Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Hope This Is Not 99% of America

There's a wonderful new blog up called We Are the 99 Percent, set up by the same people who epically failed to launch a revolution on Wall Street back on the 17th of September.  If this really represents 99% of Americans, America isn't worth loving anymore. 

I'm not saying times are not tough.  Hell, if anyone could talk about hard times, it's me.  I'm 27, work two jobs and live with my folks for the lack of a better option (mostly due to the lack of a job I know I'll have long enough to sign a lease).  My debt comes to around $50k.  Trust me, I know things are not easy.  And I also know that people in high places have really screwed the pooch without using a condom.  The housing bubble that popped and completely freaked the world is in no small part due to government actions to increase housing ownership.  The cost of a college education and its corresponding decline in value for employment has a lot to do with government and society pushing more and more people to go to college. 

Look through the photos at 99 Percent.  College debt is a common theme. 

But you know what?  Nobody put a gun to any of their heads and ordered them to march off to higher education.  Nobody did that to me, either.  Nobody forced millions of people to buy houses sold way, way above their actual value on the free market. 

Perhaps nothing drives me more nuts than the idea that the American Dream is going to be handed to you or that people are entitled to it.  Look at the pictures:

To the "99%": you made the decision to go to college.  Just because you went to college and paid for it in loans does not mean somebody owes you a job.  The only way you, or anyone, will ever get a job is to provide a useful service.  Your college degrees are not useful services. 

I know, I know, it's hard to admit that you could have screwed up that badly and that in all honestly you may not actually be worth the minimum wage you are receiving.  I know this because I have had that revelation, too.  It hurts like hell.  But that doesn't make it wrong or the fault of somebody else. 

Sir, you did take control of your future.  You signed on to six figures of debt.  Wall Street didn't do that to you, so what does Wall Street have to do with any of this? 

And there it is.  This world, the other nearly seven billion people on this planet, do not owe it to you to change everything that they want in order to make your dream come true.  Odds are, you're not the only one with that dream and others have worked just as hard at it.  If you want the material good life, if you don't want to have all of this debt, you have to be valuable to other people based on their conception of what valuable is, not yours. 

This fellow apparently graduated with top honors and a 3.9 GPA.  Answer me this: why should any employer care?  Did you pick up skills useful to others?  Again, I'm not being mean, as mean as it otherwise may sound.  I work two jobs, seven days a week, and while I pull in better than that for now, one of my jobs ends at Thanksgiving and then I'll be in basically the same boat.  When I look for jobs, it kind of amazes me how my skills do not translate well to this job market.  Yes, there are jobs, even high paying ones, but what we lack are people with the skills to do them.  That's not a conspiracy to keep the 99% down; it's a frightening result of our education system that cannot produce creative or even competent individuals.

I haven't looked through all of these photos, but I have looked through many, and the one I thing I haven't seen yet is "I screwed up."  Hating on Wall Street may make you feel better by denying your own responsibility, but it doesn't improve the situation any. 

Maybe it's just a matter of philosophy and people absolutely refuse to see reality for what it is.  Your dreams are not an entitlement claim upon the rights and wealth of others. 

While I seriously doubt the political acumen of any of these folks, it seems unlikely that any of them actually believe occupying Wall Street would somehow solve our problems.  It's nothing more than a rant.  Giving the amount of ranting I do, it may seem hypocritical for me to disparage their rants, but there are differences.  I rant against those who use force, the government, rather than people and groups using their own wealth and liberty to do as they see fit.  Those people owe me nothing.  And even though I rant against some powers that be that have definitely made things harder on us all, I don't pretend that I deserve to have the good life handed to me on a silver platter.  Truth be told, I didn't do the things I needed to in order to be competitive in the market.  The things that I am really good at, history and teaching, are in a market that is glutted.  Maybe I'll find a job in this field; I've had a little luck so far and have made some impressions.  But as I pointed out, there are indeed jobs out there in other fields and I just do not have the skills for those jobs.  Wall Street didn't do that to me; hell, even with the bogus claims made by the government about upcoming shortages of teachers, I can't blame them, either.  The opportunity to learn other skills was always before me, but I did not take it. 

Have other powers played a large role in determining the opportunities available to me?  Yes.  But my hand was pretty large, too. 

In that sense, I'm part of the 99%.  Perhaps I'm in the 1% because I recognize it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment