The Huffington Post has always seemed a bit of an odd creature. Described as an online news aggregator and blog, the site offers news and original content, and covers a variety of topics, including politics, entertainment, culture and comedy.
Yours truly isn’t a regular reader of The Huffington Post, but when I came across a story about a 24-year-old recent college graduate unhappy with the low pay associated with her first job – titled “I Feel Like I’m Just Starting My Life And I’m Already Miles And Miles Behind” – I initially thought it was a parody, something along the lines of The Onion.
Consider this excerpt from a first-person account by Monica Simon, a Penn State grad who works full time at an online advertising firm in Philadelphia and earns $23,000 a year after taxes:
“I like it, but it doesn’t pay as well as I’d like it to. So I’ve looked around for other jobs. But really, I can’t find any. I’m thinking about going back to school because I’m not even sure at this point if this job is going to hold out in the future. Right now I’m just up in the air on what steps to take next.”
Comic genius, right? Sadly, no. In fact, there’s more real-life woe-is-me bleating:
“I probably take in about $1,800 a month. My anxiety is constantly high about bills I have to pay,” Simon writes. “My student loans make me so nervous because I have my family co-sign on them. It’s not just my credit on the line. It’s theirs, too. That’s a constant anxiety that I have.
“Sometimes I get paid and then I have, maybe, $150 left over for the two weeks,” she adds. “I really don’t have enough for food and gas, so I rely a lot on my credit cards. I just feel I’m getting way behind where I want to be for my age. I feel I’m just starting my life and I’m already miles and miles behind.”
That’s right, this is no parody. This is an adult woman who is whining because her first job doesn’t, it appears, allow her to assume the lifestyle she expected to walk into right out of college.
Apparently, logic isn’t a requirement to get a Bachelor of Arts degree at Penn State.
Simon both complains about her college debt and talks about going back to school. Also, the story indicates she makes $23,000 a year after taxes, but she then writes that she “probably” takes in about $1,800 a month, which works out to $21,600 annually.
One of Simon’s complaints: “There will be weekends when I’ll just have to sit home because if there’s a priority between food and going out, it’s going to be food.”
She ought to try telling her story to a single mother who is raising one or more children on $23,000 – or less – a year and see how much sympathy she gets.
If Simon does decide to go back to school, she might start with some basic Economics courses. These might help her better understand her “predicament.”
Here’s some helpful information: Supply and demand tends to determine which jobs pay more.
Jobs requiring more skill and training, such as engineering, accounting, computer programming, pay more money than those which either require less training or have a glut of applicants.
Advertising, even online advertising, is an area with a steady supply of aspiring hopefuls, which keeps entry-level wages low. The same holds true for many of the liberal arts professions, including journalism, photography and acting.
It’s usually only after years of honing one’s talent in these areas that an individual can begin to earn a good living.
That’s due in part to the reality that it often takes years to become proficient enough to set oneself apart from the crowd and prove to an employer that you’re worth more than a piddling wage.
If we all got to do whatever we wanted for whatever salary we wanted, the world would be filled with aspiring novelists turning out mostly poorly written books and fledgling artists churning out largely mediocre paintings.
Meanwhile, there’d be relatively few individuals willing to take on less-glamorous tasks such as assembling our automobiles, building our homes and delivering our mail.
The bottom line: You don’t get a fancy salary because you think you deserve it; you get it because you earn it.
(Top: Narcissus, by Caravaggio, circa 1597-1599, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome.)