Here is a report about working professionals who make over $200K a year, but they are increasingly overworked and yet they feel poor. All of these ideas are detailed in the book Elsewhere U.S.A. by New York University sociologist Dalton Conley. To listen to the whole interview, click here.
It's a brave new world. For the first time, it was people with incomes over $200,000, in a New York Times poll, that said that they feel poorer when they're around rich people as compared to people who are actually poor. That's stunning to me. And for the first time in labor history, the further up the income ladder you go, the more hours you work.
RYSSDAL: Give me an example of how the title of your book plays out. It's called "Elsewhere U.S.A." What does that mean in practice?
CONLEY: It means that this class of professionals, what I call "the elsewhere class" is increasingly in more than one place at one time. So if they're at home ostensibly having dinner with the family their minds, or perhaps their thumbs as they click away on the Blackberry under the table, are actually communicating with other folks somewhere else back in the office. They might be more distracted at work because they're also worried about the fact that their kid is home sick, and they have to after this meeting rush right home to relieve the mom or the dad, since there is more shared child care in this regard. And it's constant frenetic pace where we're always on route to elsewhere if not physically then in some communicative way, through telecommunications or travel or what have you.
RYSSDAL: You could of course just not have a Blackberry and not have DSL at home with broadband internet access. And you could just have a regular 9-5 job and come home and cook the dinner and put the kids to bed. Is that viable?
CONLEY: Many people still live that life. Increasingly, the people at the top don't, and I don't really think it's an option for them. Of course, any social ethic or any movement creates its opposite, and we have this slow-foods movement emerging and the simple back to basics living movement. And some people sell the business and move to rural Maine and build their house with their bare hands from scratch. But for most of us, we want the Blackberrys, we like our work, and we want to be connected, but we want to have fulfilling connections and not lose the intimacy that we once had.
RYSSDAL: Dalton Conley is a professor of sociology at New York University. His latest book is called "Elsewhere U.S.A." Dalton thanks a lot.
Do you see these dynamics in your own family? Do you desire a career that makes $200K+ per year even though it might mean working all the time and not spending enough time with family, friends and taking care of your health and happiness? After reading/listening to this, has it made you consider any of your future differently?