The New Yorker

Heather Richards

One gratifying thing about living paycheck to paycheck these days is that an economic crisis is more of a dark cloud than a thunderstorm.

Sure, it’s worrisome; these are fretful circumstances. But for the lower middle class, down the line, there’s not much change.

As many lose their investments, savings and homes, many more, without much savings, without an impressive job title and, for sure, without investments are living exactly the same.

I know the whole world is hurting in some way from the economic downturn of the last few years.

Perhaps American opulence was just a myth churned up over decades as the world watched us spend what we don’t have.

One way to measure the gross domestic product (GDP) is to measure a nation’s spending. Spending may generate economic movement, but when there’s nothing left to spend .

I learned an interesting fact about this society the other day. Only 30 percent of the people in the U.S. have an undergraduate degree.

I’ve heard my whole life that college is a ticket out, a ticket out of a small town, a ticket out of never having to use food stamps, a ticket somewhere else.

A “ticket” guarantees movement in a society that hates the idea of stagnation, but the economic crises makes me wonder who is really better off at the end of the day; the guy whose installs flooring, or the guy who has a degree in political science but works at Starbucks while he pays off his school loans?

The science and technical schools are exceptions. A liberal arts degree is a bit of a mirage when it comes to career stability.

Americans, always going on about the simple life, love the idea of early retirement. We want to get rich so we can start living like a 70-year-old on a fat pension by the time we’re 30-year-olds. Fish all day? Don’t mind if I do. But, do you know who else fish all day? Fishermen.

How much security does a four-year degree offer? Do I have to add that the vast majority of the people who’ve made a difference in my life did not have any real education?

The kind of person I want to be has nothing to do with a paycheck? The kind of life I want to lead has much to do with a paycheck.

Nonetheless, I’m not worried about investments right now. I haven’t lost twenty grand on the stock market, my 401(k) nor my house.

In fact, I never had twenty grand, I do need to think about a 401(k) and I’m about to move to Logan cause I can’t afford my rent. Financial crises? What’s new about that?