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Baltimore City Paper home page.

The desperate hustle as a way of life

April 23, 2014
John Zimmer, a Lyft co-founder, in Baltimore last fall

John Zimmer, a Lyft co-founder, came to Baltimore last fall to offer moustache rides

Here is the future: nobody gets any job security. Nobody gets a fair wage while they have a job. Nobody gets a retirement fund or even any guarantee they’ll be able to eat tomorrow. And almost everyone is doing everything they can just to get by—and paying some substantial portion of their earnings to a pimp or “platform” which controls the business they are in. And ain’t life a grand adventure? Isn’t it all so fun?

Welcome to the Sharing Economy.

This is the model of the new economy, where anyone with a car ought to be a Lyft contractor (your fare pays what he or she thinks is right but the company is tweeting out “we’ve slashed prices 20 percent”) and anyone with a house or apartment is renting it out on Air BnB and crashing at their boyfriend’s parents’ place.

All of this came about by design. The world is arranged according to the people who arrange things—the people who make money by this arrangement. We’re in our fourth decade of this. The Times reported this week that the American middle class has been surpassed by Canada’s.

And it’s much worse than the New York Times imagines. As Dean Baker points out, the middle classes in most other countries have increased their incomes while getting longer vacations. In the U.S.A.? Not so much.

This WaPost piece on how hard it is to “regulate” Air BnB limns the issue and never confronts it. But this life of hustle—the idea that everything you do, every day, needs to turn a profit or you starve—is familiar to anyone who lives or grew up in an inner city. In Salon today, D. Watkins points to the junkies putting on a fight-show for crack, and the lady who runs the candy/cig shop out of her second floor window, lowering the product down in a pencil box tied to a rope of shoelaces. You’ve seen the guys moving “loosies” and the guys selling the bags from the food pantry.

They are fucked. And we are them.

The kid who runs Lyft—John Zimmer—is a nice boy from Fairfield County. I grew up in Fairfield, and I remember in junior high wondering about a sign on a classroom wall which described an item in the curriculum. It said something to the effect of, “all students will learn the basics of how to manage staff.”

And I thought, in my 13-year-old brain, “But that’s ridiculous! How many of us are destined to have a staff to manage?”

But I was naïve. I did not yet understand that, in my town, 90 percent of my peers’ parents were managers, and all expected their kids to be bigger managers. I did not realize then that the whole nation’s economic credo would soon be re-imagined around the mathematically impossible idea that everyone—everyone!—is not just a manager, but an entrepreneur.

I did not yet understand then that those having or wanting just a job—just a job with decent pay—would be disparaged as “takers.”

I did not realize that, in 30 years, skilled people would be working basically for free just on the off chance they’d strike it rich in Silicon Valley.

And that, within my lifetime, those who did win that lottery would do so mainly by “innovating” a way to make all their staffers work for no pay at all—and kick their earnings up the line to those very smart managers.

It reminds me of one of my uncles, who spent the ‘80s scheming his way to a minor fortune in slum properties (all since lost, of course). One detour he took was Amway, and we ended up with some products in the house and I went to at least one “Amway Meeting” wherein I was pitched on the magic of “your downline.”

All this “innovation” notwithstanding, nothing happening in tech today looks very different. We’re all downline now.

The Lyft kid calls it “sharing.”

Today there are people all over Baltimore subleasing places they don’t own, peddling without a license, hacking. This is a criminal offense. The law does not recognize the right of the people to earn enough to eat.

All these entrepreneurs, most of them running little scams to get by, all of them held in contempt by the law and by most of society. Lyft and Uber and Air BnB face legal sanction too—but it’s just a civil matter. They break the same kinds of laws, but grandly. We respect their entrepreneurship because it is backed by venture capitalists.

So as Air BnB, Lyft, Sidecar and the rest formalize the shadow economy, turning jobs into hobbies and salaries into piecework and commission, think for just a minute about what this means for the prospect of honest work. Consider what the country, the world, and the economy will look like after another couple decades of this. Wonder, for just a second, if we’re sharing the wrong things with the wrong people.

