David Raether went from having a extremely well paying job as a comedic writer for television, to losing absolutely everything and spend a few years homeless (on-the-street-homeless). Why? Because he decided to take a year off of work to address problems in his family. The house was paid for, they had money in the bank, it was a perfectly reasonable financial decision and exactly what his family needed.
Unfortunately, in the United States, taking time off of work to make positive changes in your personal life is tantamount to professional suicide. At the end of his 12-month sabbatical, David Raether was unable to find work. Since he and his wife were committed to keeping their children enrolled in the best school system in the United States, their cost of living remained where it had been when he was pulling in 100s of thousands per year. Without an equally good paying job, their savings dried up and things went from bad to worse.
This is an important story to be told about poverty (in general) and homelessness (specifically) within the United States. The far majority of Poverty Survivors are good, hard working people who hit on hard times.
Drug addicts and criminals are neither exclusive to, nor most prevalent among, the poor – there are plenty of addicts and criminals (white collar and otherwise) among the upper classes. But that’s a topic for another day.
David Raether has my admiration for surviving homelessness, pulling himself out of that tragedy, and having the courage to talk about it.
I could picture Petra’s face, the self-mocking pout she puts on when she knows she’s being a brat. The trouble was, of course, I would come to her rescue. And she was banking on that. Growing up the way I did, my mother dying when I was in high school, my father forced to turn the house and meals over to me, I felt as though I’d been born old. I was tired of my own knee-jerk reaction. You’re in trouble? Say no more. V.I., the grumpy cousin, will bail you out! I wished I knew how to turn off that particular switch. I wondered for a moment if my whole detective practice was built on my private history of being an adolescent caretaker.
“…thing about the army, they always promise to teach you “marketable skills,” but they never mention that, by far, there’s nothing more marketable than knowing how to killsome people while keeping others from being killed.”
“That was the attitude among a lot of the hired guns, the reason I hadn’t fired a shot all night. We’d been paid to protect rich people from zombies, not against other not-so-rich people who just wanted a safe place to hide. You could hear them shouting as they charged in through the front door. Not “grab the booze” or “rape the bitches”; it was “put out the fire!” and “get the women and kids upstairs!””
“And that’s the absolute difference between corporate and entrepreneurial mind-sets. A suit looks at reports. If reports say this is selling, it’s design more of this. The entrepreneur says, “I feel a change coming around the bend, we need to get out of this and start getting into that. That is the new trend.” The corporate mind-set won’t do that unless they take a survey of one hundred people. Theentrepreneur says, “It doesn’t matter what they say they want because they don’t know they want it yet.”“
“A good management team is able to meld what the entrepreneurial mind says is coming next and what the corporate mind says is working now. One is gut and the other is report.”
“But I think there is something deeper going on here, and it turns on the very nature of bureaucratic systems. Such institutions always create a culture of complicity. It’s not just that some people get to break the rules—it’s that loyalty to the organization is to some degree measured by one’s willingness to pretend this isn’t happening.”
“Career advancement is not based on merit, and not even based necessarily on being someone’s cousin; above all, it’s based on a willingness to play along with the fiction that career advancement is based on merit, even though everyone knows this not to be true. Or with the fiction that rules and regulations apply to everyone equally, when, in fact, they are often deployed as a means for entirely arbitrary personal power.”
–The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy by David Graeber