Why our economic system sucks

Monday, January 13, 2014

Archimedes commented on my previous post asking if I was done being a Park Ranger. The answer is, "probably, for now."

Sadly, the Park Service isn't a viable career for most people starting out now. There are virtually no real jobs, even for people who have advanced degrees in park management and other programs designed to prepare them for park positions. If you want to be in the Park Service, you basically have to have online work at the same time to beef up the salary and fill in the employment gaps. The vast majority of positions are 6-month seasonal jobs with no benefits and no competitive advantage for rehire the next year. Having done the job before doesn't really make it any more likely that you'll get that job again, no matter how well you did it (unless your supervisor really wants you back and convinces the hiring manager to write some weirdly specific detail into the announcement. Sometimes you'll see a qualification survey that asks, "Have you ever independently made the decision to close the XYZ trail in ABC park due to bear activity during a snowfall?") And veterans get extra "points" in the hiring qualification system, so if there's a vet who has close to the same qualifications you do, s/he gets the job if she wants it. There are a lot of vets who want jobs in the Park Service.

But I haven't given up. I figure I'll take a job for a year or two to beef up my financial status, maybe do some online stuff on the side for extra cash, and then do another season or two in the Park Service. I finally got my Ranger hat, so I need to work for the Park Service again to get some use out of it!

Seriously, though, this is one more symptom of what I think is wrong with our country. There is no respect or demand for people who make things, people who know things, or people who invent things. All of the economic power goes to people who already own things, or people who sell things. I can't get a job as a Park Ranger teaching people how to be safe or helping to preserve the park's resources. I can get jobs selling and marketing books and merchandise with pictures of the parks. I also work in the publishing industry, where the people who market textbooks and educational computer programs have permanent jobs with salaries in the mid six figures, while the people who write those materials are lucky to make the mid five figures-- more likely, they're freelancers being paid by the page, with no benefits and no job security at all. Those people who were talking about "the makers and the takers" had it backward. The makers-- the ones who actually build or create things-- have nothing. The takers-- the ones who sell other people's products and keep the profits from things they had no part in creating-- are making a killing and running the show.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • IRVIN01
    @OBIESMOM2 that movie would be Say Anything.
    2176 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14245438
    As someone who was lucky enough to grow up in a family that did quite a bit of camping in national parks, let me express my deep appreciation to you and to what you do for our generous "corner" of mother nature in this country. Yours is noble and deeply appreciated work, a career of inestimable service to the outdoors and humanity alike. I'm so sorry that like so many jobs in this country, genuine merit and individual talent and capability do not take more precedence in hiring and retaining personnel. We need more Anaries! It's sad to learn the system is "working" - or not - this way, currently speaking... All the best to you; you sound like a multifaceted, multitalented person!
    2450 days ago
    It's a situation so many people are in. Hope things improve.
    2457 days ago
    Wow, I don't come to Spark People for rational and articulate (as well as personal) cultural critiques. Really, I just like all the enthusiastic support on days when I'm having trouble sticking to my diet. So what a treat to find your page!

    I'd love to see our culture shift, to value things that are actually valuable, again, but I think things may have to get worse before they get better. And I shudder to think of what we may irrecoverably lose in our protected wildernesses until we come to our senses again.
    2459 days ago
    “Our community of rebels, of humble truth seekers, wants to turn our culture around. We don't despise our country. We don't desire failure. We desire light, a beacon to show the world that our wealth need not show the way to more rapid destruction, but can be leveraged to heal more acres, more backyards, more communities faster than any civilization on the right path has ever done it.” — Joel Salatin

    It's sad that we don't value our National Parks enough to adequately fund them. It seems we have our priorities mixed up.

    2477 days ago
    I don't have much to offer. I agree things are way out of whack.

    Your blog did make me think of this:

    "I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that."
    anybody want to name that movie? emoticon
    2477 days ago
    It stinks not being able to do a job you truly love.

    I've said it before. How much a person makes is inversely proportional to their knowledge. In short, the less you know, the more you make.

    That's the only way I can explain why some executives with the IQs of roughly equivalent to a bowl of fruit make more money than the employees they micromanage. But that's a rant for another thread because I know really smart people who make squat.

    Working for a National Park really is a labor of love. Not unlike being a personal trainer. Don't get me wrong, there are personal trainers who make good money. but, they are few and far between. when I got laid off last year, I thought I could make a go of it as a full time PT. nope. not in this economy. hiring a PT means having descretionary income. And too many people don't have a little extra to spend on a PT.

    The fact is, just about all the PTs I know have "side" jobs to make ends meet. I suspect a lot of people these days have more than one job. I'm still working part time at the gym and taking on PT clients when I can. It's not that I need the money right now, BUT if I don't get a permanent position, it means I'll need the extra money later.

    So, like Anarie, I've been padding my nest egg in case I get laid off again.

    2477 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/13/2014 1:42:21 PM
    That's sad, honestly; I would love to be in the park service. I am considering a Wildlife Management degree, though; that's a bit broader.
    2477 days ago
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