You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.
—Rahm Emanuel, November 2008
It is the word of the year. It was the word last year. Everything from the price of wheat and oil and fabric and milk shifts on it. The national debt kills it. Political achievement depends on it. Tax laws hang on it. Whether or not the recession is truly over is incumbent on it. So it’s a fairly important word for 2011. Hell, the unemployment rate has already gained jobs for some and cost others. It’s created new ones and eliminated more than a few. Some are coming back. Some, well, might come back, but who knows?
But a job isn’t merely a word that is defined in Webster’s as “to carry out occasional pieces of work for hire” or “to carry out public business for private gain.” It tends to define humans. These humans usually call these “occasional pieces of work for hire” a career. In this country, the home of the mostly free and rarely brave, a good deal of humans hang dreams on them. With age, those dreams shift from Ruler of the Universe to freelance writer, but still carry some psychological weight. Some.
And so jobs may act as a socio-economic political fulcrum, while also appearing as the sense, purpose and worth of a person. Many times these two crucial aspects of jobs don’t meet. That’s fine. It’s life. It’s tough and disappointing and messy. But one thing that is a constant with jobs is money; how much an entity is willing to pay for it and what its value is to the individual who may be carrying out “business for private gain;” the operative word there being “gain.”
Since the year began, it’s been jobs, jobs, jobs. It hangs over the daily proceedings as threatening storm clouds. It has dominated public discourse and caused all kinds of movements around here. Then we see people running amok in Egypt and Libya and other repressed, broke nations with high unemployment and a crashing currency, and we think, “Heck, that’s what a crippling lack of jobs, jobs, jobs can do to society, huh?”
It’s a sober view of this economic fallout most of the world is enduring, which the United States has duly suffered. Although we love to whine, things aren’t as bad as they could have been or might have been in the autumn of 2008 when the illusionary sphere of finance looked to be held together by lunatics and criminals; the two elements of civilization that will nearly always find a cozy place around money.
The past few weeks in Wisconsin, the “idea” of jobs has clashed to a high level of repute. The governor, a Republican “business” pawn, who has cleverly used his state’s over-bloated budget to crush civil workers’ unions, has literally put “jobs” on trial. By so doing, no matter his motive or masters or general wavering opinion from the Right or Left, he is serving his state’s taxpayers, the majority of which voted him in on this very platform. Governor Scott Walker desperately attempts to tear at the fabric of his political enemies, or simply put a major financial windfall for Democrats, as he outwardly pronounces the noble duty of extracting his state from going California falls under his job title.
It’s a tough job, governor, as is any elected official whose ideology subsequently lands him/her the financial support needed to attain that job. Unions are a huge assistance to Mr. Walker’s ideological opponents and enemies to his sugar daddies. The financial crisis has given him the moment and leverage to pounce. Backlash, furor, protests and shifting support from the nation can hardly be the issue. He has a job and he is doing it as he sees fit. As stated, it is a tough one.
But I argue it is not nearly as tough as teacher. Holy shit. Anyone going on television or writing about how cushy teachers have it, with their big compensation packages and three months off a year, are sadly misguided. I have spoken to children of all ages, from middle school through high school and colleges, usually as a welcomed guest and not a servant of the state, and I can honestly tell you after one hour of this I need seven belts and fourteen hours of sleep.
Teaching is thankless and horrible and your children are damaged and weird and unruly and frightening and dealing with that gaggle of misfits on a daily basis with wholly unrealistic expectations to produce societal robots for a dying workforce, while stamping out artistic expression and original thought, is an excruciatingly difficult task. Now, whether they unionize and have better benefits than the private sector and who pays for what can be debated, but hell, if I have to teach, I want big money, jack.
Therefore, I offer as a public service, a far better job than governor or teacher: Charlie Sheen. I like that job. And I support his successful run at being Charlie Sheen. Oh, sure he’s a celebrity and I guess an actor, if people still act on television, not to mention champion drug fiend, but mostly he is Charlie Sheen. Quality chemicals, dysfunctional living arrangements, countless network feeds to expound anti-social, radical notions and millions in the bank? Fuck governance and molding the youth, Charlie Sheen is the way to go.
Where was my guidance counselor on that one?
“Mr. Campion, do you have any idea what you’d like to do with your life?”
“Big bank account, high-class hookers, stacked bar, fast cars, and a general lawless existence, please.”
“Oh, you’ll need to have a father whose already successful in the field of entertainment or politics, and then you can get nepotism gigs, party until you drop, and even become president.”
“Sign me up.”
James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of Deep Tank Jersey, Fear No Art, Trailing Jesus and Midnight For Cinderella.