It’s the Economy, Stupid: A Reply to Bootstrappers Everywhere

Money with eyes

Money talks (Screen shot from

I’m not sure that I agree with our editor-in-chief’s contention that internet comments should be banished to the abyss, but I am upset about the recent Chronicle of Higher Education editorial and (some of) its accompanying comments about “entitled” adjunct workers who should pull themselves up by their bootstraps, who should just find jobs if they aren’t happy about being homeless or living in poverty. I am upset about these comments because, although (thankfully) I no longer have to adjunct to earn my bread, I am not much more financially stable now than I was when I did.

First, a disclaimer: I don’t know much about the intricacies of the economy that runs this country, or about any economy for that matter. I’m not an expert in public policy either. I’m not a scholar (anymore, at least), and I haven’t read the literature regarding minimum wage. I’m not opposed to reading or learning about these things; I just simply don’t have the time to do so.

I recently did some simple math to figure out how many hours a week I work between my full-time, part-time, and freelancing jobs, and how many hours I have left to devote to other, not-as-important things — like sleeping, eating, and showering. The results were not good. Turns out, with traveling time included, I work between 55 and 60 hours per week. All of that work is done for pay that is less than a living wage. And as many hours as I work, I am 26-years-old living in a multigenerational home (with my parents, in my childhood bedroom), and I still fight to make ends meet.

And I am tired. I am tired of being poor, tired of being lied to about education, tired of counting change to get me through the last two days before the direct deposit. To you bootstrap-mentality supporters, the ones who believe that if I don’t like it I should get another job that pays better: Maybe you can offer me your help. It feels like I’ve done everything right. I have advanced degrees; a literally flawless, 4.0 GPA academic record; solid and varied work experience; strong work ethic; and an enviable skills set. I have sent out hundreds of applications for jobs that pay a living wage. I am networking; I built a website advertising myself; and I am tired and overworked and underpaid.

And guess what, you bootstrapers? It’s not enough. All this effort, all this stuff, these achievements — not enough. Not enough money, not enough time, not enough influential people. I’m not greedy, and I’m not some entitled little shit. I just want affordable housing and enough money so that I can think about something other than where my groceries are going to come from this week. Making it in this world is damn hard, and this is not my fault. I shouldn’t be working harder, because ultimately, it’s out of my control. It’s not me; it’s the economy, stupid, so you can just stfu.


Laura Creel (@Little_Utopia) is the managing editor of Little

Previously from Laura Creel:
In Miami, Nothing is Given: A Response to Lebron James’ PR Team
My Spirit Airlines Life
Welcome to the Miami Heat Family, Boomer
A Reflection on Lent
Viral Video of the Week: Wheel of Fortune Domination

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