Parasite or paragon?
I started reading a book called Corporateland: Surviving Cubicle Warfare by everyone's favourite asshole uncle - no, not Terrence Popp, though he will always get a salute from this blog for his good work - Frank Cervi. On the very first page is a numerical estimation of the total number of people in the entire US economy that are doing genuinely useful and productive work.
It's a sobering assessment.
Frank Cervi reckons that there are only 6 million or so people, in the WHOLE of the country, doing anything that amounts to even the minutest quantum of a damn.
Now, at first you might think to yourself, "that's ridiculous - surely there are far more people doing good work in the economy than that?!?".
A moment later, after you think through the maths, you might think, "huh... dude might have a point there, actually".
Turns out, he does have a point. Let's work with some actual numbers, not ones that we pull out of a hat, and try to replicate this little thought experiment.
Okay. So. How many people are there in the United States of America today?
About 330 million or so - that's including everyone, people born there, fake Americans who emigrated to there, illegal invaders who should be thrown out face-first, and so on.
It is worth noting that roughly 60 million of those people are on some form of welfare. That includes: Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, veterans' benefits, food stamps - oh, sorry, "supplemental nutritional assistance program"; unemployment insurance; Federally subsidised health insurance for unemployed folks; unemployment benefits; school meals for poor kids; low-income housing assistance; and so on and so forth.
This is important. We'll come back to that number later. Note that quite a few of those welfare recipients are working, or are veterans in need of medical help.
Now, of these 330 million people in the USA, as of June 2019, 206 million are of working age (between 15 and 64). That means that 124 million people are too young or too old to work - a full 37.58% of the total population.
Of those 206 million, as of the last available good count, about 157 million are actually employed in full- or part-time work. That's a total labour utilisation rate of about 76% of available manpower.
However - of those 157 million employed people, the total number of civilian government employees of all Federal, State, and Local governments - excluding the military and alphabet-soup intelligence agencies - numbers in at about 22.5 million. (Not 29 million Federal and 15 million state and local, as Frank Cervi says - those numbers are way too high.)
That leaves you with an actual, productive, useful labour base of only about 135 million people. I say this because government employees are BY DEFINITION a tax upon the rest of us - they only exist at the expense of actual, productive, genuinely useful jobs. In terms of hard-nosed productive enterprise, those people are useless.
(That is not to say that they do not perform vitally important functions in society. It is simply to say that they exist at a cost to society, since their existence is funded through tax revenues taken from everyone else.)
Of those, there are roughly 2 million people in the farming industry, not counting all of those seasonal H-2A workers who come in from shithole countries (and South Africa, which kind of is a shithole these days). I would guess that there are roughly another 3 million employed in the military and in associated quasi-civilian contractor roles. And there are perhaps another 10 million or so employed in trucking and transportation jobs.
Let's add to that another perhaps 15 million or so blue-collar jobs - manufacturing, electrician work, plumbing, carpentry, logging, and so on and so forth. That is a very roughly guesstimate and probably can be pared down considerably, but I'm being generous here.
That leaves you with maybe 25 million people, in the ENTIRE USA, that make life possible for the other more than 300 million. The entire country's safety, food, warmth, comfort, heat, light, power, and overall quality of life basically depends on 8% of the entire population.
And that is, again, a generous estimate. This doesn't even come close to accounting for all of those factory jobs which are genuinely useless, or for all of the cushy union jobs that require very little actual labour and pay huge salaries relative to what the average man can expect.
If we were being more realistic and hard-hearted, it's probably fair to say that we could reduce that 25 million number by 40%. I come to that conclusion based on years of professional experience, which have shown me that anywhere from a sizable minority to a huge majority of people in any organisation are genuinely useless - they are lazy, incompetent, overpaid, stupid, or just plain unsuitable for their jobs.
If we trim that 25 million number down by 40%, we get 15 million.
That is less than 5% of the current US population.
On that FIVE PERCENT BASE, everything else rests.
Ah, but we're not done yet.
