Redneck Economics

The guy turned his head slowly, stared at Jaybird with one eye closed and the other one narrowed to a slit. The expression on his face was one that imparted the idea that he was trying to decide if he should fight Jaybird, or leave him alone because he was just plain stupid.

In my blog story, It Looks Like You Lost, I mentioned that the place we lived from 2000 until 2009 was eclectic; the houses and the people were greatly varied, and still are. Among the various types of people there, was, of course, a good number of what folks—me included—refer to as rednecks. Actually, I consider myself to be among that group, but I must qualify this by saying the group itself consists of many sub-groups.

The sub-group I want to talk about today is a group that has a very different outlook on life than does the sub-group I consider myself to be in. I’m referring to those who are typically hard working—most rednecks are—when they work. The key word, as relates to this specific group is “when”.

These folks—mostly men, but I’ve come across a few ladies who fit the bill—believe it is only necessary to work when they run out of money. Typically, they have very few bills—utilities and a cell phone are the most common bills they do have—and as a general rule they are two to three months behind on the monthly installments for those basic necessities. Another basic to the lifestyle is an older car or pickup—paid for—which is often uninsured.

So, as you can probably see, it is a very live-for-today way of doing things. These folks normally have three basic necessities they require to exist, and they are food, beer or booze, and cigarettes; not necessarily in that order. If you do some quick math, based on a daily requirement of a six-pack, two meals, and a pack of smokes (two of those are light; I’ll let you decide which two), you might derive—at today’s prices—approximately $20.00 per day would get them by. If you figure in rent—most of them live with parents, roommates, or, for one reason or another, rent free—and utilities (don’t forget the cell phone), a person of this lifestyle would need somewhere between $50 to $100 dollars per day to “survive”.

Let’s go middle-of-the-road and say the amount is $75 per day, which computes to $525 per week. Based on a forty hour work week, at $15 per hour—most of these folks work in the construction industry, and can make that much, or more—they could bring home $600 a week. That’s $75 a week more than they need, so you would think they’d put that much away for a rainy day; most don’t, but some do. And here’s where the definition—my own, mind you—of redneck economics come from.

Those who put money aside, are planning for the times they won’t be working—not because they fear being laid off, or for whatever reason losing their job—but because they have no desire to work full time. They think those rednecks like me, who work forty hours a week (or more) every week of the year, are nuts. What fun is that, they wonder. I should say—with regard to working forty hours a week—like I used to, since I’m retired and all I do is pound this keyboard nowadays.

I have the perfect illustration for this: On one of the many Saturdays my buddy Jaybird and I played golf while I lived in Spicewood Beach, we were accompanied by several of the local rednecks that subscribe to the theory of redneck economics. Jaybird, by the way, is one of the hardest working guys I know. I jokingly called him a slacker one day, and he still holds me in contempt for the remark. Every now and then—out of the blue—he’ll look at me with fire in his eyes and say, “Slacker, huh?”

One of the guys among the seven or eight in our foursome, was a long-haired fellow in his late forties. Our little golf course was never crowded, so the group could sometimes be more than the prescribed four that applies on a “real” golf course. We had a hard-and-fast rule though: No more than eight to a foursome.

This guy was the epitome of the sub-group I speak of, and as we were standing in one of the fairways, waiting our turn to hit, he sighed and said, “Jaybird, looks like I’m gonna have to git back to work.” It was common knowledge he hadn’t worked for a month or so.

Jaybird said, “Sorry to hear that, bub. How come you have to go back to work?”

The guy turned his head slowly, stared at Jaybird with one eye closed and the other one narrowed to a slit. The expression on his face was one that imparted the idea, he didn’t know if he should fight Jaybird, or leave him alone because he was just plain stupid. Finally, the suspense at a riveting pitch, he spit on the ground then looked back at Jaybird and said—he said this as if he were talking to someone who couldn’t understand English, or the basic principles of life in general–“I’m out of freakin’, money, dumb-ass!”

I cannot—nor do I intend to try to—explain “redneck economics” any better than that.


  1. Sherry said

    This is funny . . . true, but funny.

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