This is a bit long and ranty, because I am a bit annoyed, but I think it makes sense.
I spent today, like the day before that and the one before that, searching fruitlessly for a job. Sorting through the endless lists of online job boards has become a part of my daily routine; first name, last name, address, resume, repeat. Having been at it for nearly a month, I’ve learnt one thing: we got fucked. My resume, so carefully crafted, and to me, so impressive, is largely ignored. How did I get here, where did I go wrong, and why the fuck am I in the same position I was 4 years ago when I graduated high school despite gaining a holy piece of paper and a mountain of debt?
I followed all the rules and did what I was supposed to, I listened to my elders, and that is why I am where I am. It is all my fault for following the rules, as it is yours if you find yourself in the same position as me. We drank the Kool-Aid force fed to us by the corpulent pustule of a generation that followed the great one, and the kicker is we could have opted out at any time.
It started in middle school, we were told that we needed good grades to be put in the right classes in high school, so that we would go to the right college, and get that sparkly, fancy job of our dreams. Sure, some people questioned how Texas History, the Scarlet Letter, and the water cycle would be used in our future careers, but few people dismissed the notion in earnest. We were, after all, getting a rounded education. Looking back, I wish I had learnt things like coding, critical thinking, and how to pay my taxes before I was shunted out of the public school system, but when the grown ups say jump, we asked how high. Some things, like coding, I learnt outside of school, but I had precious few moments of free time for intellectual pursuits, not with the organized sports and music activities that I needed for college. I distinctly remember asking a college recruiter if they cared that I was in a band; they said they did, but it was less important than playing in the orchestra. Momma always said to follow their passion.
And so I played the game, internationally competitive swimmer despite hating the sport, 60 hours of college credit from AP tests, 500+ hours of volunteer work in a hospital, and I was rewarded with acceptance to a decent school and a decent scholarship. According to Them, I was on my way. My scholarship did not cover my full tuition, of course, so I took out loans. The pamphlet read “The best investment is an investment in yourself.” I went to a small school that prided itself on research, research that they magnanimously let me get involved with. I cleaned petri dishes and collected samples, doing the grunt work that allowed another person to prove or disprove their ideas. I, of course, helped pay for their research by providing a small part of the $8 million in profits made each year by this non-profit institution. Eventually, I was allowed to create my own experiments and do my own research, because my institution was one of the “good ones”. It is worth pointing out that most higher education institutions do not encourage undergraduates to do their own research and mine made far less per student than most. So this is a best-case scenario. I’m going to skim over the myriad costs associated with going to college, the mandatory meal plans and textbook prices that have risen 500% more than the bread basket over the past 25 years, to get back to where we are now.
I graduated with a degree in biology, oo-la-la, and now the doors should be flying open. Some are, I can sell life insurance, ring up groceries, or make a latte just the way the customer likes it, but for some reason, white collar desk jobs are out of the question. This may be due to the fact that 60% of jobs posted now require a college degree, as opposed to 30% from 25 years ago. Still, do I need a B. Sc. to make a burger, is a high school education not enough?
Maybe the answer is yes, after all, high school teaches you nearly nothing of importance. But again, whose fault is that. We use a standardized core curriculum based on the system of the ancient Greeks. That’s right, our education is in essence designed by people who believed a thunder god who lives in the sky would turn into a swan and fuck hapless virgins. For the boomers, this was fine. After WWII economic growth in America was twice what it is today. It only began to decline in the 70s, and, along with American influence abroad and the percentage of wealth held by the middle class, has continued to decline since then. The economy moved away from manufacturing and the creation of things of value towards a system that moved money around using the stock market and other forms of financial speculation. Lobbying, part of the political system for ages, really began to take hold under the baby boomers, allowing outmoded and uncompetitive industries to create favorable economic conditions with their capital reserves and stifle innovation.
This has led us to the present situation, where the greed and mismanagement of a single generation has pissed away what the Greatest Generation were able to gain. Post WWII America may have had the greatest pool of resources and global influence of any nation in the history of mankind. The Greatest Generation used this to land on the moon and split the atom. The Baby Boomers made Viagra and Xanax, and expanded the stock market and legal system. To put it another way, they found ways to enrich themselves without creating anything of value. From them we have inherited a deeply corrupt political system, overly litigious society, corporations that are “too big to fail”, pointless wars and their consequences, a woefully inadequate educational system that is also a political and economic juggernaught, massive national debt, far fewer opportunities than they had, and… this list can go on forever.
Which brings me back to my job search. A few days back I went to an interview with a company that sells insurance to senior citizens. They called me with an offer, which I declined after doing some research and learning that they take advantage of senior citizens. In my mind, it was wrong for me to take money from and lie to these people just to enrich myself. I wish now that I had taken that job, so I could do to them what they have been doing to us for years, take from their future to help myself in the present. I guess what I’m saying is, next time you see someone stealing an old lady’s purse don’t stop them, instead follow their lead and help the future fuck back.