Ghost Dogs and the New American Job Market

When we were all young, everyone kept telling us that we could be whatever we wanted when we grew up. After all, we lived in America and that was the one place in the whole world where you could achieve your dreams. This was the land of milk and honey.  People flocked here for the multitude of opportunities and just being born here virtually guaranteed you a life other countries could only dream of.  The way people talked about it, you’d have thought the streets were paved with gold or something.

Now all I hear are reports about how Americans need to be trained for the jobs available in the market.  Nobody is, or ever should have been, telling children, “when you grow up, you can be whatever you want.”  What they should have said is, “When you grow up, you can get a job in mediocrity if you take out loans to go to school and, after fifty years, maybe you can have a fairly comfortable life if your expectations aren’t too high.”

I’m going to tell my kids that if they want to achieve their dreams they’re going to have to lower the bar or take that bar and use it to fight off everything that wants to steal their dreams away from them.  I will teach them to make hard decisions and push them to the brink of insanity so they are hardened and ready for the world.  If I had twins, I would force one to kill the other in order to double its strength.  My children would be known to foam at mouth and bark at unfamiliar sounds.  I will have found them all their first jobs well before adolescence. It would be at a foundry and the low survival-rate would further distill my brood.

Spankings would be distributed completely at random.  They would understand the horrible arbitrary nature of existence early on.  One day I would show up with a puppy and a wheel with numbers on it.  I would make the youngest spin the wheel and whatever number it landed on would be the number of years the dog would be allowed to live.  Upon it’s “death date” I would take the dog to my friend Tim’s house where it would continue to live out its life in secret.  The children would never be told the truth and each Christmas they would get a postcard from the dog’s ghost. Their hate for me would grow until, eventually, one of them would attempt to destroy me. This child would be forever my favorite and everything I possess would become theirs upon my death.  Until that time, they would be cast out into society and immediately become estranged from me.  Frankly, I can see no other way for a child to achieve their dreams in the new American job market.  I’ve been told that the recession is over but that the economy would never be the same.  After a long hard labor, our country has bared-down and pushed out a stillbirth, silent and useless.

Despite the continuously high unemployment rate, some of us managed to acquire jobs in our respective fields.  A few of us are even prospering and enjoying ourselves, while many more are taking what they can get and working for the sole purpose of survival.  I know that, by definition, survival is living but I bet I could still argue a pretty good case against it.  We are all so ready to pat ourselves on the back as hard as we can and for what?  We weathered the storm and have nothing to show for it.  We idolize the past like it’s so mythically far away or long ago that it is completely out of reach.  We’ve ignored its lessons and have settled upon a lesser future than we deserve.  Our parents and grandparents lived the dream and rode rockets to the moon while we’re selling off the space program like a beat up old car.  There will be no missions beyond the sky for us.  It has been decided that it’s just not practical anymore.

It was never practical.  None of it.

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195 Responses to Ghost Dogs and the New American Job Market

  1. Dan Bain says:

    Your child-rearing strategy can’t possibly work, because it relies on secrecy. Once your children read it, they’ll know your plans and use them against you. And now you can’t take it back; once something enters the cyberspace, it’s public knowledge forever!

    Beyond that, it was a sound plan.

  2. I’ve seen the gloom in the eyes of high school students for 3 decades. There is nothing out there when they graduate. They say Miami has the 4th largest unemployment rate in the nation at 11.6%. It is a lie. We are closer to 20% and 25% of homes are in default or foreclosure. The college grad now faces a mere minimum wage job with no health care, pension or other benefits. Take it or leave it. The two things we export is our capital and our jobs. It makes the mantra of Karl Marx very appealing to me. “All power to the workers!”

  3. prenin says:

    Glad I don’t live in the USA – England is quite bad enough!!!

    God Bless!

    Prenin.

  4. Jeff Mazurek says:

    It may be just me–and I should mention that I don’t mention this due to some ignorance of the humor you’ve exercised above–but I’m not so much bitter at the lofty notions fed to me by a preceding generation so much as I’m baffled at the sparkly sentiments fed to me by my high school teachers in the late 1990s. “You’ll be able to WALK into a job,” they said, like it was an effortless Thing, as well as a Thing they were not fortunate enough to do in their own time. What I know for sure is that whatever they seemed to promise seemed to be gone by the time I fetched a four year degree–that is, I exited educational institutions with as much certainty about my future as they did in 1980-something (or earlier) about theirs.

    If I begrudge “boomers”–or their young, for that matter–anything, it’s that many (but not all) among them were all too happy to exchange Anything Unique or Interesting At All for convenience. That is, the grizzled dude behind the counter at the bait shop can try with all of his might to service you, entertain you, or otherwise demonstrate for you that his place is His Place, and No-place Else–and that this fact or circumstance is a good and helps make your town what it is (and No-place Else) … but why bother with him or His Place when you can go to Walmart and get your worms and a new handtowel, besides?

    THAT irks me, whenever I think about it.

    Sorry to be a downer! =(

    P.S. — I still love your cartoons.

    • bvulcanius says:

      “[…] I’m baffled at the sparkly sentiments fed to me by my high school teachers in the late 1990s. “You’ll be able to WALK into a job,” they said […]”
      If you could travel back in time and a teacher told you exactly how everything would turn out like it is now, what would you have done differently?

      • i am a teacher, and each day i tell my kids – today, candy is your carrot and you are kind of a donkey. a very intelligent and unique donkey, but still. you have to work for your rewards, kids. if it hurts, i’m sorry, but there’s plenty more to come – blaming people don’t help even if they’re responsible, so be practical.

      • Jeff Mazurek says:

        What would I have done differently? Probably very little. I’m not sure how my comment from over a month ago reads now, but I should probably mention that I don’t go around kicking garbage cans because my teachers didn’t have a magic crystal ball on their desk 12 or 15 years ago. =) As I mentioned, I am baffled, not bitter, at the general tone with which my elders spoke of the economy at that time. It was like they couldn’t believe how good things were, and wanted to let us know how easy we’d have it.

