(2013-01-13) Hipsters College Employability And Meaning

Back in 2010 SalonCom had an article about Hipsters using Food Stamps (to buy hipster-ish fancy groceries). Faced with lingering UnEmployment, 20- and 30-somethings with College Degrees and foodie standards are shaking off old taboos about who should get government assistance and discovering that government benefits can indeed be used for just about anything edible, including wild-caught fish, organic asparagus and triple-crème cheese.

The Last Psychiatrist has a 3-part piece decoding this.

"It's the economy, stupid!" Thanks guy from 1992, but the economy did not tell you to go to college (College Education) for something you knew in advance would make you unemployable, especially when that unemployable choice cost exactly the same as the employable choice, i.e. too much... So what makes them hatable is the seeming choice they have made: they could work, yes at jobs they don't like but hey, that's America; but instead they choose to feel entitled to $200/month from the rest of us salarymen.

Before we blame them for their choice, we should ask why they felt they could make that choice... Why would a smart high school junior, 4.0 and AP Everything, think that going to Hampshire College for English Literature (Liberal Arts) was a good idea? I'll offer four I had personal experience with: Law School; academia; Non-Profits; marriage... The economy to offer English as a College Major required a massive Subsidy to make you feel like $20k/yr was the same as free. If you had to pay it up front, you'd either be an engineer or $80k richer. That subsidy is now worthless, not because the money doesn't exist but because the Bail-Out at the end, e.g the four options I suggested were operational 1977-1999 which guaranteed the payments would be made, won't help.

To the economy, the English grad is just as superfluous as the disenfranchised welfare mom in the hood-- the college education is just as irrelevant as the skin color. Not irrelevant for now, not irrelevant "until the economy improves"-- irrelevant forever. The economy doesn't care about intelligence, at all, it doesn't care what you know, merely what you can produce for it.

Not only is he not contributing, the economy doesn't need him to contribute. (Economic Transition)

The hipsters want to believe that because they are not obsessed with money/capitalism that they are better people, opting out of "materialism", but that's an after the fact rationalization. There's simply no drive for anything except existing... "We're artists, not producers." Then make some art! "No one will buy it." Are you insane? The point isn't the money yet, it is the drive. Go to the Whole Foods and ask if you can hang it for free, and if they say no, hang it anyway.

"I have a degree." No one assumes you're smart because of it, so what was the point? You were tricked, your parents were tricked, your peers were tricked, your employers were not tricked at all. "There's more to a College Education than employability." No there isn't. I am not anti-Liberal Arts, I am all in on a classical education, I just don't think there's any possibility at all, zero, none, that you will get it at college... Fact: college is a waste, but we haven't yet hit that point in society where we can bypass it. So we have to pass through another generation of massive college debt. How to pull in the suckers in? Answer: these articles. By getting you to say, "these hipsters should be able to get jobs because they are college graduates!" you are saying, "college is worth something." It isn't. But by directing your hate towards hipsters, you are protecting the system against change. Cargo Cult

The 30 year old chose his pointless major when he was 17 and you think the outcome is all his fault?... When he was 17 the system incentivized him to destroy his life, tempted him with beer, babes, and BS -- and the promise of an Upper Middle Class Life Style provided he went to "a good school" (read: gave the system $100k of his post tax, pre-interest money), never mind for what... The society that taught people to want a defective college degree is, unfortunately, going to be expected to support those that bought it, it's still under warranty... All along you've said "you need to go to college so you can get a good job" but the system was not designed to raise producers, it was designed to raise Consumers. Well, here we are. Why are you surprised that they need consumer stamps? Why are you surprised they moved back in with you? "We did the best we could." No you did not, I was there, I saw it. You borrowed against their future, and they can't pay it back. And now you're yelling at them.

Does everybody need to work anymore? I understand work from an ethical/character perspective, this is not here my point. Since we no longer need e.g. manufacturing jobs-- cheaper elsewhere or with robots-- since those labor costs have evaporated, could that surplus go towards paying people simply to stay out of trouble? Is there a natural economic equilibrium price where, say, a U Chicago grad can do no economically productive work at all but still be paid to use Instagram? Let me be explicit: my question is not should we do this, my question is that since this is precisely what's happening already, is it sustainable? What is the cost? I don't have to run the numbers, someone already has: it's $150/mo for a college grads, i.e. the price of Food Stamps. Other correct responses would be $700/mo for "some high school" (SSI) or $1500/mo for "previous work experience" (UnEmployment). I would have accepted $2000/mo for "minorities" (jail) for partial credit. While all those monies have different names and different "requirements" they are all exactly the same thing: paying people who are off the grid, whether by choice or circumstance, indefinitely. i.e. LivingWages (Guaranteed Annual Income). However, they can never be called that. They have to pretend to be something else... The system isn't thinking short term, it needs this to work long term, those hipsters are going to be getting food stamps forever, or do you think if the economy rebounds, old liberal arts majors will suddenly become appealing?

You might retort that there's no money to pay for 25 more years of hipster apathy. Admittedly, this is a compelling argument. But the total cost of food stamps is $80B. The annual Budget Deficit is over ten times that.

