Taking another 8-9 months to write a follow-up blog post to your first one from April is pretty on-brand for me as a person. So obviously, it’s also on-brand for the Entry Level brand. An on-brand brand owner. Say that five times fast.
Well, a lot has changed since April, that’s for sure. Things have been going well for Entry Level. In fact, I could tell you exactly how well things have been going for Entry Level because I was up until 1 AM last night filing my long-overdue taxes from 2021. We’re definitely not rolling in it, but it is cool to see how in less than a year this business grew from a nascent pipe dream into a lean, mean, t-shirt selling machine.
But the thing I’m most proud of is the community Entry Level has fostered in that time. Hearing from so many of you, receiving feedback on designs, seeing your fit pics, hearing about workplace horror stories, quitting your shitty jobs, finding better ones, making positive changes in your lives, all of it has been so inspiring and just so fucking cool to see.
What’s crazy about the past year, something I didn’t fully expect, was that beyond Entry Level there has been a lot of dialogue in the media about our relationships to our work and about workplace culture as a whole. Conversations about your shitty boss or your low wages that once took place in breakrooms, bars, and online forums now take up real estate on the front page of newspapers, on cable news programs, and subreddits with millions of followers.
You’d think that all this coverage of movements like “The Great Resignation” and stories about workers unionizing meant that maybe things were looking up for the little guy. Maybe we were set to experience a societal paradigm shift where we could begin to address issues like economic inequality, raising the minimum wage, providing government-funded healthcare to a country still reeling from a pandemic….
I know that I’m not the only one who’s been disappointed with the past calendar year. I mean, remember back in 2020, when both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris swore up and down that if elected they’d cancel student loans? Fast-forward to now and the only one who’s paid on my student loans is me. Insert Tyler the Creator, “So that was a fucking lie” gif here. Harris even tweeted back in May 2020 that if elected she was proposing $2,000 monthly checks for the rest of the pandemic. They might as well have promised chocolate milk in the drinking fountains because that was never going to happen.
Meanwhile, housing costs have continued to spiral out of control. The federal minimum wage is still $7.25 an hour, and the same President/VP who did nothing but criticize the last administration for their science-denial and lackluster Covid response are now doing even less to contain the virus. I don’t care how many times I hear about how “mild” the Omicron variant is. The Covid death toll in the U.S. is the among the highest it’s ever been. Thank goodness President Biden “believes in science.”
We can’t do anything about climate change. Our infrastructure is literally crumbling around us. The financial future of multiple generations is completely up in the air. Our politicians are banning books and punishing teachers for teaching certain subjects in school.
I tell ya man, it’s enough to make it tough getting out of bed in the morning.
It’s deflating when your leaders just completely abandon you (no pun intended).
Politicians lie. Everyone knows that. But the fact that Democrats couldn’t follow through with their promises this time around, almost a year and a half since the last election, it feels less like we were lied to and more like we were just supposed to forget that those promises were ever made in the first place. Like the crumbs we were served was actually the entrée we were supposed to have expected all along. We were supposed to get our college paid for and all we got were some laptop batteries.
real ones remember.
And that’s not even the worst part of it. Sure, we all feel burned. Justifiably so. But when we inevitably don’t turn up for the next election the way we did for the last one and the politicians who knowingly lied to us don’t get voted back for another set of terms, they’ll try to flip it on us and make it sound like it’s our fault. We’ll be blamed for everything. Never mind their apathy. We’ll be scolded for ours. Like they’re entitled to our loyalty and activism despite doing nothing to earn it.
Have you ever quit a shitty job because you felt like you were being treated badly? Maybe the manager was passive-aggressive. Or maybe they were just aggressive-aggressive. Maybe you weren’t paid well, or your benefits sucked. Maybe your hours were long, and you felt like you were always being manipulated into giving up more of your energy and your free time to people who felt entitled to it. Maybe you experienced all of the above. And when you put in your two weeks’ notice at that job did they try and flip it on you? To say something like, “well this is going to be really hard for us,” or “you’re really putting us in a tough spot.” As though you should have just endured it all with a nod and a smile because at the end of the day, they were the ones paying you something, and without them you’d be making nothing at all, right?
Yeah fuck that.
2022 needs to be a year of demanding more. You’re not gonna pay me what I need? Fuck you then, I’ll get a job somewhere else. You’re not gonna stop robbing my joy, stressing me out, and stealing my nights and weekends? Bye. You’re not gonna give me what you promised? See if I vote for you again.
It's pretty grim how in the last two years Covid has exposed just how broken so many of these systems are. Beyond the death and long-term effects of the virus’ physical toll, it revealed just how little the ruling class gives a shit about the working class and about everyone who lacks the funds and resources to twist the system to their will.
But at least people are starting to take notice. This isn’t a left vs. right thing. We’re all being screwed down here. The unfortunate thing is that we’re constantly being urged to scapegoat different things that don’t address the root of the problem. Some blame immigrants, some blame “the left”, some blame “the welfare state” and the people who “leech off of it”.
Obviously our lackluster material position isn’t determined by any of those things. Immigrants are good for the U.S. economy. Progressive policy ideals poll extremely favorably among the general population. And our welfare system isn’t nearly as robust as other developed countries even though we spend way way wayyyy more money on it.
But somehow along the way we started letting people in power convince us to root against our own interest. That we should care less about our own well-being and more about how much money the ruling class should be able to line their pockets with every financial quarter.
Without help, all we can do is to eke out a living the best way we can under the systems we currently abide, hopefully not at the expense or exploitation of others. We should treat each other well. Support one another. Be charitable and generous. Don’t vote for people you shouldn’t be voting for. Unionize your workplace. Do something that helps yourself and also helps the people around you. Don’t support companies that exploit vulnerable people. Don’t catcall women. What I’m trying to say is just try to make good choices because your choices will invariably affect others.
I’m not sure I’d call this a platform. I sell shirts. And you guys really like those shirts. And I appreciate that. And I want to keep making this a safe place for all of you – to build a community that we all can be proud of. One that brings people together. I hope you’ll help me continue to do that and call me out if I start to slip.
Thanks for reading all this. Take good care of yourselves.
Love you guys.
“For the Good of the Company!”