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Millennials Turning on Obama

Check this out: Millennials are disenchanted with President Obama.

Not to sound like a cranky white guy (which I am), but it’s rightly so. Everything he campaigned on; everything he hoped the young generation would believe about him and his administration was a lie. Or perhaps the least truthful untruth.

As much as Gloria Borger, the author of this article, wants and wishes that Obama’s sanctioning of all sorts of eavesdropping to simply be an expression of his moderate attempt to play the middle ground between Republican love of defense and Democratic love of equality, it simply is not true. The Obama administration has, in fact, sanctioned ‘domestic spying.’

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http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/barackobama/ig/Barack-Obama-Cartoons/Obama-s-Second-Term.htm

It would appear that this, coupled with the anemic recovery, touted by nearly every liberal as ‘no small feat’, isn’t good enough for Millennials. My generation was willing to allow some leeway to a man we liked, but now that he has clearly overseen policies the majority of Americans, and Millennials, find reprehensible, it may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

But these numbers should not be terribly alarming to his administration, however. They only would be to those who believed that the 66% of Millennials who voted for the president represented a new Democratic majority in perpetuity. These people, who were not terribly rare the first few weeks after the most recent election, are either liars or fools. Probably both.

Back to the original article, Borger states: “Now, I know this president doesn’t like some parts of his job. He doesn’t much like schmoozing members of Congress, despite his recent share-a-meal plan with assorted Capitol Hill types. He doesn’t like the LBJ-style strong-arming, either. He doesn’t much like the messy lawmaking process in which personal relationships can often mean the difference between getting what you want and getting nothing at all. And he doesn’t ever like to be pushed. Ever. No-drama Obama, remember?”

Yeah, we remember. It makes us all pine for the days when we had a president who would schmooze. Who would strong-arm. Who would shake hands and move things around to get something done. Remember the movie Lincoln last year? The very reason Spielberg made that movie was to teach the Legislative and Executive branches a lesson in working together. That was what Abraham Lincoln did. Everything this president will not do. He has always been a disappointment to conservatives. He’s just become one to independents. And he’s becoming one to liberals. And to Millennials.

But, there is a silver lining in all of our president’s faults, according to Borger: “But he does like speeches. He likes writing them, redrafting them, pondering them. He likes giving them, too — because he’s good at it.”

That’s exactly what we need! A speech! That will make all of this better. The man who should have been a speechwriter will make everything better.

Unfortunately, the only tonic that will likely make this situation better is a cold glass of better leader.

When the theme song of the Millennial Generation is about buying junk at a thrift shop, you might not be doing enough.

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Overqualified Yet Underprepared

If you had to do it all over again, you would have, said 53% of Millennials surveyed in the substantive information in this article by Jermaine Taylor: http://www.cnbc.com/id/100727466.
 
I’m one of them. I majored in philosophy at a small liberal arts school. Given the opportunity for a do-over, I would have double majored in philosophy and something that wasn’t in the humanities, like biology or economics. And I would have gone to a larger school. Hindsight is 20/20, but foresight is pretty laughable. 
 
I didn’t consider things like employment rates or the economy when I when to college. Colleges are pushing back against results driven data, which is laughable and outrageous considering the grievous disservice they have provided the majority of my generation, particularly in conjunction with the tremendous amounts of money we (actually, our parents) have poured into their institutions. The most of us are flying blind when we graduate. 
 
This “should be an alarming call to action for all of us,” said André Dua, a director at McKinsey & Co., and lead author of the study. “We need to have a national discussion about how to better prepare students.”
 
All attempts to right these wrongs, so far, have been Band-Aids on arterial wounds. In an ironic twist, the current administration appears hapless when faced with such uncertainty, much like many Millennials.
 
That’s why it’s such good news that Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) for getting something started with the “Student Right to Know Before You Go” Act. It’s not a big enough gauze for that arterial wound I mentioned before, but it’s a promising start.