        And while I cannot speak on behalf of my peers, I’d guess that we didn’t think much of those words. I don’t shake my fist at my instructors of any time–it’s just one of those things that’s strange to look back on.

      • Posky says:

        Like Jeff, I’m not angry that it felt like we were promised the moon. In fact, it seems sort of ridiculous that that even ever seemed like a possibility.

        But, no matter how ridiculous, a piece of you still wants that moon- especially when all of the people before you are still talking about how good it was.

  5. Jessica says:

    Thank you.

  6. Twins and boo-ark…lolololol

  7. I can’t imagine being a young grad trying to make a decent living in the States right now; the frustration that it would cause must be overwhelming.

    You need to come to Canada. Things here are pretty great and we’ve managed to remain stable throughout the recession. That being said, because the States is sort of the “super-power” of the world right now, whatever happens there always, in some way (whether great or small), impacts our nation as well. We are just fortunate that the impact wasn’t as great as we originally thought it might be. I don’t say any of this to sound pompous or arrogant about our nation. My heart truly goes out to all those who are struggling to make it through this recession and this kind of a post makes me very grateful to be where I’m at and to never take it for granted because we never know how long it will last.

    A very hilarious and thought-provoking post, Posky. Great job.

    P.S. Also, “spankings will be distributed completely at random” – Love that…so very very much. :)

    • I tried to come to Canada in 1985 as a teacher. You can’t get a teaching certificate unless you have a job lined up. In order to get the job you must have immigration papers. But you can’t get the job unless you have a certificate so you can’t get immigration papers.. I believe I received a letter from a Mr. John Metcalf , director of immigration for Canada having expressed this impossible loop. His one sentence reply was “Yes, it does seem to be quite a Catch-22 doesn’t it?”

    • sekt21 says:

      I know several Canadians working in the US because they can’t find jobs at home. Their take on the economy is MUCH different than yours.

    • I had a job “offer” from a company in Toronto….however, once they “found” out about my residency (US) they brushed me aside. ;(
      Now I know why

  8. Dear Mr. Posky,
    Mother Hen here.
    MH takes the fact that you have no children at present as a sign that there is a God. No offense intended, of course.
    If you happen to get some, please don’t drop them by the coop.
    Yours faithfully,
    Mother Hen

  9. James Taylor says:

    Boo-ark! Hahahahahaaa

  10. TikkTok says:

    I could rant about how school is nothing more than a place to learn how to takes tests as a means of getting federal monies, but I won’t. I also won’t rant about how most people come out of college not having any really usable skills for the real world. Nope, I won’t do that either.

    Matt, your child-rearing philosophy is fine, except you forgot to include the part about dropping them off in the wilderness with minimal supplies, including a small tent, a water contraption to filter water, flint(s) and a ration of MREs…… the point being survival. Oh, and a waterproof book on surviving in a variety of wildernesses (I actually gave my son one :lol:). If they can survive, they will have a shot at getting a job in the real world- otherwise, they didn’t make it and won’t need to worry about it……………. ;)

    Makes me wonder what my kids will thing the “American Dream” means. *sigh*

    • emisformaker says:

      That’s too many supplies. Some kind of Swiss Army knife-like multi-tool thing, and the clothes on their tiny backs. That’ll weed ’em out.

      Also, Canada isn’t all that rosy. I’ve been without work for over a year, with 12 years of employment history backing me up. Granted, we’re better off than many other places, I’m just saying we’re not runners up for milk-and-honey land.

      • TikkTok says:

        Well *sigh*. I suppose a warehouse of heritage seeds is out of the question? :lol:

        I (seriously) think that the “new” dream is making enough to pay minimal bills and have enough left over for food and clothing, and shelter. Wait- aren’t we going in reverse?

        Welcome to the “new” world of generational families………

  11. peculiarpotato says:

    Finally you realize the American dream is a lie, That only a few will ever make waves and only some might make tsunami’s. I can’t believe that George W. Bush will be remembered more than me, call me nuts but holy shit, that just sickens me. I guess true happiness comes when we are happy with ourselves and not the Materialism of an American Dream…..P.P……………..

  12. anonnickus says:

    You still can be whatever you want. But you will have to wait till you grow up. But don’t rush it. Few old people have as well developed a sense of ludicrousness as they need. I always recommend fermentation over fomentation.

  13. anonnickus says:

    The ghost dog should have his own byline. He absolutely rocks. Will he be back? Please.

  14. I don’t know what to say about this, so I suppose I must say nothing.

  15. Tim Hodgson says:

    You left out my favorite part of your child-rearing plans: the hats. The arbitrarily-chosen hats, the hats the children must pick, and no matter what they do they always pick the wrong hat.

    “Go pick out a hat,” you’d say. “Make sure you pick the right one!” The child returns with a hat. “Oh, you picked the beating hat, Suzy!”

    “But it was the gift hat yesterday!”

    “You’re just asking for twice the beating, aren’t you.” And then the Glorious Belt makes its daily appearance: a sequined belt covered in flashing LEDs, and you beat the child while “Walking On Sunshine” is played at full volume.

    If I ever resort to writing things like “Boo-ark” on those postcards from Doggy Heaven, you’ll know I’ve given up on life.

    • Posky says:

      I think I’ll know you’ve given up on life long before that, Tim.

      I’m glad you remember my rant in the living room so vividly! Since then, I’ve also decided that the belt will always be hanging from the ceiling in the center of a room and illuminated form all sides. When the spankings would begin, there would be a laser light show to accompany “Walking On Sunshine” and the screams.

  16. I have a job, and i know in this climate I should be grateful I still have a job, but it is soul-killing. When my 8 year old cried at night because he was worried that he would not be able to find a job when he grows up, there’s something fundamentally wrong. I did not want to tell him the truth and yet I did not want to lie either. So I ended up telling him that he could always go teach English in Asia.

