|The reason that so many people become 'trapped' in the Rat Race is, I feel, partly due to a lack of education on not only (relatively abstract) notions of freedom of choice, but also a lack of teaching of simple economics, I'm talking credit cards, mortgages and the such like.
Credit (and therefore by definition, debt) is central to the whole Rat Race issue, and nowadays people find themselves under its shadow even before they have left university. It is truly horrifying to see how eager the credit card companies are to sign up undergraduate students who, finding themselves presented with a £1000 credit limit (and 0% interest for 6 months!) go out and spend... only to find that once they are finished with uni, they have to pay these debts... with what? In order to do that, they need a decent job with career prospects.
They get that great graduate job, and start paying back their student loan and credit cards etc. However, as their salary increases over the years, so does their credit limit, and so does their spending. They simply spend whatever disposable income they have as this is what they have been conditioned to do in today's consumerist society. Got a pay rise? Oooh, now I can afford the deposit on that new car, I'll pay the remainder through that monthly payment scheme (with an interest rate that adds an extra 50% to the price of the car)...
It's downhill from here on. Along comes the mortgage.. Along come the children. Along comes the bigger house - and with it increasing expenses, met by taking out loans and remortgaging.
I have been down this road (ok, so I didn't go so far as having children!!) I ended up £18,000 in debt at the age of 25. For me, the best way out was bankruptcy. The debt was written off, and I was given a second chance.
I'll never get credit again (well, at least not for 7 years!), but that doesn't worry me in the slightest. If you haven't got it, you don't spend it. I am now free, and I will never surrender that freedom to a financial institute again. I remember those years I spent WORKING FOR MONEY, and they were truly depressing. Life should never revolve around money - Money is but a tool to make our lives easier.
For some it is a comfort to feel that freedom is unreachable, for freedom brings many challenges and much decision making. It is far simpler to hand over control of your life to a system that has been created by society for society.
Let those who wish to participate in in it do so, but never be tempted yourself to complain that you have no choice. I used to think that that was the case, but since I realised that I have the option to be free, happiness has ceased to be around the corner - it's hit me slap bang in the face and there's not a rat in sight.
For a superb visual overview of the 'The Rat Race',
click here to watch Alan Watts' "Life and Music"
thanks to Gathered Images, the Anticonsumerism campaign
and to my brother, Stephen Tame.