Monday, March 24, 2014

When People's Lives Are Beyond Repair

A common comment I get about my books, even my classes is "if this had only been around 10 years ago." Or "if I had only read this when I was a kid."  It's a nice compliment that I take kindly and know that while my various literary works may not be able to help "everyone," it will help those that it can in the future.

Contrast this with a much less common comment I receive, though I still do receive it - that my literary works are largely only beneficial to young men without children.  Men who aren't divorced or don't have alimony to pay.  And that if you're a single parent, with student loans, and didn't save for retirement and are rapidly approaching 50, my books are pretty darn worthless.

While the two comments may seem different, they are essentially the same thing.  The only difference is the person making it.

If you've made mistakes in your past (intentionally, unknowingly, or not) and realize and admit you made said mistakes, you are the type to say, "Wow, where was this book 20 years ago?"  However, if you made some of those exact same mistakes, and then say, "Well, this book is worthless, how is it supposed to help me," then you are the type of person who has yet to fully realize the consequences your mistakes in the past and still lingers out for hope that there is a solution.

And I am here to say, "Sorry, I'm not a miracle worker."

Because of what I believe to be an overly optimistic media, public school system, and especially movies, Americans (of all political stripes) have been led to believe that "the good guy always wins."  That "no problem or threat is so great, it can end you."  Or that "no problem is insurmountable and there is always a solution at the end that will save the day."

And I am here to tell you, "sorry, it just ain't so."  It is VERY POSSIBLE that you make such critically bad decisions that you will permanently screw up your life, to which there are no solutions.  And there's nothing you, nor I, nor anybody can do anything to solve it.

For example I eviscerated this woman who went $163,000 into debt to get a "Design" degree.  Not so much for that action in itself, but in her plea that "congress or Barack Obama" (read you and me) "do something about this." (she has since made it clear that she does not want a bail out so please do not harass her anymore).  But she exemplifies the point of somebody who made disastrous decisions and now vainly looks for a solution, to which there is none.  Sadly her life is f*cked.  She has no other option but to pay the price and endure it.

Another example are teenagers who get pregnant.  Their brains, only about 75% developed, are incapable of fully comprehending just how thoroughly and fully they've destroyed their lives.  But worse, pickled in an environment of "single mom heroism," "the youth are our future," "you can do anything you want," and other public school/media feel-good BS, they overestimate themselves, their position in society, and their future capacity for success.  This not only prevents them from fully assessing their real situation in life, but more often than not leads to them making even MORE life-crippling decisions (eg. the "empowered single mom" who goes further in debt, whilst at the same time outsourcing her child to daycare, so she can get a worthless degree that will not improve her employability)

Cite as many examples as we want, the point is that people can make such horrendous decisions that they are beyond help.  They are beyond repair.  There is no possible solution or recovery.  Their lives, their one shots at life,  are literally ruined, are literally over, and their only option is to suffer their remaining days on this planet in misery. 

The question is whether they come to terms with this reality or they vainly and futilely search for a solution that does not exist.  Whichever of the two they choose, I don't care.  But for the Patron Saint's Name of Frick, don't DEMAND other people come up with solutions to your impossible-to-solve problems.

This evil, mean, hate-filled, though 100% truthful post brought to you by Asshole Consulting.

Asshole Consulting - the only consulting company specializing in truth.


Peregrine John said...

Non-useful? Naw. Takes some adjustment for the rest of us to use it, but it's workable. Enough course corrections can add up to a whole new destination, if you take my meaning. And they can be done subtly enough to avoid resistance by the crew.

Anonymous said...

There are a number of countries that don't really believe in alimony and child support so assuming they are OK with leaving the country, assuming a new identity, and never talking to anyone from their past life, they should be able to recover. There are books on this you could refer them to.

Jack said...

It's a sad thing, really. Otherwise good people can really fuck themselves over. You're right that we shouldn't have sympathy for the ones that turn around and ask the taxpayers to bail them out.