    • amcalonder says:

      Teaching English in Asia is a great alternative! I’ve been doing it for two years and am loving the experience. That being said, I do make it a point to try not to get drawn into too negative a world view. Things are pretty bad now but I think it’s safe to say they’ve been worse; and I know it’s safe to say they’ll get better, even if it requires some tough changes and patience. The world has always operated in cycles. Nothing can stay good but nor will it stay bad. Perhaps by the time your son’s old enough to actually need to worry about jobs we’ll be on the upswing!

      • i agree fullheartedly with amcalonder! I’m teaching English in South Korea, and you know what, the culture shock will spin your head 180 degrees around, and then you’d be too busy mentally coping to be negative. It’s like a good shot of alcohol when you’re 16 – what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger! Not that I support alcoholism or necessarily taking shots when you’re 16…

  17. Wayne E. says:

    Wow! Great post. A little Dark, but I like Dark.

  18. phoenixark says:

    Not ever in America? Not just in America either.

    Yours from the U of K

  19. Wait a second, am I supposed to tell my kid that it is impossible for him and all his classmates to be the president of the USA at the same time?

    Happy days of parenting are over for me now…

  20. Posky, you’re Freshly Pressed!! Congratulations! :D

  21. asoulwalker says:

    A man from TV spoke at my highschool graduation. He told me to follow my heart. If I ever see him again…

    • CrystalSpins says:

      That guy was at my graduation too. We should find him together and steal the money they paid him to give those speeches, cause following my heart sent me into journalism…I NEED money!

  22. Or we can all move to Moon. I hear the international space station is renting rooms. hahaha Good post.

  23. judithornot says:

    You just described (more or less) my childhood. My mom was born in 1913, and the world was not a kind place for her.

  24. I was born in USSR. We lost everything in 1992-jobs, money, hope.
    Let me share with you my experience-there is no ideal country to live.
    I’ve lived in Germany and then we moved to USA. It’s always something good and bad about the place you live. However, we have survived and we are doing very well. This is what I’ve learned-it doesn’t matter where you live it’s a matter who you live with and how you’re reacting to an extreme situation. When USSR felt apart, I was just graduated from the university and there were no
    jobs available at all! No food in supermarkets.In order to survive, you need to think how you can make money while everybody panicked. Let them panic. There is a people who always found something good in the worst situation. Trust me, you will find your way.

  25. pryan51 says:

    Entrepreneurship – we HAVE to make our own jobs.

    • TikkTok says:

      And the govt needs to get out of the way so that new, smaller business can actually survive and thrive without the hoops being prohibitive…… just sayin’. ;)

      • Kaddazz says:

        Oh my, the excuse of the small-minded: “guvment in the way”… No entrepreneur is hindered by our government, only by that belief that has become the mantra of the angry Right!

      • CrystalSpins says:

        And the government needs to quit giving money away for education (student loans) and start funding business. And it needs to be harder to get an education. I mean it should be available to everyone, but not everyone should be able to finish. In my state you only need to get a 16 on your ACT and you’re in. A 16! That’s like what you get for spelling your name right.

      • TikkTok says:

        :lol: Yeaaahhhhh, ’cause the govt doesn’t have anything to do with small businesses, lol. Sounds like you have the secret to success. Do share! :D

      • pryan51 says:

        Yes Kaddazz actually the gummint DOES throw a lot of roadblocks in the way of small business, like how many parking places need to be handicap, forms to be filed, even from whom supplies need to be purchased. How much insurance is needed, what kind and for whom…. I believe in some government control, for quality, but some of this stuff just doesn’t make sense.

      • I’ll support kaddazz. Truly it’s not the govt, moreover the capitalist big corporate chains and bank jargon who you’re trying to compete against. Forms to fill, no problem; licensing depends, but least of your concerns. Taking out loans is difficult depending on your credit, which is once again nothing to do with gov’t unless you want to be specific. However the only “roadblock” there is to begin your small business is the actuality of bringing it to fruition. Of course unless you’re planning on starting your entrepreneurship big and file for a C-corp because you want to pay more tax to the govt. In short, the only road block is you, the potential entrepreneur.

  26. Woo-hoo! How did I miss commenting on this one earlier? You crazy talented blogger, you…

    Maybe because you sound a little bitter. And jaded. Thus it hit too close to home.

    ;)

    • Posky says:

      I’m not bitter- I’m doing too well.

      I just want to see everyone everyone doing a little better and create some smiles in the face of bleakness.

  27. All those lofty dreams of careers that most people do not seem to acquire these days, may also be just…youth. In our youth most of us probably dream of supporting ourselves playing football or writing award winning poetry in a beach shack somewhere or whatever the dream may be. Life has a way of kicking the life out of those dreams for most of us….lol. I suppose that has been true on any decade….

    • Posky says:

      It does seem like the world of today seems particularly good at promising the starts but offering you dirt.

      It’s like a first boyfriend or girlfriend.

      We’ve got to get over that first awful relationship.

  28. csp says:

    Very interesting post. I have told my kids not to go to college. The real American dream was never what you were taught. It is ability to think and make decisions for yourself. I told my children not to waste 4 years in the college route. College trains us to be slaves and never think for yourself. Schools train children to think what the state and corporations want them to think, that is, to fall into line and do what you are told and not to speak up for yourself. The false dream of going to college to make lots of money is a lie. Yeah, some do, but most don’t. Companies run America. Congress and the president only make laws, and laws control people. Who really pays them? Who do most of the laws benefit if not corporations? We don’t government a salary, they take the money they want from us, but it’s the corporations lining their pockets. Who benefits from the laws? Corporations do. We stomp our feet and throw a fit for better education, education that will make our children the same slaves we are to corporations and the government when we should be teaching them how to run their own businesses and stop the cycle.

    • TikkTok says:

      Amen! We need more people who have good critical thinking skills- and aren’t afraid to use them. People need actual useable skills…..

      • CrystalSpins says:

        I have great critical thinking skills and I am constantly punished for it at work.

