The Raw Deal
The deal was supposed to be that you went to school, got good grades, and stayed out of trouble; in exchange, you could get into a good college. A good college would then allow you to get a good job, which was supposed to lead to good pay, which was supposed to allow you to support yourself and pursue the American Dream.
Yet, at some point, someone decided that wasn’t going to be the deal anymore.
It is no longer a conspiracy theory; education, despite what we are being told, does not hold nearly the value that it once held. Those that comprise Generation Y (aka Millennials) are inheriting a world (and, more specifically, a country) that has gone from the most prosperous in the world, rife with opportunities and the freedom to live life as we saw fit, to a country in which the fortunate are those who have any job—let alone one sufficient just for basic survival.
The situation is worse for those who make up this newest generation (trying) to enter the workforce. Unlike past generations, people from every stratum are attempting to fill entry-level positions, and with the fiscal cliff looming ever closer, things will only get worse before they get better due in part to the raw deal that’s been given to them.
Before, it used to be that Boomers and Gen X’ers simply had to contend with those within their age and educational/experience bracket. Now, though, the new grad is competing with the man who has not only his degree, but also 20 years of experience, as well as a wife and child(ren) to support. How is someone trying to get their feet off the ground supposed to compete with someone under those circumstances?
Although employers are not supposed to discriminate based on these factors, they do. Whether there are discriminatory practices in favor or against someone with a family is irrelevant, as are the motives behind it. The bottom line is that a person’s eligibility for a position, as well as pay and benefits, should be a function based solely upon the performance of an individual in the work place. The true irony is that often, these discriminatory practices are put in place to create a false perception of fairness, but in reality, it results in the exact opposite.
Who can blame someone for the amount they are paid, though? Especially when wages are so low, it is unreasonable to place the responsibility upon the shoulders of the benefactors of this discrimination.
No—the real responsibility falls upon the employers and the government for not only permitting these practices, but often promoting or even enforcing these practices on large and small businesses.
The reason this is an issue, in the case of discriminating against those without families, is because having children is a choice. It requires personal sacrifices–not the sacrifices of those with whom you work. Those without children should not have to take a pay cut because you have a spouse and/or children to support. Mathematically, no matter how you cut it, having children limits job opportunities. Each person only has a finite amount of responsibility and time that they can give between work and family, and having to take responsibility and time for a family diminishes that person’s pool. Yet, increasingly, it is becoming common belief that those without families to support should be the ones draining their pools for the sakes of those who already have families–the pools of those who did not accept that responsibility.
The worst part about a system like that is that, if someone decides that they want kids, they can’t have them because they have no way to support them. If you cannot manage the resources that you have in your personal life, then how can you be expected to be responsible professionally? That’s the idea, anyways. The real irony is that those who were responsible enough to put off having children until they have a means to support them get stuck in a cycle where that possibility never manifests, and results in a never-ending wheel of poverty. You learn to live not just paycheck-to-paycheck, but also where cuts in your expenses will allow you to just break even. Skip a meal every week, and at the end of the month, you could have $35-$40 left over.
To make matters worse, Millenials often get a reputation of laziness. For a long time, I thought it was a lashing out by aging Boomers afraid that those dang young folk are going to replace us all!
Well, yes, they are, because that’s part of the natural order of things, but I digress.
One day, though, I saw the validity in their assessment. We were taking on a new hire at my last job, and one of the applicants–a Korean girl fresh out of Cornell (which she seemed all-too happy to remind us)–came in for an interview. When she was handed the application, she looked puzzled, and asked, “What is this for?”
We were all taken aback; so much so that I forgot exactly what she said, but it amounted to, “No, I don’t need to sign this–I graduated from Cornell”. That, and in conjunction with a desired $50k starting salary with no prior experience for an entry-level position, meant that she didn’t get the job.
I have to give her credit for trying, but the complete lack of awareness and preparation for the interview was almost unbelievable.
Yet her and her parents are the kinds of people with money, which also means that they call the shots. Meanwhile, hard-working people without Scrooge McDuck-sized piles of money are attempting to simply eat and keep a roof overhead, let alone pay for an Ivy League education for a clueless daughter who expects a career–like all things in her life until now–handed to her on a silver platter; and she’ll get it, based on nothing more than having wealthy parents.
Is that not the very definition of a nobility/aristocracy/oligarchy—the very thing from which our Founding Fathers sought independence?
I’m sorry, but I disagree with the notion that the arbitrary numbers in your bank account mean you know how I should live my life, and where on the totem pole I should sit, better than I do. If I am not hurting anyone physically, emotionally, mentally, or financially, then you have no right to tell me that I’m “doing it wrong”.
There is nothing wrong with being rich, nor should the rich be forced to sacrifice their wealth to those unwilling to pursue that same success. It’s simple logic: get x, receive y. The problem is that people aren’t given opportunities to pursue that same wealth. Instead, those willing to work for a better and brighter future are lumped together with those who just want to be supported. There’s a major difference between wanting a handout, and wanting a chance to earn more and work harder than the next person, though.
Sadly, that results in an impasse. The rich do not really have anything to gain from those people moving up the echelons, especially when many of those are simply recipients of inherited wealth from their own parents and grandparents. So why should the average American expect the so-called 1% to risk the wealth they already have, just so someone else can get it?
It’s simple: create a generation of widespread poverty, disaffection, callousness, self-centeredness and self-deification, and what do you think the world will look like in the near future?
For the past 50 years, we have reaped what we have sown, and they have been the fruits of exploitation and the quick fix. Now, though, our Band-Aid solutions have been stacked so high and been there so long that they’ve fused to us, and when we ultimately have to rip off this now-septic quick-fix, it is going to be painful and ugly.