Friday, October 7, 2011

Lingering effects of unemployment

This is a quite terrifying post by Megan McCardle at the Atlantic. She referred back to it today when discussing the Occupy Wall Street protests. Written in 2008, she talks about her experience of unemployment in the early 2000s:

For the next eighteen months, I struggled to find a job, in the teeth of a recession that kicked MBAs especially hard. It was awful in a way that is difficult to describe to anyone who hasn't been unemployed long term; the thing makes you question everything about your life. I remember going to see Avenue Q on a date, and writhing in humiliation, thinking that my date must be identifying me with the aimless failures on stage. I was 29 years old, and living at home. I had money--I always managed to work. But as far as I could tell, I had no future. ..

It took me a long, long time to crawl out of that hole. I'll never make what I expected to make as a consultant. I'll never have the job security that I had learned to expect in the pre-9/11 world. The universe will always seem a potentially malevolent place to me, ready to unleash some unknown disaster at any moment.

Things are very hard indeed for people in their 20s right now, weighed down with student debt and few assets. G and I discussed the Wall St protests last night. Are they just standard left-wing puppet theater? Or a sign that a generation is losing touch with the America dream, and it is a much deeper if vague and inchoate awakening?

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