There’s another piece to this that we haven’t discussed, which I feel is absolutely part of the whole problem of burnout and feeling crushed under the weight of trying to build a middle-class life, especially for a family, in your 30s:
All of the other responsibilities and things you have to learn and understand in order to not get screwed by one of the many, many perfectly legal ways that everyone is out to take your money.
Want to buy a house? Have fun learning about mortgages and home repair and how to deal with contractors and property taxes and escrow accounts and school districts and zoning laws and HOAs and and and.
Want to someday retire? Better get your budgeting on lock and figure out the differences between an IRA, a Roth IRA, a 401(k), traditional savings, CDs, money market accounts, index funds, interest types, repayment schedules, and the prime rate.
Want to have a functioning human body? Welcome to the land of HDHPs, HMOs, deductibles, out-of-network providers, maximum allowed benefits, and preferred treatments. There will be a quiz. If you fail it, you go bankrupt. No, we’re not going to tell you when it will be or what it will cover.
Want to be a responsible parent? Fuck you.
There are plenty more domains that have similar time/attention/education/stress requirements. These all play massively into general burnout and stress/anxiety levels. We expect everyone to be a financial planner, a real estate broker, an educator, and a handyman. Oh, and a politician if you want to actually understand the myriad ways you’re being fucked on the daily by the government and even understand the strategies to unfuck some of it, much less participate in democracy.
This is all because the system is set up by rich people and useful idiots in the name of “freedom” and “getting the gummint outta mah Medicare.” Rich people can hire a financial planner. They can buy a new house with no problems, and pay professionals to deal with anything that goes wrong. They live in districts with properly funded schools, where their kids can walk to school, stop at the park and run around on the way home, and not get arrested or shot by the police. They run no risk of medical bankruptcy, because their healthcare while still expensive is affordable on a high income and Obama closed a lot of the loopholes that let even well-off people get fucked by the insurers.
And these are just the middle-class traps that we (middle-class people) have a chance of escaping or at least mitigating. If you’re poor, you’re just straight fucked barring truly exceptional luck combined with exceptional attitude/effort/ability. And of course everything is that much shittier if you’re any kind of minority, which just stacks bullshit on top of bullshit.
USA! USA! USA!