      • Well coming from a grade a school, i’d have to disagree that colleges prepares us for slavery, rather they prepare us with ambition, the glory, and false hope. And once you land your first actual professional job, that’s when they brain wash you, stick the chain and ball on you and tell you to do their taxes, cover the TPS reports, and keep busy so you won’t have time to ignite any ideas or re-establish your creative thinking skills!
        Sadly, some of us are to blame in letting them chain us, until you slowly work your way out like Andy Dufresne did in Shawshank.

    • I think we’re still clinging to an old idea… that you need to have a degree to get a good job (most of the jobs I’ve had insisted in the posting on somebody with a degree, but hired me anyway). And of course there’s the idea that once you get a good job with your college degree, you’ll be able to stick with it and everything will be hunky dory. The world just doesn’t work like that anymore… people don’t stay in the same job for 20 years, and companies don’t keep the same people on for that long regardless (the longer you’re there, the more you cost them because for some reason you keep thinking your life should be improving and maybe you need a raise). There is no such thing as job security anymore, and IMO the people who do the best are the ones who’ve learned to be adaptable.

      I loved college and I wish I’d been able to finish a degree, but by the same token I wish I’d never even tried it. In the fields I studied (biology and related, mostly) you really can’t get work without a degree, and now that I’m back in the workforce I’m just saddled with horrible debt that I can’t get out from under. I have to stick with whatever job I’ve got, whether I like it or not, because I have bills to pay from college. It’s an insane and evil loop.

  29. Woo-hoo~~ “when you grow up, you can be whatever you want.” What they should have said is, “When you grow up, you can get a job in mediocrity if you take out loans to go to school and, after fifty years, maybe you can have a fairly comfortable life if your expectations aren’t too high.”

    That’s true!!!

  30. I was raised with the idea that doing well in school and getting a 4-year degree would allow me to get a good job fairly easily upon graduation. Maybe not my ideal job, but a good job, not factory or retail. A year after college graduation, the same parents who taught me to go to college so I wouldn’t have to work in a factory are encouraging me to pursue factory jobs. Nothing else is out there.

  31. Michael M says:

    When I grew up I was told I “could” be whatever I wanted.

    Most people don’t realize “could” is an option, not an imperative.

    • Posky says:

      When it’s your life, it’s always an imperative.

      Still, you lay down a pretty profound couple of sentences. I like your brevity and wisdom.

  32. bvulcanius says:

    The writing of this piece is spot-on! Combined with the cartoons it’s black comedy in blog-form. I’m from the Netherlands, where the college tuition is affordable and job prospects are still good. I think I could say that we made our fair share of mistakes before and during the crisis, but I think we’ve learned a lot from them.

    I really hate to read that a lot of people in the US have lost their faith in a college education. Of course we need people who know how to ‘do’ stuff, but you also need people who ‘know’ stuff. People who are smart have caused the crisis, unfortunately there weren’t enough people who were as smart as or smarter.

    • Posky says:

      I still want to see people get educated and I still believe people can think for themselves. I’d just like to see more of the latter and a bit of tweaking in the current national mindset.

  33. ozarkdreams says:

    Herbert Hoover, you remember him, Republican President at the beginning of the Great Depression, said it best. “The trouble with capitalism is the capitalist, they are too damn greedy.”

  34. fireygoddess says:

    that was pretty funny. I’ve got 3 degrees and am pretty starved for work , in Canada. Student loans til death do we part.
    great post
    http://www.foundobjectbeachart.wordpress.com

  35. rumpydog says:

    Boy does this ever speak to me, especially that first ‘toon. I am bringing home half of what I used to three years ago while expected to do so much more. And all I get is that “you oughtta be grateful….” crap. I am SOOOOO tired of it. My personal mantra is that I am going to blog, even if nobody reads it, because it is the ONE thing I do that makes me totally, deliriously happy.

  36. Chuck says:

    As far as the Canadian perspectives: Maybe from a Canadian perspective their economy is great, just as the Brit thinks his is good right now (it’s not, try Google) and the guy from the USSR thinks it’s pretty nice here (CONUS), considering we have food available for purchase. Maybe it would simplify your child-rearing plan if you just raise your children in a 3rd world country. That way, when they’re living in squalor on the sidewalk, at least they’ll be able to say “I’ll tell you what, son, we didn’t have sidewalks and McDonald’s crumbs in Ethiopia when I was growing up. We had to wait for international aide to drop food on ground made of bare dirt and fight the warlords for it. You don’t know how lucky you are to be living in the streets of America.” On a more serious note, though, a couple of good points are raised. I was unemployed for over a year before I gave up hope of getting a job, sold everything and started my own business. I now make four times the money in an economy that takes half as much to get by. I owe it all to the recession (that, and years of learning different skills, eating beans and rice, and working harder and smarter than the next guy). Oh, yeah, and “USSR guy”, spot on, that’s exactly what I did. “Blaming it all on Bush guy,” you are an idiot. Clinton borrowed, Bush fought, and Obama spent. It’s everyone’s fault, even mine and yours.

  37. Tell it like it is! Beautiful drawings, too.

  38. Anna says:

    You got Freshly Pressed!
    Aaaaammmaaaaziiing. :D

  39. This made me laugh. Then I got depressed because it hit too close to home. My last day at my job is this Friday.

    • Posky says:

      Get depressed and then find a reason to get focused on the stars.

      It’s the terrible awful nature of it all that is going to mold us into something great again.

  40. Janet says:

    Yeah, I believed that bullshit about working hard and educating myself for a good job. I put myself through mechanical engineering school, while a single parent of 2 boys. Now I’m over 55 and can’t get a job for anything. I couldn’t even get a janitor job, which is what I did before putting myself through school. And yes, I’m slender, healthy, and work out regularly. But, I’m over 55, and that makes me unemployable. I’m pissed.

    • Posky says:

      While I still think it’s important to be educated and work hard, I agree that it doesn’t seem to always yield what you’d expect. I also worked in an office that hired a wide array of ages. I definitely feel that a lot of new companies seem less apt to hire “older” workers but I don’t understand why. I couldn’t find any correlation between someone’s age and how hard they were willing to work.

