Friday, March 21, 2014

pay adjuncts, work hard, live below your means

I didn't know Joseph A. Domino's article in The Huffington Post was coming, but I have known Joe through various e-mails since the spring of 2010, soon after I first learned that Fight for Your Long Day would be published. His early enthusiasm for the novel led to his testimony as a blurb on the adjunct situation at the front of the book.

Reading Domino's HuffPo piece, good writing that presumably didn't earn him a dime, it struck me that 1) Joe left out a lot of personal adversity he's faced; 2) in several fluid paragraphs, he captures the 1970s recession as well as the present moment for far too many; and 3) the man has worked hard, forty plus years of it, and he deserves his retirement with a degree of dignity.

Also, Joe says that some might call him "cheap," but I'd suggest that the way he implies he has handled his money over the years is very reasonable given the elasticity of the American economy with all of its downsizing, outsourcing, unpredictable inflation, artificial bubbles, and market gyrations. In fact, we're at an intraday all-time high for the S&P 500 right now, but everyone knows that the S&P index is unpredictable and recently has become less reliable as a predictor of the average adult American's fate.

So if there are any younger workers or students reading this blog, I'd encourage you to live like Joe, below your means, and, if possible, save more than a penny for a rainy day and try to navigate the world of lower-expense safer investments. On this topic, for younger Americans, student-loan debt is often a significant obstacle, and so I also wanted to share again one government website and additional information on possibilities for safely and legally lowering payments and even having some debt forgiven outright.

If you work hard, live modestly, and save diligently, there are still plenty of ways to imagine the worst, everything from personal emergencies to total ecological collapse, but it's also possible you may enjoy a little breathing room as an older worker and retiree.

(This post's final paragraphs are dedicated to the good friend who has recently expressed concern that the narrator of "Frade Killed Ellen" has a far too pessimistic view of America. The same friend likes to remind his college students of how we can go through major life changes throughout our middle years, and how it can feel like turning the corner at age 40 is when life really begins. Of course, I realize that for many of us, there's a strong sense of what's done is done and what will be already is, and I wish I knew how to snap my fingers, get rid of this feeling, and improve various lives all at once.)

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