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  • jr

    I still can’t figure out how the hell Lyft and Uber are any different than hacking, why the exact same laws don’t apply, why one isn’t exactly as legal or illegal as the other. But somehow no media discussions of it talk about it like this. Am I missing something, or are they?

    I don’t understand how Uber and Lyft can even have the balls to suggest they should be treated differently… because they are run by white people with lawyers? What?

    Thanks for talking about this, it is hardly secret or complex, but nobody seems to talk about it.

  • cbroome

    Yes the entitlement of privilege is strong with Uber and Lyft. The ultimate irony would be to see them succeed, upend and deregulate their market, and thus open the door to other service providers willing to go even cheaper.

  • Evan Serpick

    “no media discussions of it talk about it like this”

  • mogden

    Sounds fantastic to me!

  • Jon Myers

    There is no security and there are no guarantees.

    The future is already here.

  • Jason Pelker

    Idiot. You don’t deserve to be paid just for attendance. I doubt this article was written by a timecard puncher, either. I’m guessing the whole point of this piece is to piss people off. Congrats. Your hustle worked.

  • Anonymous

    No people should not be paid for just attendance, but they should be paid, and paid fairly, for work. You didn’t get the point of the article.

  • Mickey_disqus

    Actually, if that’s part of the job, then I do. If my employer requires me to spend eight hours behind a counter waiting for customers, then I get paid for all eight of those hours. I have sold my time to the business, and if the business spends some of that time with me doing nothing but attending, so be it.

  • whycantibeanon

    A new form of dystopian class society is already upon us.

  • Robert Bradford

    My guess is that your misguided opinions stem from you never having made a dollar on your own. That and/or a worthless liberal-arts degree that has filled you full of statist propoganda.

    This quote succinctly articulates the failure of your entire premise: “turning jobs into hobbies and salaries into piecework and commission”

    Great idea, Edward! Let’s use government to legally prevent all forms of technological progress so that we can maintain the profit margins of archaic instustries.

    TurboTax, let’s ban that. I’m sure it has put a lot of accountants out of work. The internet has sure shaken up the radio, newspaper, and film industries – let’s ban that as well. I’m sure the airlines put a lot of train conductors out of business.

    The point is technological advancements raise all of our standards of living. The irony is that you are writing this article using your own PERSONAL PRINTING PRESS. Yet you’re complaining that technology is eliminating “honest work”.

    Intelligent people learn the skills necessary to adapt to changing times. Those that don’t adapt, get left behind. This is how the world works, son. Adapt or perish.

  • otikik

    This reads like someone trying really hard to find reasons to be scared. Heh, to each his own.

  • Jacko

    You start with “idiot”. This tells us you haven’t progressed much since high school.

    Now, as to the “substance” of your comment. He never said of being paid “just for attendance”. He talked about honest work. You know, like hundreds of millions of people do and still can’t get by.

    Ironically, being paid “just for attendance” is indeed a suggest plan of some of those “managers” (basic income) — as a way to fix the mess they have created.

  • Jacko

    “”"Those that don’t adapt, get left behind. This is how the world works, son.”"”

    Thanks for your philosophy of, basically, bending over backwards (“adapting”) to external forces.

    There was a time were people were proud to shape the world and their country, instead of “adapting”.

    Only a pushover who does whatever he is told or forced to do, would have rationalized “adapting” like you do.

    And, btw, this “Adapt or perish”?

    It’s America who is perishing in the new world, because it took adapting too much, and has become a nation of sissies with no pride, that are willing to adapt, dance and jump to get any leftover bone from their bosses’ table.

    The glory days of the country are back in the days of steady jobs, decent salaries and honest work, when one did not “adapt” but shaped the world.