I estimated above that 25 million or so people in the total pool of 135 million are in industries and occupations that deliver real tangible value to the ultimate consumers - you and me. I threw out 40% of them as unproductive, but that's still 25 million people total who do the real "work" in the economy.
What about the remaining 110 million? What happens there?
These are not blue-collar workers. They are not farmers or miners or factory workers or truckers or anything like that. These people work in the service industries.
That accounts for everything else in the economy - restaurant workers, retail workers, office workers, and so on.
Of those people, how many do you suppose are engaged in actual productive work?
Again, I'm going to go by my professional experience here.
In my career, I've noticed that roughly 40% of people in an organisation are totally useless, dead weight, unsuited for their jobs. Another roughly 40% are useful but not particularly skilled or competent, or have to spend almost all of their time sorting out the cock-ups made by those 40% who are just plain idiots.
That leaves you with about 20% of the population doing actual productive work.
What's 20% of 110 million?
22 million people.
Add to that the 15 million number that I noted above, of people in primary and secondary industries that genuinely do good work, and you get 37 million people.
Think about that for a moment. The ENTIRE PRODUCTIVE CAPACITY AND POTENTIAL OF THE WHOLE OF THE USA rests on less than 12% of the population of the country.
And on that base of only about 22 million or so people, out of 330 million, rests the true burden of paying for that vast welfare state that exists to help 60 million people.
I realise that I am making some gross oversimplifications here. I am well aware that this analysis is extremely limited and highly subjective. You could very easily argue that there are some serious overlaps between various groups that make the categorisations incorrect and inaccurate.
Remember, boys, this is just a thought experiment. The point of it is to drive home, very clearly, just how tiny the productive slice of the population really is. And it truly is tiny.
If this comes across like something that Ayn Rand might have said, this is because the thought process that she used in order to come up with her idea of "John Galt" - the man whose brilliance, inventiveness, and hard work made possible the comfortable existence of literally everyone else - was somewhat similar. And she argued that if such men simply walked away, then the whole edifice of society would collapse.
She took that philosophical notion way too far with her radically silly personal code of Objectivism, but she hit upon an important truth: the reality is that most societies sit on top of a very small base of truly productive and skilled individuals who make the comforts and wonders of daily life possible.
And if a society constantly abuses and belittles and demeans that tiny base, then sooner or later, that base will decide to rebel and break away.
This in turn holds some key lessons for any young men who read this blog post.
First, if you want to be a productive man and not a parasite, then you need to have the right mindset.
This is by far the most important lesson that you will ever learn in your working career. You cannot go through your time in a job thinking that you're just there to punch a clock. I did that for 18 months in my very first professional job in risk management. I hated my life and I hated myself. It was Hell.
Instead, ask yourself this, every single day when you wake up:
Am I doing work that makes me valuable to my community and my people? And am I improving myself in this job?
You have to define who your "community" is, of course. You have to figure out who your people are. And you have to figure out how to measure whether you are improving yourself - in terms of qualifications, skills, monetary rewards, or whatever.
But no matter what the definitions are, if the answers to these questions are "no"...
Then get out.
You will do yourself, and the rest of the country, a favour by doing something more productive with your time and energy.
Look, most of the guys reading this post are going to be above average in terms of IQ. The fact that you are even reading this indicates that you do not think like the rest of the herd. You are not part of that 80% of people that is satisfied with mediocrity and obscurity.
So why should you want to live your life in an obscure and mediocre way?
Second, and following up on this idea of "mindset" - you must have an entrepreneur's mind. This means that, even if you're stuck in a soulless desk job, you have to ask yourself, constantly: "is there a problem here that I can help to solve?".
The moment you start looking for problems to solve, you start being useful to other people. And this will give you a serious leg-up over people who simply sit there expecting to get paid for clocking in and out every day.
The risk of adopting this mindset is that you will also piss off certain people who exist solely in order to perpetuate the way things have always been done. They don't know any other way and aren't interested in doing anything differently - because doing things "the way it's always been done" gives them job security. The moment that you show up and start disrupting things, you will end up cheesing off people.
It's just a risk that you have to take. The rewards are worth it, in my opinion.
