Monday, September 7, 2009

A truly interesting article

I am not saying that I agree or disagree with this article. I just barely read it, and I have not formed an opinion yet. I am saying that I found it very interesting to read, and it is making me think about things I have not before thought about.

Click here to read the article, "Generation Sloth," by Jeffrey A. Tucker.

One of the points the article made is about how minimum wage makes it impossible for those who would be willing to work for less (and who don't have the skills to make them deserve more money) to garner employment. If I am not very good at cleaning but am willing to clean for $4 and someone is willing to pay for mediocre at $4, it is against the law, because I have to receive minimum wage. I don't know if that is a bad thing or not, because even now a person can't really live on minimum wage, but should they be able to? Surely some money received is more than nothing. Perhaps people should be paid what their services are actually worth. Maybe. I don't know. I know I like receiving as much money as possible when I work. That I do know.

Another point the article brought up was about how college graduates are now taking jobs teenagers use to have, such as working retail. College graduates finish school with knowledge but little experience, and few employers seem to want to be the one to give the person his or her first experience.

Jeff and I are definitely finding that to be true. He did three internships in college, but most of the jobs he is applying for are asking for 5 years minimum experience, and some of them ask for even more than that. How is he ever supposed to get 5 years of experience if no one will hire him in the first place?

I don't know.

Every day it gets closer to looking like he'll just have to take a job, any job, so that he can have one and start earning money. However that job would be unrelated to his major, so it wouldn't give him the experience he is lacking, and then he'll never get the experience, and he'll have spent the last few years honing his skills and learning about his desired field just to never be able to join it. How many people do you know are not able to use their college education? I mean, how many people have degrees in topics that have nothing to do with their occupations? Obviously, I understand that many people do get to work in what they studied, but I'm wondering what the relation is. Do 90% of people get to? 20%? Of course some people decide they don't want to stay in that field after receiving a diploma, so that skews the numbers a bit.

Another point brought up in this man's article is that we currently have the highest unemployment rate for teenagers. Now this could be part of the overall recession, but with even more adults looking for jobs as well and college graduates taking jobs teenagers once had, I have to wonder if that unemployment rate will go down after the recession ends.

Another point that I am thinking of just from all these other musings is how college educations have changed. Back in the day, I'm talking hundreds of years ago, universities really only offered classes in the arts. You could study literature and philosophy, for example.

You could not study, as an example, facility management or construction management. Those skills were learned entirely in the work place. People spent years working in the underdog positions and worked their ways up to management positions. Now people are receiving college educations and expecting to be able to skip all the years in the lower positions. They have studied the techniques, the processes, the best way to do things that others have garnered from their years of experience. It seems reasonable to me that they should be able to skip the years. They've learned from other's experiences (their professors). But then I also wonder if education can ever replace personal experience. Can it? I don't know. It's unfortunately not possible to live two lives to find out. ;)

I have been doing a lot of family history recently, and I was reading about my great-great grandpa. He was a lawyer and a judge on the Washington Supreme Court. He never graduated from college. He took a year or two in school studying ministry, then changed his mind and studied law for a year. He ran out of money, dropped out of school, and started working for a lawyer. He took the bar exam and passed and became a lawyer himself.

Could that happen today? I'm pretty sure it couldn't. Is it good or bad that it can't happen today?

I have no idea. I am just bringing it up, because I think it's very interesting.

I would like to hear your opinions or thoughts as well, because I bet they're interesting, too.


  1. Valid points, Mimi, and questions that don't have ready answers. When we met at HWS I worked a job that was part of my major—English education—but not in the same way that it related to YOUR major. (For example, I never had to take a grammar/editing class.) My brother, as a direct counterexample, has a dual major bachelor's that is history and broadcast media. His job, however, is an ActionScript programmer. So he doesn't even touch his academic skills.

    As for minimum wage being counterproductive or harmful, every part of capitalism can be harmful on one end of the spectrum, if you look hard enough. From human rights abuses in sweat shops to allow cheap clothes to the very thing you noted about not receiving appropriate value for the work rendered, someone is going to get hurt. That isn't to say that capitalism is entirely bad, but it is one of those sad facts that gets overlooked. Jeff's situation is also indicative of the Catch-22 that ensnares the entire market, and even in jobs like education where you have student teaching or internships to enhance a resume, there are still major difficulties with gaining that first job. Is there away around it? Probably not, which is why a lot of people become disillusioned with the American Dream (in capital letters).

    Interesting thoughts...

  2. I think what Mimi, and Steve, point out is one of the reasons why capitalism is an ok system for right now, but it is not an eternal system, in that someday we will move to the law of consecration, which, when lived perfectly, is a perfect system. Unfortunately, we're not there yet, and perhaps capitalism is the best we can do.

    Which is why I think we just have to do our best with the system we're given, and look forward to the better day!

  3. i think it isn't as important for the teens to work- like you said you didn't have a job in highschool. let the people with families have the jobs- teens focus on schooling so they can later be the ones with families and jobs

  4. When I was in college, I didn't know what to major in. I started as International Business/Spanish, but discovered that business classes were both boring and not my strong point (maybe that's related somehow... hm.) Anyway, I decided to major in History because everyone said, "it doesn't matter what your major is; most people get jobs that have nothing to do with their major". Then I graduated, and it turns out that is true. It also turns out no one wants to hire a History major for much of anything. Sigh.


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