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Forum Post: "Robert Reich To New College Grads ; You're F*cked", by Robert Reich.

Posted 10 years ago on May 21, 2012, 10:15 a.m. EST by shadz66 (19985)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

"Robert Reich To New College Grads : You're F*cked !"

by Robert Reich.

Members of the Class of 2012,

As a former secretary of labor and current professor, I feel I owe it to you to tell you the truth about the pieces of parchment you’re picking up today.

You’re f*cked.

Well, not exactly. But you won’t have it easy.

First, you’re going to have a hell of a hard time finding a job. The job market you’re heading into is still bad. Fewer than half of the graduates from last year’s class have as yet found full-time jobs. Most are still looking.

That’s been the pattern over the last three graduating classes: It’s been taking them more than a year to land the first job. And those who still haven’t found a job will be competing with you, making your job search even harder.

Contrast this with the class of 2008, whose members were lucky enough to get out of here and into the job market before the Great Recession really hit. Almost three-quarters of them found jobs within the year.

You’re still better off than your friends who didn’t graduate. Overall, the unemployment rate among young people (21 to 24 years old) with four-year college degrees is now 6.4 percent. With just a high school degree, the rate is double that.

But even when you get a job, it’s likely to pay peanuts.

Last year’s young college graduates lucky enough to land jobs had an average hourly wage of only $16.81, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute. That’s about $35,000 a year – lower than the yearly earnings of young college graduates in 2007, before the Great Recession. The typical wage of young college graduates dropped 4.6 percent between 2007 and 2011, adjusted for inflation.

Presumably this means that when we come out of the gravitational pull of the recession your wages will improve. But there’s a longer-term trend that should concern you.

The decline in the earnings of college grads really began more than a decade ago. Young college grads with jobs are earnings 5.4 percent less than they did in the year 2000, adjusted for inflation.

Don’t get me wrong. A four-year college degree is still valuable. Over your lifetimes, you’ll earn about 70 percent more than people who don’t have the pieces of parchment you’re picking up today.

But this parchment isn’t as valuable as it once was. So much of what was once considered “knowledge work” – the kind that college graduates specialize in – can now be done more cheaply by software. Or by workers with college degrees in India or East Asia, linked up by Internet.

For many of you, your immediate problem is that pile of debt on your shoulders. In a few moments, when you march out of here, those of you who have taken out college loans will owe more than $25,000 on average. Last year, ten percent of college grads with loans owed more than $54,000. Your parents have also taken out loans to help you. Loans to parents for the college educations of their children have soared 75 percent since the academic year 2005-2006.

Outstanding student debt now totals over $1 trillion. That’s more than the nation’s total credit-card debt.

The extraordinary rise in student debt is due to two related facts: the cost of a college education continues to increase faster than inflation, and state and local spending per college student continues to drop – this year reaching a 25-year low.

But this can’t go on. If unemployment stays high for many years, if the wages of young college grads continue to fall, if the costs of college continue to rise and state and local spending per college student continues to drop, and if the college debt burden therefore continues to explode – well, you do the math.

At some point in the not-too-distant future these lines cross. College is no longer a good investment.

That’s a problem for you and for those who will follow you into these hallowed halls, but it’s also a problem for America as a whole.

You see, a college education isn’t just a private investment. It’s also a public good. This nation can’t be competitive globally, nor can we have a vibrant and responsible democracy, without a large number of well-educated people.

So it’s not just you who are burdened by these trends. If they continue, we’re all f*cked !!!


respice ; adspice ; prospice ...


Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock" and “The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. http://robertreich.org/ .

[Article copied verbatim under "Fair Use" from : http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article31376.htm ]



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[-] 4 points by beautifulworld (23583) 10 years ago

"If unemployment stays high for many years, if the wages of young college grads continue to fall, if the costs of college continue to rise and state and local spending per college student continues to drop, and if the college debt burden therefore continues to explode..." We're all f*cked.

[-] 2 points by Odin (583) 10 years ago

I believe a person should use profanity sparingly. If you hit your finger with a hammer, then it's OK. The other time of course is when you know that some of our brightest and best young people are being screwed by this corrupt system. So I concur, "We're all f•cked."

[-] 3 points by beautifulworld (23583) 10 years ago

Exactly. Euphemisms are not fair when we are talking about the plight of our young people.

