Home > Wack MC's, What's Wrong With U.S. > Ruben Navarrette, Jr. is a Geezer

Ruben Navarrette, Jr. is a Geezer

I feel like I am doing this guy a huge favor by linking to this diatribe against the entire so-called “millennial” generation. Basically, it is the same “Kids today have no respect” garbage that has been the hallmark theme of inter-generational relations since forever. The tl;dr summary version of his article is just the typical establishment line of “get back to work, stop asking questions and demanding answers”.

Ruben Navarrette, Jr. is jealous. He is jealous that employers are trying to make their positions more appealing to young people.

It’s called social change, it’s been happening for a while. I can imagine a 19th century version of Navarrette, decrying the new 8 hour work day, or the end of child labor.

Employers want to recruit young people because they have to, because young people are the future. It really is as simple as that. Employers don’t want to, they NEED to figure us out, otherwise someone else will. They will employ us and make a lot of money and put the old businesses out of business.

Young workers have bargaining power; we can live with mom and dad longer, we do know what work/life balance means, we don’t want to do the same thing most of our parents did. So yeah, corporate America, you have some selling to do if you want us to jump on your bandwagon, especially the best and brightest of us. Why would we go to work for your stodgy institutions when we can build new ones for ourselves, ones that are responsive to our needs? Think I am being idealistic? Look at the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley, look at the average age of their executives and rank-and-file, look at the kind of perks they offer their employees.

Whom Navarrette is mainly referring to are the kids who aren’t the best and brightest, who are holding out for the cool job instead of working at McDonalds, who may never get that cool job, and subsequently will never be employable because of the long gap in their experience. I think this entire idea of the “perpetually unemployed because I never started that entry level job in a field I didn’t like” is bullshit. Successful companies and innovators find ways to harness that potential; that is why they are successful and innovative. 20% youth unemployment for 5-10 years is human capital begging to be put to use. Part of Navarrette’s prejudice is that he is used to the old world paradigm of a homogeneous human capital stock, where there are “jobs” and people go and “do them”. What is happening right now in the world economy is a huge reconfiguration of what those “jobs” are; many have moved or disappeared, but many more will be imagined and created, especially in an economy as dynamic as the United States. We are still the world’s leading innovator and still have the most liquid financial capital market in the world, with competitively relaxed capital controls and a surplus of people with “educations”.

Some people still don’t understand the new paradigms. They are still living in a world of 7% year-over-year GDP growth. They are still primarily motivated by dead ideas about material accumulation and social status. They still think that our society is a meritocracy, and they still believe in the benevolence of the US government and the integrity of our democracy.

You see, Mr. Navarrette, we are more educated and tech savvy than you. We did hear about your generation’s mixed success at social revolution, and we also saw how you abandoned your principles and let “Greed is good” replace “Flower power” as your slogan. We saw how you got old and fat, and marginalized the social malcontents by calling their (your) revolution “failed” and acting ashamed of your own personal “youthful transgressions”.

“But hold on,” you say, “I WASN’T one of them. I wasn’t a dirty hippie pothead, I was a Goldwater Republican…” or “I was a Vietnam veteran turned successful small business owner, not one of those burnouts…”

Okay, maybe you weren’t one of them Mr. Navarrette. Maybe it’s completely unfair and unrealistic to judge people based solely on their birth date. Maybe stereotyping an entire age cohort is a little irresponsible, a little prejudiced…

Maybe…

But the fact still remains that “we” (all of us, I am speaking about anyone under 30 because I know, I am under 30 after all) don’t want to be like you. I know it is not the thanks you wanted, but thanks for showing us how not to do it. Thanks for showing me that a moderately “successful” nationally syndicated columnist, who probably has a 5 bedroom house in the North County suburbs of San Diego with a pair of late model cars parked in the garage, can still have a stick up his ass and be not only out-of-touch, but resentful.

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