Arrested Development: The Millennial Story

We have yet another article on the near disaster that is the Millennial economy, written adroitly by Derek Thompson. You can read it here, and I suggest that you do:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/the-unluckiest-generation-what-will-become-of-millennials/275336/

We’re putting it all off, folks. Marriage, kids, mortgages. All the things that were supposedly ‘The American Dream’ before now makes our skin crawl. Or, to be more egalitarian, it’s makes us nervous. Not because we hate these things, but because we are absolutely not ready for them. We don’t have enough money. We don’t have any satisfaction in our careers, should we be lucky enough to have one. (As you can likely tell from this blog and this post, I don’t have much of either.)

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A lot of us live with our parents. To quote Mr. Thompson, we are looked at as “Perma-Children,” and he makes the case for prolonged pessimism. He is correct that entertainment and other commodities have been greatly cheapened by the internet, but truthfully, who cares? It’s nice, but a good, independent, quality of life is nicer.

We are the unluckiest generation, economically speaking. We came into a workforce after the burst of the economic bubble that, in hindsight, was amazing in the sense that so few people saw it coming. Everything was either artificially too low or too high, and one day, it wouldn’t be able to maintain itself. The day has come and gone, and here we are.  

It’s the same narrative everywhere we go. Millennials are: The most educated generation. The least paid generation. We whine. We complain. We had great childhoods and our expectations were too high.

Valid points all. But no comfort is to be found. We are in the midst of a recovery, but it’s slow and anemic and one can’t help but feel as though the bottom could fall out from it at any moment. It’s tiresome.

We aren’t going to have as good as the Baby Boomers and Generation X. We know. We get. We won’t be able to make up the ratio of wealth. Perhaps it’s because the world is changing so rapidly that even we’re running to catch up.

There is, of course, optimism, but realism tends to get in the way.

Millennials, Music, and Genesis Blue

There’s a certain sense of irony when a twenty-something feels nostalgia for his youth. But, without waxing faux-poetic about how our current mediocre economy and overall zeitgeist might contribute to my hungering for halcyon days, I still find thinking of my youth comforting. Before bills and jobs and aging came into play, we had the excitement of firsts.

Everyone remembers their first everything, usually, unless it was singularly awful, painful, or just truly unmemorable. Your first bike, first video game, first kiss, first car, first love. But what really encapsulates my youth, and by youth I mean high school-ish days, is music. Millennials are a particularly musical generation, you will find. Most of us can give you a ‘soundtrack of our lives,’ as pretentious as that sounds.

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I came to popular music later than most kids. I had never heard Pearl Jam orAce of Base when I was in grade school. (Guess my age.) Needless to say, I wasn’t the most popular kid at recess. This was mainly because my parents didn’t really want me listening to that type of music. To their credit, they acquiesced when they saw the encroaching tide wearing away at that beachhead.

But I still remember that first mix CD.

This mix CD came when I was about 15. I didn’t have a CD burner so I coaxed a friend into making it for me once day. I played it and played it and played it. There was a harmony to the selections I made; the order and the sound seemed to fit perfectly to me, and only me. Perhaps it was because 15 years worth of favorite musical taste actually became a physical playlist, but who knows? This mix CD would be, to most people (or at least, to most people above the age of 30), nonsensical in terms of taste. But Millennials are known to be eclectic in their tastes in music, predominantly because there is just so much music out there.

Even the way we receive music has changed drastically over the course of just the past twenty years.

The information age has seen a veritable glut of musical genres overwhelm our eardrums. AM and FM radio stations are the basic cable news of music, where the produced and paid go to sell oftentimes unappealing music. Millennials tend to avoid them. If they really wanted to speak to the most musically inclined generation, they would make eclectic mixes like we do on our iPods and laptops.

