Struggle for the Legal Tender
November 21, 2000
"I'm going to be a happy idiot
And struggle for the legal tender" -Jackson Browne
I'm tellin ya, this economic boom of the last decade or so ain't all it's cracked up to be. A bunch of people got rich, but somehow I missed the train. How come someone didn't tell me that the train to Massive-Options City and Fat-401(k) Boulevard was leaving the station?
I'm still not rich. I'd be willing to bet that you aren't, either.
Let's be honest. Has this rapid economic expansion and information technology revolution done much to change your day-to-day life? Do you still toil over reports for the boss? Do you still wish you made more money? Do you still sit in traffic? How 'bout washing your clothes? That hasn't changed, has it? It's all the same. There was no "paradigm shift," or, for that matter, shift of income to the wage slaves. (If you happen to be one of the very few to actually cash in options for a massive windfall, then quit reading this and get back on the golf course.) Fact is, we've all got the same problems and hope for the best. We're all brothers and sisters in this struggle for the legal tender.
The media keeps pummeling us with stories of another 20-year-old millionaire, or some mail clerk who exercised a few options for a new Ferrari. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who's pulling down a cool $40K a year and somewhat proud to do it. A guy I went to college with got in on eBay in the early days. Now he comes back to the area and throws money around, donating a few hundred thousand dead-presidents to our old school like it was much pocket lint.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not spiteful of these instant millionaires. I say good for them. I can live vicariously through them and soak up some optimism while I'm at it. I would just like to quit hearing about them and for once give three cheers for the wage slaves of the world who actually have to worry about the price of gasoline.
Let me be one of the first to give some shout-outs to my paycheck-to-paycheck brethren. Nice work. Good job. Not everyone is rich. Not everyone has 10 or 20 grand lying around. We are wage slaves and we are proud. We are the oil that keeps the machine running. Every clich� you can think of, that's us!
In the final analysis, we just need to remember that money really doesn't matter. I have my family and friends. I get small pleasures from such free things as hiking with my girlfriend or shooting baskets with my nephew. One day, through careful planning, diligent work, and some Foolish torment, we will retire and laugh at ourselves for thinking those Internet-rich folks had it made. They'll be equally wrinkled and equally poor at golf. They just took the train while we walked.