How on earth can a young man find a job that doesn’t cost money? It’s no wonder that these young men are not interested in attending college, not interested in getting a new apartment in the city or having a job. “Young men, just go for it, learn to say no,” the president says. “And take responsibility for yourself.”
That’s the attitude toward education that has been taking shape here for half a century, and it’s the one that has led to a generation of young men that hasn’t left behind, that hasn’t found any job or gotten any job. Instead, they’re living at home and sleeping in cars or sleeping in the woods. The young American man is a dead man walking. And what do we have to show for all of these years of growth in the middle class?
It’s easy to point to the stock market or high-tech firms, but they won’t lift you out of poverty. It’s true that these industries have made it possible for people to get more money and pay off debt. But what does that have to do with the middle class? What do you gain by living on your dad’s income? And there’s a whole other category of people who don’t even get that much.
Young people today aren’t even working for the economy. The reason? For many, it’s not about wages. It’s about getting ahead.
Take, for instance, the story of Mark and his twin brother, Jason. One brother goes off the rails. He gets an illegal job, and when he loses interest, he ends up on the street. His brother can’t stay long because he has debts for college, and it makes him too dependent on the government. If Mark’s brother was working now while he was taking a jobless, college graduate son to college, they wouldn’t be in a lot of trouble. But they are — they are on the verge of destitution to the point where they don’t believe they should be here.
That’s what happens when people with few skills make a mess of their lives. What do you do when a student with a B average drops out of college, only to find himself on welfare or on life assistance?
What do you do when the son of an auto mechanic becomes an alcoholic or a gambler — someone who can’t get a full-time job and then has to turn to welfare?
To me, the answer doesn’t lie either in high-tech or high-