How we ruined the Occupy generation

Oldsters “ruined” the Occupy Wall Street Generation with very bad advice, writes John Cheese on It starts by telling everyone to go to college to get a good job, implying that the good job is guaranteed so there’s no need to worry about about paying off student loans.
“A master’s in psychology? Pretty impressive. How would you say that qualifies you to answer the phone?”

In 1950, less than 10 percent of adults had bachelor’s degrees and only half had completed high school, he writes. “College was something that smart kids and people with money did.”  (When I was graduated from high school in 1970, it was above-average students and people with some money.) Now a bachelor’s is seen as the bare minimum. College graduates do much better in the workforce than people with only a high school diploma, but there’s no guarantee.

So when you finally take those first steps out of university life and enter the work field, it’s an absolute system shock to find out your $30,000 to $100,000+ bachelor’s degree doesn’t guarantee you a position in your field of study … possibly ever. At least 40 percent of you who get degrees will wind up in jobs that don’t require a degree at all. And the rest will wind up in jobs outside the field they studied.

Cheese adds other steps on the road to ruin, such as: Telling young people they’re too good for manual labor and adding another seven years to adolescence by telling young men it’s OK to live with your parents into your mid-20s.

A UCLA graduate in her mid-20s, working at an entry-level marketing job, told me she’s the envy of her former classmates.  One is teaching English overseas; others are working at Starbucks or still seeking that poorly paid dead-end job. UCLA grads with three years at Starbucks believe they’re seen as losers when they apply for entry-level career jobs, she said. Employers prefer shiny new grads. And not working makes you an even bigger loser. These are not slackers with “me studies” degrees from Mediocre College. They are top students whose parents don’t have connections to get them started.

Union boss is 1 percenter

The California Teachers Association is encouraging teachers to back Occupy Wall Street, writes Larry Sand, yet union leaders aren’t exactly have-nots.

With a salary of $543,868, National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel is a 1 percenter, writes CalWatchdog, who used the “What percent are you?” calculator.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who earns $493,859, is in the top 2 percent. CTA President David Sanchez at $289,550 is in the top 4 percent.

According to the calculator, the median household income in the U.S. is $43,000. I’d hate to support 2.6 people (median household size) on that.


Student loan forgiveness helps the privileged

Occupy Wall Streeters want forgiveness for college loans. That would help the privileged at the expense of average taxpayers, say economists.

Also on Community College Spotlight: Low-income college students are borrowing to pay living expenses and “maximizing their debt,” say Michigan college officials. That’s a high-risk strategy for high-risk students.

Occupy the financial aid office

Who are the 99 percent of Occupy Wall Street, asks Ezra Klein in the Washington Post. Most are people with college loans they can’t afford and lousy jobs — or no jobs at all.

We Are The 99 Percent,” posts the stories.

“I am 20K in debt and am paying out of pocket for my current tuition while I start paying back loans with two part time jobs.”

. . . “I am a 28 year old female with debt that had to give up her apartment + pet because I have no money and I owe over $30,000.”

“College debt represents a special sort of betrayal,” writes Klein. “We told you that the way to get ahead in America was to get educated. You did it. And now you find yourself in the same place, but buried under debt. You were lied to.”

“i am a 19 year old student with 18 credit hours and 2 part time jobs. i am over 4000 dollars in debt but my paychecks are just enough to get me to school and back. next year my plan was to attend a 4 year college and get my bfa, but now i am afraid that without a co-signer i will have no shot at a loan and even if i can get a loan i am afraid that i will leave college with no future and a crippling debt.”

If bfa stands for bachelor of fine arts, this 19-year-old is wise to make a new plan.

. . . “I went to graduate school believing that there might be some financial security afforded by a higher degree, and that with that security I could finally buy my mom her own house and take care of her. Instead, I have wasted six years of my life.”

Graduate school in what field? At what point did you realize there were no jobs in that field?

Klein thinks the protesters don’t want a revolution. They want to restore “the fundamental bargain of our economy — work hard, play by the rules, get ahead.”

Hard workers usually get ahead of the slackers, but there is no rule about a college degree guaranteeing a good job. Beheading bankers won’t change that.

Times are hard. A few days ago, I ordered lunch at Burger King. Instead of a teen-ager at the counter, a white-haired woman in her 60s asked if I wanted the value meal.