Scarry Truth About Jobs And The ‘New Economy’ Revealed By Beloved Children’s Book Parody (IMAGE)
Richard Scarry’s “Busytown” children’s books got kids excited about growing up, getting jobs, and being part of America’s booming economy.
Remember Richard Scarry’s “Busytown” children’s books, games, and TV series with the winsomely-drawn cartoon farm animals doing all kinds of cool, fun, and useful jobs? The hugely popular franchise launched in 1968, with Scarry’s “What do People Do All Day,” and got two generations of American kids excited about growing up, joining our nation’s workforce, and participating in our economy. In a way, Busytown served as a microcosm for how many of us see this country: A cheerful, bustling, prosperous place where everyone can find a well-paying job and make a life for themselves.
That was towards the end of the post-World War II economic expansion of 1945-1973. Mid-20th Century America was so prosperous — and prosperity was so broadly shared — we took for granted that our incomes would keep rising with our swiftly increasing, technology-enhanced productivity. Steady, full-time jobs that paid the bills no longer even felt good enough. We began to dream of careers that fulfilled our interests and passions. In 1970, Richard Nelson Bolles came out with “What Color Is Your Parachute,” the best-selling career guide and grown up version of “Busytown.” In 1989, Marsha Sinetar followed up with the audaciously titled “Do What You Love, And The Money Will Follow.”
Then, something went horribly wrong, as a backlash against unions, “big government,” and Keynesian economics took hold. Our productivity gains continued, but fewer of us have shared in the resulting wealth. Well-paying, secure, middle-class jobs grew harder and harder to come by. Back in Scarry’s time, writers and illustrators didn’t need a best-selling book or syndicated column or comic strip to make a decent living: They could work for an ad agency, magazine, or book publisher. Or they could find a niche and freelance. Now, members of what the economist Richard Florida calls “the creative class” compete for page views, facebook likes, and YouTube subscribers like Māori children diving for tourist’s pennies back in the 1960’s.
Richard Scarry’s Busytown Jobs for the 21st century economy.
Perhaps that’s why Ruben Bolling, the cartoonist and creator of “Tom the Dancing Bug” comic strip came up with his scathing parody, “Richard Scarry’s 21st Century Busytown.” Featured on BoingBoing, this hilarious re-imagining of Busytown jobs for the 21st century seeks to grab attention and bring us into Bolling’s Inner Hive subscription service.
In the 21st century, the future only looks rosy for people in the top one percent. If you’re a one-percenter, you don’t even need to worry about getting a job, because you and your friends at the top control between 35 and 37 percent of our country’s wealth, according to CBS MoneyWatch. But although Mother Jones reports the one percent’s wealth has increased from $100 trillion to $127 trillion in just three years, these rich folks aren’t creating all those jobs conservatives promised. Why? Because, as wealthy entrepreneur Nick Hanauer and Business Insider explain at length, consumers — not rich people — create jobs when they have enough disposable income to raise demand for products.
These 21st century “Busytown” jobs are hilarious, but the new economy is scary as Hell.
Bolling’s list of 21st century jobs is hilarious, but also disturbingly real. Let’s take a look at a few of these so-called jobs.
- One-percenter service provider: Good luck getting one of the few jobs created by the one percent. In 2009, only 1.4 million households in the entire qualified and most lived on the coasts, according to Alternet. Here are few examples of careers for those who dream of serving the one percent: personal assistants can earn six figures (AOL Jobs), and often have to be on call 24/7; a full-time nanny’s weekly salary ranges from $250-$850 per week (Nannies4Hire), depending on their experience and whether they live in or out; a butler averages $46,214 per per year (PayScale.Com); gardeners average salary $32,000 per year (Indeed.com); and chauffeurs average a scant $11.85 per hour wage (Payscale.Com).
- Climate change denier: Since we couldn’t find “climate change denier” postings on any of the job sites, we had to settle for someone with a different title who performs the “climate change denier” job function: Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OKeydokey). Senators make $174,000-$230,700 per per year in salary, plus they have other sources of income including speaking fees, book deals, investments, and more.
- Content aggregator: Content creators — meaning artists, photographers, writers and such — make little or nothing, unless they’re well-known. But content aggregators — people who find content on the web and repackage it to suit the interests of their audience — average $70,000 per year, though pay varies widely depending on the site.
- Tech startup executive: The sky’s the limit if you’re a tech startup executive, and when your company goes public or gets bought, you get to cash in on those fat stock options while your employees get nothing but reverse splits that make their stock worthless. If you’re a psychopath with no morals who’s willing to drive everyone who works for you to the brink of exhaustion and insanity, you’ll go far.
- Web design complicator: Are you fuming with rage because you accidentally clicked on one of those damned ads again? Exxxxxcellllent. All I need is a million more of you, and that’ll cover my rent.
- Lowly immigrant: It’s hard to tell what “lowly immigrants” make, because an estimated 11 million of them are undocumented, and U.S. companies depend on their sub-minimum wage labor (usually through sleazy contractors) to boost their profits.
- Non-lending officer: Loan officers make an average salary of $71,800 a year, and it’s the easiest job ever. Now that banks have figured out that you’ll probably get laid off or your business will fail in a couple years, they’re barely lending to people any more.
NOTE — 01.11.2016: We’ve added descriptions for a few new jobs since this was first written.
Featured image: Screen grab/Ruben Bolling’s “Jobs of the 21st Century” via BoingBoing.