[-] 3 points by factsrfun (8306) from Phoenix, AZ 10 years ago
[-] 0 points by shadz66 (19985) 10 years ago

An eminently sensible list is contained in your link, however to quote poster 'fiftyfourforty' from below : "Just to get the reforms he wants will take a revolution. Things are that far to the right now." !!! Unnervingly brain jarring yet succinct and true, I fear.

ad iudicium ...

[-] 2 points by factsrfun (8306) from Phoenix, AZ 10 years ago

the only way to start would be to get rid of the GOP but that involes doing things that many on here feel are going to far like supporting Ds

[-] 0 points by shadz66 (19985) 10 years ago

IF you are aspiring to a One Party State - I'm obliged to point out that you already have one ! You have a system of One-Corporate-WAR Party with a 'two faction faux dichotomy' !! Smash the GOP AND The Quisling Democraps - Pro-99% Independents and a 'Labour based 3rd Party' urgently required, imho !!!

per aspera ad astra ...

[-] 3 points by factsrfun (8306) from Phoenix, AZ 10 years ago

I'm aspiring to get rid of the GOP so tthere will be room for a new party



[-] 2 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 10 years ago

On the nose! Very well said Shadz!

Is it just me or was Clinton threatening Iraq with military action for WMD's in 1998?

Or did people forget that a lot of D's supported the war in Iraq?

Or let's look at the deregulation on Wall Street in 1999 that has lead to a lot of the problems we've seen... Gramm-Leach-Bliley act passed as well as the Republican JOBS Act did just this year.

There are a FEW D's that are good... but there's a massive difference between a Kucinich and an Obama. Like Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, and hundreds and hundreds of bombs on nations that didn't attack us.

According to Factrfun... we should forget about the truth and just blindly support democrats always. That's what my mom has been doing and so far it's not working. We need to be the generation to change things up.

Repubs blindly support repubs and dems blindly support dems... that's the current process... my Q to factsrfun is how is sticking to that process going to change anything?

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

Vote/support individuals that support the Constitution - you know actually try to work in the interest of the people. Vote out those who are against The People and are in support of special interests that are ruining our society/environment.

Fuck party politics - push issues.

[-] 4 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 10 years ago

Human need not corporate greed!

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

Exactly. Health and prosperity for all.


[-] 2 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 10 years ago

the only jobs I got offered with a physic degree was dependent on the weapons market


[-] 0 points by shadz66 (19985) 10 years ago

My respect for presumably not taking the job offers. Maybe you could teach science or mathematics.

ipsa scientia potestas est ...

[-] 1 points by JesseHeffran (3903) 10 years ago

I know this is not going to get me much love here, but I believe an education here in the States is no different than a mortgage. The left defends higher education like the right defends big business. But I believe a higher education is one of the many hustles out there that makes up the American fabric. I went in debt ten thousand dollars to realize that hustlers in America just don't reside in the ghettos but are part of the fabric of this nation. Though I feel I got off on the cheap with my education, I feel for those suckers who are getting their masters and above. The only reason I decided to go to college was because people don't take a GED recipient seriously. Now that I have a bachelor's degree, I don't feel any smarter, but I do feel more informed. College Is just another institution designed to give people with low self worth an extra ego boost. But to try and convince a once low self esteem having person with a degree that they are no better than anyone else, is a full time job in its self. For what ever it is worth, this is the conclusion I have drawn with regards to college.

[-] 0 points by penguento (362) 10 years ago

College is what you make of it. Go there with the intent to learn marketable skills and develop a career, and that's what you'll get. Go there to broaden your horizons and improve your critical thinking, and that's what you'll get. Go there to party and hang out with your friends, that's what you'll get. Go there to just put in your time and get some easy degree while you party and hang out with your friends, and that's what you'll get. It's all up to you.

[-] 1 points by JesseHeffran (3903) 10 years ago

Bull shit, you sound like a sales pitch person. College is a summer camp for middle class children leaving the nest. It is more of a status symbol, such as a three piece suite. I'll go one step further and call college Jim Crow 2.0. I do agree with you though, college does seem to be a party destination for those who had over bearing parents and never got parting out of their system when they were teenagers. Out of all the jobs I've had, going to college was the easiest thing I ever did, both mentally and physically. College is band camp for the privileged. And of course those with the silly piece of paper will never admit that they got hoodwinked when going to college.

