When I was four or five, I came across something about communism, and it seemed pretty neat. Everyone getting what they needed after doing the amount of work they could perform seemed fair and much nicer than whatever had happened that caused poverty and homelessness.
I asked my father about it, and he explained the purist view of capitalism, how people need to work for incentive to create something great, like this country, and how one of the most effective motivators is money.
Little me didn’t want anything to do with that. Little me was pretty idealistic. For a while, my stuffed animals lived in Russia and shared their houses with Polly Pockets, even though they were different from each other. And no one had anything to do with money.
All this to say it’s surprising now that payday is my favorite biweekly date. And it’s today.
I work two jobs — a desk job in the French Department and as the opinion section editor for LSU’s campus newspaper — and each time the paycheck lands in my account, I crank my music a little louder and have a dance party. My roommate can attest to this.
It’s not even that it’s some insane amount of money. I don’t put in that many hours at the French Department and student media salaries are more of a nod to the lifeblood we pour into the newspaper. But I’ve been lucky enough to not need to place much stock in creating a cash-flow while getting an education, so it’s not something I have to worry about.
When I see work I love turning into something that fuels the economy and allows me to purchase goods and services, it makes my heart jump a little. It’s almost out of surprise that someone would pay me to do something I love (editing) or to make coffee and speak French to professors all day.
The feeling is similar to the one I got when I ordered a SMARTPHONE on the INTERNET last month. Don’t tell me that’s not cool. I used a tool unavailable 50 years ago to purchase a device that allows instantaneous connection to anyone anywhere. That’s pretty amazing.
My roommate was unimpressed by this revelation as well. It’s probably because she operates in the real world where an hourly job is required to pay one’s way through college which might not even be worth it considering the field of work one wishes to enter.
But I’m over here amazed that the oven comes on when I turn the knob and I can have boiled water within two minutes if I want. Just by turning a knob. Because technology is that advanced.
So advanced that the two weeks of work I do magically turn into money that appears in an online account on a prescribed date. It happens around midnight, and the best part is when student media employees go to a bar Thursday night broke and leave Friday early morning richer, except for the shots they bought when their paycheck went through.
There’s always a flurry of phone-checking when the first person notices their account balance, and the owner behind the bar has to fill at least 15 orders within the last half hour before closing. Most of that is repaid beers from earlier in the night.
And there’s this quiet thrill felt in the crowd, everyone walks a little taller knowing they can pay the energy bill or fill their car with gas because of work and money they created. I’m not sure pure communism can replace that satisfaction with anything.
Then again, with pure capitalism, I doubt we’d collaborate on a public service like the newspaper. It’s all about balance.