November 8, 2018


I always arrive at work at 7:50 a.m.  That’s ten minutes before I have to officially unlock the writing center door, turn on the lights, and open up for business.

This morning, at approximately 7:55, I made a quick trip to the men’s restroom.  Actually, I’m pretty lucky in that it’s located just a few feet away from our center.  (There’s a lot to be said for convenience.)  Anyway, when I stepped into the place, there was a man just finishing up his business at one of the urinals.  As soon as he zipped up and turned toward me, I noticed that he had a toothbrush sticking out of his mouth.  Seeing this prompted me to ask, “Multitasking are you?”  He found my question humorous.  I know this because he began to smile when I put it to him.  He then walked to the sink, spit a wad of froth from his mouth, and thoroughly washed his hands, face, and brush.

This rather inconsequential encounter in the john got me thinking about how busy our lives are.  It was both a little humorous and a little sad that this fellow couldn’t focus on either peeing or brushing and found himself having to do them simultaneously.  I hope it doesn’t come to the point that we have to carry around little pocket-sized planners to schedule our bowel movements.

Having lived in other countries I can say for a fact—at least it seems certain enough that it feels factual—that life in America is more hectic than in other places.  There’s always someplace to be, some call to make, a bundle of bills to pay, a job that needs doing.  The rich manage all this by hiring secretaries, managers, publicists, maids, nannies, and so on.  The poor manage this by going insane.  Those that don’t go crazy turn to the bottle or some other form of escapism that’s bound to be at least a little self-destructive.

I haven’t entirely figured it out yet, but I feel pretty certain that there’s some sort of relationship between living under a pretty hardcore capitalist economic system and the sort of panicky feeling I often have.  I’m not sure why that’s the case.  (Maybe it’s because we say that time is money in America?)  I wonder if people who live in more socialistic countries aren’t just a little calmer.  My guess is that they are.

I’m going to spend the rest of the afternoon—after I get all this stuff done that needs doing—thinking about this question of capitalism and anxiety.  There certainly has to be a connection.  I’m positively sure there must be.



I want to start with an apology. I’ve been incredibly busy lately and thus unable to spend much time writing.

A couple of days ago, I managed to find a free moment, so I started a new blog, just about finished it, and then ran into a really cool article that inspired me. So I set the piece I was working on aside and will come back to it in a few days, after I’m done with this one.

If you haven’t already done so, look back at my last blog—“Speaking of Politics…”—an article on why I’ll be supporting Bernie Sanders in the upcoming presidential plebiscite. Some of what I write here will relate to some of the things Sanders says in the video I embedded in that previous entry.

If you click on the above link, you’ll be transported to a piece in The Atlantic about a fellow named Scott Santens who is described as “a leader” in the “Basic Income Movement,” which calls for government to provide enough money to every citizen so that their basic needs will be met without having to work. By the way, movements of this sort are gaining momentum in many countries of the world as this video, produced in Switzerland, makes clear.

The article and video got me thinking about how my life would be different if some entity—the government, let’s say—guaranteed me enough money each month so I could be jobless if I wished. Would such a program turn me into a lazy slob?

Absolutely not. I feel completely confident saying that I’d spend a lot more time doing creative things, like writing and publishing, if I had fewer employment worries and commitments. I’d spend more quality time with my wife and family and would become a better husband, son, brother, and so on, in the process. There are causes I care a lot about, so I’d definitely give some volunteer hours, each week, to help those in need. Actually, I’d probably be more active than I currently am because I wouldn’t be so tired and stressed out all the time.

I think, in my case, society would probably get a pretty good return on its investment. I’d certainly continue to “work” but at things I had true passion for and was talented in doing. Contributions, toward the greater good, would come from this and I’d be more likely to feel something akin to self-actualization, in the sense that Abraham Maslow intended. As a result, I’d be happier and more prosperous. A country full of such individuals would certainly have a lot more stability than more hardscrabble places. And in a world full of nations filled with disgruntled citizens, that’s worth a whole lot.