Gerry already had a living wage-- he spent it on the University of Chicago, 41 years of food stamps in 4 years.

Since the problem is college, does college accept any responsibility?... Isn't it a crime that 33000 PhDs are on food stamps?... Nowhere does the article address the fact that it should not have allowed her to get a PhD in medieval history, let alone help her pay for it.... Why does her PhD make her more deserving that a welfare queen? Because to The Chronicle, the PhD has value. It doesn't. I'm not saying she isn't smart, I'm saying the PhD in no way communicates to me she knows medieval history better than any D&D player... All the system had to do, starting around 1965, is not incentivize this madness. If there were not guaranteed Student Loans, up to any amount, available equally across majors and across colleges, independent of skills or promise or societal need, none of this would have happened. Easy money got us into this mess, and easy money will keep us sailing until we go right off the edge of the map

My take on the macro side: this may not be a permanent End Of Work so much as a large-scale Economic Transition, meaning that the old BullShit jobs won't come back, but there are new jobs to create.

David Wong spins this (particularly inspired by the Glengarry Glenn Ross bits) into defining a Remarkable Life. Name five impressive things about yourself. Write them down or just shout them out loud to the room. But here's the catch -- you're not allowed to list anything you are (i.e., I'm a nice guy, I'm honest), but instead can only list things that you do (i.e., I just won a national chess tournament, I make the best chili in Massachusetts).

  • #6. The World Only Cares About What It Can Get from You... If you want to know why society seems to shun you, or why you seem to get no respect, it's because society is full of people who need things... Either you will go about the task of seeing to those needs by learning a unique set of skills, or the world will reject you, no matter how kind, giving and polite you are.
  • #5. The Hippies Were Wrong... "Nice guy? I don't give a shit. Good father? Fuck you! Go home and play with your kids. If you want to work here, close." It's brutal, rude and borderline sociopathic, and also it is an honest and accurate expression of what the world is going to expect from you. The difference is that, in the real world, people consider it so wrong to talk to you that way that they've decided it's better to simply let you keep failing... As smarter people have pointed out, the genius of that speech is that half of the people who watch it think that the point of the scene is "Wow, what must it be like to have such an asshole boss?" and the other half think, "Fuck yes, let's go out and sell some goddamned real estate!"... The point is that the difference in those two attitudes -- bitter vs. motivated -- largely determines whether or not you'll succeed in the world... ou are nothing more than the sum total of your useful skills. For instance, being a good mother is a job that requires a skill. It's something a person can do that is useful to other members of society. But make no mistake: Your "job" -- the useful thing you do for other people -- is all you are. There is a reason why surgeons get more respect than comedy writers. There is a reason mechanics get more respect than unemployed hipsters.
  • #4. What You Produce Does Not Have to Make Money, But It Does Have to Benefit People... I read several dozen stories a year from miserable, lonely guys who insist that women won't come near them despite the fact that they are just the nicest guys in the world.... I'm asking what do you offer? Are you smart? Funny? Interesting? Talented? Ambitious? Creative? OK, now what do you do to demonstrate those attributes to the world? Don't say that you're a nice guy -- that's the bare minimum. Pretty girls have guys being nice to them 36 times a day. The patient is bleeding in the street. Do you know how to operate or not?... Don't complain about how girls fall for jerks; they fall for those jerks because those jerks have other things they can offer.
  • #3. You Hate Yourself Because You Don't Do Anything... It's always "How can I get a job?" and not "How can I become the type of person employers want?" It's "How can I get pretty girls to like me?" instead of "How can I become the type of person that pretty girls like?" See, because that second one could very well require giving up many of your favorite hobbies and paying more attention to your appearance, and God knows what else. You might even have to change your personality... "But I'm not good at anything!" Well, I have good news -- throw enough hours of repetition at it and you can get sort of good at anything. (Talent)... Because in my non-expert opinion, you don't hate yourself because you have low self-esteem, or because other people were mean to you. You hate yourself because you don't do anything... Do the math: How much of your time is spent consuming (Consumer) things other people made (TV, music, video games, websites) versus making (Maker) your own? Only one of those adds to your value as a human being.
  • #2. What You Are Inside Only Matters Because of What It Makes You Do... Don't get me wrong; who you are inside is everything -- the guy who built a house for his family from scratch did it because of who he was inside. Every bad thing you've ever done has started with a bad impulse, some thought ricocheting around inside your skull until you had to act on it. And every good thing you've done is the same -- "who you are inside" is the metaphorical dirt from which your fruit grows. But here's what everyone needs to know, and what many of you can't accept: "You" are nothing but the fruit.
  • #1. Everything Inside You Will Fight Self Improvement... The human mind is a miracle, and you will never see it spring more beautifully into action than when it is fighting against evidence that it needs to change... While other people are telling you "Let's make a New Year's resolution to lose 15 pounds this year!" I'm going to say let's pledge to do fucking anything -- add any skill, any improvement to your human tool set, and get good enough at it to impress people.
  • This reminds me of Max-Mate book.
  • and Do Be Do Be Do

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