Yes, I'm being lazy today. I slept in, stared at Facebook for hours, watched a bunch of 90's alt rock on Youtube and basically did everything except think about what to blog about today. I'm feeling way procrastinatey (is that a word? "Procrastinatey?" Spell check says it isn't, but what does it know?). Anyway, I'm sitting here, trying to think of a subject to write about and at the same time I'm doing what I always do when I try to tap into my creative side - imagining the "what-ifs?" That's what motivates me to push myself and find creativity when I feel completely devoid of inspiration. I think "What if this fucker blew up and I became someone that people gave a shit about? What if I made a name for myself and ended up one of those unpaid, pissed-off Huffington Post guys? What if one of my articles gets reposted and gets a ton of hits and people start asking for my opinion on stuff, like I'm so damn smart?" That's when I dig down deep and find something, anything, to write about.
It's always the stuff that I think is going to suck the people end up liking too. When I pour my guts out in a disjointed, rambling confession about my fear of being a good parent based on my own mistake-laden youth, I read it and think that's such a mess, and then everyone else says it was great and it sparks a whole discussion. I guess I do write from a much different place when I'm talking about my own personal demons than when I'm just trying to make a lighthearted review of a great movie I've seen or talk about shit that our politicians are doing that pisses me off, but I'm not always sure that it's compelling content. I suppose the same could be said about the other things I write too, everything I write for that matter. I shouldn't over think it, and for the most part I don't.
At any rate, my muse today is opportunity. The whole reason this blog exists in the first place is because I decided to finally do what I had been thinking about doing for over a year. I always wanted to have a blog, a place where I could just write about whatever came to mind and put my thoughts and opinions and stories out there and see if it was of any interest to anyone. Ultimately, that's the motivation for every artist, be they writers, musicians, actors - recognition and appreciation. You want to know that someone else liked the thing you created. It's what I liked best about playing music, the applause after every song. Making money was nice, but we didn't make anywhere near enough for that to be the motivation for doing it. You don't pack 5 people and a stage full of instruments and equipment into a windowless cargo van and drive all over the state playing for just enough cash to make it to the next gig because you're in it to get rich. You do it for that guy you never met before who comes up to you after the show and says "You guys are fucking great man, do you have a CD for sale?" Yeah, we got a CD... here, you can just have it man, thanks for supporting us.
I've only been doing this for a couple months now, but already I've received so much feedback and most of it has actually been positive! It's encouraging. I makes me think that I was right to believe in myself and take this first step of putting myself out there for public scrutiny. I know there are always critics, people who will dismiss me and say I can't write for shit, my views are ridiculous, my opinions are dog shit and I should go back to playing World of Warcraft and leave the opining to the grown ups, but I don't care because as long as one person says they like reading the shit I write, I'm gonna keep writing this shit!
Opportunity was me finally saying hell with it, I'm going to do a little research here and find out what I need to do to start up my own blog. Opportunity was using Facebook and other forums to promote it and get feedback from people to see if I was doing something worth a damn. Opportunity is the conversations my posts have started, the unlikely fans I have earned and the relationships that have formed from them. Seeing other bloggers who appreciate what I do, who run blogs that I am thoroughly impressed by, and thinking wow, if they like what I'm doing, I must be doing something right.
I talk a lot about how unfair things are in this country right now, and I do believe that. I believe that opportunity is a precious commodity that is available in smaller and smaller quantities these days. I think people worry so much about money, who's got it and who doesn't, that they don't realize the most important thing isn't who's got the money, it's who's got the opportunity. Opportunity makes money, as long as you are willing to seize it and get everything you can out of it. Opportunity is a pull of the lever on the slot machine, only it's not just all up to dumb luck and probability. It's a roll of the dice, when the dice are just slightly loaded and the more you're willing to work to make something out of that roll, the more loaded those dice are in your favor.
I talk a lot about the "haves" and the "have-nots," and I talk about wealth and the hoarding of wealth and the weird dichotomy of attitudes that the politicizing of the class struggle has created in people from all walks of life, so that you have people who are struggling and being denied opportunity fighting with other people in the same boat over who's getting the biggest piece of the scraps that are being thrown down to them. To them, it's all about money, but it's like the old saying goes "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a night, but teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime."
