To Go with Your Cap and Gown...

 

  The following are bits of wisdom I want to pass on to the graduating class of 2010. This graduating class is particularly important, in my mind, as they have grown up and "come of age' during the first decade of the 21st Century. And this decade has been one hell of a roller coaster ride. This graduating class experienced the first major attack on US soil by foreign powers since Pearl Harbor in 1941.This class is living through the longest war in American history, the conflict in Afghanistan, and are coming "out" into the world during the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. This generation has seen the election, for good or bad, of the first African-American president - and just forty-five years after the then-governor of Alabama, George Wallace, stood at the doors of the University of Alabama blocking negro students from entering. The National Guard was called out by the President of the United States to enforce what seems to us now to have been a God-given right - the right to seek higher education based upon one's own merit and not be denied it based on one's race alone. Things have changed and they have changed at lightning speed;  divisive issues we grapple with today such as universal health care will seem equally ridiculous to your children just as the notion of a black American not being allowed to attend a university with another white American seems absurd to you. History has demonstrated time and again that people become increasingly more liberal, more open in their thinking. But at the same time people continue to make the same mistakes, without fail, over and over again. You have heard the phrase, "everything old is new again," well that sums up the human experience better than any other phrase I have ever read. This decade, your decade, will be looked upon, studied, pondered, analyzed, and dissected for the next 200 years. You are living in one of the most significant decades of the history of your country. So heed these words of advice.

  1. Your home is a place to live. It is not an ATM. If you think of your home as strictly an investment, you will eventually lose your tail. Again, your home is not a bank. It is a place in which to raise a family, a place to retreat from the world at the end of a long, hard day. It is your sanctuary. It is a place to bring babies home to and the place where "grandma's rules" are better than mom and dad's rules.   2. Greed is not a good thing. You will hear differently, but remember this - greed is why we are in the economic mess we are in now. Our country is great - the greatest on earth, but we are some greedy sons of mothers. And our avarice brought the house of cards down throwing the entire world into a deep recession along with us. But you can still love and respect your country even if you acknowledge that not everything your country says or does is packed full of sunshine and get-well balloons. One of the many great things about America is that we can view and comment on the deeds of our nation with a critical eye and sharp tongue. You can make a difference. It doesn't mean you are un-American - it means you are a thinking American. America needs critical thinkers - not more cheerleaders. But back to the point - remember, sometimes less is more - keep that in mind.   3. Jobs are not the goal of business. Business has one goal - profit. Jobs are a by-product of economic activity and not the main purpose of it. Jobs are "created" when the guy you have working for you can't work anymore overtime or when the guy who owns the company  just can't go it alone any longer. In other words, if some service can be performed, some product manufactured without you or by a machine, it will be. If it can be done cheaper somewhere else, it will be done somewhere else. When you get your first real job, you will be offered, by your prospective employer, what is the lowest, acceptable wage for the type of work you will be doing. But if you ask for more, you might get a little more.        We often say one political party is more "business friendly" than the other. However the "business friendly" party has a long track record of throwing American workers under the bus. Not my opinion - the facts speak for themselves. Job creation is more often than not another way of saying, well, "bribe." The only way your government can create jobs where little demand for a product or service exists is to cut the guy's taxes who owns the means of production or service or to create a market for these goods or services by buying them from you. The latter usually involves war. Well that is the theory anyway. So, our business owner feels "better" because he gets to keep more money. Laughing yet? And because he feels better he just naturally wants to spread the love by hiring more workers. But that's a double-edged sword: more workers cut into how much he gets to take home, his profit. See Trickle Down Economics or Voodoo Economics. And when his taxes are cut, someone's got to pick up the slack. During the 1980's and most of the 2000's, no one picked up the slack because the philosophy of those administrations was taxes are bad and military spending is good. And consequently deficits ballooned during the Reagan and Bush Light administrations and jobs went overseas because preventing jobs from going overseas was somehow anti-business, or un-American. And you throw in two un-funded wars in the mix, well things got pretty shitty pretty quick. My grandpa used to have a saying, "Ye who dances must pay the fiddler." And that's all I am going to say about that.      As you go into the work world or seek higher education, keep this in mind. Some of the "safest" jobs out there are electricians, plumbers, nurses, doctors, and HVAC technicians - these jobs can't be out-sourced or done by machines.   4. With the advent of the Internet, there is no excuse for being ignorant. You may have been born on the back side of the Bell Curve but you can still be informed. Today, the average American can find out more information in 30 seconds of surfing the Internet than his counterpart twenty years ago could by spending a week in a library. Literally the world is at your fingertips -  don't miss out a good thing.   5. Talk to old people, listen to what they have to say. Your only direct connection with the past is through them. History is something that this country doesn't stress enough. You really can't know where you are going unless you know where you have been.   6. Read.... I can't stress this enough. Reading is more than a little under-rated in the US. Your country has some of the finest minds that the world has ever produced. And great minds like to bs. So read their bs. Ask questions, let your mind get a workout. Go on! - live a little and question what you've been told is the truth your entire life. But don't - DON'T believe everything you read. Always check your sources. The Internet is a truly great thing, a true Information Superhighway, but some kid in Thornville can make himself look like a college professor and once more, without a little knowledge as ammunition on your side, you won't be able to tell the difference. Check the sources of the information, but just read - life is more than the obits, the horoscope section, and the Friday night football scores. You live in a wonderfully complex and beautiful world. You have five thousand plus years of humanity's thoughts, opinions, art, and discoveries to catch up on.   7. And lastly, spend the extra money on house paint and toilet paper. You'll never go wrong if you do.... 

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Jalus 6 years ago

Nice advice. This generation surely has experienced a lot!

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