News Politics The Economy Health
Monday, October 08, 2012
Published December 28, 2011
“The Recyclable Role”
has been one of the most common means for a person to increase his social,
political, and economical standing. It
often pays off during booming economic times, as was evident during the booming
housing market from 2003-2007. An
advance degree allowed individuals to make the salary, which enabled them to
live above the American dream. There
was a sense of invincibility and no end to the good road.
This was evident in the big purchases from SUVs to homes as large as
10,000 sqft in country club neighborhoods.
But when the housing market crashed and the recession began, many of
these individuals found that the economy was too weak to blanket them from the
ever-present recyclable role. The
recyclable role is one in which a person’s labor is not determined by his
education. He can easily be
recycled back into what is considered man’s basic role, a common worker.
A common worker is a person who can perform basic jobs such as waiter,
janitor, domestic worker, etc. And
with the unemployment rate hanging around 9% and only 80,000 jobs being added
last quarter, some college graduates are reverting to their basic role in order
2008 recession has given a considerable amount of truth to the common joke that
the only job a college graduate will be able to get is one making $7.50/hr
working at a fast food restaurant or Walmart.
It is a joke highlighting how the times of a college degree being the
golden ticket to a better life are quickly slipping away.
The weak economy and considerable amount of college graduates in the
workforce is causing an overeducated underemployed problem in which college
graduates are filling jobs that were once held by high school graduates.
HuffPost writers Amy Langdon and Nicholas Padiak wrote an article,
“A Generation Lost in Space: Overeducated
and Underemployed in America,” discussing the difficulties they were having
finding a job after graduation. And
one of the things Padiak pointed out is how common it was for restaurant workers
to have at least a baccalaureate degree. He
stated that a common question amongst the wait staff was, “Where did they go
to college and what did they study.” The
question points to how reality is often blurred by a fictitious conditional
belief based upon a false absolute. In
this case, the fictitious conditional belief is that a college degree brings
about nothing but good, while the false absolute is that a college degree is all
a person needs in order to escape the recyclable role. Yet, this is not always the case.
New York Times published the article “What is a Master’s Degree
Worth?” and within it was a “Room for Debate” forum in which educators and
economist discussed the importance of an education in a down economy.
According to Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s article, “The Value of an
MA,” the BA degree is losing its importance to the MA. Hence, the baccalaureate’s degree value is being reduced to
that of a high school diploma, while the master’s degree value is being
reduced to that of a baccalaureate. And
with this trend, the direct relationship between increase education and a better
life is being refuted by some who say that higher education institutions are
more focused on profiting from the students’ presence than educating the
students. In the article “The
Education Bubble,” Mark Taylor
said, “One of the dirty secrets of many research universities is that they
treat master’s students as cash cows that fund other activities. To make matters worse, with many faculty members uninterested
in teaching, students cannot assume they will get what they are paying for.”
This reality is giving more strength to the growing belief that college
is becoming the biggest hustle, with
a sale pitch based upon the traditional view of college being the best means to
a better life. It is also resulting
in some questioning if they should risk more financial debt by pursuing an
advance degree. An argument MSN’s
“Smart Money” writer Jack Hough makes in his article, “Is a college degree
worthless?,” is that although
college graduates make more money than non-college graduates, college graduates
do not save more money than non-college graduates.
And during hard economic times, a college degree may do more harm than
good because of the debt a college graduate accumulates during and after
During a down economy, the time between a recession and recovery is sometimes
extended. It is a time in which
taxes are increased, banks are charging more to borrow and limiting the amount
of money they loan, the cost of living tends to increase, and employers are
scaling back on hiring. So a person
who is thinking about pursuing a degree will have to give more thought to the
amount of money he has vs. the debt he will have after pursuing a degree,
because an advance degree is not a guarantee that a person will be insulated
from a downed economy. For
instance, Law is considered an economically secure profession.
According to Liz Pulliam Weston, Personal Finance Columnist for MSN
Money, Law and Medicine are the two professional degrees that are worth the
investment. Although medicine is a field in which doctors seem to be
recession proof, lawyers are having a difficult time in this down economy.
The situation has become so dire that the Las Vegas Review-Journal
writer Valerie Miller wrote in her article, “Job Chances are Few for Law
Grads, Out-of-Work Lawyers,” that Paul Hejmanowski, who is a managing partner
in Lionel Sawyer and Collins law firm, stated that the grim economy has lead to
the new generation of lawyers being commonly referred to as the “lost
generation.” According to
Hejmanowski, before 2008 or 2009 his small law firm never would’ve seen lawyers who graduated from
Harvard or worked at major law firms in New York or Chicago because they had the safety net of an Ivy League degree, which widen the door to
various job markets. However,
Lawyers who’ve graduated from Ivy League universities or work at top law firms
are learning that their education and a top law firm’s wealth is not strong
enough to parachute them to a life beyond the recyclable role.
And when the recession occurred, the wide door was narrowed and these
lawyers had to look for other opportunities.
say that bad is measured not by those at the bottom, but how bad those at the
top are doing. It is considered
normal for a high school dropout or a high school graduate to have hard economic
times, but it is not considered normal for a college-educated person to have
hard economic times. A college
degree is considered the perfect insulator from an economic storm.
However, the recyclable role is one all people share.
It is a dreadful role that reduces a person to his basic function, a
common worker. So in an effort to
escape the reality of who he is at his core, man tries to use education as a
means to increase his social, political, and economical standing.
During the good times, he often self indulges without thinking about the
downturn that will occur. Therefore,
he is ill prepared to handle the economic storm coming along, peeling back the
protective coat, and revealing the basic role all people share.