I spent the first half of my adult life trying to save the world. Okay, perhaps a bit melodramatic, but that was my joking way of describing why I had gone into an occupation that required me to deal with people in the throes of their worst moments. This profession required me to obtain and continue maintaining great amounts of education, credentials, licenses, insurance, and self-motivated knowledge. All of this because, apparently, someone somewhere decided that helping people was not something to be taken lightly. It was important to have the proper information base, and it was critical that you didn’t fuck it up.
Unfortunately, none of this transformed into anything resembling a living wage. I won’t go into exact numbers, but what I will say is that at the same I in the midst of my master’s degree, a friend of mine with a high school diploma was making more than I was – as a secretary. Not as an office manager, not as one of those people who deal with medical insurance reimbursement stuff, but as a basic secretary.
In general, our society believes that if you choose a humanistic profession – clery, mental health, social work, counseling, etc – you have a CALLING. That’s right, the pervailing theory in our culture is that some Higher Being has dictated that you are to be a saint or a martyr or what-the-hell-ever, Mother-frickin-Theresa, and because of that, you have no NEED to actually be COMPENSATED for your work.
Why should you? You’re doing it out of some soul’s need to make the world better, right?
Unfortunately, there’s another group that suffers the same fate, and (argh) I belong to them too – Artists. Musicians, painters, sculptors, poets, actors, writers; society has this false belief that our creations emerge unfettered from some deep, mysterious place within us, that we are only the means by which these fully formed entities are translated to the world.
Every flier, memo, contract or credit card application was written by someone. Every piece of furniture in your house was designed by a person. Each article of clothing, all the various shades of nail polish, lipstick and eyeshadow in your fridge were created by a HUMAN.
All those DVDs and TV shows you enjoy so much. WRITTEN BY HONEST TO GOD LIVING BEINGS. And they all deserve to be paid. This journal entry by Doris Egan, a producer on House MD (one of my favorite shows, btw), captures the situation in a way I never could – http://tightropegirl.livejournal.com/16033.html.
Another, more factual, description of the issues by Kassia Krozser: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Booksquare/~3/182328178/
Fuck “Calling” and Fuck “Art for Art’s Sake”. If you think there isn’t a class war going on in this country, and the Have’s are winning, then you aren’t paying attention.