept that doesnít accumulate interest and doesnít grow at the expense of somebody elseís misfortunes.

Jefferson and Franklin, of course, were wrong, believing labor and land made people equal, when most people are doing their best to avoid having to work hard. The concept of farm-based society failed because of two basic concepts: work sucks and people generally want to feel superior to their neighbor, not equal.

Thus we have stock brokers who smoke cigars, do cocaine, play golf and pretend like they are movers and shakers rather than clerks.

Our society is built less on the concept that hard work will get you ahead, but that you need to work harder and harder to keep ahead of all the people and institutions seeking to pick your pocket.

It amazes me how much like a heroin dealer many of our institutions are: gas and electric threatening to freeze you in winter unless you come up with the cash to pay them, oil companies that rid gasoline prices when you need fuel to get to work, doctors that live high on the hog while holding hostage your health.

†What makes Wall Street brokers so superior is that they have found a way to make so much money that it doesnít really matter how many people pick their pockets, and these elevated clerks make their money by letting other people do the actual labor -- a kind of contemporary slavery that is less dependent on race than on lack of opportunity. Poor people are most likely to stay poor because the wealthy have such a head start.

I personally still believe my hippie roots, that working for other people is the root of all evil, that if youíre not doing what you like to do then youíre a sucker.

Iím also trying to avoid the popular American concept that it is every man for himself, and that to make money you must be willing to screw your neighbor over at every opportunity -- and above all, donít ever pay your fair share of taxes.

I guess Iím just one of the many dreamers in this world.

Dreamers -- unless they are monsters like Ford or Edison -- tend to ruin capitalism. Dreamers step off the treadmill and look at the progression of wealth-making for what it is: a no win situation.

If you are not willing to play the game, to be as ruthless as possible in the pursuit of money, then you get run over by the realities: exorbitant prices for rent, food, utilities and health.

A pay check wonít handle the demands unless you somehow make it grow as fast as the pick pockets pick your pockets.

This means you have to -- as John Lennon once put it -- smile as you kill, become a ruthless purveyor of a bad system, stealing as much as possible from the system so that you can stay ahead of the curve.

The reason why wealthy people and workers hate welfare clients, artists and dreamers, is because we somehow manage to get out of the rat race. Welfare reform is largely designed by those trapped inside the maze to make sure that no one escapes their duty to maintain the slave state. Many of the same people who want others to work, maintain illegal apartments from which they get rent or sell drugs, or work off the books so as to not pay taxes.

But dreamers, who do not wish to rip off the system -- such as collecting unemployment, welfare or working off the books, generally starve.

I struggle with the concept of how to live honestly and fully as the book Walden depicts, but the wealthy landlords keep upping the rent, tearing down the forests and constructing a world in which Walden is no longer possible.

I wonder: perhaps if I saved a little each week, stuck five or ten dollars into a bank account I might get ahead.

But even the government wonít let you get away with much, taxing interest and unemployment insurance so that no avenue is left fro escape.

Nor am I free completely from the seductions of the world that massive industry designed to lure me into purchasing things I do not need or really want, but become convinced I do by some elaborate system of advertisement (for which companies do not even have to pay taxes). We drain our own wallets by our own weakness to resist temptation, purchasing too many beers or too many color TVs.

For me, life can be a simple choice of conserving or making more money.

But conservation doesnít work in a society where everybody drains your wallet, and I have my own issues: pets to feet, rent to pay.

Iím half way through July and I still havenít paid my rent yet, and I fear that if I do I wonít have anything to live on for the next two weeks -- when rent will be do again. This is nothing to say of the lack of gas food for the cats, or beer and snacks upon which I grow fat.

If only I could learn to control myself or build a society which is truly fair.

But there I go again, dreaming.

 

 


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