Scoop

I may sound like a broken record but I am going to say it again, “news is crap.” Most news is just gossip that does nothing for our life except waste our time or make us more depressed. For example, I turned the nightly news on and it was all about a murder that had taken place the previous night. How do I benefit from knowing about this murder? Am I going to change my habits? Should I buy a gun? Should I refrain from drug deals at 3:00 AM? The only thing that will change is my equanimity – from peaceful to paranoid. I don’t listen to the news and I know very little about current events. Does this make me ignorant? Yes and No. I am oblivious to trivial matters but if the news is important enough – the word will eventually reach me; but when I do hear about it, I have a breadth of knowledge to contribute which the news could never provide. I am ignorant about Donald Trump’s myriad mishaps but I am not ignorant about the mishaps of the French Revolution. I am ignorant of the most recent natural disaster but I am not ignorant about Plato’s philosophy on human suffering. It is better to study the past so that you have a foundation to understand the present. This point is best illustrated by a toddler who is told by an older brother that an evil clown lives in his closet. With no background information or knowledge of clown behavior, the kid pees himself for the next month.

I bring this topic up because my 5th classic, Scoop by Evelyn Waugh, is a satire on the news business and how the news “supposedly” educates the public. Scoop was written in 1938 and is acclaimed for its portrayal of the Fleet Street culture in London. Fleet Street was the mecca of England newspapers and there was a lot of money to be made from constant news. The problem in Scoop is that there is a lack of stories happening in the world and the bigwigs are anxious to keep the printing press hot. They end up sending, by mistake, a part-time columnist to an obscure country to report on a potential war; the dilemma is that there is no real turmoil to report on. Journalists keep flooding the small nation in search of a “scoop” – in the end a story has to be partly falsified and exaggerated in order to sell papers. Scoop is actually pretty funny and is a critique on the deplorable state of new’s media and their incessant need for sensationalism – seemingly stamping “news” on everything. This book parallels our current media’s incessant need for material and the subsequent decline in reporting. Not even speaking of “fake” news, the “real” news is rarely ever worth a second glance; like a Shepard eternally crying wolf! Waugh could never have imagined the internet age but his novel is more applicable today than when it was published. Instead of chasing our tails, let’s spend more time in well researched books and periodicals which are respected. Don’t take the bait and believe your brother – “Breaking News: Killer Clown Discovered to be Vacuum Cleaner!”

“‘You know, you’ve got a lot to learn about journalism. Look at it this way. News is what a chap who doesn’t care much about anything wants to read. And it’s only news until he’s read it. After that it’s dead. We’re paid to supply news. If someone else has sent a story before us, our story isn’t news. Of course there’s colour. Colour is just a lot of bulls’-eyes about nothing.'”
-Evelyn Waugh Scoop

 

 

 

The Two Income Trap

What happened to the idea that a wife would stay home and care after the house while the husband would be the bread winner? Well, feminism extricated women from their historic-domestic role and starting in the 1970’s women began to flood the workforce with fervor. I am all for women getting equal rights and being allowed to strap on the business suit and sit in a cubicle all day. My nagging question is why the reverse scenario wasn’t afforded to men? Sure, men can technically stay home and let their wife be the bread winner but I find it not nearly as socially acceptable. In the US at least, I find that woman are supported if they desire a career or a domestic title. A woman in the workforce can still be feminine and is viewed as strong, ambitious, intelligent, etc. A woman who stays at home, to take care for her family, can still be feminine and is viewed as strong, caring, nurturing, etc. How is a man viewed who stays at home to take care of domestic manners? I would say that he may be looked at as less masculine, lazy, lacking ambition, and weak. Sure there are exceptions to what people believe but I am talking about the general societal views that are brought up behind closed doors. The reason I bring these points up are two fold: firstly, I think it is important to identify that we do not need two income households, and secondly, we need to rethink what true masculinity represents.

You are probably thinking, “Jon what the frick, we need all the money we can get and are scrapping by with two incomes!” You probably are scrapping by, but that is because of spending habits and the life you created more than the actual amount of money you need. The two income trap is that you end up spending most of the money you make and hence build a lifestyle that corresponds to your dual income level. Think about if you had your pay cut in half. You would change your spending habits and adjust your lifestyle. I challenge both women and men to think about how they can cut the amount of time they spend working and readjust their lives to do the things they truly love to do. Men, I am reaching out to you and asking to rethink what masculinity truly means. Masculinity is not defined by the amount of money you make or the amount of respect you receive from a title. True masculinity is being secure in your own faculties so you can be the best lover, friend, mentor, son, and father. To anyone interested in the concept of the why two incomes is not beneficial I would recommend reading The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents are Going Broke by Elizabeth Warren. I know I had two points in this post but they are really related. Women and especially men need to let go of perceived societal norms, support lives that tout relationships over greed, and realize that life can be so much more fulfilling then the rat-race. I end with the question, “What would you do if you won the lottery?” 95% of people I have asked this said they would quit their job’s immediately.