Saturday, August 22, 2015

Flex this.

I'm happy to note that my woes from last week with the company that owes me money have been sort of resolved. In other words, I got the majority of the cash they owe me. Which is a tremendous relief. Of course, it wasn't enough, but there's never enough. 

Gee, thanks.
Last week, when I was whining about how poorly editors are paid, I was not just whining Dixie. I suggested that it would be better to send your children to trade school than college, and I stand by that.

Here's why:

1) College is impossibly expensive and will be for the foreseeable future. It's $46,272 per year for a moderate private college. Every solution to this problem is to throw more money at colleges and make it easier for students to acquire debt, which prevents colleges from examining why their costs have completely outstripped inflation since I went to school and doing something to bring them back in line with reality. If your progeny wants to go into the sciences or technology or into medicine, it really is an investment. Otherwise, it's daycare for 18- through 22-year-olds.

2) White-collar jobs want a flexible workforce, but the economy is not based on a flexible population. Bills are not flexible. A thirty-year-mortgage is not a flexible piece of paper; it's a stack of papers so thick it will not flex. We have an economy that expects people to plant and grow equity, and yet still pick up stakes and leave at a moment's notice. When you have a trade you have the potential to make money wherever you go. When you have a skill (especially a liberal arts skill) backed up by a diploma, losing a good job is a catastrophe.

3) The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook gives us these median annual earning figures (2012):

Editor: $53,880
Plumber/Pipe Fitter/Steam Fitter: $49,140 
Writer/Author: $55,940 
Electrician: $49,840 

Slight advantage to the wordsmiths... until you factor in the $28,400 average student loan debt (much higher for those at private snooty-league colleges). Also, the fact that editors and writers are mostly concentrated in the cities, especially New York, where a dollar isn't worth nearly as much as elsewhere.

On top of it all, your dedicated neighborhood idiot editor/writer, who slaves away at the craft of wordsmithing for decades, opens the newspaper one day while reclining on his pile of rejection slips and sees that the #1 best-selling novel in the country is Plumbing the Depths, a thriller written by a plumber who got bored one day and started knocking it out on his wife's iPad. The plumber now has a six-book deal and just got a $5,000,000 check from Hollywood.

So, friends, unless you want your offspring using their excellent language skills to compose a suicide note, be sure to encourage them to do something useful with their lives. Like joining a chain gang.

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