  • Dug

    Without airbnb you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere to stay in manhattan or brooklyn for under $200 – with it one you can find something nice for $100 or less. Affordable lodging: bad for the employees of hotels, great for everyone else. We all benefit from the lower priced goods and services brought by innovation, the challenge is how does one make any money to begin with? It is troubling to think how hard it is to find a job just by being honest and hard working – but I don’t think banning innovation is the answer. We need to double down on equal opportunity and safety nets so we can all find some stability while we’re honing our skills to the point where our labor can actually be worth a living wage to the economy.

  • Taylor

    A steady job and decent salary are noble goals, and still attainable today, even if it has become more challenging. Sometimes you need to look up though, and realize that nobody is buying what you’re selling anymore.

    Nobody owes you an easy life, you’ll have to find your own way.

    If it bothers you that the work you do isn’t worth a living wage, then do something else that is.

  • dee

    In the 4th paragraph: “We’re in our fourth decade of this”. Tell me more about how Uber, Lyft and AirBnB worked in 1974. You’re completely misdiagnosing the cause of the growing income inequality.

  • Alvin Miller

    Oh yes it’s that simple. If your job don’t pay you enough, find another job. Yes because there are just so many good paying jobs to go around. Go eff yourself you simpleton fool.

  • Bob

    This article is just silly. The internet has enabled a new way of doing things and different ways of making money. Deal with it.

  • the99th

    Could it be that the shadow economy will grow and despite having inconsistent jobs without standardized legal protections, be able to offer a decent standard of living to billions of people?

    The answer is in the data, look outside Baltimore to the GDP growth of developing nations and what fraction of that (admittedly hard to measure, unless internet technology is involved) comes from the informal sectors.

  • SharingIsCool

    The term “Sharing Economy” = Rentals, Trade/barter, Lending/borrowing. It has always existed, just not via so many web sites and apps. Now they are coming together in a single search:


    wow no way, youre a white male


    turbotax is actively lobbying to prevent the creation of simpler tax forms lol

  • Jason Pelker

    What the hell does “fair” mean? If I cut your grass, will you pay me “fairly”? What if you don’t need or want your grass cut? What’s fair then? But I did the work :( …

    Full-time employment is absolutely ridiculous and it’s going away. Forever. Bye bye. Paying someone to have them on call makes sense for less than 1% of all jobs. Having a staff in-house might be even dumber. Suck it up and adapt.

    Going forward, you’ll only get paid based on the value of your work, not how many hours you sat at a desk. For instance, if you make someone $30,000 a year, you’ll receive some portion of that $30,000. And your portion is determined only through your negotiation skills. So you better beef those up as well.

    Believe it or not, every task has a value and its results can be measured. This is the premise of the freelance economy. Just because you’re mentally lazy and would prefer that someone hand you a check because you’re a nice guy and you show up, on time, every day–that means nothing.

    The new economy is here. You can either a) make someone money, b) get paid minimum wage, or c) you can collect an unemployment check. It’s your choice.

    P.S. I’d focus on increasing the minimum wage instead of complaining about others’ compensation. You’ll obviously need the extra $2/hr.

    P.P.S. If you don’t like this prognosis, maybe you should switch careers, or at the least, learn how to create your own tasks at work. First, though, start keeping a diary of your work day and begin assigning replacement values to all your work. If you find something isn’t very valuable, then STOP DOING IT. Or even better, find (or pay) someone else to do it. Take some goddamn ownership of your job, for pete’s sake.

    More info: .

  • Jason Pelker

    Good luck with that counter job. It sounds promising.

  • Jason Pelker

    Who hustles. And doesn’t hide on the internet. And who makes $200+/hr. because he helps other people make money. And travels all over the world whenever and wherever he wants.

    You guys are frightened little babies. Enjoy your minimum wages and unpaid 1 hr. lunches.

  • Jason Pelker

    Right on. Ignore these other nincompoops.

