The Screwed Generation

Alan Caruba by Alan Caruba on May 12th, 2011

This is article 15 of 259 in the topic Education

June is famous for weddings and graduations. Both are filled with great expectations and both are subject to great disappointments.

Today’s college graduates are thoroughly screwed. According to Matthew Segal, the president of a non-profit membership organization called Our Time, “With 85% of college graduates moving back home and an average debt of $22,900 per student, thousands are staring at a bleak economic future.” You think?

Aren’t these the eager, besotted youngsters who, at age 18, voted for Barack Hussein Obama as if he were the Second Coming? In the words of Herman Cain, a GOP presidential contender, how did that work out?

“New college graduates,” said Segal, “are entering an economy with an almost 17% unemployment rate for Americans under the age of 30.” Despite that and other horrible statistics, Segal insists “We know there is still a bright future out there…” Oh, yeah? High unemployment. Having to move back home. Graduating with a huge debt. That’s not my definition of a bright future.

I graduated college in 1959. When I got out, what awaited all able-bodied young men was the Draft. Before I could think about utilizing my precious diploma, I had to get two years in the U.S. Army behind me and to my surprise it was some of the best post-graduate education one could imagine. And it was mandatory.

My “career” didn’t take off until I joined the staff of a weekly newspaper and, since the editor left within three months or so, I became the editor! Here again, the education I received was invaluable. All small towns and cities pretty much have to deal with the same political, educational, policing, and other issues.

I “graduated” to a daily newspaper and, after a few years concluded that there was no real money to be made. In this respect, I was way ahead of my time as the Internet would decimate newspaper circulations, decimate editorial staffs, and affect the writing craft to the point that rendered it a very bad career choice.

For those graduating from high school at age seventeen or eighteen this year, it means they were born in 1990 or 1991. They were ten or eleven years old on September 11, 2001; old enough to know that something terrible had happened, killing thousands of Americans who probably thought they were not at war with militant Islam. Since then, this generation has not known a day of peace.

For most young men, though, the option to avoid service—an all-volunteer military—had been made by Congress in 1973. So, Generation X, born 1965-1980, and Generation Y, born 1981 to 1995, and the current generation were largely spared serving in the military. You tend to pay closer attention to what is happening in the real world if it means you may have to fight a war. The miracle is that we have a million men and women in uniform who somehow absorbed the values of earlier generations.

A subject of growing contention is the way the nation’s educational system has been “dumbed down” since the 1960s or the growth of “political correctness” that thwarts addressing issues involving ethnicity, ancestry, religious faith, and gender. Nor is there much discussion of the way colleges and universities have become sausage factories squeezing parents and working students for every dollar, pushing them through, and conferring degrees that, with the exception of the professions, often have dubious value.

This new generation is very “connected” in ways earlier ones could never imagine. Facebook, MySpace, and all manner of other Internet machinery have transformed how they perceive themselves and the world. It has not, however, significantly educated them in the traditional sense of the word.

They will doff their caps and gowns and go home to mom and dad. A friend of mine graduated from Georgetown University in 1982 after working his way through. He recently calculated that it cost $232,000 to graduate today. What teenager could ever take on such a burden and why should their parents be expected to shell out the kind of money that could purchase a second home?

Today’s graduate is not likely to see any return on the money he or she pays into Social Security or Medicare. The dollars they earn will have diminished in value from those of my time or my friend’s.

It can be argued that it was no picnic for earlier generations, but they at least had a Constitution that wasn’t being ignored and dismembered.

They had, despite the occasional short-lived recession, a healthy economy, a rational national debt, and presidents who, with the exception of people like Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, didn’t see their job as plundering the public treasury for so-called “social justice” and environmental programs based on liberal pipedreams.

Welcome to the world of faltering economies from here to Greece and back again.

Welcome to outsourced jobs.

Welcome to rapacious bankers making money on housing loans they knew were bad for those in search of the American Dream.

Welcome to useless pat-downs every time you fly.

Welcome to “reality TV” and vulgar “entertainment”.

In these and so many other ways, this new generation is thoroughly screwed.

Editor’s Note: You can read my series, “The Subversion of Education in America” here.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

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