I changed a few details of my story to protect my identity.
A little over 20 years ago, I graduated from college with a technical degree. I looked for work for over a year and couldn’t find any work. So I decided to do my master’s. While I was doing my master’s, I learned of this field called patent law and decided to go to law school, after I finished by master’s. I went to a top tier law school.
At this time, my republican friends told me that it was just a matter of time before I would switch party affiliations. They figured that I was naïve because I had never had money. They figured that once I had money, I would not want to part with it to help others. I did well in law school and graduate with high honors. I got a job as a patent attorney. Things were good for a while. I even made partner at a major law firm. I was officially a 1%er. But I never changed parties.
Yes I worked hard. But I was also blessed with many things. I had good parents. Like everyone else, I didn’t pay for my high school diploma. I also was a beneficiary of good public colleges. My combined tuition for a Master’s Degree and a Law Degree was less than $25,000. Sure, I worked my tail off, and technically, I did pay this money. However, I paid for it through Pell grants and Stafford loans, back when they were a bargain. But do you really think that I, alone, paid for my education. Hell no! I was blessed to be from a place that heavily subsidized higher education. Fact is, everyone paid for my tuition. Then when I was a 1%er, I figured that the higher taxes I had to pay was in return so that someone else could enjoy the same blessings that I had. Anyways, this was my first lesson.
When I think of my republican friends, I realize that they were the ones that were naive. Rather than me not having money, it was them who had either never struggled, or forgotten how they struggled.
Well, things were going fine, but I started to notice some problems. I noticed that although I was a lawyer with a fine education, I was really being used as a scientist. In patent law, there are two areas, patent prosecution (getting the patent), and litigation (enforcing the patent). You don’t even need a law license to do patent prosecution and that was the area that I was stuck in. The work was getting more and more repetitive, and I was not learning from my career. Eventually, I foresaw that I would get priced out of the market. I tried to do everything that I could to avoid this, and either get into litigation or learn some legal skills that are transferable to other areas of law. But where I worked, scientific work was all they wanted me to do. They didn’t want me to learn anything more or develop clients, just do the same work that THEY wanted for THEIR clients. Still, I worked hard and averaged 2200 billed hours/year (hard to accomplish in my field of law).
About 15 months ago, my worst fears became reality. Our firm lost a major client and I was summarily kicked to the curbside. I am still looking for work, but keep hearing the constant refrain – I am either over-qualified for the work that I can do, or lack the skill set for an attorney with my seniority. So here I sit, highly educated, and unemployable. The best that I can find is occasional free-lance work. I barely have health insurance for my family and am getting acquainted with the world of “no-credit”, even though my credit score is over 800. That brings me to my second lesson – no matter how smart and hardworking you are, you are never immune to arbitrary, no-fault-of-your-own, misfortune.
Let me say, unequivocally that I DO NOT WANT ANYONE TO FEEL SORRY FOR ME. That is not the purpose of this post. Many of the hardest working people are dirt poor. Billing 2200 hours at a law firm does not even compare to the work schedule of a migrant farm worker. I got to enjoy being a 1%er because I was blessed/lucky (I wonder if blessed is a religious work for “lucky”, or whether “lucky” is a secular work for “blessed”) enough to have access to good public education. My downfall had nothing to do with lack of character, intelligence, or diligence. It was arbitrary.
Do you see a common theme? Many of the poor are very hardworking. I took help to become a 1%er. My downfall was arbitrary. This is quite different from that Horatio Alger bullshit republican view of how the world works. I am not saying that Democrats are selfless or republicans are selfish. Why am I telling you my story? I am trying to make the SELFISH case for being a Democrat. I believe it was Harry Truman who once said that if you want to live like a republican, vote Democratic.
Fortunately, I have saved enough money to be able to begin a new endeavor. As I enter my new endeavor, I am again blessed or lucky (whichever you like) to have a couple of good mentors that are going to show me the ropes and make sure I succeed. So once again, I look at my first lesson and remember that the blessing/luck that I have enjoyed in the past never occurred in a vacuum. Yes, it really does take a village.
And that is why I will ALWAYS be a Democrat…
Update 1 - Rec. List! My first time. Thank you.