on May 26, 2006
To summarize, IT'S CALLED SUPPLY AND DEMAND!
I agree with Anya, in that most kids don't get a good financial education from their parents, and that the loose consumer debt laws border on usury. However, nobody is making kids rack up this credit card debt! The point on college is true too. I cringe when I hear someone is majoring in communication at a $30k a year private third-tier college. What do they think they're going to do? It's called supply and demand!!! If Anya had her way, everyone would be a fashionista, journalist, or work in TV or film. What these kids don't understand is that a small, small, small percentage of the population can do those things. It's like in Office Space, when they put down the "do and major in what interests you" myth. Peter points out, "if everyone listened to that, there would be no janitors, because nobody would want to clean up sh*t for a living!" That's what these interviewees completely miss.
A very telling statement is on page 6, when Anya points out, "Only 24.4 percent of the adult population has a B.A., according to the 2000 census..." What the hell? Who cares about a BA? Does she actually mean a bachelors degree? I would suggest that only about 5% of the population needs a B.A., but more like 50% needs a B.S. As Anya herself has found out, unless you're among the idle rich or an extremely talented writer, a B.A. isn't going to get you anywhere. A traditional "liberal education," where you sit around and think about stuff and write papers and get your degree should be for only a small part of the population. In super future utopia world, sure, everyone could get a traditional liberal education, but we're hundreds of years from that point. We have to solve world poverty, war, and hunger first. Anya decries the lack of vocational education throughout the book, but there's a huge "vocational" collegiate job training program out there, and it's called "a technical degree from a reputable institution." Ipods don't spontaneously generate from the earth- they, like every other convenience of your life, were made by hard working, technically oriented people. And there's no such thing as a person fundamentally not good at math or science. It's like exercise. Studying math or engineering, like working out, isn't easy or fun, but accomplishing something.
Also, not everyone can live in NYC or SF. If you're living somewhere, and you're wondering why you can't pay your rent with three roommates, perhaps you should think about moving somewhere else. It's called SUPPLY AND DEMAND. You can buy a nice, two bedroom house in West Virginia for $30,000, today. Think about that.
Also telling is the attitude of the interviewees. Angus, who drifted around "[...] jobs" for 10 years, is quoted as such: "'I've had difficulty focusing,' Angus admits with a sheepish smile.'" Let me tell you, sheepish guys with no agenda are lucky to have credit card debt and [...] jobs. A hundred years ago, they would have just starved to death, or gone to debtors prison. That's really the lesson from this book- society has become so socially permissive that those who would have been bums a few years ago now can be disaffected, disenfranchised youth. I don't want people to starve to death, but I don't want people to be bums, either.
Anya seems pretty down on the military, but joining the military would have solved any of these kids problems. I think I'm a good example-- I went to Annapolis, majored in Electrical Engineering, and still today am in the Navy. Is it the greatest thing ever? No! In fact, some days I'm downright unhappy about it. I don't consider myself an engineer, nor do I really want to work in that field. My family is secure, though, and my prospects are pretty good for a job someday soon-- moreso than if I had majored in sociology at UAB, for sure.
If you want to see what pain and suffering is about, read "The End of Poverty." At least look at the first picture in the photo section, where there's a grandmother that must feed her fifteen grandchildren on half a hectare of rotted grain because all her children have died of AIDS. Activism to fix that situation is something I can get excited about. The plight of the young and fabulous is not something I can get excited about.
I would recommend you read this book, although I warn you, it's like a bad horror movie. You can see the characters fates before they even finish their stories. All of them, unless they change their attitude, will be in the exact same place 5, 10, or 30 years from now. Anya has tried to demonstrate the injustice of our society, but she inadvertently has only elucidated the real cause.