July 13, 2010

I’ve had a couple of people point me to the recent NY Times article on the American Dream being more out of reach for the newer generations.

My major annoyance at this article is their subject of choice. The article chooses to focus on a recent liberal arts grad who just turned down a $40,000 salaried job and lives in a major metropolitan area without debt. This guy has nothing to complain about in this economy. Presented as an example of our generation, he makes us seem like a bunch of selfish, entitled brats who can’t be blamed because the we’re in a recession and that’s not our fault. Find a recent grad who has loads of student debt, who hasn’t even been able to get an interview, who can’t live at home because home is a small town with absolutely no job prospects.

Sure, there’s some good reason for the recent grads to be unhappy about their position. When you do everything you’re supposed to and it doesn’t work out, that sucks. But we were following the rules of 2 or 3 decades ago. It’s not really the same playing field anymore. College education (and a graduate degree) isn’t what it used to be. And I’m sure that’s not the only thing that’s changed. The article points out that the kid turns down his job offer because he thinks it’ll be a dead-end – a waste of time – but his father thinks that it would work out over time and hard work. Mobility upwards in a company might not be the same in the current situation, but it seems to me the older generations are more about the working hard and moving up, while we’re about moving up and how fast.

Second, the American Dream – hasn’t it always been somewhat elusive? That’s what makes it a dream. I remember discussing in a class how people’s perception of how easy it is to move between social classes in the US is significantly skewed by the media. We continue to see lifestyle stories about people moving up in society through hard work and perseverance. The sad truth is, it just doesn’t happen as often as we want to believe. You don’t always get what you deserve and you can’t always get what you want.


One comment

  1. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.

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