One effect of rising inequality is that, to protect yourself, you can find yourself softening your morals. Wouldn't it be nice to have one of those big company salaries?, it's easy to think. And who could blame you, when you live in a place where you can still struggle with a six figure salary? Some companies are paying half a million dollars a year to the right technical leaders. Some are paying much more than that. Wouldn't that make everything better? To not have to worry about money all the time? To feel successful?
It's as if there are invisible billboards yelling at you to be rich.
About ten years ago, when quants came into the spotlight, I thought it curious that so much ability was being wasted. Quants are often people with physics or math PhDs that decide to work for Wall Street to exploit systems in order to make a lot of money for investors. Some examples of their work are automated trading bots and dangerous financial instruments
. Why did they use their skills to create things like this instead of solving and discovering problems that would help people? I imagine it is because everyone told them, mostly implicitly, that money is what is important, even if it's divorced from actual value and comes from elaborate gamesmanship.
I have felt that at times, but my personal hatred of boredom has provided a serendipitous shield from that kind of pressure. Since 2016, however, I've felt it again, but for another reason. Rationally, I think that mostly working as normal and waiting out this administration is the best financial strategy. However, I can't help but think that there multiple ways, ranging from the idiotic to the sinister, in which Trump will make life here untenable.
Should that come to pass, wouldn't it then be best to have hoarded cash so that we can optimize our chances of escape? From an expected value lens, it's not a good idea to behave as if the worst will happen. But fear is usually not something that accepts your argument once and agrees to not reprosecute its case.