What if you got that job. The job. Wherein you want to stay at that job for the rest of your working days, and they paid you well enough to do so. What if you stopped having to worry about finances, stopped needing to check the bank account every time you went to the store for groceries. What if no debt. If every purchase didn’t feel like you were saying, to a certain extent, fuck it, I’m spoiling myself with these full-price chicken thighs, if having a reliable car didn’t mean you were gambling that no other significant financial tragedy were to occur in the next six years. What if things could break and you could replace them.
What if you got that job with its financial security and you didn’t succumb to the expected elevated lifestyle. What if you just paid off your debt and bought your chicken thighs and put your car payments on auto-draft, and you didn’t immediately go buy that two-story cookie-cutter with a two-car and immediately line up the family in their Sunday best to take a grimacing photo that says I got a promotion to nowhere, if instead you keep renting your perfectly acceptable three-bedroom with a decent landlord and a common-sense pet policy and in the meantime looked for a house to buy that you wouldn’t want to be caught photobombing any of your Instagrams for the foreseeable future, but at least you could afford to take your time with it.
But that job. What if that job was more than a job, more than financial security but soul security, a place you looked forward to being, and once you be there looked forward to working, looked forward to your projects, looked forward to the people involved, looked forward to continuing the mission of the place. What if your job made you feel challenged and valued and proud all at the same time. What if you could count on those above and below you to look out for you and your aspirations, or even it was part of their job to do so. What if you were allowed mistakes, or even encouraged to push the boundaries until you made some. What if the term ‘performance review’ was a term of celebration. What if you sometimes forgot you were getting paid to do this.
And what if the job was just a job, and not a means for health insurance, not a thinly-veiled path toward a comfortable retirement, not a statement of status or power, not simply the way to get the best discount on the product being sold. What if there was no such thing as health insurance, just health care, and what if retirement was not something that needed planned for, because hey old guy, we got your back, holmes, and what if there was no greater status than ‘fellow human’ or greater power than helping the same. What if we could wait on Prime Day to get that discount like everyone else.
What if there was no time clock, no such thing as an hourly wage, which is really a minutely wage, which is really a secondly wage, what if it didn’t take three seconds to earn a penny, one, two, three, penny, one, two, three, penny, and what if those three seconds and pennies multiplied weren’t arbitrarily spent, what if the work I did was valued and not just my lifespan recorded between clock punches, what if working harder meant earning more, what if helping more people earned you more, what if saving more work from needing to be done in the future meant earning more now, what if skill were rewarded and not just the ability to clock in and breathe.
What if art were a job. What if you could pay me to art. Not like marketing art, not anything designed to have an estimable return on investment, and not any sort of patronage which requires patronizing, I mean what if you paid me because I can art and then I go and art and you feel good for there being more art and I feel good for being able to art, and then somebody else says hey you know what, I think this art is valuable and we need some more of this in the world and then they pay me and the cycle continues.
But okay. Arting is not a job, I think our country has been fairly clear on this of late. And hourly wages aren’t going anywhere. And no one in history has been able to figure out how to have more money and not spend more money. But how about we focus on making a job just a job. Two things, just two things, could make this happen. It’s more than one thing but less than three things, so, it can’t be all that difficult to achieve. Right?
Thing one: universal health care. Thing two: free college.