      You should be pissed.

  41. Wow. I’m all about optimism but holy sh*t, man, this post is RAW. I live in Canada, where we seem to have weathered the recession well (or, maybe our expectations are just that much lower). We still tell our kids they can be whatever they want to be, but we also show them the mountain they will have to climb, and the boulder they will have to roll up along the way to get there. Hmmm… maybe we’ll have to train them in the use of pointy sticks, too….
    Anyway, this is a long way of saying that I really enjoyed your post. Raw honesty and skilled satire are rare, and welcome.

  42. Meg says:

    I weep everyday for my future. I may just stay in college until the day I die, just so that I can keep living off of student loans while never having to work, all while learning new and interesting things.
    Wait, there isn’t even enough money for that anymore.
    Shit.

  43. blastedgoat says:

    Love it! I’m living this American dream… make that nightmare… but sick humor is always appreciated, especially when it’s all true :) I’m defaulting on everything that isn’t necessary to life, like loans, credit cards… you get the idea: monkey-see, monkey do economics (if my government can get away with it why can’t I?) I’m the one who pursued “my dreams” as demanded by the public education system and then no one cares about a poor bastard like me with silly B.A.! I will be laughing all the way to Canada if I ever get the chance, call me a traitor if you wish :D

  44. Laura4NYC says:

    Wow, this is a very inspiring post! I am myself at those crossroads of wonder, at which I am still trying to think about the dreams I had when I graduated one and a half years ago and trying to make sense of the people I encounter in the work force who are just doing their job for pure survival but with no passion whatsover. That is typically when I begin to pity myself for my underpaid shitty 9-5 instead of doing what I was meant to do. Which I haven’t figured out, either, of course. But it is a bit terrifying to think of myself being one of those zombies without real dreams one day… :-(

    • Posky says:

      Then again there is an appeal of a nice and safe day job. That 9 to 5 work can be wonderful if that’s the sort of life you want.

      Just make sure that whatever to commit to is what you want.

  45. Too bad on the economy of the US, here in Mexico is not better either. It’s really crazy! As you said the US were the beacon of hope where all dreams could become true but now at this rate Americans will come to Mexico for a job; some already did. The American empire won’t last a thousand years, thats for sure.
    Great post, congratulations on getting FP

    • Posky says:

      I’m not sure any empire should last a thousand years. Unwavering power can’t be good for a person or country’s character.

      And thanks.

  46. This is way dark. “South Park” is also dark but it is also funny and entertaining. Maybe the powers that be around here put it up for contrast?

  47. Sad but true.

    But I am always amazed by people who thought it would all be easy and great and well-paid. I’m now in my 50s, in the third recession in 20 years and don’t even bother applying for good jobs anymore. The only good of taking a low-wage job in retail, 2007-2009, was getting a book deal out of it at the end. Now…how ironic — it may end up as a television show. Wouldn’t that be fun?

    • Posky says:

      A television show about low wage retail jobs and the recession? Not really.

      That book deal doesn’t sound awful though.

  48. jirikalab says:

    You’ve got some quite good points there. The biggest problem in the US and in the UK, eventually in any other countries is the high number of unqualified people in any jobs out there. Especially big companies are hiring people who doesn’t have a clue about what are they doing, just only these people are so lucky to have good friends to get them into positions which are more suited to people who actually have the right qualifications for it. So little advice to anybody who taking enormous large loans for educations, do not do it, just find the right friend in the right position.

  49. Students of the last couple generations were lied to, plain and simple. It probably wasn’t intentional, the adults got caught up in the “go to college and everyone graduates a billionaire” hype. When advisors in college are encouraging students to major in finance and business because “its where all the money is being made”, as opposed to what the student may have a passion for, there’s a problem. When guidance counselors tell kids that they have to go to college because it’s the only way to get a good job, there’s a problem. When students don’t know what they want to do when they graduate other than “make a lot of money”, there’s a problem.

    As lame as that turned out for us, the students of today are instead being fed a steday diet of fear whenever they hear the news or read a paper. We can’t afford to invest in anything. The economy is in the toilet. We’re going to be buying groceries with wheelbarrows full of peso/euro/dollar/yens. At least we had a carrot dangled in front of us. These kids are going to have all kinds of information crammed into their heads only to graduate and do what? Let their dreams rot while working a 9-5?

    That’s an even bigger problem.

    • Posky says:

      I’m imagining that they’ll probably have to resort to cannibalism just to get semi-regular meals.

      I suppose we could just double our efforts now to achieve a better tomorrow, though. People are talking about that a lot- maybe we should take action and hope for something beautiful instead of reporting how bad it’s all going to be on the news.

  50. gaaphammer says:

    I was one year into college right when the recession hit. Had no clue what I wanted to do at first, but quickly I realized that my major needed to be recession proof. Tried out business management for a while, then moved to accounting since I enjoyed the material and picked it up fast.

    I don’t plan on being a number cruncher for big corporations or accounting firms for very long. After a few years of experience I want to start my own business and advise small businesses on financial stuff. Keeping local companies from failing is one of the most meaningful things I could do with my background. And working for corporate America can suck your soul if you aren’t careful.

    • Posky says:

      I think having a dream that involves helping other people keep theirs is probably a pretty good one.

      I’d endorse it.

    • “I don’t plan on being a number cruncher for big corporations or accounting firms for very long.”
      Make sure to WRITE THAT DOWN somewhere as many tend to forget their initial goals and dreams and get too comfortable and lazy. My co-workers and friends have become just like that and tv, sports, leisure does a hell of a good job endorsing it.
      I’m nearing it, but trying to grab solace via wordpress for one, which is turning into a bad idea

  51. Pingback: Ghost Dogs and the New American Job Market (via You Monsters Are People.) « Psilomelane

  52. Pingback: Post of the Day: One Man’s Way to Harden His Kids to the “American Dream” | The Blog Revue

  53. jeljones says:

    That was a damn good read. I will be subscribing. I do however, hope you’re joking about raising kids that way. Who knows? If you did, maybe it would be better for them?!