  • James Hunt

    The citizens of Baltimore in 1752 … … whose material possessions amounted to a fraction of what the average person on welfare has today and whose lifespan was considerably shorter, just called to urge you to suck it up.

    Their descendants from 1861 — when the city was torn by riots and occupied by the U.S. military — concurred.

    _Their_ descendants from 1942 — living in crowded tenements and working long, hot shifts at Beth Steel or preparing to ship out to war — just laughed and declined to comment.

  • Jeff Blanks

    lt’s like even those who set themselves up as the good guys don’t want us to think things can be different. Maybe they’re trying to shock us into doing something, but after 35 years of it you’d think it would’ve worked by now if it was ever going to.

    NOTE: Take a step back and see the big picture. Lots of it exists outside The Discourse.

  • Jeff Blanks

    Let’s make some.

  • Jeff Blanks

    Well, let’s try to answer the question. To say that the concept of what’s fair is meaningless is the first step in the race to the bottom.

  • Jeff Blanks


  • MichaelTompson

    “Sharing” economy is a myth… Like a hot air balloon it’s inflated by
    those very few standing to benefit from the planned and eagerly awaited
    IPOs – stock issuances that will make them – the illusion creators –
    billions of dollars. It’s a fraud scheme on
    a mass scale guised under the presence of “progress” and customer “well-being”.
    Truth is – they could care less… Kudos to author for raising valid points and
    exposing this “sharing” fraud.. It was a refreshing read as opposed to

    dozens-a-day paid for social media propaganda by Uber, Lyft, AirBnB and other
    “sharing” flavor of the day. And lastly, the funniest thing in all this is
    that despite massive endless bombardment of paid for articles praising this

    fraudulent law-breaking irresponsible dysfunctional “sharing” economy – those who
    money off selling this dream will never share even 1% of what they have
    The dream stops there… their possessions are off the “sharing” myth..

  • Jeff Blanks

    Hey, man, at least we’re not ASSHOLES like you.

  • Jeff Blanks

    I’m not sure “backwards” is the direction we really want here.

  • MichaelTompson

    Bank robberies sound intriguing too then, I guess.

  • Jeff Blanks

    And they all wanted a better society. So they came together to figure out how to get one. Meanwhile, we have to deal with the Suck It Up And Be Grateful Party while the folks at the top grab everything. And the Suck It Up And Be Grateful Party is stupid and short-sighted enough to carry water for them.

  • Jeff Blanks

    Maybe the author and the suck-it-up assholes deserve each other. OTOH, if I have to choose a side to be on, I’ll choose the author’s.

  • Robert Bradford

    My point: If you don’t want to be in the government (or corporate) bread lines waiting for your rationed table scraps in 2030, you’d better learn a skill that cant be automated, outsourced or crowd sourced.

    Instead of trying to fight this fast approaching reality, figure out how to survive within it. Basic Darwinian theories here. Or at least put your children in the position where they can flourish in this new globalized and technology fueled economy.

    Those “glory days” of “steady jobs” you are speaking on: Those jobs came about because the economies, infrastructure, and political stability of every major country (except ours) had been destroyed by two world wars and millions of tons of bombs and bullets.

    The US was able to fill the void in the world. It provided a stable currency, high interest loans, and readied labor force to provide the world with the goods and services that they couldn’t provide for themselves. The glory days are over.

    Like I said, get with it or prepare for some hardship. Because this is only going to get worse.

  • James Hunt

    Yes, yes, dear boy: “The Man” is keeping us down. Let’s all Tweet about it and go cry in our $8 craft beers.

  • James Hunt

    So, there are two guys. Both have computers with a capacity unavailable to all but the wealthiest a generation ago. Guy One fires up his computer at around midnight or so on a Sunday to vent his spleen.Guy Two fires his computer up to figure out how to make a legitimate buck and invites other people to participate. Naturally, Guy One is pissed at Guy Two because “fraudulent law-breaking irresponsible dysfunctional yada yada yada.” This used to be called envy, but no doubt it has a more august name now.

