I was at my Great Uncle's funeral on November 9. Saw a bunch of relatives that were 80+ that I hadn't seen in ages. My Dad's side of the family came from a large Catholic Family. Most of the men that were in attendance were old Veterans and retired Blue Collar workers. They made good money and sired large families themselves.
But as I spoke to my cousins, I realized that none of them were Veterans and almost none were Blue Collar workers. The College-Educated White Collar cousins made themselves a nice living and had decent families of their own. The other cousins?
And it got me thinking. Where do young American Knuckleheads go today? Back in the 40's or 50's, the best and brightest went to college and got good jobs after the wars (my Great Uncle was in Korea). Then the average Americans or the young Knuckleheads that went into the armed services got good jobs at the automobile factory or the steel mill.
Today, the best and the brightest go to college and sometimes get good jobs. Crippling debt welcomes most college grads. The average Americans also try to go to college. The young Knuckleheads? Welcome to minimum wage in the service industry.
Now I'm making sweeping generalizations, there's exceptions to every rule, but my point remains the same. You're an 18 year old Knucklehead today, in 2017. What are your options?
The Armed Services:
You must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien.
You must be at least 17 years old (17-year old applicants require parental consent).
You must (with very few exceptions) have a high school diploma.
You must pass a physical medical exam.
That sounds simple. Most people fit those qualifications, or do they?
And you must all pass height and weight qualification: Here's the army chart.
You cannot have too many dependents....
And the list continues depending on which branch of service you are interested in.
And I haven't even brought up the drug screenings.
The days of breathing on a mirror have long past...
That's okay, you can make a good wage at the Car Factory. Oh, that's closed.
The Steel Mill? The Coal Mine? The Construction Site?
There are some good trade jobs available in America, but that problem is twofold. Some trade jobs require drug tests and background checks. The young Knucklehead can't get those jobs..
Which circles us back around to the minimum wage jobs in the service industry as a landing spot.
So as the "Greatest Generation" dies off, so goes the good paying jobs in America. But unemployment is at an all-time low today, you counter. Yeah, good jobs have waiting lists and unpaid internships, yet Wal-Mart and McDonalds are hiring in every corner of the nation.
Why am I thinking about all of this socioeconomic rigmarole at a funeral? Because last week I read an article on the internet titled Get Rid of Capitalism? Millennials Are Ready to Talk About It and I thought the concept was absurd. Then I looked around the room at that wake and realized that the kids that were there were not growing up with the same American opportunities as their (Great) Grandparents. My thought process was not in the present, but in the past.
Kids today see career choices as:
Crushing Debt or Foreign War or Mind-Numbing Corporate Servitude.
Work hard and you'll get ahead is no longer the rule of thumb for The Millennials or Gen Z.
And then you wonder why kids consider socialism.
Great Uncle (name redacted) would be rolling over in his freshly dug grave.
Happy Veterans Day!