    I live in Australia, and we haven’t been hit that hard. Thank goodness. Good luck to the Americans out there trying to secure employment!

  54. Check out the Greek movie ‘Dogtooth’ for examples of said parenting – crazy disturbing yet in some really bizarre way hilarious – but to a point. Great post, by the way.

  55. Reisytal says:

    As a graduate who’s recently emerged from the American Dream Factory, I cheer a resounding “hear, hear!” to your post :)

    Some interesting thoughts to consider: Ken Robinson’s “Changing the Education Paradigm” (watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U). I taught middle school as my first job out of college, and I soundly agree that our paradigm needs radical change to engage with our real world!

    Being a smart and active person doesn’t guarantee you’ll make it anymore. But, it can mean that you have one hell of a time while you’re here ;)

    Here’s to those makin’ the best of it! *cheers*

  56. I starting new phase of illiterate wordpress spammer type comment. With big luck the lasting of it will be less long. Freshpress for you being long overdue, i voting have been long time for it for “The Cat Lover’s Diary” for the freshly. It is. First time I read, I experienced the big satisfaction of deep laugh, but sad feels, for lonely 80s girl. Please tell she gets lucky before drowning in cat piss.

    Seriously, congrats on the Freshpress–people are right; this one is really dark, but so true as to the seeming hopelessness of our job, and economic, futures. We just have to keep trying and keep enjoying our little hobbies and hoping that they will pay someday, I guess.

    • Posky says:

      Your spam comment left me laughing viciously hard.

      It did seem weird that his one got picked out of the bunch? Maybe someone at wordpress was just fed up with their job. I tried to keep it semi-hopefull at the end though.

  57. prncscaraboo says:

    I absolutely LOVE this part “We idolize the past like it’s so mythically far away or long ago that it is completely out of reach. We’ve ignored its lessons and have settled upon a lesser future than we deserve. Our parents and grandparents lived the dream and rode rockets to the moon while we’re selling off the space program like a beat up old car. There will be no missions beyond the sky for us. It has been decided that it’s just not practical anymore.

    It was never practical. None of it.”

  58. Jim says:

    Interesting that, in American culture, people like to talk about rights. The right to do this and that. But somewhere along the way society lost sight of the most important and universal right – the right to earn a living.

  59. Jean says:

    I’m feeling a huge disconnect here even though I am a boomer and university educated (long ago) ….and I attribute it partially to maybe raised by low-income immigrant parents in Canada. One witnesses and is told often as a child about working hard, whether or not one has a college/university degree.

    And there’s enough boomers looking for employment since the last big recession that it’s to still pay for bills.. After all, I found work 18 months later…in a different province. No one lied to me about anything. I just had to be prepared to make some drastic, hard choices and changes.

    So to teach children about being flexible and keeping options open,…..while also learning to live frugally. (I cringe when I hear about kids racking up cell-phone bills on their parent’s account…)

  60. O to the M to the G… This was an amazing way to end my Monday evening. I feel like I really took a lot away from reading this post. I can now add Ghost Dog to my repertoire of parent rearing skills.

    I think you should write a book on how to dominate your children… I mean raise them…

    • Posky says:

      That’s a really good idea. I bet I could pretend it was intended as a satirical book to get a publishing deal and then, right before it goes on sale, market it as a How To.

  61. psampson2888 says:

    I know far too many of my friends coming out of college, doing no better than me without a degree. It will only get worse if our great leaders and corporate morons can’t manage to pull their heads out of their wallets. My son is sooo new to this world and I am almost ashamed to have to show him it. I want to show him a world better than this but I fear that may never happen.

    • Posky says:

      I figure if you’re honest, helpful and optimistic with him- he’ll manage the best he can.

      Of course, you could always try the methods I listed above. I can assure you that he’d be hardened to the world but, perhaps, lose a bit of his humanity and “huggability.”

  62. Aurora says:

    Great piece… well written thoughts most can’t voice as well :) It’s about recognizing the fear and moving beyond it, finding solutions, but if nobody voices it, we just dance around it, apathetic, voiceless and the reality never shifts… good to get it out there, now we can think/do forward :)

  63. y3girlgames says:

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  64. curlailaf says:

    peculiarly pathetic!
    Nahhh! This epic post made my day! I can imagine how cruel parenting could be if your plan would work out…ROTFL!
    I’m gonna home school my future kids and make it sure they would be practical enough to survive the odds and trends of this fast-paced-world. Life’s been tough in a third-world country where I was born and grew-up like the Philippines. No wonder, most of my fellas are dying to go there for greener pastures ~_~, only to find out it’s better to make bread and butter in the mother land.

    BTW, I love the wit and the cold-blooded, more-than-just-innuendo shared! Congrats for being Freshly Pressed. I’m gonna re-post this in my FWP (Freelance Writers of the Phils.) group page :)

    curlybookworm.wordpress.com

  65. It is quite harsh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  66. mrstwinmom says:

    oh — this was fun….

    I haven’t laughed like this in quite a while.

    And on top of your work, your writing has prompted some hilarious comments.

    Overall I’m so pleased to see this kind of discussion.

    • Posky says:

      Me too. I just wanted to get people laughing and thinking about how it is and what can be done.

      If you liked this, check out some of my older (and newer) work.

  67. tudobeleza11 says:

    Your children, if they turn out to be girls, and want to go down the typical 4 year college route, can always resort to sugar daddies paying off their student loans, but this option may compromise their values. Case in point: http://theweek.com/article/index/217868/sugar-daddies-the-new-way-to-pay-off-college-loans.

    And since you mentioned big corporations…I think the debate should be about making these corporations, hedge funds, and banks (Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America) who by the way profited the most from the Bernie Madoff scandal, less profitable overall. By limiting how much these conglomerates leverage to their portfolios with borrowed money, etc. Not about whether particular individuals deserve their 10 million dollar bonuses. Or in the instance of the UC Regents at my alma mater UCSB, who were given a 77% salary increase while student fees were increased. Who is down to brainstorm ideas to stop high profits of conglomerates which aid the pockets of gov. officials..?

