Shannon Moon's Blog

Life As I Know It

Shannon Moon

Shannon Moon
Ruraltopia, Pennsylvania, USA
December 31
I am a librarian, teacher, writer, philosopher, mother, daughter, granddaughter, perpetual student, recluse and lover of literature and music. What else is there? Really. I can be found here:


OCTOBER 6, 2011 2:24PM

It’s Lonely Being in the 99 and Insulation (of the mind)

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a.k.a.  How I am SURVIVING the (“POST”) RECESSION



Knowing that I am one of the millions in that 99% doesn’t make it any less lonely.  I was angry for so long, but at the wrong person. I was angry at myself.  


 I always felt like such a loser.  Why can’t I find that job?  It must be me.  I must not be good enough.  It kills what little self-esteem that I have.  If I can’t find that job (or any job, really), then I can’t buy a house, and so I can’t move into that part of my life where I am a real adult.  I am stuck in this limbo.  I am not a twenty-something.  I am a thirty-something.  I am supposed to be an adult with all of the trappings of adulthood:  job, car, house, kids.  Everything around me tells me that I am a failure.


But I look around at my friends, family, neighbors, and what do I see?  They struggle too.  People who have invested time and money into their educations in order to make themselves more marketable.  But to no avail.  They stay stuck.  


A decade ago, they would have been middle class.  Now they are more likely to resemble the working class.  They live paycheck to paycheck, go without health insurance (I want Obamacare!), tell their kids they can’t play soccer because they can’t afford it.  It’s not whether or not they can afford a latte at Starbucks, it’s whether or not they can afford to buy coffee at home.  Or maybe whether or not they have enough money for gas to get to work.  Or if they’ll have enough to buy their kids food.  This is not class warfare as some would claim.  It’s reality.


Why don’t we respect “middle American”?  Why must we struggle as we do?  Why don’t we fight back?  


I know, I heard that the recession was over.   I guess it just takes longer to reach my realm.  It’ll get here, right?  But we struggled long before the rest of the country did.  


Even without benefits, my last job still paid more than any job I have had, outside of waiting tables.  But what does this all say about the fairness and appropriateness of pay in the United States?  A friend and I worked together, both of us have our Master’s degree.  And we worked for peanuts.  We made $12.60 an hour.  Granted, this is almost double minimum wage.  We are better off than so many others.  Neighbors, all working class, tell me how that’s a great wage.  They are envious.  They think teachers make too much money anyways.  In their defense, they don’t make even half what a teacher makes and they never have.  


But part of me says, screams actually, I deserve to earn a decent living.  I have put great effort into my education and job training.  I say this to myself, while simultaneously hearing a voice in the back of my head that warns me that the world owes me nothing.  


And I can’t stop thinking about how we as Americans, maybe as humans, try to insulate ourselves from those things that we do not want to see.  We drive around in our leased cars with payments that we cannot afford, in house with mortgages that we cannot afford, wearing clothes that we cannot afford, eating out at restaurants that we cannot afford, and taking vacations that we cannot afford.  And for what?  Insulation.  


I believe that we are, as a nation, terrified of what lies beneath us.  It doesn’t matter if we are the top one percent, the bottom one percent, or somewhere in-between.  And somehow, those less fortunate than us must have managed to bring it all onto themselves.  It is far easier to blame them than accept that we are all in this together.  If I pollute the stream outside of my home, it is your stream too.  If you leave toxic waste in your backyard, it is in mine as well.  


There is no escaping these facts.  A wise man once told us, if one of us is not free, then none of us are.  


As I drove around my state last spring, I was struck by the shear number of semis on the road.  It made me feel both proud and appreciative of their sacrifice and role within our society--even though I desperately wish that we could move away from the fossil fuels that are destroying our planet.  I know truck drivers, long and short haul.  It is a difficult job.  There’s the employers that abuse their workers, the long hours, government regulations that almost make it impossible for them to complete what their employers expect, and their families that suffer along with them.  I would not want their job.  But they are doing the best that they can, with what they have.  A broken system.  But an amazing one as well.  Can you imagine what it would be like without the infrastructure that we have?  Our nation would never had become this powerful and strong without it.  And we are letting it fall away.  But we only notice it when we take a vacation where we drive somewhere, and then it is only a small nuisance.  Even though I am terribly frustrated by the delays caused by road construction, I am equally glad that Obama saw fit to create the opportunity for all of those men and women to work for the weeks and months that it takes to complete these jobs, the money that flows into my local economy because of the project, and for the upgrade in the infrastructure in my area.  I am truly awe-struck by the number of individuals and companies that allow our system to remain operational.  Think about it:  we have garbage collectors that keep our streets and businesses and homes clean; road crews keeping the streets open year-round; construction crews that keep them in working order, delivery trucks bringing everything to us:  gas, water, food, paper, meals, laundry, and so forth.  Our businesses would halt without these services.  And yet, these are the very people that our systems is in such a hurry to forget, to ignore.  