  • edward_ericson_jr

    That’s an an interesting idea. I’ll do it. And for good measure I’ll also check the Gini index in these “emerging economies,” as we now call them. My hypothesis is that, while GDP is growing, so is inequality. We’ll see.

  • Eugene

    Sounds like Edward got his own pay from taxi companies and hotels to write this propaganda piece. Why shouldn’t one have the freedom to to give someone a “lyft” for some spare cash or rent out his place? The people who created Lyft and Air BnB essentially have created these niches so its only right that they are rewarded as well.

  • sgtdoom

    And the present circumstances are nicely summed up (by any reasonably literate people with minimal comprehension by Prof. Hudson’s recent critique of Piketty’s book on Capital in the 21st Century (READ the entire interview for some real factual data you won’t receive on the official boob tubes of Amerika:

  • sgtdoom

    This douchetard is a derivatives dealer or a bankster/gangster’s spawn.

  • sgtdoom

    Better yet, read Michael Perelman’s The Invention of Capitalism to see how we arrived here.

  • sgtdoom

    And watch that coding job offshored to Bangalore.

    [Or, if you aren't a complete douchetard, devote time to Anonymous.]

    FYI: America became a NET importer of technical services back in 1999 — and you do realize how long ago that was, right?

  • sgtdoom

    You watch TV and movies a great deal, right?

  • sgtdoom

    . . . you’d better learn a skill that cant be automated, outsourced or crowd sourced.

    Well . . . . that is the official talking meme of the US Chamber of Commerce, ’cause they know unthinking American Sheepletards will accept such blather so well.

    BTW, douchey, with the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (you have actually heard of that, right?) they can import all those workers legally for those jobs which can’t be offshored — not that it matters in agriculture, where they fired local and undocumented workers in Washington, California and Hawaii and flew in Thai farmer workers (Evergreen Legal Services sued and won in Washington state on behalf of the fired workers, don’t know about the other states), and in Idaho they flew in Chinese workers to construct a bridge, etc.

  • sgtdoom

    Your supposition suggesting Americans are living high on the hog ignores the Census Bureau data which clearly shows one out of every two Americans as poor.

  • Jason Pelker

    Your reply means nothing.

  • Jason Pelker


    I have no clue what your point is.

  • Jason Pelker

    I’m an asshole who happens to live in Mexico. I see everyday here what it looks like for people who would gladly work for minimum wages, but still aren’t allowed to since there are so few jobs here.

    This is the future of the United States for 99% of the “workers”, too. It didn’t have to be this way, but since unions have all but disappeared, it looks highly probable at this point.

  • James Hunt

    What does the Census bureau say about those who have the time and wherewithal (i.e., they own or have access to a computer) to log onto the City Paper’s web site, read a sonorous article about eeeevil people using the Internet to make a (legal) living, and then read the comments, and then comment on them? Are they poor, too? If so, is the way they choose to spend their time part of the reason for that poverty?

  • edward_ericson_jr

    Well, so much for that. Turns out Gini data is not too easy to get keyed to year. All these figures are (far as I know) post tax/transfer. But there’s not much to see because of the data gaps.

    GDP 1990 GINI 1990 GDP 2010 GINI 2010

    China 357b .32 5931b .47*/ .55

    India 327b .33+ 1711b (no data)

    Malaysia 44b (no data) 247b .46

    Ireland 48b (no data) 206b (no data)++

    Mexico 263b .52 1035b .48**

    Brazil 462b .61 2143b .55

    USA 5751b .35 14,420b .38

    *claimed 2012 / as found in 2013 by independent researchers

    +2005 data

    **2008 figure

    ++in 2000: 34.3

  • Robert Bradford

    You need to refresh yourself on the definition of outsourced –> “to contract out jobs” or to “subcontract services from an outside supplier or source.”