    Boy I wished my parents smacked some sense into me earlier on, to make me want to question so called authority. The key at least what I have found so far is to have an entrepreneurial spirit, which will take you farther than a degree, which is now the equivalent of a high school degree.
    Cheers!

    • Posky says:

      I’ve been questioning authority almost from birth. I’m unsure as to if it has helped me.

      I liked what you had to say, though. Good points all around and I’m having difficulty finding something to disagree with.

  68. ‘when you grow up, you can get a job in mediocrity’ – you have hit the nail on the head, our society bashes the creatives, the artists, the inventors and the dreamers until they feel like failures because they can’t understand why they don’t ‘fit in’ to the average workplace full of unimaginative, ladder-climbing yes-men. thanks for voicing what I’ve been thinking during 10 long years of brain-numbing office work.

    • Posky says:

      Maybe it’s because I’ve been there. I’ve been that artist.

      Don’t give up on being creative. Ten years isn’t too long and even one million years shouldn’t be enough to break your spirit entirely.

  69. We definitely need to be prepared a little because no preparation is ever going to be enough for the job market. By the way, its worse here in Pakistan.

    • Posky says:

      It’s worse a lot of places.

      Unfortunately humans understanding of tragicness is entirely relative.

      I would like to see and hear of every place getting a little better instead of most of them getting a lot worse.

  70. First, it is amazing to me the ability of Canadians to remove themselves from the Empire epithet, when all of their lovely economy basically supplies all of the spare parts and equipment for all of the bombs and planes that their neighbor to the South then uses to extricate wealth from the rest of the planet. Having said that, I have returned to the Third World as it were, the country of my birth, and from where I was adopted. All I can report is that growing up with this bogus American Dream is a hard pill to swallow now that I am on the Other side. Especially when you consider that the engine of American Capital has effectively stifled any and all resistance to anything that might replace it—note the tepid reference to Karl Marx here. Speak it loud! The rest of the planet is proudly raising the portrait of Che in their revolutions; where is American resistance? Swallowed up by assassinations of resistance leaders, a disturbing and cynical post-modernism that disallows any active revolution, and the desperation of those coming up through the system who have been schooled out of thinking that this is a possibility, and who want their “piece of the pie”, as much of a tiny crumb that it is now. I think that instead of hoping for any kind of true American Revolution (as opposed to the hostile corporate takeover of the landed gentry that was 1776) the U.S. and the rest of the First World will have to see how they are looked upon and treated once revolution is successful in terms of the rest of the planet. That is, if it allows such a thing. The dragon is most dangerous when it is dying, after all.

    • Posky says:

      I almost feel as if it doesn’t belong under my hyperbolically satirical explosion. Thank you for an unexpectedly intelligent and well written response.

  71. Jeff Mazzini says:

    Sadly these issues are not related to USA alone, it’s a global problem that unfortunately has caught politicians sleeping and many are not equipped or qualified to solve their respective countries issues. Technology changes have finally taken hold, yet no country was ready for it and there are no new job roles or structures in place to meet the new world’s requirements.
    Being unemployed will become the norm for many, being highly educated will not always secure your dream employment role but it will go a long way in assisting you to secure a job. There is no stigma to being unemployed these days it’s just how can you survive with no income that is a question on many people’s minds.

    • Posky says:

      I’ve got a lot of different friends and I’m beginning to become alarmed at how closely my uneducated homeless friends and highly-educated unemployed friends have become. People are learning how to live on nothing and it isn’t because they’ve all decided to become as eco friendly as possible.

  72. pwezidol says:

    Hello – as a matter of fact that seem to be an occidental problem.
    I compared it to “humble proposition” From swift.
    Funny Yet untrue.

  73. “Spankings would be distributed completely at random. They would understand the horrible arbitrary nature of existence early on.”

    Wish I’d had those spankings in childhood rather than in the post-university wasteland of despair and indignation!

    Great post.

    • Posky says:

      You could probably still get them… but you’d have to find someone and then pay them. I can’t, in good conscience, recommend that.

  74. Pingback: New American Job Market « Giba Canto

  75. Carlinhos Oliveira says:
  76. gaycarboys says:

    I still think we can be whatever we want:)

  77. leadinglight says:

    Being a young grad trying to make a decent living in Australia right now; it is difficult enough here in my field but the US sounds much worse.

  78. zoesays says:

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed, Matt! You deserve it! Great post.

  79. Damn FP’d bloggers

  80. Amy Cappelli says:

    This post speaks so strongly to what my husband is experiencing now at his place of employment. He is working as an IT consultant for a well established health insurance company. He too struggles with the emotions of knowing that he should be grateful to have a job and also knowing that everyday that he enters the office a little piece of him dies. They have just bought into the AGILE work place environment. Have you ever heard of it? It is supposed to foster team work- but it really only breeds resentment. They have stripped their employees of desks and they are now forced to work shoulder to shoulder with ten people at a card table with only their laptops and a notepad. Every morning they have to stand in a circle for a scrum and tell the scrum leader what they did yesterday, what they will do today and what they think they will do tomorrow. They are each supposed to pass a totem or something when it is their turn to speak. Nothing ever gets done due to the micro, micro, micro managing. This company has sunk millions into this AGILE conversion only to see productivity get thrown out the window- and the project that he was hired to architect get halted. He was led to believe that if you worked hard- you would advance through the ranks. Well, he has advanced and now he has a t-shirt that reads, I Climbed the Corporate Ladder and all I Got Was This Lousy Card Table.

    • Posky says:

      I’m very familiar with it. While this sort of thing does have it’s merits, it’s often just a clever way for a company to disguise ways to save money by offering employees less.

      When this cost cutting tactic is used in a company where fast communication and teamwork is key- it can work. However those benefits should be passed onto the employee by way of having flexible hours, healthcare and other things to keep them happy.

