In the continuing "get a clue" series, the one that makes us sound like cackling geezers, we point you today to the Wall Street Journal review of Anya Kamenetz's Generation Debt, "breezily written and entertaining. But not always for the right reasons...The data fly off the page but should be tied down."
Just look at the subtitle: "Why Now Is a Terrible Time to Be Young." Would you like to live in another era? How does Vietnam sound? Or World War II? Or the Great Depression? Anyone for the Great Cholera Epidemic of 1832?
We meet Lagusta, who can't seem to pay off her debts though she works hard at her business. What's her line, you ask? She is a vegan caterer....Then there's Nita, who works in a dollar store and blew "ten grand she didn't have on restaurant meals and new CD's" -- in one summer! The next time that Nita feels like bingeing, she should call Lagusta and support the vegan trade. Brandon got a job "presenting" sex education in schools but then gave up a graduate-school fellowship because Orange County was too conservative. And these are the smart kids.
Jerome, who graduated from a New York high school with a "B" average...cannot find a job. Jerome wants to be a rapper, and he admits that it would help if he learned some more words. "I don't know why I'm not getting hired. Positions be taken." ... What are the "C" students doing?
A 33-year-old living with his parents says: "I'm perfectly willing to go through my life as a sort of half-assed bohemian, with no steady job. That freaks my parents out."
Yep [taking a sympathetic and grateful moment here to delight in a nearby fluffed couch and frequently-vacant guest room].
Chris wants a high-paying job as a librarian. He'll do anything, as long as he doesn't have to leave Minnesota.
I do not believe that the testimony in "Generation Debt" represents the typical twentysomething, who is brimming with ambition and trying to grab a foothold in the labor market, well aware that climbing a career ladder means beginning on the lower rungs. Instead the book sneers at entry-level jobs as "crap" jobs if they do not come with full health and retirement benefits.
Sorry, Anya, there are no "crap jobs" when times are truly tough.
In all compassion, the job market, especially for new
entrants, is baffling in the furor of disruptive technologies,
outsourcing, international threat, and, frankly, rather ad hoc education ladled out to these kids at significant expense to the public and private purse.
But in all things, the game is over unless the players get in motion, pay attention, adapt. The ideas and inspirations waiting to arrive in media res are likely to take a wide detour around the funky cluttered couch-space where the television mumbles its fiendish worldview to a disgruntled non-employee.
In our experience.