Wage Slavery and Money Myths

wage slavery
Only 10 more years in this cubicle!

What is wage slavery? For some, it is an everyday reality, a feeling of being trapped in one’s job or trapped at a certain level of income. 

Why they feel trapped can vary. Lack of skills. Lack of opportunity. Dependence on health insurance. Living paycheck to paycheck.

For others, wage slavery is simply hyperbole, since it suggests involuntary servitude. This article is geared towards those who feel trapped in the endless cycle of work and consumerism they feel was created to enrich the plutocrats.

Money Myths

In America, we seem to believe in certain money myths that upon further inspection, don’t make a lot of sense. Once you realize they don’t make sense, you start to wonder why they exist at all.

These myths are powerful. They are reinforced dozens of times per day, when you turn on the TV in the morning and on almost every billboard you pass on your way to wage slavery.

They include:

  • Debt is Inevitable
  • The Government Sets the Retirement Age
  • You Need $2 million to Retire
  • You Have to Leave Money for Your Heirs


Question: So why do they exist?

Answer: To keep the wheels of a consumption driven economy moving, and protect the system of wage slavery and debt.

If the wheels stop moving, people might realize that they don’t need electric toothbrushes and cloud pillows. Nor do they need to work an extra 10 years to simply afford a vehicle with a chrome package upgrade.

Breaking through these money myths is dangerous: proceed at your own risk.


Debt is Inevitable

I’ve heard this a lot from older people who are up to their eyeballs in debt. “You can’t take it with you!” they snicker as they take out another line of credit. Some even get patriotic about it: “Debt is the American Way!” I’ve heard them say.

This consecrates debt as a dangerous social contract. We will continue to advance you your paycheck so long as you promise to spend it. This is one step above scrip, where bosses would pay you in goods from the company store, all but making you de facto dependent on your job.

This is the key to wage slavery. You are always dependent on your job to pay for the things you bought with future earnings.


The Government Sets the Retirement Age

We hear in the news so often about the “retirement age.” It is talked about so often that it has become ingrained that this is the age you MUST work until.

In reality, it is a form of extortion to hold the wage slavery regime together. If you follow the American Way and are indebted, we will take care of you so long as you work until you are feeble. Then you will get your scraps.

Using terms like “early retirement” only further solidifies the notion that retiring even a minute before your government-approved Retirement Age is some form of rebellion.


You Need $2 million to Retire

This money myth is mainly perpetuated by investment advisors. They want and NEED you to work for a long time, as well as save money through their commission-generating retirement products. This is how they retire early.

It seems like every five years the magic number gets bumped up. It used to be a million dollars. Now maybe it’s two million. In reality, if you save and plan in advance, you can retire on way less than that, and way earlier than you may have ever thought.

If you pay off your bills and set up passive income streams to cover your daily needs, why work unless you are bored? This is where you can break the chains of wage slavery.


You Have to Leave Money for Your Heirs

First off, why?

I can’t think of any reason to leave money for your heirs unless they are disabled or unable to care for themselves. If you raise a smart and able-bodied child, they should be able to take care of themselves.

By always throwing the focus to future generations, we refuse to live in the present. We work longer than we should to save up a nest egg that we will never use.

We then expect our kids to care for us in retirement. This transfers the cycle of wage slavery to future generations.

This notion must be challenged and destroyed. We will never fix today’s problems if we are always looking to the future.


Don’t Try to Beat the Wage Slavery Myths – Don’t Even Play

Forget trying to win the game or rewrite the money myths. How about not even playing?

The money mythmakers are way more powerful than you are, so please disabuse yourself of any notion that you can rewrite the rules for everyone. You can’t.

All you can do is silently refuse to play along. Instead of worrying about the nation’s economy, worry about your family economy.

Instead of worrying if they are going to raise the retirement age again, just quietly prepare for early retirement and work towards breaking the ties of wage slavery.


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52 thoughts on “Wage Slavery and Money Myths

    • It would be fun to have $2 million and start spending upon retirement, but I don’t plan to be consuming much when I’m old and decrepit. Thanks for reading!

  1. Fantastic article, you really expelled a lot of the money myths perpetuated by the media and some ‘financial gurus.’ Everyone should aim to be debt free and to save for retirement and an emergency fund, but it’s different for each person, because it depends on what kind of lifestyle you want to have when that time comes.
    Monica recently posted..Credit Cards for Teens: What You Need to KnowMy Profile

    • Exactly. The most important part is when you figure out what type of lifestyle you want to lead when retired. It’s hard because it depends on your current life.

      Thanks for reading and for weighing in.

  2. AWESOME post. What hit me closest to home was the idea of having an inheritance for my girls. They are both smart, young ladies, how did I ever get it in my head that I need to save up enough money to give them a huge inheritance? They’ll both make their way just fine– excellent point. Side note: I admit, I had to look up plutocrat.
    BlueCollarWorkman recently posted..What Your Work is Worth — Part 2My Profile

    • Ha! If you retired now, $2 million definitely wouldn’t be enough, unless you moved to a country with a super low cost of living.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Great job of debunking these common myths. I think all of us come to a point in our lives where we realise we need to question conventional wisdom and decide for oursleves if things can be done differently. This is the point we begin to live our authentic lives. Wish you the best in defining yours.
    The Stoic recently posted..The Stoic Investor: From Humble BeginningsMy Profile

    • That phrase really resonates – our authentic lives.

