Frustration Friday: You First, Guys

You know the drill in the job world, in the economy, in the geekonomy.  Various experts, who we know are experts because people say they're experts, say that it's time that we all be realistic and take pay cuts, have financial austerity, and in general all give up more.  We see this in calls for government cuts, or for people to take lower-paying jobs (as if there are enough jobs to go on), stop collecting unemployment, and so forth.

I always notice the people calling for austerity have a few things in common:

  • They won't be affected by these changes.
  • They may benefit from these changes.
  • They assume suffering is good as long as it doesn't happen to other people.
  • They don't seem to worry about huge amounts of people being miserable.

And my usual response is always "hey, you first.  What are you going to give up?"

I wonder what kind of answers you'd get if you asked those authors, gurus, and talking heads that question.

What we have in many countries and cultures is a weird kind of Suffering Fetish.  We're not solving problems unless it's painful (for someone else).  We're not moving forward unless it's difficult (for someone else).  For some reason austerity, pain, and so on seem to have a magical effect to fix everything – at least in the minds of people proposing it.

Well, if other people deal with that pain.  Many people proposing painful solutions to our economic problems don't seem to really think they have anything to give up or should.

In the end, much as I've said people's political and economic opinions border on religion.  I think the "Suffering Fetish" is really more a religious than an economic or political opinion, one you can't negotiate or talk about since people just believe it's true.  You can't discuss it easily.

So in the end we're back to that question economically – what do we want the world to be like and how do we get there.  Ironically, that is a painful question and answer for some . . .

Steven Savage