In a recent Op/Ed column from The New York Times, authors Todd and Victoria Buccholz have deemed my demographic (the young, unemployed or underemployed college graduates) as “The Go-Nowhere Generation”—a moniker that, at first glance, I would agree with. At first glance.
The vast majority of us, perhaps the ones hit hardest by the economic recession, have been saddled with crippling college and credit card debt and are forced to either scrounge for scraps amongst the Baby Boomers or hide out in higher education; hoping to god that we'll graduate during a time when a Master's degree or a PhD will actually mean something again. Getting a job in this economy means you either got really lucky (really lucky) or you knew someone who was able to pull some strings for you. No longer are we evaluated on the merits of our education or fields of study, the summer internships or how well we're able to communicate and convince our passion for industry XYZ in our cover letters. And for a generation of “Go-Nowheres” who, since birth were instilled with the notion that a promising future was ours if we did well in school, this particular jobs climate is both morally degrading and emotionally debilitating.
So when a couple of assholes continue to enjoy the view from their ivory towers, I get a little annoyed. And when these certain assholes start spouting off economic “strategies” that are so inherently flawed, unrealistic and categorically untrue, I'm flipping tables. Because according to the Buchholz pair, those who have been scouring the ends of the earth for steady employment for years simply never thought of just buying a bus ticket:
“For about $200, young Nevadans who face a statewide 13% jobless rate can hop a Greyhound bus to North Dakota, where they'll find a welcome sign and a 3.3 percent rate. Why are young people not crossing borders?”
Young people aren't leaving their parents' houses and crossing borders because, with mounting debt and no job to pay it off, they don't have the finances to move to North Dakota... or anywhere outside the radius of their parents' basement. Mystery solved.
But, whatever; I'll play along and, for a second, I'll pretend that the Buchholz's total delusions and band-aid solutions for economic recovery are even a fraction feasible for this particular climate. Say I did buy that ticket. And now, after up and leaving likely the only real support system I have and spending a couple hundred dollars on a bus ticket to a state that's vastly underpopulated (which, in addition to the population's majority of retired senior citizens, directly accounts for its low unemployment rate), I have to find an apartment to live in. With an apartment comes first and last month's rent, security deposit, utilities, and possible pet boarding fees. Totally ignoring the exorbitant costs of renting and driving a UHAUL while paying $4/gallon for gas to transport my things, I'm still faced with the dilemma of finding a job. Competing (once again) with hundreds of others in a similar position, based on the selection of admin work in the entire state of North Dakota, I'm now fending for a temporary P/T mail room clerk position in Gwinner or an HVAC design estimator in Bismarck. WORTH IT!
Total inanity and oversimplification aside, though, what bothers me most about this article is that, once again, it insinuates (if not overstates) that young people are just entitled, lazy brats who are somehow at fault for not being able to contribute to the world, despite the total deck of manure we were dealt with in this lifetime. And what makes matters so much worse is that we're constantly having to listen to a condescending older generation who—light-years away from ever Getting It—write and publish articles like these that completely undermine the painstaking efforts we go through just to get an interview. It's baffling that this particular generation has completely forgotten the fact that they lived during a very different time in this country where a college education didn't cost a small fortune and that a secure job was guaranteed to them after graduation. Last time I checked, the recession happened because a board room full of multi-millionaires got just a little bit more greedy and set into motion a ticking time-bomb to profit off of at the very real expense of others. It wasn't a 22 year-old college graduate who, after seeing the way the world really works and after dealing with the pyramid scheme of a totally useless college degree, got a little apathetic and disheartened along the way.
We're the “Go-Nowhere Generation” because it's the same economic climate everywhere. There's nowhere to go. At least at home, there's familiar ground and familial support to help us through it. We're not moving around because we don't have the finances from being crippled by student loans and tuition debt from colleges that lied to us about our job prospects. We're not moving around because we live in an economy that won't hire us as more and more college graduates are churned out each year. And, based on the astronomical cost of living, we're not able to suffice or start families of our own on the wages of waitressing well into our late-twenties and early-thirties.
Stop blaming us, assholes.