Last week I read a piece in Forbes about how young people today should not complain about “underemployment,” the phenomenon of working part-time or at a job unsuited to one’s level of education. Instead, says the author, young people should be completely excited to work at minimum wage for an indefinite period of time, to take whatever they can get. The article, helpfully titled Get Over It!, restates, for those who have never heard the myth, that in America you just need to work hard and make your own luck, even if you are starting out with five or ten times as much debt as previous generations.And the authors of this crappy advice?
Their expertise and their insight have become completely obsolete. Rather than admit that they no longer possess relevant expertise and set themselves to being curious about the future, these writers are choosing to express advice from a bygone age, one in which they still possess authority. To do otherwise would be far too personally painful. And to a majority of their audience, which formed its ideology in an America than no longer exists, hearing the old myths repeated brings comfort. After all, in the America of the 20th Century, a solid work ethic and an education was enough to bring most people a career that would provide a lifestyle filled with the goods and services of the Middle Class. It was a good system, and it attracted the attention of the world. Who wouldn’t want to go back to that land, however mythical, in their mind?
Mr. Garland is correct, we can't go back to the way it was. Because it was only true for a limited time and in a limited place.