Friday, August 10, 2012

The Robust Pursuit of Happiness

Welcome L. as guest blogger speaking Inside the Uni Outside the Classroom.

There are days I fear for my profit driven generation.

Since the blossoming of American prosperity in the 1960s children have been fed the idea that they have a right to a quality of life that supersedes their parents.

 For a time this was correct. Where my grandparents were allowed the luxury of a dishwasher, microwave, and answering machine my parents have established a household with a flat screen television, DVR, laptop computer, cell phones and a number of amenities that extend beyond the necessities of life but rate as staples of the American household.

When I consider my future family home it looks very similar to that of my parent's. This can be a tough pill for some college graduates to swallow.

This is not solely our fault: many were brought up on the adage that a college degree would allow one to skip the “burger-flipping” stage of employment. Unfortunately, we are then chastised for not wanting to take the burger-flipping opportunity.

The solution, and reality, is we cannot continue with this business as usual. While a Philosophy degree may make for an interesting four years of study it does not provide an edge in a highly competitive job market where the need to drive the profit margin pushes for downsizing and outsourcing.

Having a college degree does not guarantee a “good” job or a better life. We need to accept that business driven initiatives do not protect our job market nor encourage companies to hire Americans.

This blunt reality hits at graduation. Times are hard, and will likely get harder.  Our economy is in a slump that cannot be remedied by either government party.  Government debt has little to do with how our economy runs but government expenditure does, which causes the job market to suffer.

Still, I fear for my classmates who dream of McMansions earned with their Business degree. We, as a nation, must make a paradigm shift and realize a more robust economy similar to Germany, who is an island of stability in the European Union. 
This robustness requires a brutal sense of self-honesty. We are not unique in the world, we are not God’s chosen people. If you are one in a million there are 1,354 copies of you in China plus an additional 1,214 in India.

A good life is not guaranteed. John Locke believed every human had a right to "life, liberty and property."  Jefferson saw the right to property as a delusion and changed the words in the Declaration of Independence to read "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." 
Shifting away from this entitlement thinking will change the way we deal, psychologically, with our economic prospects. If we accept that hardship is part of the cards we are dealt, at this time; realizing there is no right to a better path, will provide perspective.

As well, this might lead us to be thankful for the roof over our heads, the food in our bellies and the knowledge we live in a country where clean water is readily available.

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  1. A very thought provoking blog.It is hard to accept that our children and Grand children will be in a life of such termoil and debt. We must be thankful for all we do have. Also for a wonderful family that cares for and takes care of one another. You all have our deepest love!!

  2. I think as a society we have lost sight of having thankful and content hearts. I agree, we are not entitled to everything we want all the time, just because. Good post, and good food for thought.