Be Your Own 1%!

Do you ever feel like a rat in a maze? Always following the same route trying to get to the cheese. Well, we as a nation need to understand that our cheese has moved.


Longleat Maze by

Jobs that have been around for decades are fading into the night. These aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet or abstract theories. These are real people loosing their means to put food on the table.

Consumers are spending less. Businesses are downsizing or closing. This is resulting in reduced wages and fewer dollars to spend on non-essentials.

When the current, cyclical recession is mixed with the lingering issues caused by the implosion of the housing market, we may very well end up with a significantly different eoconomy going forward. With so many people living in homes that are worth less than what is owed on them there just isn’t going to be as much money spent on luxury items as there once was. People will now start to put their money into savings for an uncertain future instead of continuing to chase materialism. This will result in at least a short term decrease in consumer spending which will deepen the recession.

This could become a long-term recession. Especially if the American worker expects things to stay the way they were. We as a country need to realize that we are looking at a future that is filled with uncertanty but also with opportunity.

Uncertainty because too many big employers are waiting for the economy to turn around. Because too many big, inefficient, slow-to-change businesses are unable to adapt to the new economy and are failing. Uncertainty because health care costs are skyrocketing out of control.

The 99% movement would lead us to believe that the “evil” 1% of the American population that controls “all the money” is the reason for their suffering. I can’t help but think that the people that are putting up their sad signs on the wearethe99percent website bemoaning the fact that they are having financial trouble are missing the point.

We live in a country of opportunity. Opportunity, a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. Not a country where we have the inalienable right to free health care, a guaranteed job, or even to own a home. No, we have opportunity. Opportunity to start our own businesses. Opportunity to not buy into the mass marketing that would have us keeping up with the Joneses. Opportunity to limit our spending to what we can afford, and to not go in to debt.

The uncertainties that we are seeing can also provide for new opportunities. The foundational premise behind capitalism is to find a need and fill it. Provide value and the revenue will find you. Give and it will be given. This is where too many people miss the mark.

The average American worker is still operating under the premise of “go to school, get good grades and you’ll get a good job”. A quick look at all of the 99%’ers that have multiple degrees and can hardly afford to feed themselves shows that the idea of more education = better job just doesn’t work any more. Workers with degrees have become a commodity.

They are now something that is so prevelent that an employer can now focus on price not quality. They can hire the worker that is willing to work for the lowest wage. Then can cut hours and benefit packages without the fear that workers will walk.

What more workers need to realize is that they can take control of their own future. They do not have to base their livelyhood on the business decisions of some Board of Directors that is primarily focused on the company’s profit. I do not blame a Board for their decisions, it is what they have been asked to do. Businesses exist not for the benefit of their employees, but for the benefit of the business itself.

If that means that the business would be better off with lower employee costs, guess what? Unemployment numbers rise.

Next week let’s look at what can be done to move from the 99% to the 1% by making our own cheese.

In the mean time, leave a comment and let me know if you think I’m on the right track or if I’m crazy, stupid or ????

– Mike

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5 Responses to Be Your Own 1%!

  1. American Debt Project November 14, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    I totally agree with you. I have so much respect for the people who are standing up and saying things are not right in our country, BUT I do agree that we cannot blame corporations for personally having $100,000 in student loans and no job prospects. Yes, that is messed up, but at the same time, no one forced you to get a degree that did not guarantee a job and your only prospects were from other employers. The only reason that kind of education debt is justifiable is if you would be able to create your own wealth and your own opportunities from that knowledge. But the majority of people DO NOT have the kind of ambition and determination required to be successful outside of regular employment. So their options often FEEL like more education is the only way for them to make more money. Well, people have to understand there is no guarantee on that anymore. I think there are many changes we can create within our system, we do have to take responsibility for the excesses and irresponsibility of a corporate culture, but we also cannot say the people are faultless. Blind acceptance of how corporations and government have behaved up to this point is what got us here in the first place.

  2. Caroline @ Traveling 9 to 5 April 11, 2012 at 6:15 am #

    We struggle with the same American Dream expectation When we told everyone we were quitting our 9 to 5 jobs to travel it wasn’t taken as positively as we had hoped. Our friends and family still believe that you work hard to climb the ladder and more money the better. While we are off trying to show them that you can still make a living while getting out and ACTUALLY living! Definitely not crazy 🙂

    • Mike Routen April 11, 2012 at 8:33 am #


      Thanks for sharing. Isn’t it amazing how quickly people defend their choices when different, often better choices are presented to them? I mean so many people say they want to travel and live an adventurous life, yet when we show them that it can be done, they say we are crazy.

      Personally, I think the crazy ones are those that continue to live with the turmoil of wanting a different life, yet choosing to live the one they already have.

      It looks like you’ve got a great start on your travel adventures. I’ll be following your posts, and living vicariously through them until we get going on our travels.


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