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5 Cures for the Unemployment Blues

You can always learn to say "Would you like fries with that?" But who wants to eat made-in-a-factory E. coli burgers, much less sling them?

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Even then, unless you have business skills and a knack for marketing, your enterprise could falter at any time for a thousand different reasons.

Speculation

Contrary to popular belief, the financial markets are not purely random. You can make piles of cash through speculation (as opposed to investment) -- just ask George Soros. It only requires tremendous study, an understanding of group psychology, mathematics and financial instruments and nerves of steel.

The housing bubble may have popped, but there's always a new one inflating -- in currencies, gold, carbon trading -- in which money is chasing after money. Assuming you can get over the ethical qualms of being a parasite, you're swimming with sharks who will eat you like chum, if you give them half a chance. Plus, you need at least $10,000 to begin with. And, yes, you can be wiped out overnight if you're not careful.

Criminalization

Many a '70s-era millionaire was made smuggling in smoke or blow over the Mexican border. Back then, you only had to worry about some hick sheriff and his dimwitted half-brother trying to bust you. Now the DEA, FBI and Pentagon want to nab your hippie ass and lock it away forever in some Supermax.

Forget about heroin or crack, unless you're into guns, pitbulls and paranoia. Your best bet is to move to Humboldt County, where the district attorney made it legal to grow up to 99 pot plants yielding super-hybridized dank bud that is almost worth its weight gold. (Just don't smoke all of your profits.)

Primitive Capital Accumulation

Use your brawn, not your brains. Who's going to get rich becoming a day laborer, you say? I'm not suggesting you line up at Home Depot at  6 a.m. with Latino immigrants, hoping to get eight hours of work and trusting you'll actually get paid. Mainly because immigrants will work harder and longer for less than your coddled American ass ever will.

What you can do is decamp to the Great White North, where there's an oil rush in Alberta, Canada's Athabasca tar sands. With a little training, you can soon be making $50,000 or more a year hauling a rig or fitting pipes in some of the most beautiful wilderness in the world (which, incidentally, you would be helping to destroy). Just pack plenty of thermal underwear for those days when the high temperature is minus-37.

Professionalization

Go to medical or law school. You rack up tons of debt, but your earning power is vast, as long as you're willing to slave away for 15-20 years. You can do something noble like "help the poor," but then what's the point of incurring all that debt?

You can make a fortune, but it will probably involve liposuctioning the man boobs off middle-aged wannabe Casanova, or defending sleazy telemarketing companies. Not very palatable. Your better option is to become a physician's assistant or pharmacist. Both degrees require much less time and money, but you can still command a six-figure salary. Just be warned: You'll have to listen all day to old people complaining about their ailments and no-good children as you either write their prescriptions or fill them.

 

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To be fair, there are many noble vocations that won't leave you in the poor house -- becoming a schoolteacher, a social worker, a civil servant. While you're spending 30 years trying to make progress one kid at a time, just hope that Wall Street, and an increasingly emboldened (and crazy) right wing, doesn't bankrupt your pension funds or Social Security.

 
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