Lucky

Samain and the Holiseason Moon

©willworthingtonart

Tuesday gratefuls: Ruby. Her Blizzaks. Her synthetic oil. Her seat warmers. A good ride, well-made. But. Carbon based transportation form. HIIT workout. Marina Harris’ crew. Great house cleaners. Color. Carnelian. Davy’s Gray. Canary. Prussian Blue. Titanium White. Magenta. Sea Green. Brown. Gray. Pop. On Rothko’s canvases. A whole realm. Snow, maybe.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: The World Without Her

Tarot: Page of Bows, the Stoat   Wildwood Tarot

 

 

 

Oh. Remembered. When the electrician taking power to the mini-splits was here Friday before last, he encountered an additional task at the end of the day. His boss offered to come help.

They finished. “Gotta get this guy home for Friday night,” the boss said. A man in his late sixties, slight pot belly, florid, genial.

“You’re a good boss, guy. Glad I don’t have to work anymore.”

He looked at me with a tinge of wistfulness. “Oh, you’re one of the lucky ones who got to retire?” A white male. Blue collar. Electrician. Owns his own company, Omega Electric.

I nodded. But his comment stuck me in my place. Fixed for a moment to the cultural corkboard like a rare specimen.* A frisson of guilt. Not long lasting, but there nonetheless.

Carried me back to high school. To Alexandria. To those good jobs at Delco Remy and Guide Lamp. Medical. A pension. 25/30 dollars an hour back in the day. What a union can do. The American Dream. And this guy, whose name I did not get, a tradesmen with his own shop, stood on my driveway at 6 pm on a Friday evening helping out his employee.

White privilege. Yes. It’s real and it’s pernicious. In oh so many ways. But. Caste privilege is real, too. Those born into educated families who educate themselves may still find the American Dream. [which is a pretty damned shallow thing if you have it, but a shiny object on a hill if you don’t] At least the English own it. India, too.

This is to question, again, the financial superstructure we have constructed where money flows up and trickles down like the Colorado River in a bad Snow year. Those of us who live upstream, we’re ok. Those others, who need water just like we do. Not so much.

The economy is the battleground. Those with college degrees have what appears to be an earned advantage. But, it’s not true, is it? Intelligence distributes on a bell curve like all human characteristics. Should we imagine a political economy where the brightest get all the good toys?

Look at another bell curve. Athletic prowess. Those on the .001% end of the curve, with good luck and hard work, can make more money than a King. But the rest of the curve, folks with little or no athletic gifts, like me, for example, can’t cash in.

Dexterity and mechanical intelligence. Also distributed. Those with these gifts suffer from our cultural obsession with intelligence of the sort used for a college education. They’re blue collar workers. Not quite good enough to make it into the office, to the C suites. Obvious they should make less, right?

Again, could I earn a living working with my hands? Nope. Did I need an electrician? Yep. Did I need a boiler guy? Yep. A mini-splits installer? Yep. A cabinet maker? Yep.

This is the point to remember the shameful covid circumstances of grocery store workers, convenience store clerks, truck drivers. All those “front line” workers who had to show up. No remote stocking of Safeway shelves. Who would take the cash for a tank of gas? How was the food that we all needed gonna make it from farm to table? Who drove the ambulance? Worked in the intensive care wards as a cleaner, a med tech?

And how do we pay them? As if their work were a casual necessity. As the economy improves the front line workers go to the back of the line for wages and benefits. Again. Still. Right where they’ve been all along.

It might be different, might be, if we had paid child care, universal health care, paid family leave, education for all when they need or want it, social security with amounts adequate for this economy. Might be. At least then a job as a Kroger checkout clerk wouldn’t consign you to perpetual poverty if you developed a chronic illness.

So. Yes. I am one of those lucky enough to retire. Lucky. DNA lucky. Demographically lucky. Bell curve lucky. Is luck really the way we want to organize our common life?

 

How much various age groups have saved for retirement.

*Age 50-59

37% have less than $50,000 saved
16% have $50,000 to $99,000 saved
32% have $100,000 to $500,000 saved
6% have $500,000 to $999,000 saved
8% have $1 million or more saved

Age 60-69

28% have less than $50,000 saved
10% have $50,000 to $99,000 saved
36% have $100,000 to $500,000 saved
14% have $500,000 to $999,000 saved
12% have $1 million or more saved

CNBC.com

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