Some color schemes are never questioned. Corvettes, for instance, regardless of paint job, are always red. Blackberries are blue, except when they're green. (Then they're red.) A K mart special is never denoted by an orange light. And if you expect any socioeconomic status above the lowest couple of rungs, your collar pretty much has to be white.

How we got to this point is unclear, though I suspect that it's at least partially the result of an ongoing effort by the self-described "professions" to portray their members as much more worthy than the workaday slobs at the bus stop. When they're not falling back on smug social Darwinism, there are plenty of suits who will happily invoke some sort of market analogy to explain why they are paid such comparatively vast sums, an analogy which fails to account for the fact that most people have far greater need for good auto mechanics at seventy dollars an hour (who might get paid fifteen or twenty out of that) than for attorneys at two hundred.

Not that the professions lack value, mind you. Even attorneys have their uses, when they're not trying to influence the government to invent new ones; most of us at this age are indebted (sometimes literally) to today's medical practitioners; and good teachers come awfully close to that much-abused word "priceless". Of course, of all the professions, teaching pays just about the least. Figure that one out.

Then there are those of us who crunch data. Lately, we have found ourselves undergoing genre gentrification: we are now "IT Professionals". Well, perhaps. I do get paid, though not a hell of a lot. And the color of my collar seems to depend on who's doing the survey. I suppose if I were more proficient at bedazzling people with meaningless twaddle, I could add substantial thickness to my wallet, but by and large, I'm just a guy who shovels bits. The fact that I could bring down almost half an industry (not a large one, but what the hell) with a few well-placed (or ill-placed) system commands is mostly irrelevant; all power resides within the suits. You've probably seen suits like these yourself. And if you watch closely, you can see the Emperor and his whole wardrobe.

The Vent

1 September 2001

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 Copyright © 2001 by Charles G. Hill