Archive for January, 2008

“Has it hit you yet?”

January 24, 2008

I get asked this question once or twice a week now that I’ve graduated. 

I’m not sure which is the most correct answer:  No, Not Yet, or I Don’t Think It Ever Will

I’m a lifelong learner.  Even as I look for jobs, I’m far more interested in what I will learn in my new position than how I can advance the goals of whatever organization eventually employs me.  That’s one of the reason why I’m even considering applying to the Heritage Foundation, even though I rarely agree with what comes out of it.  I find it fascinating to be surrounded by people with different perspectives and experiences than mine.

See, I wanted to finish college, but I didn’t want to finish attending classes; I’m even participating for no credit in the advanced macroeconomics seminar that Steve is teaching.  (You can find my blog for that class, including a great discussion between myself and another philosophy/economics major on the idea of neoclassical economics, here.)  I was just sick of the bureaucracy, and a few other little things, as I discussed in a previous post

I am enjoying the time off, however.  I’m spending perhaps a little too much time playing World of Warcraft with my brother, who will be leaving for Austria for the semester on February 22nd.  I can’t justify it – it is a monumental waste of time and it probably take me away from more important matters (like getting a job) – but it is relaxing and fun and, believe it or not, probably restored my relationship with my younger brother.  But the family, and my brother in particular, is low on cash right now, so he and I have decided to do some temp labor.  For those of you have had the displeasure of taking that route to get some money, you know that there really is nothing else quite like getting up at 4:30am to go sit in a cold warehouse with some of the most disenfranchised members of our society in the hopes that you will get work for maybe $7.25/hr. 

Guess I should start working a little harder to find a job. 

Talkin’ ’bout my generation

January 13, 2008

It has been a while since my last post, but there will be no updates here.  I have been moved from my blogging slumber by two recent posts – one at Pedablogy and the other at Loaded Learning – concerning “my” generation.  I’m not sure I want to defend my generation from what I think are undue conclusions as I want to remind previous generations that they, too, are and were quite imperfect, and that in some ways those imperfections are far more insidious than our own (I hope you’ll pardon my tone, but I suppose you might say I feel a bit offended). 

Because really, inter-generational comparisons are little more than nostalgic, romanticized versions of what it was like “back in the day.”  By Steve’s reckoning,

My generation believes that if we work hard, learn much, and save, we will be economically successful. And we largely have been, as illustrated by the wealth of the baby boomers.

The younger generation seems to believe that they will be economically successful, whether or not they work hard, learn or save. And as a consequence, they don’t seem to be doing those critical activities very much.

Let’s take the first quote.  “My generation” includes a lot of people.  The sentence implies that if one (in Steve’s day) fails to meet one of three conditions (work hard, learn much, save), then one will not be economically successful.  To this I would add the conditions “white” and “male,” since by and large the older generation was far more prone to reinforce race and gender inequalities that prevented most minorities from really experiencing any great deal of success.  Women, of course, are more successful now, but largely as a result of their own work in the 1970’s and 80’s.  Blacks, I suppose, are not being lynched anymore, and they managed to get themselves the rights promised them decades prior, and we can agree that’s a good thing. Of course, when they were being lynched and denied the right to vote, it was by people who espoused the work hard/learn much/save more mantra of the baby boomers and their parents.  Point being, my parents generation was successful conditional upon being born with a particular color of skin and structure of genitalia, and probably a number of other things besides work ethic and education.

With respect to the second quote, I simply don’t agree.  Yes, as students only one or two years out of high school, we are certainly spoiled and unaware of the world around us.  But worry not, we will soon be thrust into reality and become painfully aware of what it will require of us.  For those members of my generation who didn’t go to college, I  seriously doubt that they think they will be successful regardless of how hard they work, how much they learn, or how much they save; rather, they probably think that they will only be successful if they do those three things, or that they will never be successful regardless of whether or not they fulfill those three qualities.  The black members of my generation, especially those in college, are probably thinking “even if I do work hard, learn much, and save, it might not matter; but I’m going to do it anyway.”  Of course, then there are those single mothers in my generation who have no hope because society has abandoned them (a society, by the way, run not by my generation, but by my parents’ generation). 

So my point is twofold.  First, making generalizations about generations is a bad idea, no matter how it is caveatted.  Talk about spoiled white middle class college students all you want (I know I do), but that’s where such commentary should end.  Second, if you don’t like what you see in the world around you or what it portends for the future, and if you’re a baby boomer, then for the love of God please understand that you are the one with the power to change it.  Your generation runs everything.  If you don’t like what you see, then change it.  My generation may be young and passionate and idealistic, but we don’t have the power – yours does.  It is your divisions that you think are sending this country straight to hell. It is your fear and your hate and your arguments that perpetuate war, and inequality, and apathy.  You run everything, or at least some of you do, and you’re the ones who are teaching us how to run it. 

So if you promise to try and fix it, I will be at your side.  But don’t blame me and my friends and peers.  It’s not our fault…

…at least, not yet.