      I think it’s that moment when we realize what we really want and what we have to give to get it.

      Thanks for weighing in with that, Stoic.

    • A few years ago I thought the same thing. At the pace I was on, there was no way I was going to achieve that. Now I’ve settled to a new way of thinking, which I’ll lay out in a post fairly soon.

  4. I hope to be able to retire young. I don’t know if I will retire by the time I am 40 or 50, but I definitely want to have the option. I know my retirement is going to depend on a lot of things. I know that I WILL have to take care of my parents. As hard as they work, they don’t have a retirement nest egg. However, I do not want to take big debts. I started writing so that I could keep myself in check and not desperately want to have something I cannot afford or don’t need.
    SavvyFinancialLatina recently posted..2011 TaxesMy Profile

  5. $2 million, $5 million, $10 million to retire. They are all arbitrary numbers. Whatever you have to retire is what you will learn to survive on. My grandmother gets by on $18,000 per year and she smiles all day every day.
    ShortRoadTo recently posted..Stubhub ReviewMy Profile

    • That sounds like an awesome granny! Learn to survive before you retire, or really learn to survive after you retire: the choice is ours.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Awesome article! Give it a few years and the minimum retirement savings will be up to 2.5 million. The only way these myths become true is if you buy into the lifestyle they’re selling. If you don’t, you can ignore the noise. 🙂
    Cassie recently posted..The World of MoeMy Profile

  7. Not having kids, I don’t really have to worry about providing an inheritance. We’ll see when I get there, but the current plan is that the last check I write in this life will bounce. 🙂 As far as THE NUMBER, I think the entirely depends on how quickly you spend money. The less quickly, obviously the smaller the number.
    CultOfMoney recently posted..The only 3 ways to get a sweet-ass government jobMy Profile

  8. “I don’t plan to be consuming much when I’m old and decrepit”. This is exactly why I’ve chosen to break away from all the myths and live life on my own terms. Sure I struggle some months and I’m not saving tens of thousands of dollars, but I am happy and I’m getting to experience what few others do. And if I can keep working like I do now I can’t see any reason for stopping, it’s too much fun 🙂
    Money Infant recently posted..Getting Back on Track After a Financial Train WreckMy Profile

  9. My mom always worries about how much inheritance she will leave, but what I want her to focus on is making sure she can financially support herself in her old age. Great points!

  10. Another gem, John! I’ve never fully understood why it seems ok to work for someone else your entire life, and “supposedly” have plenty of money when you’re in your 50s, 60s, or 70s. Like you said, if we can step away and not play this game, who says it’s not ok to retire at 40 years old, or even earlier (if you choose)?

  11. Thanks Floe. If you can’t win their game, play a different one. There are plenty we can all win. That should be the new message.

  12. Nice set of money myths, and excellent job at trying to break them. I think part of the problem most people have with breaking them is that there’s a grain of truth to most of them. The Government DOES set the age where you can start receiving government-provided retirement benefits, for example, but far too many people view that as the time they MUST retire, no earlier. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of believing that you MUST follow the the typical pattern of everyone else. Here’s hoping more people choose to just not play. (And who knows, if you inspire enough people to ignore the wage slave myths, perhaps you can help rewrite the wage slave rules, after all.)

  13. Very inspiring, I have worked in a factory for 20 years then they went bankrupt in 2008/2009, I have lost my job and pension since they were doing it inhouse, after that I decided to start my own business and I wish I have done that long time ago

    I feel I have wasted 20 years working for people and being a slave for that job, it was hard to start a business but I am glad I did..if I can do it then you can do it 🙂

  14. John,

    I just discovered your blog this week and I really appreciate the content of this article.

    I was particularly struck by the argument that debt is inevitable. That is one that hits really close to home with extended family.

    I heard my father-in-law say that repeatedly over the past year as he battles the stress of day to day life.

    As for me and my house – we decided we do not want to be held captive to the daily grind of working to pay the credit card companies.

    My journey just began so I am looking forward to more of your stuff.


    JW Ginn
    JW Ginn recently posted..Total Debt? Coming to Terms With the Man in the MirrorMy Profile

    • Thanks JW – I checked out your site to and am glad you have started the journey. I wish I would have started blogging a few years ago when I started my journey. Look forward to seeing you around and thanks for your comment.

  15. Excellent post!
    I fully resonate with this post especially just found your blog…its time more and more started to think critically and examine the work culture and the many myths surrounding it. I found a great blog a while back dealing with this subject –


  16. The old phrase from the Matthew Broderick film “Wargames”, just after the computer used tic-tac-toe game to extend that to war itself. The computer said something like this: “… the only way to win is not to play”.

    Great post John!

  17. Oh, and there’s another one that my parents tried to drill into my head. “You won’t use the mortgage interest deduction for very long, if at all.” Little did she realize that one can ‘bundle’ deductions such as mortgage interest and child tax credits (that weren’t available in their time), along with property tax deduction(s).

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