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Protesting the loss of the American Dream

By Gloria Diaz

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Fort Wayne Reader


Even if nothing comes from the Occupy Wall Street protests, itís nice to realize not everyone in America is asleep. People are realizing that this isnít our grandparentsí America anymore ó our manufacturing jobs have gone overseas; the ones that remain pay $8-10 per hour. If youíre lucky, youíll have benefits. If youíre hired in through a temp agency, you might have the option of having benefits through the temp agency. If youíre lucky.

Someone I know was complaining about the students at IPFW participating in a protest there. It bothered him because he thought the kids were expecting jobs that paid $60-70K right out of college. Perhaps they are, but I think most of them realize there arenít any jobs out there, let alone any that pay THAT much. Personally, I think thatís what some of them are protesting. Not everyone wants to run their own business. A lot of people go into it not realizing how hard it will be, and few people have that ability to self-start and keep going. We do it for an employer, but if youíre your own boss, itís way too easy to think the money will flow in somehow, despite sleeping late and surfing the web. I think realistically, Americans want stable, decent paying jobs. I think we all know not everyone can be rich, but weíd like to be comfortable and not living pay check to pay check.

I think my parents would be floored if they could see what was happening right now. A manager was let go at one of my jobs. A co-worker was upset that he didnít get a chance to shake the guyís hand and say goodbye. But in corporate America, if youíre let go, youíre also out the door in maybe a couple minutesí time. Why? To guard against possible sabotage by the recently fired employee. And I donít even want to get into job applications. Probably 95% of job applications have to be filled out online, which means you need a computer with high speed access, and basic keyboarding skills, not to mention the patience of a saint to fill out all those little fields with your information. Lord help you if you have an unusual situation; youíll have scant space to explain yourself, and by doing so, youíve pretty much ensured your application will go into the little desktop recycle bin. In the old days, you walked into a place of business, or sent a letter and rťsumť. Now, itís three interviews, a drug test, and a ďpersonality surveyĒ which supposedly weeds out the Debbie Downers and intellectual cynics that are applying for jobs these days.
And if all of the middle class jobs disappearing, these kids are probably wondering why bother going to college? With information available on the Internet, they could save themselves a lot of time and money. If people go to school only to get better jobs, but the jobs arenít there, sooner or later theyíre going to wise up. Iím seeing that already.

However, a college degree tells an employer a few things: the person can put up with bureaucracy, take notes, process information, retain information, stay awake enough to accomplish something and can be trained. It shows a little bit of stick-to-it-iveness, which still counts for something in this world. Itís one thing to be a college student still living at home, without kids and not married, but it says something if you have a spouse, kids and a full time job, and got the degree in spite of all the distractions.

Perhaps service industry jobs will demand that applicants have bachelorís degrees. I saw a Taco Bell ad several years ago that actually specified their managerial applicants have at least a four year degree. I suppose somewhere, some college offers a class in taco wrapping. But honestly I donít think the majority of college students enroll to do that, or to fold clothes or straighten shelves.

The natives are restless though; they know something isnít quite right. And itís about time.
Ironically enough, the guy complaining about the IPFW students protesting works seven and a half days a week; five at his day job, two and a half in retail. I wanted to ask him how that masterís degree was working out for him, but I didnít. Obviously, it hasnít snagged him that $60K a year job, either.

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