[-] 2 points by ARod1993 (2420) 10 years ago

It really depends where you go and what you choose to do. I'm at MIT right now and I'm putting in 80-to 90-hour weeks and developing study and coping skills beyond anything I've ever had before. So far it's been one of the most difficult experiences of my life but (when I'm not stressed to death over finals) it's also been really worth it.

[-] 2 points by penguento (362) 10 years ago

You don't need to get hoodwinked. You're right, for lots of folks it's a party destination for a few years on somebody else's dime; but it doesn't need to be that way. I went to college when I was in my 30's, after years of mopping floors and running a shovel and swinging a sledgehammer for a living; and I did it on my own dime, so I made sure that I got something useful out of it. You're also right, it's not the most difficult thing I've ever done either. Bottom line, though, in the final analysis, t's up to you. If you want to fuck off for four years and get a useless piece of paper, you can do it. But you can also learn something useful if you want to.

[-] 1 points by JesseHeffran (3903) 10 years ago

Can't argue with that. I learned how statistics are manipulated, though staticulation, and how economics are just nifty little assumptions made to seem plausible. These are great lessons, but I believe apprenticeships go further in preparing people for careers. Colleges are just good for putting food handlers, janitors and other support staff to work.

[-] 1 points by penguento (362) 10 years ago

I'd also agree with that. Trade schools and apprenticeships are under-appreciated, under-utilized and undervalued. And the shame of it is that many of them lead to really well-paying jobs -- and the programs go begging for applicants because everybody wants a degree and a desk job.

[-] -1 points by danzer (-51) 10 years ago

you mean gender studies, womens studies, black studies and any degree that ends in " studies " is a waste of time and money.

[-] 1 points by penguento (362) 10 years ago

If you plan to get a job it is.


[-] 0 points by shadz66 (19985) 10 years ago

I believe in publicly funded education to graduate level and the possibility of more concentrated (ie less long holidays etc.!) two year (three max) vocational degrees and also the possibility of gaining degrees part-time over a longer period. I never went to university and don't have a degree. I live on my wits in self-employment and the older I get the less deprived I feel ! In short - I do get your point but still defend and advocate good, publicly funded education - as I believe it is good for the individual and society at large.

pax, amor et lux ...

[-] 3 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 10 years ago

I think we need an educational program for the trades that could produce graduates somewhat like Benjamin Franklin. He started out as a printer, and became a publisher as well as a scientist, artist and statesman. It would be a program for working people that would still enable them to expand themselves intellectually.

[-] 1 points by penguento (362) 10 years ago

We already have it. It's called community college. And the taxpayers are picking up 90% of the tab for you.

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 10 years ago

Not exactly, I think the spirit of classical education is definitely missing throughout our educational system. Its what we generally call "dumbing down".

[-] 1 points by penguento (362) 10 years ago

Ah, that you can achieve for free, in exactly the same manner that Ben Franklin did, And you can thank ol' Ben for it, as a matter of fact. Everything you need is available at the local public library,which was invented by none other than Ben Franklin, for precisely that purpose.

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 10 years ago

True, but it is not for me that I want it, but for those who don't know enough to want it for themselves.

Some of the great movements forward in history have been made when classical education was actively provided to the masses. Some examples:

How The Brotherhood of the Common Life Educated Orphans http://american_almanac.tripod.com/brother.htm

Education and Character: The Classical Curriculum of Wilhelm von Humboldt http://www.schillerinstitute.org/fid_91-96/962_humboldt_education.html

The Classical Education of the Founding Fathers http://www.memoriapress.com/articles/founding-fathers.html

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

Main thing was he was not a specialist - He was more of a gifted generalist. He had a wide range of interests and skills developed to those interests.

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 10 years ago

Yes, certainly, I think what he had was a love of learning. Somehow, he became a renaissance man, and understood things at such a depth that their inner beauty was revealed to him.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

He was able to feed his interest. Any one is capable of astonishing things the hard part is capturing/inspiring that attention that interest.

[-] 2 points by JesseHeffran (3903) 10 years ago

Fair enough. In fact, don't want to sound too pretentious, learning to critically think, which is one good skill gained through college, is something that would go a long way to making good citizens. See, i'm not totally invested in my point of view, it is just a thought I have pondered a few times in my life and thought I'd share and get a response.

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 10 years ago

You can learn to think critically without going to university too. I think it depends a lot on how you are brought up, and your experiences in life.

