Sorry for the tumbleweeds around here. We always take a little family time at the end of the school year to recharge before summer camps. I’ll be settling back into the swing of being online over the next few days and should have fresh new articles for next week. In the meantime, here’s something that I’ve been drafting.
Recently, my kids have started binge watching The Simpsons. They are making the most of our Disney+ subscription. Some of the subjects are probably a little too old for them, but there’s a lot of education packed into 30-years of programming. It’s fun to go back and see the old episodes about stealing pay cable and see their clunky desktop monitors. I get to add historical context like VH1 pop-up video. See, it’s like it’s 1990 all over again at our house – and I couldn’t be happier about it. My kids finally are starting to understand all the one-liners I’ve used over the years. (Kids: “What’s for dinner?” Me: “Mostly circus animals, some filler.”)
It’s easy to forget that The Simpsons is still on television. I mentioned it on social media and a follower was like, “Huh? That’s still on television.”
There’s not a lot of talk about personal finance in The Simpsons. Whenever they have money problems they resolve themselves in 22 minutes.
Recently, NPR had a podcast about The Simpsons and how their finances stack up today. It was something that they addressed a year before, but it was time for an update. It seems that their critique caught the writers attention. They decided to address the Simpsons’ personal finance in last episode of the latest season, Poorhouse Rock. If you have Hulu, it’s worth a watch with your tween or teen kids.
There’s a tremendous song about how the economy has changed since when the Simpsons first went on the air. It goes by fast, so I had to get the lyrics from the transcript here:
1945, we won the war
Our boys came back to the factory floor
The good times rolled, and smiles were on our faces
With plentiful jobs for folks of all ages
Even dumb slobs made excellent wages
The country was booming
Though still pretty racist
Oh, and so it came to pass
With hard work and grit and brass
Bit by bit, we built
Our middle class
Nice little middle class
(Homer Singing) I need cash for food and gas
Black light posters, beer, and grass
Time for me to join the middle class
Oh, boy, that middle class
Go join that middle class
Well, I’m not smart, I’m not a go-getter
My drinking problem’s not getting better
What job could I possibly do?
Nuclear safety inspector
Your dad and his buddies had it swell
But gradually it all went to hell
Factories closed, unemployment would spike
Here to explain it is Robert B. Reich
The decline of unions, rampant corporate greed, Wall Street malfeasance and the rise of shortsighted politics all contributed to increased economic inequality, widespread real unemployment, wage stagnation, and a lower standard of living for millions of Americans.
They chopped salaries to raise stock prices
Cut up the pie and kept all the slices
Tax breaks went to CEOs
Never trickling down to average joes
And so it came to pass
Greedy rich men kicked our ass
Fiddling while they burned our middle class
Poor little middle class
(Bart singing) All right, thanks for the history lesson, nerds.
But what does any of this have to do with me?
You see, my dad’s still working, and I want to be just like him.
I’m sure you do.
But there’s something else you need to learn, and my friend here is happy to teach you.
For days, you’ve been dying to say something. Just spill it.
(Lisa singing) You want a job like Dad? Too bad, so sad
You’ll never have the life our flabby dad had
What can he do that a robot can’t?
These Oreos taste like nuclear plant
(Bart singing) Yo, all I need is a foot in the door
And I’ll take Dad’s job when he dies at 44
(Lisa singing) That job you see now needs a PhD
While paying student loans leaves you in poverty
(Bart singing) What?
No brand-new car, no fancy house
No hot dinners cooked by your stay-at-home spouse
You’re gonna pinch every dollar and cent
And you’ll still have to choose
Between health care and rent
I’ll probably just buy a PlayStation 6.
You’re naive, but it’ll pass
They’ll repo your skateboard, you’ll grow up fast
He’s Jeff Bezos, we’re just bozos
Goodbye, middle class
These are facts, they’re not controversial
We can’t even afford what they sell in this commercial.
Okay, so, you’re saying maybe I’ll have a tough time getting a job like my dad’s.
No, no, I’m saying you’ll definitely never get a job like your dad’s, and you’ll have a tough time finding something significantly worse.
Thanks for the song and dance, but I think I’m gonna be just fine.
‘Cause there’s a lot of new ways a guy can make a dollar
I’ll ride the money train, make it rain, holla
I’ll buy and sell Bitcoin, build a new app
Do pranks on YouTube, I’m great at that crap
Film TikTok tricks on my sick motorbike
Your chances are slim
Go to hell, Robert Reich
Those aren’t careers, they’re a million to one
You ain’t that lucky and you ain’t smart, son
Who gives a damn? I’ll find my new jam
As an influencer on Instagram
If all else fails, I got backup plans
I can shake my cans on OnlyFans.
No. Just… no.
Okay, great. So I have no options whatsoever.
Smell you later, dude.
Isn’t it infuriating?
We’ll never live as well as they did.
Why doesn’t anyone do anything about this?
Well, there’s an answer to that, but it’s not one you’ll like.
Moe the bartender, serve it up on the mic
So, greedy politicians write bad laws
Throwing goodies to the rich like Santy Claus
They chew up us poors, who votes for these guys?
All my friends are dropping like flies
And where are these voters getting their cues?
Putin for president, next on Fox News
And that’s why our system is so out of order?
Cross-dressing dr?g fiends are crossing our border
We vote for gun nuts and climate deniers
Lunatics from QAnon and con men and liars
They shred our safety net and gut Medicare
But they get our vote
‘Cause we’re incredibly easy to scare
Cable news declares we’re doomed
And Facebook feeds our fright
They convince us things were great
When gas was cheap and men were white
So we rally round the crooks
And the creepy and the crass
The vengeful id of our vanishing middle class
So, as you can see, Bart…
I get it, dude, abandon hope
We can’t escape our slippery slope
The future’s a sandwich made of poo
Just tell me, what do you want me to do?
That’s the end of the song as it transitions into the rest of the show. It’s quite a commentary on the state of class, the economy, and politics