Yet writers are, as a class, extraordinarily at risk. They spend their twenties, and often their thirties, living paycheck to paycheck. They are extremely well educated, and all that education is not only expensive, but builds expensive habits. You end up with a lot of friends who make much more money than you--who don't even realize that a dinner with $10 entrees and a bottle of wine is an expensive treat, not a cheap outing to catch up on old times. Our business is in crisis, and we lose jobs often. When we do, it's catastrophic.
This is what David Brooks calls "status-income disequilibrium", and unless you are among that happy breed of writers who is married to someone with a high-paying job, or who has a trust fund, you feel it keenly. Everyone you write about makes more than you.
I think the whole society has been under the influence of "status-income disequilibrium". Watching the evolution of the consumer society in North American from the perspective of my life in a small, rural, and often economically marginal Hawaiian town, has been a series of shocking jolts with every visit to the mainland. I could just not understand where all the money was coming from and why people seemed to do nothing but commute for hours and shop. This lifestyle versus income disconnect and the disconnect between what the earnings statements of major corporations said versus my personal bewilderment, when I had anything to do with their goods and services, as to why they were making any money at all, was what led me to hold very little in equities and corporate bonds over the past ten years.
I have always been thankful for an early life lesson. In the early 80's, we had undergone a major financial setback ,which we knew we would recover from but had to be careful for a while. Meanwhile, most everyone around us was going on far away vacations, investing in this and that, buying larger houses, all the stuff. It was the first time I had seen this sort of thing. I kept asking "Where is all the money coming from? What are we doing wrong?". I think the hardest thing was not to be able to buy for the kids what many of their friends had. Then that bubble burst and the neighbor with the huge house and two vacation cottages, and children each with their own car, and twelve pairs of Keds in every color, was bankrupt inside of two months. The investors discovered that their financial adviser had taken off, and I discovered that they had all bought on margin.
And the past ten years have given me the same exact feeling that I had in the early 1980's. But this time, I knew better then to be envious or to even attempt to keep up with it. But I can easily see how a whole society got into this easy credit-fueled pathological spiral.