Earlier today I attended a graduation ceremony at a highly respected private college. As with almost everything I do or think about these days, when I sat and looked around me, I started to get anxious and angry.
Here were hundreds of highly motivated and dedicated young men and women who had worked hard, put in the time and did what they were supposed to d0….they fulfilled their part of the bargain. So is their country able to fulfill its end of the bargain? Well, USA Today reports our country is prepared to offer them the highest unemployment rates for graduates since 1970…the first time such figures were reported. It’s a sickening situation and I see nothing on the horizon that suggests its improving in the least bit.
I got even more angry when the dean began his remarks with a rendition of facts that I find quite troubling….the fact that America has fallen from a country that actually manufactured and produced goods to a country that produces nothing and merely consumes services and goods made elsewhere. I guess from the perspective of an egg headed intellectual (with a guaranteed lifetime job through tenure) he doesn’t share the same concerns I and many other Americans share about our economy…he’s protected high up in his ivory tower. But as I looked around, I saw more than a few hard boned and warm blooded American fathers and grandfathers who were clearly not so enamored of our service-based economy.
Let’s deconstruct this a little bit. In the grandfather’s generation the American mind was the best and brightest on the planet. He used that mind to conceive of and then build with his own hands the machines and goods that saved the world and which propelled this country to unthinkable wealth and prosperity. In our father’s time, we got lazy and our leadership was shortsighted and corrupted. We continued to use our minds to conceive of great technologies and products but we no longer recognized the need to produce those goods ourselves or respected the work of those whose calloused hands produced them, but at least we took some steps to protect the intellectual property and keep the work product stateside. So what’s happened since then? Well, in a dramatically accelerated way, we no longer even keep the intellectual property or work product stateside…we just plain ship the technology, the intellectual property, the know how offshore and let other countries profit from the intellect and brain power that we developed over generations.
The thousands of parents and grandparents of all these newly minted graduates paid millions of dollars for the degrees celebrated today, but will the graduates ever be able to pay those debts back? Put in a different way…
HOW CAN WE MAKE STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS IN THE USA IF WE DON’T MAKE ANYTHING ELSE HERE?