Last night on a late-night ice cream run, I picked up the new issue of Good Magazine, since I accidentally let my subscription lapse. Good usually has lots of beautiful graphics and interesting stories about creative people trying to make their communities a little better. It’s like a much less political, way more hippie-oriented Mother Jones.
So. This issue was all about work. Which is, of course, a touchy subject, what with the economy being in the tank and all. You will be pleased to know that I only made it as far as the first feature story before I was stopped in my tracks by elitist, classist wankery that made me get out my red pen. Here’s the article, which is about how there are a lot of 20-something (white, middle class) college graduates who are can only find jobs right now at jobs that *gasp* don’t normally require a college education. The horror!
Apparently, to elitist fuckwads, a less-than-inspiring job is a fate worse than unemployment. No really, they come right out and say so:
“And while unemployment and the lack of full-time jobs are problems, [some economics professor guy] says that having a job for which one is overqualified is worse.”
Can we just pause for a split second and ponder the enormity of unexamined privilege that would allow someone to say something like that? There are people in this country who literally can’t put food on the table in front of their kids, people who are losing their homes and their businesses – and Mr. Professor Guy wants me to shed a tear over some 27-year old living in his parent’s basement because his job is depressing?
And why should being over-qualified be so tough? Apparently, it grates at the soul in a way that poor (read: stupid and lazy) people can’t even begin to imagine. See, crappy low-paying jobs are fine for them, but for “the only person in his entire company to crack open a book during their 30-minute lunch break,” the shame is quite harrowing.
The whole story is one giant pile of fail, but this was truly the centerpiece:
“For some people, the recession has forever altered perceptions of how the world works, creating the impression that success has more to do with luck than with hard work.”
I’m really glad the author made sure to inform us that the sky is only falling for “Some People”. Because there are, and always have been “OTHER People” (see what I did there, with the othering?) for whom things have always sucked. People who have always been aware that the reason they were being denied jobs, housing, and educational opportunities was because of their dumb luck to be born poor, or female, or non-white, or of being disabled, or an immigrant, or transgender. And those OTHER PEOPLE have never been able to climb out of the disheartening pit of joblessness, economic insecurity, and marginalization, no matter how hard they work.
But we’re not interested in those Other People, are we? That would require confronting the enormity of the privilege that has allowed white, educated, middle class Americans to ignore the suffering of others until we, too, finally find ourselves suffering.