      Oddly enough, giving an employee more freedom and just keeping them happy has repeatedly been proven as the best way to keep productivity high.

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  82. Congrads on be chosen for FP. This has been an interesting post to say the least. I would say the majority of posters are not seniors, but those of the “I am due, because I was born generation.” Perhaps if some of these folks had my background of being born and raised in Harlem, New York City, and going into the Air Force at age 17, as an honor student in the 11th grade,, they would have a different attitude. As a first generation Italian, I am proud to say that opportunity and accomplishment in this country awaits for all,………it just does not come to you, because you feel you are due “something for nothing in life.”

  83. Great post, and darkly humorous.

    I write about class warfare, which the rich are winning, at http://callitbyname.wordpress.com.

    You must be younger than my husband and me, because for us, the American Dream actually worked. We were born at the right time in the right place. My family was lower middle class; his was impoverished by the Depression. I went to a California state college in the late 1950’s, where tuition was $35 a semester, and eventually I became a university professor and then a lawyer. My husband served in the Army and was educated through the GI Bill. He just retired after a university teaching career of more than 50 years. Both of us were the first college graduates in our families. We had far better lives than anyone could have predicted when we were born, and we are now very comfortable in our retirement.

    For both of us, education was the key. Neither of us could have afforded that education at today’s costs, and it is a tragedy that education has become a bait-and-switch, leaving people with incredible debt (and a poorer education than we got). Somehow, college has become yet another way to funnel taxpayer money into private hands, with no risk and no real contribution required. Our daughter, in her late 30’s, would resonate strongly to your post — she is working two part-time jobs, neither very secure, but she is far better off than she would have without her university degrees. She does not have student loan debt, but only because we could afford to pay for her college education. We do not envy the generations coming after ours, because we are leaving you — well, bupkis.

    • Posky says:

      I’m seven.

      Seriously though, I’m not bitter about having been left with the check so much as I am about everyone’s inability to unite and do something great again. I want to see our generations great poets, artists, authors scientists, educators and adventurers coming out of the woodwork. I want to see everyday people with important blue-collar jobs happy in their work. I want to see office employees treated with dignity. I want to see empathy, intelligence and pride in our society.

      But I often find selfishness, fear and lethargy in the face of this economic failure.

      I want us all to acknowledge the hard times and then fight like crazy to improve them.

  84. You’re complaining about USA, it sounds so strange…
    Here we all look at the America as the land of possibilities and achieved dreams, ’cause our country in slowly falling down in misery and chaos.
    Pretty sure you’re right about everything but one: if I was your child, I’d really like to hear from you that there’s still a way to fulfil my expectations, evene if I’v to work hard.
    Children need this little sweet lie, even if there’s nothing else to do on this world.
    Hope I’e been clear enough, in argument and grammar.

  85. ikaruga2099 says:

    Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you?
    It sounds like you just described China or a fairy-tale right before the wicked witch dies.

    Things are nowhere near as bad as you describe. What we are losing is entitlement. But just because we now all of a sudden have to “survive” doesn’t mean that we have to lose our humanity.

  86. Yumolo says:

    Wow this is inspiring!Your post just made me hungry. I really enjoyed your post .Love the photographs and your story!

  87. Pingback: August 31, 2011- The Changing Paradigm of Education | Faceless Trader

  88. shil says:

    This is dark dark satire ! Boo -ark was hilarious and original. You should seriously copyright that dog from infringement.
    I am not sure why many in the comment section undermine the importance of an education. The chances of surviving in this mad, mad world are far better with an college degree than without.
    I was taught as a child, that getting a job in a field I did not care for/but paid well was far more practical than working in a creative field that paid less/didn’t pay. When the going gets tough, some dreams get left behind.

    • Posky says:

      As long as you can manage it without regrets, I feel like it’s absolutely fine to do that too.

      I fully endorse being educated and striving to be intelligent and (more importantly) wise. My problem is with the current status quo.

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  90. Elizabeth says:

    I’m a senior in college, preparing for graduation in May, and beginning to freak out about getting a job. Whenever I start discussing what kind of job I want when I graduate my peers and family tell me “any job that pays”. While that might be a necessary mindset in today’s economy I completely agree with your opinion in this post. Why have I spent 3 years studying and thousands of dollars to get a specific degree if I’m supposed to just take any job I can get? I don’t think I can settle with that.

    • Because we’re to adapt with change.
      But keep your head high, if you really want something, you can get it.
      usually we all just lie down and never get up, and blame our society….

      Oh hope you interned, that usually helps. ;D

  91. Hello Matt:D Check out this video. :) Great accompanying link to your post :D

  92. realanonymousgirl2011 says:

    That’s was oddly entertaining. I think you can still tell children that they can be anything they want when they grow up but they have to work hard and sometimes there will road blocks that will take time to overcome. Did I sugar coat it realistically?

  93. Your style of writing represents that of my friend…I will follow your articles and analyze for a report.

    It seems to me these days in the world we live in now, we’ve come to take for granted everything we are privileged to have; from laptops, to cars, to phones, to whatever amenities we are born with. Some schools are raising their acceptancy rate while also raising their tuition, dropping quality and prestige to rake in the big money. More and more kids are going to school each year, and you wonder why there are no jobs available for everyone. The fault of the matter is becoming to the hands of increased competition and not the demise of the “American Dream”. Tis true job market is in the hole, but it just means we need to use more of our wit to get what we want and it’s just not going to be handed to us on a silver plate no more. No more short cuts, no more easy button, good ol’ DIY and a whole lot of optimism (remember that one?). Besides, how long would we need to rely on a term that was coined up back in the great depression? Maybe it’s time for a new term. Or maybe another great revolution? Either way, I’m down for both, while I overlook the whole mess from my 31st floor luxurious prison.

    By the way i found it equally hilarious reading the comments, especially those that could not differentiate between your sarcasm/satire, because I for one am offended.
    -You should think about investing on a curator for your artworks

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