[-] 2 points by JesseHeffran (3903) 10 years ago

I guess what makes college a better rout, is that it encourages critical thinking more than any other institution and teaches students to back up their assumptions--which are types of critical thinking--with facts, but, yes, I hear you and agree. I've always thought for myself but was never really encouraged to do so until i went to college. Also, It is better to test your assumptions in class rooms where other people will check your perspective with their own beliefs and experiences. But, i guess the internet makes the need for classrooms obsolete.

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 10 years ago

I would imagine that personal classroom critical thinking has it's advantages over everything else. I just feel that if you are brought by enlightened parents...well that works 'pretty damn well' too.' The other biggie, I believe is having the opportunity to travel when you are young.

[-] 1 points by JesseHeffran (3903) 10 years ago

Though I've never been fortunate enough to leave the 'States, I do agree that traveling helps. I've lived in eight different states and have became amazed at how people who believe themselves to be better than others or different, are really not that different. This life lesson has taught me that preconceived notions--assumptions without facts--are dangerous ideas to base your life on.

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 10 years ago

It must have been your parents then, or even just one person can make all the difference, as it did for MH here. We are all lucky.

[-] 1 points by JesseHeffran (3903) 10 years ago

Well, my mom always did ask me if i'd jump off a cliff if my friends did, and though it's a little cheesy, it did lead me to think for my self.

[-] 2 points by Odin (583) 10 years ago

Simple lessons are often the best. I am promoting the 'credit your parents' thing to my kids too...much to their annoyance, though. Lol

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 10 years ago

my junoir year highschool history teacher taught critical thinking

could be an interesting glee plot

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 10 years ago

You owe that guy.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 10 years ago

I wrote him an extra-credit report on the fall of the Roman Republic

[-] 0 points by Odin (583) 10 years ago

".....the fall of the Roman Republic....". That's an interesting subject. Do you remember if there were any similarities to what's happening in this country now?!

[-] 0 points by shadz66 (19985) 10 years ago

I really do see where you were coming from but we need as many 'Critically Thinking Good Citizens' as possible, as these are the times we are living in :

veritas vos liberabit ...

[-] 1 points by infonomics (393) 10 years ago

According to most web sources that I read, the public education system in America has produced inferior results. So, with this understanding conjoined with Mr. Reich's assessment, can we not put forth this cynicism:

America, the country that cannot educated the students for the jobs that they cannot get.

[-] 0 points by Odin (583) 10 years ago

Yes public education has to improve, but that is not the main reason that there are so few jobs for college graduates.

[-] 1 points by fiftyfourforty (1077) from New York, NY 10 years ago

Reich is the last corporate liberal prophet shouting into the wilderness. (Well he and Paul Krugman). Just to get the reforms he wants will take a revolution. Things are that far to the right now.

[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 10 years ago

There is the possibility of course that you get your degrees and go seek political asylum abroad & use your education for the betterment of those less fortunate in an individuated act of redistributive largesse !

As such : http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/index.jsp .

nil desperandum ...

[-] 0 points by SteveKJR (-497) 10 years ago

So, the attitude is that everyone should get a college degree. Well if everyone gets a college degree the markets become "saturated" with college degreed people.

As a result everyone is competing for the same job - just like today.

A college degree just like a high school degree is just one more step up in the learning process - it doesn't give you job skills.

What really counts is job devirsification - the more you learn and broaden your job skills the better chances you have of being employed.

What seperates you from the rest of the pack is if you have experience in other areas related to your field - However, that takes time and it doesn't happen overnight.

[-] -1 points by riethc (1149) 10 years ago

Thanks for the upbeat post, asshole.

[-] 0 points by shadz66 (19985) 10 years ago

Hey dude, don't shoot the messenger please !

Further, from : http://occupywallst.org/forum/indentured-servitude-for-seniors-social-security-g/ also see :

  • [-] 2 points by gestopomillyy (1421) 1 week ago http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/IBRCalc.jsp you can only get loans thru the direct loan program now. no banks involved. using the above link.. you can see that if you only make 20k you only have to pay 20 bucks a month. catch is.. you can never never miss a payment ↥twinkle ↧stinkle reply permalink [-] 1 points by shadz66 (4101) 1 week ago Thanx for this link which may well be very useful to prospective students & their families in The U$A.

minima maxima sunt ...