I drew this cartoon this morning, while thinking about a conversation I had a couple of years ago:
I was on the phone to an old friend of mine, a guy in his late forties, who was born and bred in Michigan, and is living there now. He was telling me about his uncle, who, about four decades ago, got his highschool sweetheart pregnant. So instead of going off to college, he found himself with a new wife, a child on the way, and an assembly-line job at General Motors. But even though this situation clipped his wings considerably, he still ended up having a nice life in the end, with a home, a big yard, two cars, a steady paycheck, weekends fishing or hunting deer, and vacations in Hawaii every year or so. “The days where a blue collar guy like my uncle could have a nice life without doing much,” my friend said, “those days are gone. Gone forever.”
And in the back of my mind, I’m thinking the same is starting to happen to white collar guys more and more, as well. But it’s not quite out in the open yet. Society’s not quite ready to have that conversation.
I also heard a statistic a couple of weeks ago that there are at least thirty million children in China currently taking piano lessons. Thirty. Million.
We live in interesting times…
[Update: ]“Thousandists”: My long-time Spanish blog buddy, Nia left an interesting comment below:
That conversation about white-collar jobs is four years old in Spain.
This is the short version: The people who were in their 20-30s in the 1970s saw that a University degree made a big difference in your job and salary. They made their kids (anyone born 1970?–?1985) study, and that young generation believed for a while that we could do the same trick as our parents. Get a degree. The job will follow.
We now have a word for people of my generation with a handful of degrees: mileuristas. Thousandists. As in, someone who makes around 1,000 euros a month. There’s so many of us, no one’s willing to pay us more than a (barely) living wage.
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