Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh, Happy Graduate!

By Alan Caruba

Life was much simpler for a young man graduating in the late 1950s. If he was classified 1-A in the Draft, he could look forward to two years in the military before even contemplating a career.

I had acquired a head full of Arts and Sciences mush over four wonderful years at the University of Miami (FL). It was still a comparatively young institution at the time and, if you had a pulse, you were guaranteed acceptance. There were lots of palm trees, dinner dances, a colorful collection of faculty, and even classes to attend if you were actually inclined to learn anything.

I noticed that almost nothing I had learned had any application to the real world beyond the edges of the campus. The U.S. Army did not care. They found in me a splendid specimen of young manhood they could fashion into a fearsome warrior. But first I had to learn how to make my bed, fold my t-shirts, march, and, best of all, to shoot an M-1, handheld, gas-operated, clip-fed, semi-automatic rifle.

It never crossed my mind that I might actually have to go to war somewhere and, lucky me, I never did. My departure from the U.S. Army was delayed by an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between President Kennedy and Russian Premier Nikita Krushchev over some missiles in Cuba. As soon as they were removed I was informed I could go home.

My first job was with a human relations organization that sent me back to my beloved Miami, but by the time Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, I concluded that I had no interest in such matters. Returning home I was fortunate enough to be employed by a weekly newspaper, whereupon my real education began.

Suffice to say that jobs were plentiful in the 1960s. The nation was going to send a man to the Moon, the music was great, few had even heard of Vietnam until Lyndon B. Johnson decided to ratchet up a full-blown war there. He was also busy with a “War on Poverty” that did nothing to relieve poverty, but put a lot of lazy people on the dole, ensuring Democrat votes. That’s how it was done then. That’s how it’s done now.

I can’t imagine what it is like to be a twenty-year-old graduating from a college or university these days. They are emerging into the Great Recession and the job scene is grim.

According to a recent ABC News report, “The unemployment rate among young Americans, age 16 to 24, now stands at 18.9 percent. And while that number includes workers with only high school diplomas—-who have a hard time finding work even in good times-—there’s no getting around the mountainous challenge it represents.”

CNN reports that “This year has been extremely rough. New college graduates had forty percent fewer job prospects, a new report shows. And the outlook for 2010, while better, is still not promising.”

This is reporter-talk for ‘I have no idea what I am writing about and thank heavens for anonymous reports!’ He dutifully noted that, “Overall, hiring of grads with any degree will decline by two percent, compared to 2009.” Blah, blah, blah.

Truth be told, those with accounting, business administration, management or—-better yet—-computer-related and engineering degrees, are going to be in a stronger position to grab that first job. If you’ve graduated with a degree in statistics, you are golden!

The word on the street is that, if the newly minted graduate has had any kind of working experience, he or she is one up on those who have none. Employers are also seeking good communication and writing skills. The theory, it seems, is that you pretty much can be trained to do anything.

Also expect to be rejected. A lot! Be wary, too, of internships. Remember, everyone else in the office is getting PAID. If you get offered a JOB, take it. A better one is probably not waiting despite your extraordinary resume or unless you graduated summa cum laude.

No doubt recent graduates will get gobs of advice on how to dress, what to say, and how to make a good first impression. They’re not hiring your attire. Employers want to know you really, really, really want to work hard for them!

Lastly, start reading The Wall Street Journal and watching Fox Business News or some comparable business channel. Soon enough you will begin to connect the dots.

You may even figure out that the great leaders of our nation and the world haven’t a clue what they are doing, are in charge of hopelessly bloated engines of government, and are reluctant to get out of the way so that people who actually work for a living can get the economy going again.

That’s why so many nations are broke. That’s why there’s a Great Recession.

© Alan Caruba, 2010


Ronbo said...


I'm afraid that a generation of young Americans will be living close to the bone as a result of what is shaping up to be the Second Great Depression that happened for many of the same reasons the first Great Depression started in 1929.