This is where I tend to break in ideology with some of the rhetoric from the left. I don't see this issue as being a dollars problem. Yes, I think the wealth disparity in this country is what is destroying the middle class and yes, I think the hoarding of wealth at the top is creating a tree with huge, leafy branches, an emaciated trunk and dried, rotten roots, that's doomed to topple. However, all of this would not be possible if opportunity was not hoarded first. Opportunity is what gives every American the potential to earn wealth, success and influence. Opportunity is what enabled a young man from Hawaii to become our first black president. Opportunity is how a struggling author named J.K. Rowling went from living in her car to creating a billion-dollar franchise. Opportunity is handing that man a fishing pole and saying "Ok, show me what you got."
I don't want a hand-out. Nobody I know who shares my political and social opinions does, either. I'd wager that the majority of Americans who are frustrated and dissatisfied with the job our politicians are doing and with the state of our country right now don't want one either. Hand-outs are just band-aids, and they're too small to boot, so they don't even cover the whole cut. American's aren't complaining that they aren't being given enough money, they're complaining that they aren't being given enough jobs.
Despite the more incendiary rhetoric on the right, most Americans would rather be given a job than a welfare check. Most Americans would rather have the opportunity to make our own fortunes than be given an arbitrary chunk of someone else's. The mischaracterization of the left is that it's just a bunch of people who want to redistribute the wealth. Take the hard-earned money from the rich and spread it around to everyone else who didn't earn it and don't deserve it. However, I don't know a single liberal Democrat who actually wants to see that happen. It's not about spreading the wealth, it's about spreading the opportunity. I don't want the wealthiest 1% to give me their money, I want them to give me a job interview! Let me show you that I have something to offer, let me have the chance to earn my own fortune the way you earned yours. Don't give me a hand-out, give me a hand-up. Don't give me a fish, teach me how to fish!
My bitch with the wealthiest 1% isn't that they aren't giving me their money, it's that they aren't giving us their opportunities. I could make my own money if I had the same chance you did. In economics, they have a term called "barriers to entry." This refers to a situation where there is an issue, typically fiscal, that prevents the average person from entering into an industry. For example, most people can't just start up an airline company because planes cost a lot of money. Most people can't start a car company because assembly equipment costs a lot of money, and so on. These barriers make it so that the number of people who are able to successfully compete in a particular industry is very low, and often that can have a negative impact on the consumer in terms of both price and quality. However, it's very advantageous for the businesses, as less competition means more profits.
In the same way, I feel that there are large barriers to entry in this country when it comes to educational equality and job opportunities. When you look at the quality of education in the lowest-ranked states in the country and compare it with the unemployment rates, the literacy rates, the average income level and other social factors, you see that there is a direct correlation between opportunity and quality of life. The more we cut educational funding, the wider the gap grows. If you look at the employment rates, literacy rates, average income level and general quality of life in the states with the highest-ranked educational systems, you see the opposite results. Better opportunities mean better quality of life, more jobs, better jobs, and an overall stronger economy. Compare the average income for students who attend prestigious private schools vs. those who attend public schools. Yes, in this case, money equals opportunity, and that's where the problem lies.
Our public education system should be on par with the best private schools in the country, but it's not. It's not anywhere close. That's the direct denial of opportunity to the majority of our nation's future generations. Opportunity should be the one thing in this country that IS freely redistributed. Genius doesn't have an income requirement. I'm a 100% full blown share the wealth Socialist, Marxist, Communist and any other "ist" you can think of when it comes to the distribution of opportunity in this country. I think it's shameful the way it's being hoarded. Keep your money, just give me a fair chance to make my own. I challenge anyone to disagree with that sentiment.
This is something I really think defies party lines. I believe that liberals and conservatives both can fully agree that every American deserves the opportunity to succeed. I believe that all my conservative friends who think I just want to redistribute the wealth and take money out of their pockets and put it in someone else's would be surprised to learn, and agree with my actual opinion that we need more jobs in this country, not more hand-outs.
This is why I take particular offense to the crap that's coming from the Republicans in congress. All their talk about creating jobs and they don't do a single thing to make it happen. The talk all comes down to they want to redistribute our wealth, keep your grubby hands off! I don't want your money, homey, I want to make my own. Nobody wants to redistribute your wealth, we want the chance to make our own. Sitting around waiting for someone to take care of you is for losers. Nobody should want to be a loser, and those who do are destined to that life.
So, here I am. Writing in a blog 5 days a week at least. Jotting down all my thoughts, ideas and opinions and hoping that the right person sees the right post at the right time, because all I need is that one opportunity and I'm ready to make things happen. If I can't find the opportunity through the regular means, and the normal channels, then I'll make my opportunity. All I need is a fishing pole and I'm ready to pull fat, scaly fuckers out of this pond all day long.
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao-tzu