Like all generations, we are molded and changed by the times we live, just as much as we mold and change our times. Music is near and dear to us because it is ubiquitous. It’s on our computers, on our phones, in our cars. Technology and Millennials will be forever intertwined, much as war and Generation X were. Come to think of it, we’re the first generation in a long time to not be affected by the horrors and realities of war. But that’s another post altogether. We follow the trends of music without realizing it because long trends are typically only noticed on a subconscious level, if at all. As Millennials, we loved MTV, Nirvana, nu-metal, east vs. west coast rappers, the Beastie Boys, N*Sync and the Backstreet Boys, and Britney Spears.

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Napster came along and changed how we received our music. We could download just the songs that we liked without buying the whole crap CD! And we didn’t have to pay for it! Sure, it took an hour to download one song over a 56K modem, and God-forbid anyone call the house phone. But, once we got that taste of freedom, we never wanted to let that go.

On to the brilliance of Steve Jobs and Apple, which created the iTunes store and the iPod, and made what we’d been doing for years awfully convenient and legal. Jobs’ genius was to be able to get nearly every major music label to agree that their artists’ songs were worth $.99 a pop. This quelled our fear of being imprisoned because the music industry was mad at us for downloading “Mambo #5” without paying them tribute.

Nowadays, Millennials are often at the source of the popularity of musicians. We tweet them, they tweet back. We help them go viral, land gigs, make money. We do things like crowdsource and crowdfund. Look at Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen and Psy and “Gangnam Style.” Music videos have become events now, as they once were when MTV debuted. But now, we skip that middleman-ness MTV brought to the table and get these four-minute musical shows right from the artist’s YouTube page. I couldn’t possibly prognosticate where it’s going to go from here. Which makes me nostalgic for the days when there were barriers between me and my music, when I felt like I was getting away with something when I downloaded the Pink Panther theme off of Napster.

But back to my wonderful mix, which I called Genesis Blue, because it was my first mix ever (how clever of me), and it was a blue Verbatim CD. And, while the CD is now too damaged to be played, I still have the playlist. The res of what made it… it. I listen to it not just when I’m feeling nostalgic. I listen to it when I’m sad and happy. I made that CD right around the time I got my first pet – a tabby cat named Virgil. He’s passed away since then, but it makes me wistful for him every time I play it. Another part of my childhood, gone. But never forgotten.

The Genesis Blue track list:

The Best is Yet to Come (Theme from Metal Gear Solid) by Aoife Ni Fherraigh

Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Baby by Barry White

Just Dropped In by Kenny Rogers & The First Edition

What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

If I Were A Rich Man by Chaim Topol (sung by the character Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof)

Mast Qalandar by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Massive Attack mix)

Amistad Main Theme by John Williams

Thank You by Dido

Another One Bites the Dust by Queen

Minority by Green Day

Intergalactic by Beastie Boys

Asshole by Denis Leary

Life’s Gonna Suck by Denis Leary

Techno Syndrome (Mortal Kombat theme) by the Immortals

Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana

Come As You Are by Nirvana

Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down

Enter Sandman by Metallica

Blast by Kid Rock

Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck by Grinspoon

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Free Internships! Just Add Desperation

In this economy, Millennials do not have the option of being picky. In college, we dreamt of 6-figure salaries, or starting a thriving business, or taking our time to build our pet projects. However, idyllic as we pictured our post-graduate lives being, the realities of life, of course, hit us hard. Unemployment for recent graduates is at 12.7% as of July 2012.

But even the harshest pessimist likely could not have foreseen the most opportunistic and desperate of realities: unpaid internships.

ImageDoes this not entice you?

It’s been explained to us in ostensible terms: if you work for a company for free, you get a foot in the door. This can be true, sometimes. A dozen or so years ago, unpaid internships were not uncommon in the arts, but they have spread out into the industries of business, law, and journalism, even before the Great Recession hit in 2008.

