Peasants In America

Most people in America are peasants. They would never admit it, but that’s the kind of life most live. They own very little. They work five days a week, 8 hours a day, at jobs that do not make them rich, but it makes whoever owns the company they work for rich.

An American dream is to own a house – or it used to be. Home ownership leads to being tied to working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

There are 168 hours in a week. IF, and they usually don’t, but if the peasants sleep 8 hours a night for 7 days a week, that uses up 56 of those hours. Most peasants are sleep deprived because working 40 hours a week means they don’t have time for much of anything else. If you add the 56 hours sleeping to the 40 hours working, you get 96 hours a week. That doesn’t count any overtime work, paid or not paid. If you are “salaried” in America, you don’t get any overtime pay. You get paid a set amount for the job, no matter how much time you spend doing it. School teachers are salaried employees and they work more than 40 hours a week, but don’t get any additional pay.

Most people who are paid according to how many hours they work will welcome overtime work because it is usually paid at 1 1/2 times the regular rate of pay. They welcome it because they cannot afford much of anythng with their regular 40 hour a week paycheck.

I’ve digressed. Work plus sleep equals 96 hours a week. When you subtract that from 168, you get 72 hours a week of “freedom”. Some of this time will be spent “commuting” to your place of work. For my last job, I spent twenty minutes driving from my home to my workplace. That was 40 minutes every day in my car driving. Some people spend thirty minutes or more communting to work. Let’s say a peasant spends thirty minutes each way getting to and from work. That’s an hour each day. If the peasant works five days a week, that’s five hours gone. 72 minus 5 equals 67.

A peasant has to be clean for most jobs. That means they shower daily. They have to get dressed for work, dressed for bed, and dressed for other activities. If a peasant spends 15 minutes a day getting dressed for each activity, they spend at least 30 minutes a day doing this. If they spend 15 minutes taking a shower, that brings this total to 45 minutes. Then there is teeth brushing, laundry, some housework, and some have yard work as well. If you subtract the 45 minutes of showering and getting dressed . . . Let’s call it an hour because many people spend more time than that. There’s makeup and hair and selecting clothes to wear . . . Let’s say most people spend an hour a day dressing or getting ready to be presentable, and undressing or changing clothes for non-work activities. That’s 7 more hours out of the week. Now we’re down to 60 hours a week of free time.

How long does the average peasant take to eat? Does the peasant also fix his own meal, or does s/he go out for it? This also takes time. There are three meals a day. School teachers get about 20 minutes for lunch, if they’re lucky. That’s the amount of time alloted to eating the lunch. It still has to be either purchased or prepared. Let’s call it thirty minutes a day per meal and assume most peasants eat three meals a day. That’s an hour and a half per day for preparing and eating food. Multiply that by 7, because there are 7 days in a week. You get 10.5 hours a week eating and preparing food. Subtract that from 60 and you have 49.5 hours a week “free”. This still does not count the time spent doing laundry, cleaning house, or doing yardwork. But if you divide the 49.5 by 7, you get roughly 7 hours a day of “free time”.

Most of this free time you are tired from working at least 8 hours a day. You spend part of that time paying bills with the money you earn when you exchange your time for dollars. In America, there are many taxes to pay. The government takes taxes out of your earned money when you make it and then again takes taxes when you spend it. Americans “file taxes” once a year to be sure that according to how much money they earn, the government gets what it considers to be its fair share. If you have bought anything like a house or property in America and you sell it, you must pay taxes as well. There are county taxes and federal taxes and in many states, state taxes for many different things. There is money taken for social security, which is income provided for “old age”. If you die before you are old enough to collect all this social security money back, you just forfeit that money that has been taken out of every paycheck you ever earned. How much “tax” goes into the social security collection? Each person and their employer contributes 12.4 percent total of the person’s earnings to this collection. Each person contributes half of this amount, or 6.2% out of every dollar earned for a whole lifetime with no guarantee of living long enough to get it back. The employer pays the other 6.2%.

Social Security is financed by a 12.4 percent tax on wages up to the taxable-earnings cap, with half (6.2 percent) paid by workers and the other half paid by employers. This taxable wage base usually goes up each year—it rose from $117,000 in 2014 to $118,500 in 2015, but stayed put at that level for 2016.Oct 18, 2016″  (found online https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/compensation/pages/fica-social-security-tax-2017.aspx)

Most people don’t stop to think about how little free time they have in America. They’re too busy working and worrying about bills and health and other worrisome things. This keeps the peasant’s mind occupied so they don’t realize they are peasants.

College graduates who have been told that education would improve their lot in life graduate saddled with thousands of dollars in student loan debts. That is another guarantee that they will live a conforming peasant style life and “contribute to society”, which is actually making sure the rich stay rich while the peasant believes the lies of the American dream. Although the money many borrowed is government money, the college graduates (or even non-graduates, but college attendees) pay high interest rates for borrowing this money. Many end up paying twice what they borrowed back for the privilege of having enough education to do a higher paid job in America. I don’t know where the interest on this money goes, but since many of the loans come from the government, I would assume the government keeps the “interest” money as well.

Merriam-Webster defines a peasant this way:  :  “a member of a European class of persons tilling the soil as small landowners or as laborers.”

