10 Economic Myths

Excerpted from Minding the Caregiver, A Memoir, ©Mayra Porrata, 2021

I grew up during a time when we trusted that going to college and working hard was a secure pathway to living a good and comfortable life. If you got in with a ‘good company’ your life was set.

I followed such a path and worked 2-3 jobs during college. I worked in banking, first in the branches, as a teller, and later in the trust division where big chunks of money and accounts were traded and invested with ease.

Then, in 1991 I landed an entry-level position in the financial services industry, at a then Fortune 50 company. Within 8 months, my role morphed into a number of consecutive million-dollar project-based assignments that not only resulted in generous increases in my salary, but life-long friends, along with powerful lessons that still inform me today. I would not trade a thing about these formative career years.

My decision to leave the ‘gravy train’, as a colleague once referred to it, was not only met with bewilderment, but with great resistance, in part, because I left my lovely corporate job when I was 4 months pregnant with my first daughter.

For some ‘crazy and unexplained’ reason (which I would come to understand 6 years later), I knew that I had to make motherhood my #1 job and priority but also do something ‘on the side’ to bring income into the household because ‘unless I was bringing in money, I was somehow ‘costing the household.’

Although I could not fully understand nor explain the reasons why this sentiment did not sit well with me, afterall, I was raised by a stay-at-home mom who was lovingly supported by my father until his death in 2014, I have since come full-circle to see the absolute lie of that statement, and 9 others I call ’10 economic myths’:

MYTH: Only people with ‘paying jobs’ contribute to the economy.

MYTH: The stock market is the economy.

MYTH: Our country’s health is best gauged by how well the stock-market is doing.

MYTH: Being a mother/parent is not a ‘real job.’

MYTH: Being a caregiver is a choice.

MYTH: If you have a Master’s degree you should be making $100K a year.

MYTH: Public banking is a newfangled idea by ‘liberals’.

MYTH: Our leaders and decision-makers are trained in economics.

MYTH: Your credit score determines your value and worthiness in the community and society.

MYTH: Having health insurance protects and ‘insures’ your health.

Admittedly, I once believed all these to be true, but one by one, each delusion was dissolved by my lived experience and the reality of life itself.

Now that I know better, I can do better.

What is essential for a caring economy?

Can a “caring economy” coexist alongside our debt economy?

This is not a commentary of “one thing is better than the other”, because we already have both and need both, but how each could actually be strengthened.

This is also a commentary about what supports human health and well-being and what is detrimental to people from an economic, legal, and community standpoint.

Disclaimer(s): I am a professionally-trained, master’s level health educator. I also have a business degree and studied economics. My grandfather was a judge. I was a parent-caregiver for 12 years, 8 of these as a single-parent. I’ve been personally harmed by unwise policy and laws that favor corporations over family caregivers and therefore in full support of the RAISE Family Caregivers Act, and wrote about what we suggest here.

All human beings want to be free and lead meaningful and productive lives. When we sustain catastrophic hardships, (like COVID-19, for example) that force our adaptation, it is essential that we support individuals through these events so that they can get “back on their feet.” Obviously, for the most part, we do this already.

Most people are caring individuals. Most people are good people. Most people also know that the economic game is rigged in favor of banks and corporations.

We, all of us, play a role in this. From our own ignorance over laws, policies and the interdependence of things, to where we bank, and spend our money, consumers make choices every single day about what they value.

Do you ever feel like you’re enslaved or ensnared in an unfair and unjust system? Do you ever wonder if there could be a better way for more people to be self-sustaining and free to do work they actually love? Many people already are and do, actually. However, our laws have not caught up to protect these inalienable rights.

Every single day in America, the constitutional rights of crime-less individuals are violated all to bolster private banks and the financial industry conglomerate. Current laws, economic and otherwise, are actually designed to funnel wealth away from individuals and communities in order to enrich corporations.

If you haven’t personally experienced this type of economic abuse and violence, consider yourself lucky. However, chances are that someone in your family or a loved one will meet this tragic fate.

The dehumanization and degradation of individuals and our communities happens anytime our “leaders” and decision-makers chose to uphold these laws. To have unwise individuals making decisions that affect people’s lives and that force their economic enslavement is a crime against humanity. Literally.

What do you think would happen if there were actual jury trials for cases where a debt-collecting corporation is suing a vulnerable consumer? That we have allowed our own Courts to harm us is a profound deficiency that must be addressed. That is why we need to uncouple these two things. To pit corporations against people is insane and unwise policy.

What do you value? What do you wish to stand for? Real human needs and economic prosperity, or a distortion of capitalism? We are each called to make this choice.

We need benign corporations. We need strong local economies. We need laws and policies that support both, not pits one against the other. And when in doubt, all economic laws should favor the vulnerable— the least socially and economically powerful, otherwise, collectively, we will all meet the same fate– because that is how life operates.

Accordingly, seeing what I have seen and knowing that false dichotomies are designed to gaslight and confuse us, I offer the following view of what “our economy” could actually offer, and what needs to be made obsolete because it is detrimental to our collective prosperity and flourishing.

So, can a caring economy coexist alongside our current paradigm? It already does! However, we need to strengthen it and by doing so, we strengthen the value of benign corporations.

Special Needs

Perhaps it’s in this subtle recognition of both our unique and shared humanity that we’ll be better able to mend our disconnection and learn how to best serve and support one another. 

Although we’re all beautiful and precious, we’re also a little challenged and labor intensive in some way. Aren’t we? 

Culturally, the term “special needs” is often associated with individuals in our communities who contend with genetic, physical, or developmental challenges. While my daughter with cystic fibrosis indeed had visible and obvious “special needs”, I often wondered about my other daughter whose needs were hidden, yet equally real nonetheless.

Although needs may be quite distinct and vary in degrees of social, emotional, mental, or spiritual intensity, everyone alive contends with the human condition. Those who believe they are somehow immune or above this, may in fact have the most need among us. 

Everyone on the planet has “special needs”. Beyond the obvious physical needs, there are reasons for why a soul is “here”, in a body, on Earth. Perhaps it’s in this subtle recognition of both our unique and shared humanity that we’ll be better able to mend our disconnection and learn how to best serve and support one another. 

Return to the Main Site: TheFlourishingWay.com