I wonder what the real unemployment rate is overall? The U1 rate is 9.7% but the last time I checked the U6 number was about 18% - and Internet chatter says it's about 25%...

Unlike the last Depression, so far there isn't much hunger, however, this will change when the houses are sold, the savings run out and the unemployment insurance bites the dust.

I look for the poop to really hit the fan next year for a whole host of reasons and I stand on my prediction of civil war as the ruined middle class becomes hungry and radicalized.

What will be then? Communism or Fascism? One country or several?
Whatever is behind "Door Number One" won't be good. I thank my lucky stars that I'm an old man who has been to the circus and seen the elephant.

It looks like in the future the circus and the elephant will be few and far between.

Alan Caruba said...

Ronbo: The Great Depression lasted ten years for all the reasons this one is shaping up to be a repeat, but there was no revolution or civil war.

Americans go to the polls and sometimes to the courts. When they go to the streets, it's generally in a peaceful fashion.

Consider the many Tea Party events without any problems. That's the way we deal with problems.

Rich Kozlovich said...


It seemed that there was a lot of stress in those days; the cold war, bomb shelters, Cuba and all the other stuff going on. But for those of us old enough to remember…..those turned out to be our shining times. Amazing isn’t it?


Alan Caruba said...

Hence, the expression, "Ignorance is bliss!"

I was aware of the Cold War and, since I was prepped to invade Cuba if the missile crisis was not resolved, I was aware of these threats, but I must confess I never felt the Soviets would initiate a hot war since they had lost millions in WWII.

Mostly, I was just young and having a good time in college and in the Army. After that, being a journalist was pure heaven.

Anonymous said...

I am firmly convinced that civil war will be a non-event in any event.

The US is too well organised and informed, too law-abiding with generations of peaceful and prosperous living.

The visual horrors of a civil war and its utter destruction throughout society is visited on us all, in all countries, just as quickly as the first reporters from CNN or the BBC. Now we have ireports from millions of cell phones and an internet connection in every country.

In my observation, anyway, there is not such an ethnic devide, not utter deprivation or the mindset, nor the will to take armed struggle into the street.

At the end of the day, people want to live in peace - at any price - raise their kids, go to the beach, walk in the hills and all other activities in a stable society.

The TEA party movement is the closest the general population comes to revolution - or wants to. Long live the movement and may it spawn an alternative, political way to the political stagnation now in evidence, and renew the strength of the Constitution in practice.

Clive G.Smale in the Philippines

Ronbo said...

I served in the Cold War in U.S. Army Military Intelligence. One of my assignment was Berlin (1974 to 1977) and the only time we were invaded was when ABBA came to town with a thousands of fans following them.

When I was first stationed there I believed the propaganda about the "Russian Steamroller" that would be on the English Channel in about two weeks, but after working the OB (Order of Battle) I found that the GSFG (Group Soviet Forces Germany) only had 500,000 troops and were badly outnumbered by NATO that had a couple of million soldiers, 350,000 being American with three divisions of the best armor on the planet.

Also, the NATO forces were better trained, equipped and led than the Russians.

Of course, there was the nuclear question and both sides had enough nukes to turn Europe into atomic glass, but what was point for war if the outcome was a howling wilderness in a few days?

The real Cold War was psychological and ideological. The Russian Communist goal was to conquer the West from within, and if the story is true that Obama is the Manchurian President selected, trained and funded by the Russian Communists - Then we have lost the Cold War and Russia conquers.

Unknown said...

It has been a number of decades since, but maybe folks have forgotten the hundreds of job offers which poured in for a young man who took out an ad: "Have brain, will train."

Worth trying...

I've found some agreement with my idea that Lech Walesa, more than any other one person, pretty much ended the Cold War threat of the Warsaw Pact heading toward the Bay of Biscay. The strike at Gdansk made the Polish divisions "unreliable" in the eyes of the Kremlin. Further, Poland straddled the supply lines for any army movement to its west.