Americans are a class of laborers, whether it be skilled or unskilled. Most Americans enjoy the peasant lifestyle.

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The Pygmalion Effect or its Opposite

This morning I was driving to McDonald’s for breakfast. I go about a mile from home and turn left. I get there on a highway. The speed limit, since it’s in town, is 45 mph.

As usual, this morning folks were trying to tailgate me as I drove the speed limit in the left lane. I was turning left soon. They probably didn’t know that.

They probably also didn’t know that when I have moved over so they could speed by me, others refuse to let me back into the left lane, and I have to go to the light past the place where I turn, to do a U turn and come back.

This morning I was thinking this was like the Pygmalion effect, but when I looked that up, it says it raises expectations. Well, mine have been lowered. I do not expect to be allowed back in the left lane and I end up having to drive farther to get where I going, all so others can speed down the road. There is a right lane, and except for one tail-gater, the other cars switched to it to go around me this morning.

I think what these speeders have caused is the Golem effect. The other car drivers have lowered my expectation of ever getting back in the left lane so I can make my left turn when needed, so I stay in that lane through two lights until I get to the one where I make the left turn.

If they weren’t in such a big hurry, they’d see what I was doing.  I refuse to speed like they’re doing just because they think I’m in their way. I go the maximum speed limit. I wish they would notice what it is and slow down.

A Mind of His Own

I knew my son, Anthony, had a mind of his own the day he graduated from preschool.

I was sitting in the audience waiting for the procession of graduating preschoolers when I saw the beginning of the line start coming out of the building doors. We were outside. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day.

Suddenly Anthony (who was called “Tony” back then) darted out from the line and ran towards me. I could see his teacher’s consternation at his actions. “Wook what I’m wearing!” he grinned at me, as he said it proudly. I couldn’t help but smile.

“I see”, I said. His robe was swaying from his run across the yard and his mortar board was now askew. Then noticing his teacher rushing our way, I asked, “Are you supposed to be over here with me?”

“No!” he declared. “I supposed to be over der!” he turned and pointed towards the line that was continuing to slowly and solemnly march towards the stage. Noticing his teacher headed his way, he took off running, darted past her, being careful to make a wide arc around her so she couldn’t grab him as she reached out her arm to do so. With his mortar board bouncing, he raced up the steps to the stage and grinning, he joined his classmates.

I knew then that he had a mind of his own and a spirit unequaled to any I had ever seen.

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Last Chance . . . Really?

All these life insurance companies and magazine subscription sales that keep sending me my “last chance” to purchase their product through the mail need to stop.

IF it’s really my last chance, then they’re losing out by not giving me a chance to change my mind in the future . . . and IF it’s not my last chance . . . well, they’ve already proven they’ll lie to me.

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Some Things I Have Learned This Week

If you go to a place where Senior Citizens gather, you will meet new friends. Those new friends will eventually introduce you to their friends in other places and you will have more peers to interact with than you know what to do!

Seniors are cheerful. When you go to a Senior Citizen event, there will be smiles and laughter.

Seniors cheer each other on. If you face a medical problem, you know who to ask for a referral to a good medical doctor. You know where to go to get certain services. You know how to handle certain situations at your age.  Everyone is pulling for everyone else to succeed at life and to enjoy it.

Senior Activities abound! What are you interested in? If you go to a Senior gathering, you will likely find something pertaining to that to participate in.

Seniors use the language you’re accustomed to. You know exactly what they mean when they use idioms  such as “My eyes were bigger than my stomach”. There is no explaining to have to do when you converse with another Senior.

If you’re a Senior Citizen now, or become one, get out there and make the rest of your life happen!

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Mothers

Mothers are depicted on TV as bothersome creatures whose mere existence torments their adult children.

Mothers are viewed as doddering old creatures out of touch with the reality of today’s society and having little use, except to be a nuisance.

One thing about mothers . . . once you’ve become an adult, your mother has lived long enough to study and be hurt by and to see dangers and delights in society that you haven’t discovered yet. They can save you some pain and trouble, and that’s what many mothers are tryinig to do.

If your mother says you work too long and too hard, chances are you do. Hard work and long hours are often regretted in subsequent years.

If your mother says you’re not eating right or not taking care of your health, teeth, body . . . you probably are guilty of those things as well.

Perhaps adult children resent their mothers because they realize there are still some things they don’t know. Or perhaps their mother’s views contradict the current beliefs of their peers and society?

Whatever the reason you may choose to shun your mother, remember this . . . IF your mother was supportive of you and cheered you on, if she tried (even though at times may have failed) to help you as you grew up . . . she still has your best interests at heart and only wants the best for you.

Calculate how many days? hours? minutes? you give to your mother each year . . . she’s keeping up with it. She may never say a word about feeling neglected, but her heart acknowledges it and she will become more reluctant to say or do anything for fear of causing you to spend less time with her.

If you love your mother, however distasteful the thought of spending time with her, you might want to do it anyway. “Time waits for no man”  (first appeared about 1395 in Chaucer’s Prologue to the Clerk’s Tale). It won’t wait until it’s a convenient time to spend time with your mother. If you’re waiting for her to change, chances are that’s not going to happen either. Take her or leave her while you can. I just hope you don’t regret your choice later.

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