Disappearing dream or spoiled brat?

The New York Times ran a story about how today’s graduates face a poor job outlook. That I get. What I don’t get is this:

Over the last five months, only one job materialized. After several interviews, the Hanover Insurance Group in nearby Worcester offered to hire him as an associate claims adjuster, at $40,000 a year. But even before the formal offer, Mr. Nicholson had decided not to take the job. Rather than waste early years in dead-end work, he reasoned, he would hold out for a corporate position that would draw on his college training and put him, as he sees it, on the bottom rungs of a career ladder.

link: For a New Generation, an Elusive American Dream – NYTimes.com

That would be known as a job–and $40K a year job. $40K a year while not a fortune, is twice as much as poverty level for a family of four. Yeah, it’s not a job you want forever, but taking and doing well in your first job, crappy as it is, demonstrates to employers that you know how to work in an office environment, discipline yourself to work hours and routines, etc.

The article goes on:

“Going it alone,” “earning enough to be self-supporting” — these are awkward concepts for Scott Nicholson and his friends. Of the 20 college classmates with whom he keeps up, 12 are working, but only half are in jobs they “really like.” Three are entering law school this fall after frustrating experiences in the work force, “and five are looking for work just as I am,” he said.

link: For a New Generation, an Elusive American Dream – NYTimes.com

OMIGOD you mean that in your 20s you wind up with shitty jobs? That’s such an ENTIRELY NEW THING!! See: Reality Bites.

Again, I respect that unemployment is bad, but am I really supposed to feel sorry for a kid who sort of feels bad about sticking his parents with his cell phone charges, but not bad enough to take a job he “doesn’t like”, and then there are six of his friends who are in jobs they don’t “really like.”

I’m pretty sure if you randomly sampled 20 of my friends, you’d find some who “didn’t really like” their jobs, too. That’s kind of why you get paid.

I’m sorry: this is a country where we have vilified “welfare queens”–people who have far fewer options and advantages than this guy when the economy is bad–and yet the NYT wants me to wring my hands over him? Yes, getting your first job is tough–even more so in this terrible economy. But I’m still waiting for the evidence that the “dream” is over for this guy just because what precisely he wants hasn’t magically materialized.

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