Heartland friend Matt Welch of Reason — with whom we held a book event with Nick Gillespie a while back (listen to their lively presentation here) — has a stark and snarky message for the Occupy Wall Street whiners: Grow up.
Matt’s prompt: This incessantly whiny essay in Salon. Shorter version of that essay: I’m a recent college grad who “played by the rules,” but … my student loan is too big. Government should give me free college education — and a well-paying job for my Transgendered Caribbean Poets/Social Justice degree. And that guy’s house is underwater. He got suckered, so his mortgage should be forgiven. Oh … and the guys on Wall Street made a killing, at (apparently) my expense. You suck, and “I’m the 99 percent.”
Who are these wise men, and what are theserules, these promises, this ticket to class mobility, or at least a secure career, this singular notion of the one “right” way to do things? At the risk of going all “Generation X is sick of your bullshit” here, count me as one Gen Xer who does not recognize the world that Alex Pareene and the Salon staff (many of whom are even older than me!) have sketched out here.
Cradle-to-grave employment (at least outside the public sector) has been dead since at least the end of the Cold War. Undergraduate degrees in English and Film and Sociology and Philosophy (and a thousand other subjects) have had debatable workplace utility for as long as I’ve been alive. There have even been previous housing bubbles and busts in Alex Pareene’s lifetime.
I don’t recall anything like the promises so cruelly unkept in Salon‘s list. I do remember my father warning me that an engineering degree would be much more useful in the workplace than English, to which I uttered a phrase available to 18-year-olds everywhere: Thanks, Dad; not your call. Ditto for the legions of well-meaning adults urging me to finish my undergraduate degree, to sign up for the Selective Service, and even (when I finally attained a decent living in the second half of my 30s) to pay a mortgage instead of paying rent. One of the best perks about being a grown-up is that you get to make your own choices, and to own the results, good and ill.
Which is why phrases like “wage slaves,” “inescapable debt,” and “force” “force” “force” leave me feeling like a brother from another planet. … If we indeed live in a “candid world,” let us state bluntly that offloading 100% of the blame for your own mountain of debt on a group of Greedy McBanksters who “forced” you to “play by the rules” is more than a little pathetic.
Read the whole thing. It’s a keeper.