Sunday, May 26, 2013

Unemployed College Grads of the World, Unite!

The debate rages as to just how bad the unemployment situation in the USA is today, especially for that sector which is considered the greatest hope for America’s future, recent college graduates. The rate of unemployment among this group is higher than the historical norm, as it is for the population in general, and the labor force participation rate is lower than normal. Some commentators are quick to point out that the situation is still better for 25 year-old college grads than it is for 25 year-olds without a college degree, so college is still a good investment. On the other hand, one of the most alarming statistics is that, according to Goldman Sachs economist Jan Hatzius, “The labor force participation rates of college graduates have actually fallen by more than those of workers without a high school education…the growth in the absolute number of employed college graduates has been nowhere near enough to offset the increase in the size of the college-educated population.”
Regardless of anyone’s opinion of gloom and doom vs. nothing to see here, as the saying goes, if you’re one of the 8.8 percent, the rate is 100 percent for you.
Which may be the first serious reality check yet of your life, if you’ve gone from being a grade school pupil to a high school student to a university scholar, getting A’s for participation, with no serious adult responsibility yet beyond showing proper ID to obtain the requisite beverages for the homecoming rave. So this might be a good time to take off the rose-colored glasses, sober up and take a serious look at the context, that is, the greater world of which you have heretofore been a highly protected part, and consider whether you have a clue how it really works. You’ve voted three or four times already. So, welcome to The Establishment! If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the (your own) problem.
Because voting has consequences. It results in officials of one party or the other and their allies in various government bureaucracies having their prestige enhanced, which results in policies, rules, regulations, taxes, penalties and punishments being implemented, which in turn, among other things, help or hinder the functioning of the economy, including that heartbeat that sustains your economic life, jobs.
So consider what you believe about why this is happening to you and why you believe it, how you came to believe it. In all likelihood you have been ‘educated’ for sixteen or more straight years almost exclusively by operatives of a single, well-organized, multi-colored but severely conformist faction of the political class. Your teachers were obedient soldiers of the most powerful public employee union in the country. They were mandated to pay union dues used for political activism and advocacy purposes whether they joined the union as card-carrying members or not. They taught you that multiculturalism is good, that capitalism causes pollution and global warming (or ‘climate change’ a more convenient term for blaming carbon for whatever happens), that the Founding Fathers were sexist, racist slaveholders and that Republicans are rich men whose skin is so pale from spending so much time wearing white sheets. Your professors were leftist and/or marxists (or at least ‘progressives’) who taught you that the Constitution is a ‘Living Document’ if they were in a good mood, or a ‘barbarous relic’ that interfered with getting anything good done if they were less so; that Bush Lied, People Died; that we went into Iraq for oil; that 9/11 was an inside job; that FoxNews isn’t a legitimate house of journalism, that greedy bankers caused the financial crisis of 2007-08, and that the American health care system ranks 37th in the world. Very few of your teachers and professors have worked much of their professional lives outside of academia or government employment, which is to say, they rarely had to satisfy customers who were free to take their business (and their money) elsewhere. They celebrated diversity in skin color and sexual orientation, but never in ideology; conservative and Republican ideas were strictly beyond the pale, to be censored, suppressed, excluded or shouted down. To stay informed on current events and politics you watched CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and MTV.
Outrageous, unfair, biased, exaggerated right-wing nonsense, you say? Okay try this then: Do you know who Fredrick Bastiat is? How about Friederich Hayek? Adam Smith, Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell? Have you read The Federalist Papers, The Law, The Wealth of Nations, Free To Choose or Basic Economics? Do you know why we have a First Amendment?
If not, then unfortunately, you are virtually clueless about how your country, the most prosperous, free and just that has ever existed on Planet Earth, came to be or how it works. (And if you don’t think America is free and just -- another popular theme among your leftist professors -- then why are so many millions of poor people willing to kill themselves for the chance to come here, above all other places? Why do we even have an illegal alien problem to talk about?)
The point is, your ignorance has consequences, for yourself and for the larger society. If you don’t understand how economics works, even if you were an economics major, then you will vote for the Law to Banish Poverty For All Time because it promises to banish poverty for all time (who could be against that?), never mind that legislatures and kings have attempted to banish poverty for all time many times over in many countries including this one before, and almost every such program they implemented resulted in worse poverty after than before the Law to Banish Poverty For All Time.
So, in the spirit of Hillary Clinton, your time of rude reality check is an opportunity for a reset. It’s time to take a step back and consider everything that you didn’t learn in college, because it was omitted or explicitly banished as evil, politically incorrect, or right-wing propaganda.
Your journey begins here, at, on the Books page. The Number One best common-sense book on economics for average Joe citizens (and for economics majors who long ago lost their common sense in a tangled web of mathematical formulas, graphs and equations dealing with aggregate categories having little to do with flesh-and-blood human beings coming to terms with scarce resources that have alternative uses) is Basic Economics, by Thomas Sowell. I have in the past proposed a constitutional amendment requiring all holders of public office to know the content of this book as a condition of their holding office. See It's the Constitution, Stupid! Read just one chapter of this book, and your life of ignorance and of supporting policies that have no more chance of achieving their expressed goals than the Law to Ensure Full Employment to All College Graduates for All Time will never be the same.
Trust me. I’m an ex-liberal socialist progressive Democrat from Berkeley.