    The situation you described is the very definition of outsourced. In case weren’t able to comprehend my point: I completely understand the concept American jobs being replaced by PC’s and foreign labor.

    This is why I stated that if you want a secure job now and/or in the future, you need a skill set that cannot be performed by a machine, a piece of software, or non-english speaking laborer (Mexican, Thai, Indian, whatever).

    I’m not arguing the morality of this situation. Because I know many good middle-class families will suffer because of this. I’m simply stating that this is the new unavoidable reality.

    The world economy will continue to remain stagnant. Corporations will continue to do more with less. Technology will continue to rapidly advance to the point where low-skilled jobs are no longer needed.

    No amount of blog commenting or internet activism will be able to prevent this. Again, not saying that it’s right. It’s just reality.

  • Robert Bradford

    “employment protections”… explain how that is causing the situation we’re currently in.

    “Our quality of life is beginning to decline”…explain that though as well.

  • James Hunt


  • Jason Pelker

    That’s why you make your own job. Or create something of value.

  • sgtdoom

    No offense, but your reading comprehension, or your analytical skill set, sucks!

    Insourcing people, regardless of the skill set, supersedes anyone’s job.

    What is so difficult to comprehend about that — whatever skill set you learn, they can import a foreign worker with those same skills/knowledge set.

    TPP, douchey.

  • Robert Bradford

    You clearly have never mastered any sort of valuable skill set. Top developers, engineers, web security jobs, marketing and sales professional will always be in demand. How do you suppose we outsource auto repair or even chefs jobs?

    More importantly: after all of this complaining, I’m sure you can provide a solution to America’s ills…. What’s your plan? Or do you just vent, bitch and moan on the internet for fun?

  • JP Green House (Andrée)

    Just for another perspective: I rent two rooms in my home on Airbnb and make 2/3 of my living doing so. I work 20 hours a week on that, do consulting work for another 10, and have time for my kids and my passions. I grow much of my own food, live simply, work in my church and community. This is what the “sharing economy” has bought me–freedom.

  • sgtdoom

    Are you effing brain dead? Or a trollbot? How many times must I keep repeating myself — last time, douchetard:

    How do you suppose we outsource auto repair? Or colunary jobs? How do you suppose we outsource surgery? Or patient care?

    Importing foreign visa scab workers, idiot. TPP, idiot.

    Are you completely illiterate? Or have the reading comprehension of a demented 2-year-old?

    No further responses forthcoming.

  • sgtdoom

    My plan?
    Arclight Wall Street.

  • Robert Bradford

    TPP! Terrorism! Weapons of mass discruciton! The Soviets! Zombie apocalypse!

    I read and understand what you’ve said. I’m questioning your distorted view of reality. You’ve making it pretty clear that you’ve never hired anyone. Never mind the fact that you haven’t ever had a real skilled job before either.

    sgtdipshit, explain the logistics of every American corporation simultaneously deciding that they’re going to import 140 million “scabs” into the US to take American jobs. How? Why? When is this all going to happen?

  • Jeff Blanks


  • Jeff Blanks

    So let’s suppose everybody does what you recommend. What happens when there’s not enough work in those fields to hire everyone? Darwinism is an analysis of the state of nature, and a modern economy is not the state of nature.

  • Jeff Blanks

    He may be off course, but at least he knows that employer-based feudalism is still feudalism.

    It’ll happen badly enough over a long enough period of time to have some effect. More importantly, blaming workers for not knowing the needs of the future is not really in good faith.

  • Jeff Blanks

    Huh? How does “they came together to figure out how to achieve a better society” equate to “The Man is keeping us down”? Troll.

  • Jeff Blanks

    Project much?

  • Robert Bradford

    I think Darwinism and economics share many commonalities. Go on Wikipedia and check out “evolutionary economics”.

    But let’s get away from abstractions. I’ll give you a more concrete example…

    If you’re in a shrinking industry (newspapers, construction, automotive, etc), you’ve got your work cut out for you… Let’s use newspapers as an example.