We don’t see the delivery people bringing food to our grocery stores and restaurants.  Nor do we see people involved in providing these foods--whether they are shelving, ringing up, preparing etc., the other suppliers, or the farmers and migrant workers that grow the foods that we consume.  We don’t notice the businesses that supply those businesses.  It is all invisible to us.  We buy a new computer, without a single thought to what made it happen:  the store (the workers, the cleaning crews, the suppliers, delivery people, the electric company, water and sewage companies, the construction crews that build the site, the government regulation that made it happen and keep us safe while there using their store), the company that made it (and that have all of the above, plus suppliers of the raw goods--goods that have been  created, mined, found, bought, altered in ways that we cannot really understand by people that we will never meet, who are often abused in ways that we could never imagine), the shipping companies, the ports, the transportation industry, the police that keep every step of this safe, the government officials that require and enforce the necessary regulations that (are supposed to) protect us.  


Do we need the working poor to give us the lifestyle to which we’ve grown accustomed?    Even in the United States, “The number of people in poverty in 2010 (46.2 million) is the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published.”


We are a consumer nation, whether we mean to be or not, or even understand it.  Our goods, those things that allow us our expected lifestyle are provided on the backs of millions of migrant workers, low wage workers, and sometimes even debt slaves.  


The important factor that we always fail to see is the billionaires siphoning off billions of dollars off of this system.  They have a monopoly.  We give them our hours, our lives, our children’s lives, and yet it is never enough.  We give them TARP, we roll up our sleeves and work two jobs, give up our time with our children to work for them, and it’s never enough.  Americans proudly work more hours than our counterparts in Europe.  


How much is your time worth?  What can you buy with it?  For every hour you work, that you sell the use of your body to your employer, how many loaves of bread can you buy?  Two?  Three?  More?  How much are you worth?  Tell me the difference between this and slavery?  Just because we do not live in a mine town, are we any less indebted?  Do you own anything?  Or does the bank own it all?  Do you mean to be in debt?  Do you feel guilty?  Like you’ve failed?  


People want to revolt.


But I am too busy, like millions of my counterparts, trying to make ends meet.  Trying to not starve to death.  I mean, it’ll be okay that I am paying for food and gas with my credit card, right?  No harm?  How did we get to this point?   And how do we get out?  


"Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it".  Sounds radical.  But it’s in the Declaration of Independence.  Their twenty years are up.



But don’t just listen to me.  Listen to your own heart and head.  We deserve better.  I am not to blame.  I am not at fault.  For all my self-hatred, I try to remember that I am not the one.  


Others agree, and I think their words are better than mine.


"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty . . . And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."  Thomas Jefferson


"People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both."  Benjamin Franklin


"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."   Upton Sinclair


"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom—go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!"  Samuel Adams


“There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty."  John Adams


"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it."  Abraham Lincoln


"Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing."  Thomas Paine


"In short, the flames kindled on the 4th of July, 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of depotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them."  Thomas Jefferson



What I’m listening to:  Fortunate Son, CCR or maybe it’s Talkin’ Bout a Revolution, Tracy Chapman, I can’t decide.

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Now this is one heck of a post to reflect upon. Thanks for the call to think?
This is hard work; well done, shannon. Excellent stretch and thanks for the links. It is always good to read you. R
Thanks. It was born out of sheer frustration, and anger.
I felt hopeful last night when I took my daughter to a college fair. I honestly have no idea how I would ever pay for her to go to college if I don't find work (or really, even if I do). But for some reason, just being there gave me a sense that it would be okay. Endless possibility? IDK. Maybe it was just the commradery of being with others that thought education was important.