Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Phickle Thoughts

I'm really interested in this Occupy Wall Street movement. The demographic perspective, in particular, interests me because we're looking at a phenomena that is largely young people, much like the protests that have been happening around the world in the past year. In those countries the young have been protesting largely because they have been marginalized by the way society has developed over the past decades.

I think this proves true here in the U.S. too. Basically, we've got a generation of people who have spent their entire lives in relative middle-class comfort. They've probably destroyed the environment to do so, they've run up a tremendous amount of national debt, and now they're all counting on getting a full amount of social security. Obviously we can't blame any member of the previous generations, nor should we. But, generally speaking, the people in charge have been falling pretty strongly on the "withdrawal" side of the ledger for quite some time (so basically, the WWII generation? They gave plenty. It's the folks after them.).

I also would suggest that the marginalization of the young is a fault attributable to the previous generations. Generally speaking, they were able to avoid a lot of the loss in real wages that has happened in the country over the past 30 years, essentially because they were already in positions that enabled them to keep getting modest (cost of living) raises to maintain their level of wealth. Meanwhile, people who entered the work force in those 30 years kept making relatively less and less. Now, especially with the stock market crash and a significant loss in pensions and retirement funds, people aren't exactly rushing off into the sunset. That means they're blocking positions such that younger people can't move up the corporate ladder.

In short, previous generations have run up our debt, decreased our pay, poisoned our environment, shattered our economy, expect us to pay for their retirement, and are preventing us from reaching positions where we could start to fix the problems.

At least, that's what I think these Occupy Wall Street protests are about.
So I have a daughter now... We're big fans of her. It's been two weeks and I'm pretty sure she's already got me wrapped around her finger. I really hope she doesn't want a car for her 16th birthday.

We didn't know what gender the baby would be, but I think I was expecting it to be a boy. Hearing it was a girl really surprised me. I'm not entirely sure what to do with a girl, which is probably strange, because I had so many sisters. But I'm really glad we've got a girl; despite what some of my siblings thought, I always pictured myself as having a daughter.

Life is pretty good.
I made my first campaign contribution recently. I thought that was kind of noteworthy.

I'm also considering getting involved with a campaign or two. It's important enough to me that I think I want to do it. Also, I recently watched The West Wing, so I'm kind of riding on that high still...
Speaking of politics, I've long wondered whether this blog might be a liability to any future political career. I'm inclined to think not - most of what I've written in the past is stuff I've very much left in the past, and I've moved significantly on a lot of positions. I'm also convinced that future generations will be well aware that what you wrote on a blog in your 20's is a lot different than your deeply held political beliefs.

All that said, I'm not in my 20's anymore. And it's probably about time for me to pack up this site. I've had a lot of fun, but given that I'm not posting any more, and that I've reach a more settled point of my life, where I'm not just throwing out thoughts and seeing what develops, it's probably time to move on. I don't know when my last post will be, but it's probably coming soon.
A new webcomic to check out: Fun Factory

It's kind of PG-13 rated, but it's funny. I highly recommend the current storyline (which started on Oct. 3rd). It's good so far.

Every generation thinks it's the last
Every generation thinks it's the end of the world

1 comment:

AGJ said...

Well Matt,

You have been too long-winded for me to even attempt a response on what was posted. But I will try...

I have enjoyed the spirited conversations that we have had on this bog - and on Facebook (which I believe is the reason that this and all blogs have been rendered useless). But thanks to FB, we will continue those in the future...

As for the OWS movement. You and I will greatly disagree (and possibly agree) on many of the aspects and persons involved with this hipster movement. I for one truly think that these are nothing more than a bunch of kids from the 'Whine-me?" generation. Many are college kids (or recent college grads) that are looking for a position that is no longer needed in in this world.

I look to my wife for reference... a Graduate of Social Sciences, yet now makes more than twice that of the average social worker her age - and she LOVES her job as an accountant. (By the way, CH Robinson is looking to INCREASE her dept).

The problem with our current Undergrads is not the amount of unemployment (Unemployment for a person with a B.S. or B.A. is around 4.5%). The problem is that most of these people need something to bitch about. They have a degree, can find a job if they wish, but they wish not to look beyond their diploma.

We have failed these prospects in our education system... The same system I teach in. We are no longer educating a workforce, we are only interested in 'educating' all students to become Doctors, Professors, Social Workers, Environmental Managers, and anything else that deems a 4 year degree (whether we needed them or not).

Right now we have a gap in our 'Skilled Labor' of 600,000 workers - that needs to be filled by those that are willing to work and have the skills for the job. 600,000 unfilled jobs. In America.

In the last 40 years we transitioned from an educational system that was set up 100+ years ago to train the best workers in the world - to one that only teaches to the top 15-20%. That has been our downfall. That is only one reason for the high rate f unemployment for our HS graduates (which ranges anywhere from 11-20% depending on the study).

In the next 15 years, we will see another 2-3 million jobs open up due to labor shortages in skilled labor.

For me it is not the numbers we are losing in this span, it is the knowledge.

We screwed up BIG time in promoting nothing but a 4 year education = success in our High Schools.

Because of this, and some other 'great' ideals, we are behind the 8 ball - at least for the time being.

I think that we can recover, and quickly. We need to push the Skilled Labor movement in the US, we need to promote jobs such as Machinists, Metal-Workers, Welders, Mechanics, Carpenters, Electricians, Plumbers, HVAC, and the rest. And I am sure that you agree. If not, let me know the next time your plumbing stops working.

It is not the marginalization of the youth, we just led them down the wrong path and forgot to teach them the worth of work - and entrepreneurship...

I will leave you with a couple of stories...
-Note not the comments of the (D) Assemblyman, nor Chris Cuomo's attack on on Government (Chinese) companies, but note Tony Anziona's remark of unqualified Americans... This is why I still teach.

I do hope your campaign contribution is to someone that has the best interests of your local companies and local education system at heart - or at least the state of Minnesota's manufacturing base at heart.

I pray that you did not donate to Obama... because if you did, well, it would be like donating to Teddy Kennedy, G.W. Bush, but even worse...