Unpaid internships prey on a very common-sense theme: Experience trumps education. Our educational system does not value hands-on experience, so when the newly-matriculated graduate is loosed upon the world with tens of thousands of dollars in loans to repay and debt to refund, the question becomes: how can we possibly break into the industries we’ve thought about entering with only a $140,000 piece of paper that nearly everyone else has?

Sometimes, these unpaid internships do indeed lead you to where you want to go. Other times, they lead to desperation and despair. We hear from our peers how they are forced to do menial labor; the labor that paid workers refuse to do. Grabbing lunches; making photocopies; cleaning offices; making coffee; answering tedious phone calls. Some have worked over forty hours a week (some much more).

ImageWould you work for a man who had this mug? Courtesy of store.theonion.com

 

How did so many businesses get kids to work for free?

Historically speaking, we need to go back nearly 80 years in order to find the law that allows for something like this. In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed, and it laid out a 6-point test, still in use today, for hiring unpaid interns:

1. The internship must be similar to training that would be given in an educational environment;
2. The internship must be for the benefit of the intern;
3. The intern does not displace regular employees;
4. The employer derives no immediate advantage from the intern;
5. The intern is not entitled to a job at the end of the internship; and
6. The intern understands that he or she is not entitled to wages.

(Credit: http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/statutes/FairLaborStandAct.pdf)

If followed to the letter, this would be acceptable. The first point is a bit unreasonable nowadays, and the second and fourth points might be a little naïve to expect, but otherwise, they are not without merit. But how many unpaid internships do you know that follow these six steps? These steps are more in line with apprenticeships, which are very nearly anathema in the United States at this present time, except for in the vocational areas of electrical work, plumbing, and the like.

It is common knowledge in many industries that recent college graduates who are taking unpaid internships are going to work hard to get noticed. If they’ve taken the initiative to take something without pay just to be in an industry, then they will take an unreasonable amount of degradation before getting fed up.

Take the case of two unpaid interns vs. the movie industry. Two men filed suit against Fox Searchlight, stating that, in direct violation of the 6-point test from earlier:  “Fox Searchlight acted illegally, the lawsuit asserts, because the company did not meet the federal labor department’s criteria for unpaid internships. Those criteria require that the position benefit the intern, that the intern not displace regular employees, that the training received be similar to what would be given in an educational institution and that the employer derive no immediate advantage from the intern’s activities.”

Recently, Fox stated that they have changed their policy to ensure that no interns are paid less than $8 an hour. The two men have since expanded the lawsuit to include all internships under the parent company of Twentieth Century Fox. That case is ongoing.

 

That is just one example of the situation we’re dealing with. Of course businesses would love to get free labor; it helps keeps costs manageable. And recent graduates are so desperate that they are willing to take these marginal ‘jobs’ just to attempt some sort of forward momentum. However, this does not take into account the vast number of students who come from lower-class families and harder situations who can’t afford to take an unpaid internship in a big city. It puts them at a distinct disadvantage.

There are positives to unpaid internships, of course. Other than the fact it can actually get you a foot in the door, and resume experience, the big seller is that it ‘builds character.’ While this is something you will hear from people who have apparently already gone through their character building years, there is a kernel of truth to it. Only through friction can fire start, and only through adversity can we learn perseverance. However, it can easily be argued that these lessons can be learned with some pay as well.

This is not a progressive vs. conservative issue; it’s a moral issue. It lends itself to the greater problem of a regressing economy, and the lengths which some employers are willing to go to meet their bottom line. This should be concerning to authorities and to business in general. The market that allows for this sort of desperation will beget more desperation.

Before any laws are changed, or any trends dissipate, it is incumbent on any matriculating or recently matriculated college graduate to look very closely at their opportunities in the job market, and take care to discover whether or not any internships being considered are fair and/or worthwhile.

Eventually, the world economy will gradually get better, but it will also evolve, as all economies do. Will it involve rampant unpaid work for college graduates? Or will involve young people being able to make a fair wage? Millennials have to decide.

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