But I see no end to it. From my observation of how Americans tend to behave, they're uninterested in politics and finance. In older times, where government was small, I think the former was a virtue. It showed a desire to focus on one's own success and place in the world, instead of using the state to push others around. Today, I'd say that's become a vice, as the government has come to be viewed as the meal ticket, the doting mother of society that will give you what you want if you give up just a little bit of your freedom.

Ignorance of finance and economics, however, is no virtue in any circumstance. Simple adages like "spend less than you take in" are completely alien to a lot of people. Worse, this cult of positive thinking and self-esteem seems to only get stronger. When faced with absolute financial ruin, I think what happens is people either own up to their mistakes, and honorably soldier on and try to live as best they can.

Or, they dig deeper into their own delusion as a form of psychological self-preservation. No one wants to be wrong, but certainly no one wants to admit that they were so wrong that their lives are now destroyed. Look at your average legal forum. A good number of the posts about employment are people reminding each other that a job is a just a job, and that they shouldn't define themselves by wealth or career anymore, when I'm sure a lot of them started out their 1L craving power, a three-piece suit, and a 6 figure income starting.

There's a place for everyone in society, in the end. You can be an example to live up to, or a stern warning to others.

Anonymous said...

True enough. My friend Herb, for instance, just didn't get away from his mother soon enough. Fortunately his family was well-to-do and he is living on inherited money.

And one runs out of time. After age about 55 one's energy level decreases, more and more, making it more and more difficult to improve one's lot, solve problems, or (eventually) just plain get out of bed in the mornings. In the last decade of one's life one better have the home and loving children!

Glen Filthie said...

When I think of Captain Capitalism the label I hang on him is 'Life Skills Coach'. The people that need that are young and/or stupid and they get what they need delivered the way they need to hear it! Piping hot!

I made every mistake you ream the kids out for today - 30 years ago. We survived and today most of the people that had planned families and fancy jobs and educations would envy ME, of all the bloody things. I realized a little while back that I Had It Made...and wonder how in the bloody hell I got around Darwin and Murphy to do it! But good at times pushed us to our breaking points and beyond. My daughter is a liberal arts clusterf**k - but that is on her head and so she starts off on her life's journey to right past wrongs the same way I did I guess. She will get there, I trained her and she knows better. Some things just take time.

Don't tell people they're doomed Aaron. It's not necessarily true. I remember people telling me that during my darkest hours. My friends, my parents, my shitbird inlaws...and I deserved better than that. If I want to get advice from an asshole - I can get it for free and steer your customers there too. I have a mother in law with the IQ of a parrot and the disposition of a pole cat that would LOVE to make young folks miserable. You owe your paying customers better than that. You need to expand your scope too - advising good young men who have MADE those mistakes and how to proceed with them.

Just my two bits, bro.

Anonymous said...

One can do a LOT to steer one's children away from these mistakes. Yes, many kids don't listen, but if you've been there for them, many kids will listen. Well, part of the time.

Paul, Dammit! said...

It's interesting how the ancient adage "There's nothing new under the sun" holds true. Today's American peasants (middle-middle class and under) and yeomen (upper-middle class and above) face many of the same problems as their Feudal era counterpart- student loans are the new rack-rent, and the debtor's prison is inevitable unless the nation goes bankrupt first.

Yep, nothing new, except for the tools by which one can avoid such things. Critical thinking skills and some good books sound a lot better than indentured servitude, er, excuse me, unpaid internships, as a precursor to simply being able to live hand-to-mouth.

And, once again, to show that this is a time of crisis amidst relative plenty, I'll remind anyone who reads this that there's a concurrent personnel shortage in the trades nationwide- my own trade (merchant marines) among them- anyone wants to make 50k a year w/ full bennies for working a low-stress, physically undemanding 14 days a month on a tugboat, let me know.

Goober said...

I don’t think that it does any good to tell people this, though. You tell someone that their position is untenable and unfixable, they are going to give up, and many of them are going to go the way of sweetness that you linked to: demanding that other people come fix their fuckups for them.

