Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sorta political: Entitled? Try delusional.

Because Mad Men is back on on Sunday nights, I'll be making my rare political comments on Tuesday.

The weekend paper here had a cross-generational point-counterpoint last weekend between a boomer journalist named Margaret Wente and a millennial journalist named Dakshana Bascaramurty. Those two names and the difference in age between them scream DIVERSITY!!!!. But if you actually read the two articles you find no diversity at all. The two journalists are in absolute agreement that the boomers lucked out and that milennials are getting the shaft.

But notice first that there is a lot less diversity between the two women than might at first appear. They are both journalists, living in Toronto and they are both women and they both have similar educations. It is really not surprising that they line up so closely.

The strongest clue that both women share the same delusions shows up in Bascaramurty's piece:
Is our sense of entitlement fair? Consider this: My generation is the best-educated one the Canadian work force has ever seen.
The only way you can write crap like that and believe it is if you are high on drugs or just plain delusional and I'll go with just plain delusional. In the era of grade inflation and affirmative action having one or more university degrees signifies nothing about the "education" of a person.

And you don't have to look any further that Bascaramurty's own piece to find evidence for this.
Claire Truesdale, a 25-year-old in Victoria, went to law school because she found the job market was bleak with only one degree under her belt. “I couldn’t do anything with my undergraduate degree I couldn’t have done in high school,” she told me. 
As I've said before, how long does it take people to figure out that if four years of university gets you a job at Starbucks, that is telling you that those four years were a waste of time and money?

Once upon a time only a small proportion of people went to university and university was hard. Not surprisingly, people who did that got better jobs than people who didn't have that. But when you make a university education widely available and you start handing out As the way politicians dish out handshakes then it isn't going to be long before the market figures out that a university education isn't worth that much anymore. If diamonds were as common as gravel, they'd cost the same amount as gravel too.

And notice where the anger isn't directed. How many people decided to Occupy the campus? How many people confronted university academics and demanded to know how they can sleep at night after wasting years of their students lives along with putting them thousands upon thousands of dollars in debt?

Are millennials given to a sense of entitlement? No more than any other recent `generation. Every generation of parents since the two world wars has thought their kids should get what they had and, at the same time, wants to spare them whatever pain and sacrifice they suffered to get it.  And they have succeeded in some ways.

The most notable example of this is that such a large proportion of kids get to go to university now. It says a lot about our era that we tend to take seriously the claims that a four-year vacation from reality is a sacrifice. A vacation packed with parties, alcohol and sex for many, but not all, university students.

And it's not just the money. All those years spent on hook ups alternated with bouts serial monogamy will leave you ill-prepared for marriage.  And marriage is important if you really want to be happy. One of the few notable differences between Bascaramurty and Wente is that Wente is married and has been for a long time.

Speaking of which, Bascaramurty wraps up with some complaints about where she is living and what it is costing her.
I make okay coin and have benefits, but living in Toronto means home ownership is a far-off dream for me. Upgrading to a larger apartment that meets my minimal requirements (I’m a Millenial, but I promise they’re not crazy) would mean spending 50 per cent of my net income on rent. 
Note the hyperbole: "minimum" requirements? Seriously? And here is a thought: If she were married to someone earning the same as she is, that same apartment would be one quarter of their combined earnings.

Yes, something has gone deeply wrong here but he problem is not with the milennials themselves so much as with an entire era that has forgotten that our lives are limited by certain hard facts.

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