You know what really pisses me off? Stupid “rules” of etiquette that we are socialized to believe are natural laws of propriety. For example, I loathe the fact that it is “impolite to discuss money.” There is no intrinsic nastiness linked to talks about economy, taxes, disposable income and salary. A bunch of assholes a long time ago just decided to compare economic dialogue to bad manners and, voila, asking questions about your earnings was suddenly off-limits.
Here’s the truth: The U.S. is one of the most technologically advanced, rich and innovative countries on the planet. It is also probably the most backwards of all the industrialized nations. That is why there is such a huge disparity between the privileged and the poor, the haves and the have-nots, the Koch brothers and the voters. From an early age, we are programmed to believe that anyone in our country has the ability to transform from Dick Whitman to Don Draper. But we also learn–in a more implicit manner–that money is something that classy people never talk about.
Look, I’m not saying that you should ask every passer-by in the grocery store what he or she makes in a fiscal year. That’s weird. But I am indicting the idiotic norms that prohibit us from learning about economic inequality and what constitutes an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work. Being ignorant about how your paycheck stacks up against your counterparts’ is exactly how women still only make about 75% of what men earn. Like Joan Harris and Peggy Olson are our co-workers. We’re so afraid of offending somebody that we unwillingly let ourselves be exploited. If we don’t know the nature of the injustice, there is nothing we can do to rectify it.
In honor of my philosophy, check out this Funny Or Die clip from August 6, 2014:
Because, really, which is worse? Pointedly asking what your co-workers earn or living like it is still the ’60s? Honestly, if our employers cannot provide us with basic workers’ rights then we should be able to drink on the clock. Sounds like a trade-off to me.
(Image #1 courtesy of funnyordie.com; #2 courtesy of blog.emilyslist.org; #3 courtesy of dailymail.co.uk)