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A degree is not a golden ticket to escape lousy jobs!

Posted on August 12 2009 5:55 pm
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here
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It looks like Andrew Sullivan is taking a break from daily blogging. His assistants and other assorted bloggers are taking his place in manning the Daily Dish.

Chris Bodenner highlighted the thoughts of two readers on “The Value of Shi**y Work.” The sentiment of this is one that I find really, really annoying:

To the people who say that the unemployed should accept menial jobs, I would say… why should I? Speaking from personal experience, I put in 4 years getting an undergraduate degree and 2 years getting a professional certification so that I wouldn’t have to work in a warehouse. From an economic standpoint, does it make sense to force talented workers into dead-end jobs just to survive? Or to give them a safety net, and let them find a job more suited to their skills?

Why should you? Why should you?

Bodenner’s reader’s comment infuriates me far more than anything that Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, or Rachel Maddow have said in the past few weeks.

Why should you get a job to support yourself? Why should you take responsibility to support yourself and earn a living? Why is it that just because you have a bachelor’s degree perhaps you are not entitled to your dream job as soon as you graduate?

This whole mentality reminds me of the health care debate. A few weeks ago I saw an interview on CNN in which an unemployed woman said that President Barack Obama’s plan of a “public option” was not good enough for her. If she was unemployed how could she afford to pay the monthly premiums for the government plan? That was actually her argument. And she made it with a straight face.

Again, a tremendously frustrating sentiment to hear.

The reason why the unemployed CNN guest and Bodenner’s Dish reader infuriate me at such a base level is they’re basically making a personal attack on the life I’ve chosen to live since graduating from college in 2006. It’s usually difficult to land one’s dream job fresh out school — no matter what career you’re pursuing. So what’d I do? I took responsibility for supporting myself. I took “shi**y jobs,” made sure that I got health insurance through them, and pursued the job that was “more suited to my skills” (to use the Dish reader’s terms) on a part-time basis until I finally got it.

Is it really that “heartless” of me to advocate this kind of philosophy? I know what my “progressive” friends are going to say. They’re going to lambast the “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” philosophy. They’re going to say that no one makes it on their own. They’re going to try and paint me as some social Darwinist who just wants the poor to die because the government won’t give them cheap or free medical care.


But is this really that unreasonable? My point is this: if you want health insurance, go get a job that provides health insurance. Take some responsibility for getting your own health insurance. Don’t rely on Barack Wonka the Candyman to give it to you covered in colorful wrapping on a stick. There are plenty of jobs out there, and at my two “shi**y” jobs they seemed to always be hiring new people every month.

And on the question of fresh college graduates not wanting to settle for these mediocre jobs so they can get health insurance and a livable wage, the point made by Bodenner’s second, more thoughtful reader has a lot of value:

These experiences have led to my “shi**y job” theory: everyone should have to work a shi**y job at least once in their lives. It does two important things for you:

1) It inspires you to achieve something greater. We called the full-time year-round workers at McDonald’s “McLifers”. It was a future I would have done anything to avoid — I viewed it as the prison sentence it sounds like — and I worked hard to make sure when I left I wouldn’t have to come back.

2) It gives you some empathy for people who have to make a living at a shi**y job.

Education is not completed when you stop going to school. In the three years I spent working “shi**y jobs” I learned just as much about our world, our economy, American Freedom, and the people of this country as I did in school. This might not be the sweetest food for thought but sometimes we need to eat our intellectual vegetables.

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