Art Imitating Life

Does anyone else remember the opening of Dances with Wolves, where the adventurous, heroic, battle-proven Kevin Costner arrives at the Western Frontier fort and is promptly assigned to a remote outpost (which turns out to be abandoned and in shambles) by a Commander who then shoots himself, such that Kevin Costner is sent out into nowhere with no one knowing where he is what he is doing or what happened to him.  (He subsequently joins a Native American tribe and when confronted by the U.S. Army explicitly turns his back on them.)

An iconic metaphor for the contemporary American workplace.

There is much talk from Ben Bernanke to the Bureau of Labor Statistics about the dismaying fate of younger people in the current American workplace.  Younger workers can’t get jobs, can’t get the job they trained for, can’t get career appropriate jobs, can’t move up.  Mr. Bernanke’s voiced concern is that younger workers aren’t building skills and “there won’t be anyone to take over.”  One, this misses the reality that a lot of us have plenty of skills—because the people above us have been out to lunch since before we actually even got to the workplace and we’ve been doing their jobs since day one.  (And trust me, Mr. Bernanke, no one’s skills disappear after six months—work is like riding a bicycle, the only part you forget is the stuff not worth remembering.)  Two, I’m guessing Mr. Bernanke’s real concern is less the skills of me and mine, but the Dala, the Almighty Dala, the Money, Money Tax Revenue to Ol’ Uncle Sam.

Here’s an SAT question for you:

If GenX is underemployed, unemployed, quits jobs because anything is better than cleaning up abandoned projects in a shambles that no one cares about, no one knows about, and doesn’t matter even if you fix it up so it looks nice, only works nine months of the year, shops at GoodWill, volunteers, runs blogs and online businesses, incorporates as nonprofits, buys small houses and fixes them up DIY, eats at home–what kind of tax revenue does that generate for the Federal Government?

  1.  Bupkus
  2. No So Much
  3. Less Than They Are Used to Having
  4. Everything’s Fine!

I’ll agree with the sentiment that it would be not so great to be in the situation that a lot of older workers find themselves in—no cash assets, a house that is mortgaged to the hilt because it was bought with a 100 percent mortgage and as soon as the market went up it was home-equity-line-of-credit-ed, credit card debt, and life long lifestyle habits around everything being a service and done for them, coming out of a box heat and serve, bouncing off to Florida a few times a year.

Putting as much of this under a pin as possible, the reality is that The Current Mess is not just about The Current Mess.  It was not a glass of milk spilled on the floor, it is a long time Train Wreck in Slow Motion and that is still in motion.  Which is why it isn’t getting better.  It could get better, but it isn’t, not with the same ideas and the same people and the same attitudes that got us here.

It’s past time for a format change, but here’s the Fooley—how do you change format when some just won’t have it?  I guess that goes down as one of the age old questions of American Government, a kinda whinier version of Who’s in Charge?  OK, now I’ll wax poignant:  What to do when the drunk won’t let go of the keys?  We’ve all got to ride in the car—no choice in that—and every time it’s about who is going to get hurt.  An Ounce of Prevention . . . .

Nothing to do, I guess, except fasten the seat belt, hold on, and try and enjoy the bumpy ride, cause it doesn’t look like it is ending any time soon.


About missbodie

The Dragon Lady is a life long tea drinker. Her first coffee shops were Big Boy and the Oriental Diner in downtown Milwaukee. She lives in our Nation's Capital with three bicycles and an energetic tabby cat.
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