Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Guest Post by James of The Gilded Moth. Also known as husband and daddy around our house. 

Wages have been flat for most of the 2000s, yet the cost of living has steadily increased. In the meantime, corporate profits are soaring. We've got fat-cat CEOs taking home hundreds of millions in bonuses. The income gap is worse than ever.

Is it any wonder that so many of us say "tax the motherf***ers!"

We've gotta make a living somehow. I can't believe how many lower income people I know who fail to grasp the simplicity of this concept. As a child, I was raised to believe that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" was an actual way of life. And it used to be, for previous generations. Baby boomers who didn't go to college could go to work at manufacturing jobs right after high school, get married, have kids, own cars and houses and earn high enough wages to take vacations and pursue their interests. But the picture simply doesn't look like that for a working man or woman in 2012.

I'm just an average Joe. I'm married and I have two kids, and I work hard to support them. My wife also works and commutes 30 miles twice a week to attend classes at USC Upstate in pursuit of a Graphic Design degree. Like everyone else, we have bills to pay. Too many bills for what we earn. Once we've paid for the rent, utilities, phone, car insurance, gasoline, car payment, internet and food, there is nothing left over. In fact, we don't earn enough to get by even on that. (Cancel the internet you say? All of our bills are paid online, and the time and effort that saves us is well worth the $55 each month, especially considering it's our only way to get news since we don't pay for the luxury of cable TV.)

From January to mid April I work a second job doing tax returns. Working two jobs leaves me scant time for my family, friends or hobbies. Time spent at home is merely rest from fatigue. Where's the life? Where's the liberty? Where's the pursuit of happiness?

It's in an offshore account somewhere, and it belongs to someone else, someone more elite. That dream does not belong to American workers anymore.

Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, a CEO, a movie star, a professional athlete or a stock broker. Most of us are made to work regular jobs, and that's OK. Not everyone needs vast wealth or power for happiness.

But when all your time is spent just trying to scrape by, when all your effort goes into paying the bills and just surviving, paycheck to paycheck, forget the pursuit of happiness, where's the life and liberty in that? What is American about it?


  1. Hi, James! Nice to meet the papa in this little family :)

    Sadly, it's the same the world over. I live in the UK and I will never be able to afford to buy a house. I question all the time whether my car is a necessity or a luxury. Every time I go to the supermarket, I scrutinise price lables and compare each and every item, and every time I buy myself an item of clothing I feel guilty that the money would have been better spent elsewhere. But that's because I insist on paying my own way, and I refuse to get into debt. Sadly I know a lot of people my age (late twenties) who rely on their credit cards to make ends meet every month - EVERY month. I don't know how they expect to ever pay them back, and where does that lead you?

    My solution is to stay positive: I have to remind myself that I've got a lot of years left in me, and I won't always be working in this job, earning this salary. I have given up on wishing to own a home, and have made peace with it. I hope you don't think I'm over-simplifying the issue, and I'm not suggesting that my attitude will help everyone (or even anyone) else.

    Your children will appreciate how hard you worked to take care of them, and I know your wife does, too. You seem like such a lovely family and I wish nothing but good things for you all x

  2. hey,

    it´s the same in germany. i study to be a teacher for young kids, five years studying, a master´s degree and this will end up with be being unemployed and aiming to deliver newspapers or whatever. noone wants me, cuz noone needs me..hard times, must not need hard hearts. nuffs. stay positive.

  3. Interesting post, thanks for sharing. May I ask, where does your family live? I live somewhere where the cost of living is quite affordable. I think that makes a big difference than in a big city.