A Lament

18 May

I swear the news media is trying to make us suicidal. Yesterday I read the following ARTICLE on my way home from work. In denial, I wanted to believe that it’s fear tactics and exaggerations but I know it’s the grim, depressing reality. This article made me re-realize that I am pretty lucky in the big picture. This article is about the job market reality for graduates of 2010. I’ve read, heard, listened to how shitty it is but this article in particular really upset my stomach. While it was depressing and sobering as all hell, I think it’s an important read. In my case, it put some things into perspective for me. While I usually gripe about my 9 to 5, I always follow it up with “well I really feel lucky to have a job at all right now.” This article cemented that sentiment.

“Over the next few weeks, hundreds of thousands of Millennials will graduate from institutions of higher learning. They will celebrate for several days, perhaps several weeks. Then they will enter a labor force that neither wants nor needs them. They will enter an economy where roughly 17% of people aged 20 through 24 do not have a job, and where two million college graduates are unemployed. They will enter a world where they will compete tooth and nail for jobs as waitresses, pizza delivery men, file clerks, bouncers, trainee busboys, assistant baristas, interns at bodegas.

“More sophisticated young people may already suspect otherwise. With the obvious exception of youngsters born during the Great Depression, no generation in American history faces more daunting obstacles. Economists theorize that this may be that very rarest of things—a generation that does not do as well financially as the generation that spawned it. Even the pasty-faced Pilgrim toddlers gamboling around Plymouth Rock in 1620 had better prospects than this one; at least the Massachusetts economy was still expanding back in the 17th century. And kids entering the work force after the Alamo or the Donner Pass Incident or the Crash of 1873 weren’t saddled with the kind of debts kids tote around now. Back then, ordinary people didn’t go to college. And back in those days, you could always pack up and move west, to California, let’s say, where the streets were paved with gold. Now the streets aren’t paved, period.”

Or maybe you were thinking of throwing in the towel, giving up on launching your career right away, and spending a year abroad. After all, a year in a foreign country can give you a wonderful perspective on life that will come in handy in the years to come. So where were you thinking of going? Greece, where the unemployed were recently gunning each other down in the streets? Great Britain, which no longer has a fully functioning government? Sweden, which just officially slipped back into recession? Ireland, whose economy has imploded? Spain, whose economy has imploded? Or no, hold on, here’s an idea: How about Iceland?”

Of course, there’s always law school. Never mind that applications are at an all-time high and that thousands of legal positions at investment banking firms have disappeared forever. Never mind that recent Ivy League law school graduates are now working as file clerks, substitute school teachers, census takers. Never mind that in order to pay back the $200,000 it’s going to cost you to go to law school, you’ll need to land one of those plum legal jobs at Goldman Sachs or AIG or one of those other firms that are no longer hiring because they owe so much to the lawyers they already did hire to defend them from lawsuits brought by the government’s lawyers, public prosecutors who only took those jobs because Goldman Sachs and AIG weren’t hiring. Good luck getting your parents to pay for that one.”


2 Responses to “A Lament”

  1. Leanna May 19, 2010 at 12:32 am #


    That’s all I have to say.

  2. Vintage Barbie May 19, 2010 at 8:24 pm #

    The author made one mistake. People born during the Great Depression of the 30’s like your dad and his friends had perfect timing. They were too young to fight WW2 or Korea, too old for Viet Nam. After both Wars the economy went through huge expansions . There were more jobs than people and you didn’t even need a college degree. Plus, if you were a person with a penis, you didn’t have to be much more than mediocre to get a great job which some underpaid female secretary did for you while you went out for a three martini lunch. Children born in the depression did well if they had an ounce of awareness or ambition.

    So does that mean the whole article is suspect. No, the article offers a very pessimistic view of the CURRENT world economy. The author makes current sound like forever. I am now old enough to know that there is no such thing as forever, especially in the economy. The only people for whom this downturn will be forever are the people who are psychologically beaten and scarred by it. And some will be. Just like there were people for whom The Great Depression never ended. They had the hoarding, it’s going to be taken away from me mentality. This had nothing to do with their eventual reality later when they finally got jobs and homes and families and nice lives , which they couldn’t appreciate for worrying about the future which was really a past they couldn’t let go of. Any way what I would say to you and your friends is good times, bad times, they all pass. Enjoy and appreciate what you have today which is youth, beauty,(in your case a sold job,no college debts, a great apartment in the country’s most beautiful city, cool friends and healthy parents and a future full of wonderful possibilities if you look for them It’s up to you.

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