    Print media is on its death bed. And as a journalist, you’re going to have to be able to build upon your current skill set (researching, writing, interviews, etc) in order to keep yourself relevant in 2014 and beyond.

    That might involve learning more about digital publishing: blogging, video creation, basic photography, digital advertising, SEO, WordPress, keyword research, etc.

    The skill set of writing will always be relevant, but it’s no longer viable to make a living writing for newspapers.

  • James Hunt

    “Troll.” Very droll.

    My response was not to your kumbaya view of history but to your use of initial caps To Signal That You’re Making A Very Important Point in a Sarcastic Way. Because No One In This Country Has Ever Had to Work As Hard As You And It’s Just Not Fair.

  • Robert Bradford

    Thanks for sharing your story JP. So much of this article is fear-based nonsense. These services are lowering the barrier to entry for the average person who wants to earn money on their own.

  • Jeff Blanks

    Now you’re just throwing words around. I’m not even saying what you think I’m saying.

  • Jeff Blanks

    Would you care to point out these two guys to me?? I’d like to meet them.

  • Khary Lemon

    I think many people would disagree…take lyft for example people have been doing this for decades in bmore. You may have heard of what we call “hacks” in bmore. Unlicensed cab drivers drive people around for a fee that is less than the licensed cab companies. This act is considered illegal and many people have been arrested for it. But Lyft does it and he profits and does not have to face criminal charges. Thats not a fair playing field at all. Kinda illustrates some of the hypocrisy toward the poor.

  • Khary Lemon

    Thats all good for you but most people do not have that option and i think thats what the arthur was trying to portray. There is a reason that the income gap between the rich and poor is at a record level right now.

  • JP Green House (Andrée)

    I’m not rich. I do happen to own a home, and that’s a huge advantage. I would use the words entrepreneurial and thrifty to characterise my use of the sharing economy to create a lifestyle where I work less. I’m certainly not saying everyone can do it, but I also hear a lot of complaining about how enslaved many people are to corporate jobs. This is one alternative to that.

  • Robert Bradford

    Feudalism? A little melodramatic don’t you think…

    We’re talking about people with iPhones, personal computers, refrigerators, air conditioning units, personal automobiles, washing machines, indoor plumbing, closets full of clothes (they didn’t make), pantries full of food (they didn’t grow).

    Where are the feudal serfs in this situation?

    The people who have access to free public education until age 18? The people who have (free) access to the infinite wisdom of the world available by typing in “” or “”? You can have any book ever published delivered directly to your door for $8.99 + S&H.


    We’re talking about people who have (clearly) never missed a meal in their lives. You can walk into your grocery store and purchase a meal that the King of England himself couldn’t have dreamed of eating 100 years ago.


    It’s amazing to me how even in the most prosperous nation in the history of the world, during the most prosperous times in the history of the world – people will still find a way to determine that the odds are being stacked against them.

  • Jeff Blanks

    Are the odds *not* stacked against them? Are there no poor people? (There are still plenty of people who can’t afford at least some of the items you’re talking about.) If we can’t complain, how much less can those on top complain? Do we really have as good a society as we can hope to have. Is it wrong–is it somehow ungrateful–to assume the answer is “no”? What does it mean to say everything is OK if we’re not outright starving?

  • Robert Bradford

    The term “poor” is relative. Want to see poor? I’ll show you some photos of my grandfather and his seven siblings back in 1938.

    For the most part, people have their basic needs taken care of: food, water shelter, clothing. We’ve even added luxuries to this list: education, job training, small business loans, and healthcare.

    Well intentioned people have created a social safety net to support those who can’t (or won’t) find work. Our poor are living better than royalty during the feudal age.

    Those at the top really don’t have much to complain about either.

  • Jeff Blanks

    So? Do you really think it’s any skin off YOUR back?

  • Robert Bradford

    Do I really think what is skin off my back?

  • Ponder Walt

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