Friday, August 24, 2012

Louis H. Berman of Annapolis, Maryland Is an Idiot

Sometimes I read a letter to the editor at the Washington Post and suffer a minor attack of apoplexy. Unfortunately since I cannot go to a doctor for a cure and the apothecaries are all closed, I must turn to the next best substitute for leeches: a blog post. Louis H. Berman's letter here, buried away in the paper like a hateful jewel, is today's culprit. In a few spare paragraphs, Mr. Berman asserts the following about what's wrong with the Millennial Generation and while he spouts nonsense, in the process he reveals what is most wrong with the United States: namely that we have become a country willing to believe the most absurd and malicious lies about our fellow Americans. In sum, this is Mr. Berman's "argument:" 

1) Millennials are spoiled and lazy 
2) This is the fault of the Baby Boomers 
3) However, the reason for high unemployment is still not their fault.  Even though they were not in charge of Wall Street when it wrecked the economy, blame falls on the Millennials instead.
4) There are plenty of jobs for Millennials but they are too spoiled to find one. 
5) Millennials are supposed to "learn something" from their parents (who spoiled them in the first place) about what being in a real workplace means. 

I think Mr. Berman needs to go back and actually read the classifieds and want-ads some time. Sure there are plenty of jobs, but many require several years of experience and a decent portion of what do not are unpaid. Try looking for entry-level work Mr. Berman as I have, for multiple companies, in several fields, in different cities. It might be better than just talking out of your ass to tell the damn kids to get off your lawn. Now, you may claim that the Millennials are just too spoiled to take minimum wage, which was supposedly good enough for the folks of your generation. Remember that minimum wage was good enough for all of you because it was higher. A minimum wage job today pays less now when adjusted for inflation. Also, you may not know this because higher education used to cost a lot less, but many Millennials have college debts and need to earn money so that they can pay them off, debts they incurred in the first place so that they might not have to work for minimum wage all their lives.

I'm going to be generous Mr. Berman and assume you are not being motivated by spite, but rather an adherence to the just-world fallacy. In your view, unemployment is high because people are lazy and spoiled, especially young people. I hate to break it to you (who am I kidding, I enjoying enlightening you), but there are not enough jobs to go around. Roughly speaking, there are 3.5 unemployed people per each of the much vaunted job postings you discussed. No matter how many skilled people apply for a position, they are not all going to get it in this economy. The same applies even if they all decide to take minimum wage jobs. Have you been following the news? 44% of minimum-wage workers have either attended or graduated from college. I think we can safely assume they are not waiting out for their dream job. Their dream job is having a job. Mr. Berman, these attacks on a generation are a red herring, especially when you consider long-term unemployment rates among the Baby Boomers. But I guess they must be lazy and spoiled too, because of how the GI Generation raised them. 

This economy sucks. Period. Blaming the unemployed does nothing except possibly make you feel like unemployment could never happen to you. You seem to view joblessness as something that only exists for other people who must have done something wrong. Mr. Berman, this is a fallacy and an insult to the millions of formerly hardworking Americans who have been laid off in the past few years, and all the Americans of all ages, races, creeds, and classes who want desperately to work. Many of us loved our jobs before we lost them. Many of us have taken what we could find in the interim, only to lose those jobs as well. Many of us are the victims of discriminatory hiring practices that make it difficult for the unemployment to get work. Many of us graduated in the middle of a terrible market and could never get a leg up. Many of us have put having families on hold. Many of us have put owning a house on hold. Many of us avoid seeing our friends and family out of poverty and shame. Many of us go to bed every night praying for either a miracle or to be allowed to die in our sleep. 

And here Mr. Berman, is where I am going to engage in the same kind of attacks that you have, employing (see what I did there?) both the ad hominem and the gross generalization. Now, I am not doing this because it helps my argument, but because it is fun. You sir, are a dumb asshole. Unfortunately, you are not alone. The audiences of the GOP debates were filled with your ilk. You do not have any facts to back your assertions up, relying instead on worn-out narratives that have been applied to every previous generation. Despite setting yourself up as some sort of expert, you offer no real solutions to the problems you decry either. You lack any long term vision and fail to grasp the structural issues we are mired in. On top of this, you are callous. You are mean. You are judgmental even though your previous ignorance shows you have no right to claim any sort of capacity for judgment. 

Now if you were smart and an asshole, you would at least have enough self-interest to be worried about the true causes behind the problem of persistent unemployment because it affects you. Instead of spouting off against the usual suspects guilty of the usual sins, you would have some intellectual curiosity about several real solutions. If you were dumb and kind you might not grasp the nuances of the situation, but you would at least have nice things to say to those who are suffering. Of course, it would be best if you were both smart and kind, but I am willing to settle for the other two options if it keeps you from writing another letter to the editor at the Washington Post ever again. 

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