Got a letter from the Oklahoma City Housing Authority a couple days ago. It stated that they would have an apartment for me as soon as one was available. It also gave no time line. It could be a couple weeks. It could be over a year. I’ve heard horror stories about people waiting for several years to get into a low income apartment. Even with social security disability insurance paying for my doctors’ appointments and treatments, I couldn’t have afforded to move out of Nebraska if I didn’t have family help.
When I first applied for social security disability insurance in 2006, it took until 2008 to get approved. I was denied several times and ultimately hired an attorney to speed up the process. For two years I was dependent on my family for almost everything. I had zero income other than what my parents gave me under the table because I couldn’t handle even a minimum wage customer service job. The factory job I held for a couple months wasn’t bad until my work suffered from sleep deprivation. I did well in work that didn’t involve working with the public. Even people who donated to the Goodwill store where I worked on the loading/unloading dock were often nasty and barbaric.
Sadly, most jobs I ever had available to me were customer service jobs. There were a few factories in Kearney (the town I lived in from 2005 to 2022). But those jobs were tough to get because everyone wanted them. Factory work was far better than customer service, at least for me. Paid better too. But there really aren’t nearly as many factory jobs in my nation as there were in the past. The 20 something barely making a living working even 40 hours a week at a fast food place and living in his parent’s basement would have probably been working a factory job and had union protection if he was born 100 years earlier. Or he would have been a self sufficient homesteader growing his own food and eating meat from his own herds had be been young when the Homestead Act was passed. They used to tell young people who couldn’t find jobs in their hometowns “Go West young man.” There is no frontier anymore, at least not until space exploration ramps up.
People talk about how US companies are moving manufacturing out of China and back to the US (this is often referred to as near shoring). But even most of those jobs will be automated. Even fast-food drive throughs are starting to be automated. I imagine that any job that can possibly be automated will be once automation becomes cheaper and better than human labor. Our managers don’t care about the work you put in. If they did, they wouldn’t have outsourced your job decades ago. I get so frustrated when I hear someone go on about how hard they work. You do realize that your boss doesn’t care about how much work you put in. Ironically, I kind of don’t either. You just as well be a draft horse to most bosses. And draft horses eventually got replaced by tractors and automobiles. Putting in lots of work by itself doesn’t make you special, certainly not in eyes of the people paying you.
Bosses have been outsourcing jobs for decades because it was cheaper to have it done in third world countries with fewer labor laws, fewer unions, and fewer environmental regulations. Eventually third world countries will resort to automation. I totally understand why people start their own small businesses, buy rental properties, buy farmland, and do the digital nomad thing. I imagine that self-employment, subsistence farming on small homesteads, and free lancing will become very popular again. Those were the historical norm until the Industrial Revolution. In most African countries, these never truly went out of style. Maybe they are just ahead of the developed world in that regard. Even illiterate peasants grew most of their own food for most of history. The modern worker doesn’t even do that.
I lost my career to disability. It took a few years before I came to terms with the fact that my career died. I went through all the stages of grieving and death. While it wasn’t a physical death, it was the death of my career and possible family that I was grieving. My previous self who was poised to be a very productive member of society and a great father died. But the building of something new is often built upon the ashes and ruins of the old. My reborn self became a blogger and independent scholar. While I doubt I will ever make above poverty wages, I am content with what I do. I guess this blog will be the closest thing to a legacy I will ever have.