Third, it's going to be difficult (but not impossible) to get positive answers to those two questions in an accounting firm, a bank, or even most technically oriented professions in software or technology. I speak from personal experience here. My own work experience is in risk management consulting, banking, finance, and technology. The reality is that most of the people you end up working with will be idiots, or amiable "get-along-to-go-along" types who are at best average performers.
Given how overpriced the value of a college degree is, relative to the actual skills delivered, and given the sheer amount of debt you have to go into in order to get a 4-year college degree these days, you will do better overall, in my personal opinion, from going into the trades and learning something useful.
However, if you are an intellectually inclined type (like me), who doesn't like to get his precious hands calloused (unlike me - you don't deadlift 445lbs, like I do, without earning callouses), then a college degree will be necessary for you to get into a proper field of study.
In that case - stick to the hard sciences and engineering. If you must do an arts degree, then study mathematics - which will also fulfill your foreign language requirement, by the way.
Fourth, don't do a liberal arts degree. The reasons should be self-explanatory by now, given that if you do one you will likely end up in that huge chunk of people that don't really do anything productive with their lives, or depend on tax dollars for their sustenance - and you can get a vastly better education simply from reading good books, going to art galleries and museums, and listening to great works of classical music, at a tiny fraction of the cost, than you will from going to any liberal arts school.
Fifth, learn how to work with your hands. The country as a whole has become overly dependent on overly specialised people who couldn't change a busted tire on a car (or bicycle, for that matter), change a light bulb, replace a busted tap in a sink, or do basic carpentry, if their lives literally depended on it.
When - not if, but when - the end of the United States of America as a viable political entity comes, the people who are going to come out through the other side of that carnage on top are going to be the ones who have developed well-rounded practical skill sets and who are used to doing simple home improvements on their own.
Learning how to do these things will inculcate a spirit of self-reliance and mental fortitude, very much like those real Americans, who forged a nation out of a vast wilderness, had back in the day.
Be like them - not like the pierced tattooed fat barista smelling of weed serving you overpriced coffee in a hipster shop in a shithole city like New York or Los Angeles.
Sixth, consider moving away from the cities if you can. The reality is that city living creates deliberately atomised, insular, specialised people who have far too much going on in their daily lives to stand still and appreciate the passage of time. The frenetic pace of the city results in a lifestyle where basic household chores have to be outsourced to others. This results in a peculiar situation where people are dependent upon each other, yet never bother to learn each other's names, livelihoods, family histories, or anything else that really matters.
Go back up to where I told you to assess whether what you do contributes to your community.
Is your cleaning lady - most likely an illegal alien from a shithole in Central America - part of your community?
Didn't think so.
And seventh, remember that you, and ONLY you, are responsible for your own happiness and progress. Nobody else is responsible for making you happy - and you are not responsible for making anyone else happy. You can create the conditions for other people to be happy, but if those same people insist on being miserable even as you make the effort to make them happy, that is on them, not you.
By the same token, if you fail, then you, and you alone, have to pick yourself back up and dust yourself off. It's all on you.
Put it another way: let's say you have a job and you go to work every day and you see these idiots that you don't respect clogging up your workspace, making mistakes, doing stupid shit, and generally making life miserable for you.
And let's say that you get denied a promotion, or a pay raise, or even get fired or laid off for annoying the wrong corporate bigwig.
What are you going to do?
If you are going to stay on the ground and complain about how hard done by you are, then I am sorry to tell you this, but you are just like those idiots that you despise - and who expect you to carry them on your back.
In the end, we are all of us doomed men. Death comes for us all, one way or another. There is no getting around this fact. All that matters is that we meet our ends as men - hopefully having achieved something worthwhile in this life.
So do your best to be one of the truly productive people, while minimising the burden imposed on you by the vast majority of the rest of society. Live life on your own terms, to the greatest extent that you can. Be of good service to your community and your people and your tribe. Create a family, raise good children, teach them to be strong, gentle, kind, self-sufficient, and independent in thought and action.
You can be a parasite, or a paragon. In the end, it's your choice.