I’m a saver, a working guy who puts money in the bank. If you do that, and you stay continuously employed for 46 years, and you work way up to a middle-class wage, you end up with a solid rock of money in the bank.
And it’s not that I’m a financial genius, either. I just lived on 85 percent of my salary for nearly half a century. At first, the money went into the bank, and then into a bank IRA, and then into mutual funds, and then into a 401(k).
In the beginning, it didn’t seem like I was getting anywhere. You put $100 a month in the bank, and at the end of the year, you’ve got $1,200 and a few dollars in interest. I got hooked the first time one of my mutual funds made me a week’s pay in six months. No one ever just GAVE me a week’s pay, not since I was 14-years-old, washing dishes in a restaurant for $1.25 an hour. That guy paid me in cash every week, and I’m not sure I was of legal age to be working in a bar/restaurant, but my father drank with the guy who owned the place, so I got the job.
It went on like that, too. Security guard. Janitor. Loading dock. Bartender. Stuff I did to get through school. Then, 34 years in the newspaper business, making money from house fires and election nights, shootings and newspaper columns. All the holiday overtime I could get. Freelance work.
I don’t like working, but I’m used to it. I’ve always got another piece of me to sell, and I put money in the bank so I can say I’ve got something to show for all the lost pieces.
I made good money in stocks during the Clinton years, and I gave some back during the Bush years, but not everything I’d made. I made about 8 percent on my money during the Obama years, which was good enough.
A few weeks ago, I got a statement from one of my mutual funds. During the first nine months of Donald J. Trump’s embarrassing presidency, that one fund made me what I make on my newspaper job in nine months.
I was overjoyed. Why not?
“So, you like Trump now?” my conservative friends ask.
“Then, I guess you’re just going to throw that money away, or give it to Black Lives Matter?” the snarkier ones say.
I still think Donald Trump is a crude, loudmouthed cheese-ball hustler who has turned the country over to a collection of Jesus-pestering, pistol-fondling, Jim Crow apologists who hate black people so much they never see the white people who are stealing their pensions and their health care.
But I’ll take the money, and hope it’s still worth something when I retire.
You know why?
Because, no matter how expensive my dress shirt might be, part of me is always the janitor I was, the kid on the loading dock.
I know the rules. I learned them when I was young, which is the best time to learn anything.
If you don’t like the guy in charge, you still cash the checks. If you don’t like the woman behind the desk, you still take her money, because money is all she has to offer. You hate him. You hate her. You fold the money once, in the middle, and you put it in your pocket.
The stock market is likely to continue breaking records because the rich people who run the country know that Donald Trump will give them MORE. He aims to give them everything he can grind out of the $13-an-hour flag-waving boobs who elected him.
The rules say, you hate the boss, but you cash the checks. Then you talk bad about him when he’s not around.
It’s a lousy way to live, and it’s getting worse.