I've been in Myrtle Beach for 8 months now. Eight months.
When I moved here in June, I was very excited to be back in a bigger urban area. I love the rampant commercialism and the ridiculous amount of flamboyant capitalism. It reminded me just a little of Reno.
But now...it's looking a little different through these bleary old guy eyes.
Myrtle Beach is based 100% on the Service Industry. Tourism is indeed the heart, blood and soul of Myrtle Beach. There is very, very little manufacturing or trades to be found, except those that directly support the service industry.
So if you're a semi-educated 45yr old blue collar schlub trying to make it in Myrtle Beach you are boned. (That's me, by the way)
I have been looking for work since I got here.
Although I despised the company I worked for in Vermont, the pay there was good enough to frighten potential employers here. The few years of lower management I had at the college seem to be enough to make an employer realize I am not content to be an average grunt. Yet my AFAA Personal Trainer certificate is not enough to land me a job in the handful of local gyms.
I'm overqualified for the Service Industry and under qualified for the supporting fields.
So, I am now on South Carolina's Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.
You can call it Welfare, Food Stamps whatever you want. But I am now a product of, and a patient of, the State.
I'm a white forty five year old male with no kids and no felonies.
Because I cannot find a job. And it sucks. I hate it, it's humiliating. Humiliating because it seems, after looking for eight months, I am essentially un-employable.
However, it is not at all humiliating actually be on State Assistance. (For the record, Vermont denied my un-employment and without ever working here South Carolina issued me SNAP. Thanks Vermont, you're welcome for the years of me adding money to your coffers. Dickheads)
I started working at age 15. I worked two jobs while in high school. I was in the service in my early twenties. When I got out I landed a job in the Printing Industry making 13.25 an hour. This is back in 90's. The economy was excellent then. (Gas was a dollar a gallon, and I was making thirteen plus an hour) I stayed in Printing until the Internet basically killed that trade in the mid 2000's. Then I went into the Fitness Industry. Blah, blah, blah.
What I'm getting at is that I have been paying my taxes since 1985. Thirty plus years. So I don't give a damn that the state is helping me out a bit now.
There seems to be quite a bit of argument about our Welfare system. And I will definitely agree that the system is sometimes misused and abused. But maybe instead of trying to treat the symptoms (Welfare and Assistance), we treat the problem?
I don't like to complain without offering solutions. My solutions although, probably aren't the most popular. For instance, I can stop world hunger, genocide, global warming and terrorism within one hundred years. All we need to do is stop having kids.
(No kids equals no people equals no problems.)
Getting back to this bitch session about our welfare system...The Hundred Year Solution would obviously work. But maybe something a bit more pragmatic is called for here.
How about addressing financial inequality? There's this issue of raising minimum wage. Why is this a problem for anyone? Oh wait, it's only a problem for people NOT making minimum wage.
I propose a janitor can work just as hard as the CEO of any company. Should the janitor have to live in poverty because their employment didn't require education, nepotism, luck, etc?
It's almost as if we're saying this CEO is a better person, a better human, than a janitor. Holy shit, this point just came to me now.
I knew I was communist.
I was given a fair hand to start with. My mom and dad both worked and both tried giving their children everything they could within their means. Although we hardly had everything, I certainly wasn't born into poverty or born into the welfare system.
The cards I played, the choices I made, were my own. I made the decisions that lead me to where I am now. What was best choice for me then, didn't turn out to be the best situation for me now.
When I lived in Vermont there were a lot of bumper stickers saying "We are the 99%", in reference to the 1% of the rich that own whatever percentage of everything. Well, screw that 99% nonsense too.
How can someone that makes 75g a year even think they compare with someone on state assistance?
I've been working on this post for weeks. The economics of my unemployment and the distribution of wealth are daunting. Too much for me write about, and possibly, at this point in my life, even biased. But I think it'd be hard for anyone to argue that a better educated, happier and healthier workface wouldn't increase the standard of living for everyone.
I'd like to thank my friends, old and new, for all the great karma.
I also need to thank my family, especially my mom, and Heather for their unending generosity and understanding during this shit.
I'll get you back when I can.