Thursday, April 14, 2011

Odd jobs: Getting by in America's new patch-work economy

Now that most of America's social safety nets have either already disappeared or are currently in the process of getting shredded really fast, then pretty much all that we have left now are bragging rights for having created the largest number of corporate billionaire robber barons ever in the history of the planet -- and only they are allowed to have government safety nets, not us. So how are we little folks gonna survive when the going gets really tough? Here's a good suggestion: Fake it.

There's not much of a chance that any of us will be able to land some cushy well-paying job on Wall Street or Rodeo Drive in the near future
(unless of course we have at least five lobbyists working for us in Congress) but somehow we too have still gotta make ends meet, right? So how are we supposed to do that? Fake it. "But doesn't the expression that you're quoting actually say, 'fake it until you make it', Jane?" you might ask. Not any more. That part of the expression has been pretty much canned. No one in America is gonna be "making it" here any more -- unless of course you are a war profiteer, were a member of Skull and Bones at Yale or are currently receiving Bush-Obama welfare-for-the-rich handouts. Which most of us are not. But, hopefully, we can still fake it just enough to get by.

"But how?"

By doing a little bit of everything and then patching a do-able income together from the pieces -- piece by piece. Sell at the flea market. Raise petunias. Babysit. Take in washing. Make wine in the basement. Deliver newspapers. Panhandle. Bag groceries. Do odd jobs.

"But Jane," you might say, "that's repugnant. Those kinds of jobs are beneath me. That's the kind of thing that undocumented immigrants and over-achieving teenagers trying to earn money for prom night might do -- not people like me." Hey, you shoulda thought of that before you voted for Reagan, both Bushes, Clinton and Obama, and became Teabaggers, Limbaugh fans and friends of Fox News. Too late to complain now!

Now you just gotta get out there and HUSTLE.

PS: Living on Social Security may sucks eggs but there's something even far worse than that -- having no Social Security at all. Thank goodness for FDR and Social Security and the New Deal! Too bad that it's too late to bring all of that good stuff back again, but we've already given most of the money we would have needed to make it happen away to war profiteers and rich people who have butlers, maids, lobbyists and Congressmen to wait on them hand and foot.

How come nobody in America seems to be pissed of about this sad situation but me?

PPS: Unfortunately, I also practice what I preach -- and lately have become the Queen of odd jobs. I substitute teach at the local juvenile hall, try to sell my books, take an occasional role as an extra in movies (look for me in the crowd scene in Moneyball when it finally gets released), try to sell T-shirts and coffee mugs with inspirational titles such as "Life is a competition -- the winners are the ones who do the most good deeds," read palms and tell fortunes,
take an occasional evil-doer to court, hold yard sales, become a traveling notary public, etc.

You can buy my fabulous and entertaining book on the Middle East at
and my fabulous and entertaining book on the Hajj at And you can buy my T-shirts and coffee mugs here:

But I truly have really bad money karma and most of my many money-raising schemes don't ever work out -- so now I'm also patching together a lot of other ways to survive as well. And while America's billionaires seem to feel all neglected and deprived if they are forced to suffer along with owning only two yachts and three BMWs apiece, I'm busy trying to make ends meet by squeezing every penny I own until the eagle screams. Or Lincoln gets pissed off. Or whatever.

One television role that I recently auditioned for involves playing a contestant on a new reality show about people who know how to get food for free. I am totally qualified for this role! Here's their blurb: "All-new docu-reality series seeking people who eat for FREE! Do you get a thrill out of spending little to no money on food? Do you dedicate your life to scoring meals in clever ways? Have you perfected the art of dumpster diving, coupon clipping to an obsessive degree, or bartering your way to a full stomach? Do you crash events, meetings, and open houses just for the free feast? This all-new series for a major cable network will explore the lives of people who have mastered the art of eating for free."

And at the rate that we Americans are being happily fleeced by corporatist rich people these days, it looks like almost everyone in America will be qualified to audition for this show pretty soon -- not just me.

PPPS: This April, I paid more federal taxes than General Electric and Bank of America combined. Does anyone but me see anything wrong with this picture?

Like the bumper sticker on my 1990 Toyota (Hey don't laugh -- it runs well, is paid for and gets over 30 mpg) says, "Tax the Rich!"

PPPPS: Here's a description of a student film role that I'm about to audition for. It's entitled "Street Zombies" and sounds like fun, even if there isn't gonna be any patch-work pay involved. "We need several extras to get bloody and fill the screen to create the feeling the world has gone completely mad." I can do that!