We get enough of these jackasses and someone’s going to start listening to them some day, and before you know it, we’ll all be in the business of working our asses off so we can bail these morons out of their mistakes. Once again, the hard working, successful among us will be punished, so that the dipshits aren’t uncomfortable in their own dipshitty choices.

I subscribe to the line of thinking that has us continuing to encourage them and push them along, letting them think that they’re not completely screwed.

I went from having zero dollars in my pocket at 20 years old, with no idea where I was going and what I was doing, to having a net worth of about a half a million dollars now, at 34 years old. I didn’t do that because I had a silver spoon in my mouth, I did it because I out-thought the forces of destruction and ruin at every turn. I jumped ship on my old employer at exactly the right time, and started with my new company at the bottom, and worked to bring it up to where it is today. At 34, nearly every hair on my head is gray. I directly feed about 60 families with my efforts, by employing their breadwinners at good, high paying trade jobs, while making a good salary for myself in the process. I came by it all with hard work and perseverance and risk and calculation, and I WILL NOT allow some womyn’s studies moron or some communications major dude with dreadlocks and double-digit IQ agitate to take a slice of what is mine simply because they took the easy way out and are now screwed financially.

“Fairness” my ass.

White Knight Leo #0368 said...

I would disagree that those examples you describe are unfixable, at least in the sense that you can mitigate the long-term damage. There's always a solution, just not always a great one; it might involve working 18 hour days for 15 years, but it would do the job.

Crankyoldman said...

From reading you for about a year now I don't get the sense that you are saving for retirement. It probably won't be there. I am 55 and wondering how the next 25 years will go. I am not moaning and groaning about injustice at all but I am curious as to what your plan is for when you are older, can't really work but still need to eat and have shelter. I think as a 55 year old, that is working through this issue, that has bought, read and recommended your book to my kids, I wonder if you give that aspect of life much thought. It is coming and when you get there it's too late.

Stryker4570 said...

I am 51 and discovered the Red pill about four years ago. I had basically wasted my life up to that point. Divorces and eventually remarried (luckily to a decent woman)
three kids, dead end job, mortgage. I got off my ass and took some risks, and started my own business. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done, but I employ half a dozen people and make plenty enough to pay my bills and lead a decent life. I no longer answer to some dumb ass boss, and have a very bright future. Not only is some of your advice valuable for me, but I am teaching many of your precepts to my young sons so that they may avoid my mistakes.

Karo Karapetyan said...

Where do I sign up?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of ruining your life,
I just found this Gawker article that finally admits that college is a complete scam, and grad school even more so.

It is ironic how they shit on it in one article, then ruthlessly defend it in the another.

leeholsen said...

i also gotta disagree. unless you get some serious disease that wipes your body or finances out, you can recover. there's this guy at early retirement extreme that's retired in his mid 30s and easily lives below the poverty level because he divorced himself from the consumer lifestyle. there's also plenty of people that turned it around themselves.

i agree with others here that you should be pointing others the way, rather than telling them; there is no hope. imo, the biggest problem is some many in the usa arent encouraged to seek out better ways. hell, i'm reading a book currently on how people get cancer and how not to get it(never fear cancer again). i shouldnt be the exception on this though.
this imo, is the biggest problem; is most people; for all of history; will just go along and take what is given and why you have a point that its too late to save most who took wrong turns; but it doesnt mean we shouldnt stop trying to turn them around.

Emma said...

That's overly pessimistic. Those are not enviable positions, sure, but there could be so much worse happening to those people. And even those things wouldn't be beyond hope (it just would be a slim hope). But gosh, if my grandparents thought this way, they'd never survive and I wouldn't be here making this comment. One should be realistic, but never despair.

Anonymous said...

> At 34, nearly every hair on my head is gray.

Is all of that stress worth it?

Jordan Kert said...

Paul! How do I start working on a tugboat for 2 weeks a month at 50k / year with bennies? how do i contact you?