Life has been busy lately, but somehow I've managed. I've had to get creative in order to make ends meet...it doesn't involve a street corner, but it does involve applying my talents in new ways. I have decided that I need to be called a 'consultant.'
Why, you ask? Because for one, I live not in the city, but in the suburbs, and evidently all those minimally-employed or unemployed professionals who are looking to rectify their economic situation call themselves as such. I've been told that 'consultant' sounds more dignified and represents the level of education and experience possessed by people like me. Also, because a consultant can charge more for services rendered than the average Joe or Jane.
Eh, whatever works. As long as I can earn enough to keep the roof over my head, the lights on, and the fridge with some food, then things will be ok.
Very interesting discussion on BBC World News America tonight. Katty Kay did a report on economic troubles in Rhode Island, being representative of much of the rest of the country, but it was followed by an exchange between her and Matt Frei, the anchor. They made an interesting comparison between Europeans and Americans when it comes to these tough economic times. Both the Englishwoman and the German gentleman noted that Europeans have expected certain services by their governments--services for which they have been paying much higher taxes for a very long time--and now that the governments have to cut back some 20% on these services, the sense of entitlement that the government isn't helping the people is growing. By contrast, they noticed that most Americans aren't big on government help...we have never really expected the government to give us everything, but that probably is because we have a culture of wanting lower, not higher, taxes, along with a culture of do-it-yourself; we want to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, not have the government do it for us. On the other hand, they both figured that if things get much worse here, Americans will start striking and protesting just like in France, Spain, Italy and other European countries. (Of course, our first protest will come on the first Tuesday of November, with the elections.)
Are they right? Very probably. It seems like it's always been a land of independence--it's not that we don't want help, but we have a pride in taking care of ourselves that seems to run counter to socialism in the strictest sense. Even though polls are suggesting that more and more Americans are warming up to nationalized health care plans, we also don't want the government to interfere all the time with our lives. Perhaps that's as a consequence of our history--pioneers fending for themselves, and all that. And as for the comment on Europeans feeling entitled to certain services but paying higher taxes, that probably has truth in it, too, but my knowledge and impressions aren't that strong. I will say that being in Italy this summer, people were highly disgruntled with the government telling them to expect less for more, even though the austerity measures would still result in more coverage and services than the average American had. Pushing the age of retirement from 60 to 62 seems to be unheard of and unacceptable for most Europeans...but my parents' generation saw retirement somewhere between 62 and 65, and for my generation it probably will be 68, or maybe even later.
I guess the bottom line is that we humans are creatures of comfort and habit. We really aren't that fond of change, particularly if it disrupts our lives so much. Yet we always seem to manage through, all the same.