Wednesday morning, I – like millions of other readers online and off – read the front page story in The New York Times entitled “American Dream Is Elusive for a New Generation.”
It tells the story of you, Scott. How at age 24, you’re still unemployed despite graduating Colgate University (and winning a dean’s award for academic excellence). How you spend each and every day searching for jobs online, sending out resumes and cover letters to those listings that seem pertinent.
And then, in paragraph three, it drops the bombshell. Despite having no income … despite the fact that your parents are paying premiums on your life insurance policy (why you need it, I don’t know, but that’s another story) … you turned down a $40,000-a-year job with Hanover Insurance Group as an associate claims adjuster.
Why? Reporter Louis Uchitelle (who usually inspires me, not pisses me off) writes: “Rather than waste early years in dead-end work, [Scott] 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.”
Scott, let me put this as nicely as possible: Are you out of your mind?
A $40,000 entry-level job in a country where the average household income is only a few thousand dollars higher than that is good. In this economy, it’s bordering on great. You worry about the fact that 30 percent of the 20 friends you keep up with from college actually like their jobs. And again, you’re misguided. Worry instead about the 40 percent that, like you, don’t have jobs at all. (They’re the ones who have been speed-dialing Hanover all morning to see if the position is filled.)
You’re not the only one in your family I’m concerned about, however. I worry about your Grandpa who “views what is happening to Scott with dismay.” And your mom and dad, who are “subtly pointing out that beyond room and board, they are also paying other expenses for [you], like … cellphone charges,” yet are still forking out $1,000 a month for your rent. (I even worry about tone-deafness at The New York Times in that it would choose to put this story on its front page.)
This is what entitlement looks, sounds and feels like. This is what happens when all art projects are brilliant, scratchy violin concertos are magnificent and everyone gets a trophy. Sometimes you have to do a job you don’t want to do in order to earn a paycheck because that paycheck provides you the ability to do other things you want in this world. If it was always fun, they wouldn’t have to pay you.
It’s up to parents to teach their kids that money is a limited resource and there comes a time when the spigot is shut. Scott, I hope that your parents read the Times and decide that time is right now.