And yet I'm intelligent. I'm self-aware. I have interpersonal skills that make me an asset to every friend I've ever made. And I'm creative, a fast learner, and as honest and moral a person as I can be.
My problem is one of neurological disorders and mental illness that impair my ability to self-motivate. Depression and comorbid bipolar disorder, introversion, social anxiety, and social dependency....
I deal with a lot of things, and I have such a low threshold for stress that just a 9-to-5 part-time job gives me regular panic attacks.
In the current system, there is no place for a person like me.
I am not an ideal hire. I don't qualify for SSI. I am surrounded by hard-working friends and family, and overwhelmed every day by the shame of my inability to summon the will to work that seems to flow from others like water.
The biggest thing I struggle with is what, precisely, I can possibly do to improve my lot beyond what I have already done.
The only hope I personally see for myself is a post-scarcity economy: one in which my level of productivity is a personal choice. One in which my past is completely irrelevant to my ideas and my achievements, and where my ability to contribute to capitalism is not the deciding factor in the kind of lifestyle I can experience.
It's not that I don't do anything. I do different things from most of my friends, and that's my limit.
If I am not able to earn a living wage in the current capitalist system, it makes me wonder how many other lives that didn't fit the pattern have been stamped out over our long history by equal or even worse inequities in the economic system.
How many people who actually know what it means to be in need get even a second glance from people born into wealth and opportunity--the very people most capable of effecting changes that would help meet their needs? I have friends who had their material needs in order by the age of 18, and they have no idea what kind of hell I experience.
And I'm white, living in Silicon Valley. I have friends from all over the world who have similar difficulties, and no real ability to help themselves.
The point I'm trying to make is that capitalism carries costs, at an individual level, that amount to psychological torture for people who fall through the cracks. The introduction of socialist systems a la the New Deal helped many people to come back from the Great Depression, but I honestly think modernist economic strategies are not robust enough to handle the new challenges we face today.
The most important thing that requires automation is not material production, but the business of making others happy. Unfortunately, as history clearly shows, we can't rely on the goodwill of others.
In my opinion, we are not responsible enough as a species to take care of one another. We require assistance on a larger scale than bureaucracy, economics, and/or government are capable of.