A few weeks ago, Steve Jobs of Apple fame died. Not being much of tech junkie, I never knew much about Mr. Jobs. Various obituaries, articles, tributes and commentaries following his death provided some insights into the person. I also sought out more information from various online sources, including articles about his thirty-plus year back and forth with the California historic preservation community over a Between the Wars estate home, the controversies over the environmental impact of the iProduct line (iPod, iPad, iPhone, iTouch), the paternity battle over his oldest child.
It certainly sounds like he was an ideas person, not much for appearances or style points, someone who believed in continuous improvement, perhaps a bit weak on cultivating and maintaining relationships. Particularly his lack of interest in image and fashion was a bit surprising to me, given that Apple and the iProducts is the ultimate Hipster style marker. The success of these products is largely based on counterculture in-crowd status, the Hipster equivalent of the Christian half-circles fish.
In addition to stories about Mr. Job’s stint sleeping on friends’ floors after dropping out of college, living in unfurnished luxury houses and never bothering to live in an exclusive Manhattan condo he owned for decades, there were also a lot of stories about his “workaholic” tendencies. He worked *a lot* his whole adult life. Even after he was diagnosed with cancer, his response was to keep working, rather than turn the reins over to someone else and devote time to his family or personal and philanthropic interests. In his pre-family days, it was all go, go, apparently, sleeping at the office, no one leaves until it’s done, etc.
Which makes me wonder, Steve Jobs was so (is so) admired around the globe by techie types, is this what drives the notorious 16hr days of the tech sector? Are these people trying to be like Steve Jobs by working a lot of hours? I have a feeling Steve Jobs worked a lot because he was an ideas guy, who wanted to see good ideas (his or someone else’s) developed as fast as possible. The idea was the driver of the hours, not the other way around. I’ve always been suspicious of production over productivity, the long day and lots of paper waving in the air—but where’s the result? Don’t ask awkward questions.
I was in a big box discount store the other day (yes, I do shop at those places sometimes) and I happened to strike up a discussion with a couple in the cleaning supplies aisle. The gentleman was asking a staff person about pet hair removal. The staff dude was pointing him toward a special broom for picking up pet hair; I recommended trying the masking tape/lint rollers for upholstery. Gentleman says to me, “thanks, I think we already have one, but I’m not sure. I’m new to cleaning.” I’m new to cleaning? Like, I’m new to speaking Russian? I’m new to Twitter? Gentleman was, like, 30. Girlfriend’s expression said relationship may have already jumped the shark. (Go figure?) Gentleman did not appear to be quadriplegic or have other reason to be unfamiliar with items such as brooms and lint rollers, except, Gentleman was gentleman. Not sure if I hope those guys were married or not, some you just gotta learn from the mistakes and roll the dice again.
Which gets me to the Occupy crowd, or crowds, and recent studies by Pew, the Congressional Budget Office, as well as the general situational awareness/ sniff test, “if you’ve been paying attention” analysis that American wealth is increasingly concentrated in a small group of people at the top and that it is more and more difficult for young people in this country to establish financial security. We have this persistent high unemployment rate. Here’s some simple math for you: for every two people working a 60+ hour week at their professional job, that’s one less full time professional job. So where’s your job? It’s currently occupied by two people who don’t have time to cook a meal, do a load of laundry or shop for birthday presents for friends and family.
There seems to be some mystery as to what the Occupy crowd wants, as well as a definite “establishment” discomfort with the movement. I suppose what is difficult is that what the Occupiers, the 99ers, the Tea Party, what they want, is they are tired of people who think they are “just barely getting by” on $250,000 a year. They are tired of companies and businesses that are messed up by executives who want to “skim” $15 million a year off the top for themselves, while telling the employees they have to absorb another year with no bonus, no raise and more work because there’s a ten percent staff reduction coming down the line. They are tired of the 21st Century Robber Barons and their Retainers.
They are tired, in short, of the latter day, self-identified American Aristocracy. People who cannot clean a toilet, cook a meal, sweep a floor or change a diaper, even in their own home. They are tired of the be served or be a servant crowd, the “I’m only capable of living a life of privilege” set, someone else will have to do the work. Really? In America? This isn’t going over? Ya don’t say . . . .
They are tired, furthermore, of public policy, federal tax policies, immigration policies, education policies, food policies that both protect and support the Horsey Set’s position. Of course, most of Congress is the Horsey Set, and if they aren’t, their Funders certainly are. And so are most of the career Supervisors, Managers and Executives in the Federal Government, check out the OPM salary chart for DC. (Keep in mind that a lot of federal employees in DC are married to another federal employee, so you can double that annual pay.) Ask yourself, how many of these people do their own laundry or clean their own bathroom? Which gets us to how the Occupiers/ 99ers/ Tea Partyers are sick of the Funders and hearing about Funders. When our politics are driven by the Funders, our Country is no longer a Democracy.
I don’t really have an answer to all this. What I do know is that Members who don’t respond to the Funders lose their seats because the Voters believe the propaganda from the Opposition funded by the Funders. What I know is that the culture of New American Aristocracy is concentrated—a few enclaves where people “just can’t” live this way, or “just have to” live that way. If you’re a family of four living on $60,000 a year, you’re not paying for maids and laundry services and live-in nannies. You’re probably crossing your fingers and hoping you can cover the day care bill. And by the way, Mr. Bloomberg and Park Avenue Crowd, Involuntary Servitude is a constitutional violation. I know, people keep bring up that Constitution thing as a roadblock to your fantastic policy innovations. Uh, just gotta amend that thing, eh?
Well, you’ve put us right in the Middle of a mess. Thank you, Egypt, and other places that demonstrate in Solidarity for our failing democracy. I’m really losing faith that we’ll pull out of this mess. I don’t blame Mr. President the Current. He’s doing what he can, but he’s out in front, on his own, with no one really at his Back. That’s not a fun way to operate and its rarely effective, but sometimes it’s all you’ve got.
I think the Occupy crowd is trying, but the “I’m too too to clean a toilet” crowd is not interested in hearing it. Wha, What?? I don’t GET it, what are they upset about? You don’t expect me to live on less than $100,000 a year, do you? Why not? A heck of a lot of other people do, educated people, hard working people, people from good family, respected in their communities who donate time and money because *they* know there’s worse off than them.
I think there is some sentiment that an element of this is Generational. I think there is merit in that, although I think the demographics are more complicated than simple age.
I have an Aunt who is now in her 90s. She lives in one of those graduated elder communities, currently in the apartment section. For what it is worth, she cleans her own bathroom. Which she has pretty much done her whole life. (Oh! Those Midwesterners! They’re so . . . . Wholesome! And . . . . Dependable! And . . . . Hard Working!) She was never a corporate executive, or a movie star, or socialite. But she does have something in common with the second in line to the British Throne.
So, yes, Mr. Bloomberg, there is a Santa Claus, and this year he’s bringing you a toilet brush. I know you asked for an African orphan, but times are hard.