As You Enter the Next Stage of Your Life

Why they won’t let me give the commencement address

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Good afternoon. I’m rudyblues, Class of [mumble cough cough]. I’d like to thank the College and the esteemed Faculty for inviting me to speak today. This is a most auspicious day for the Graduates of the Class of 2016, and I think we all should take a moment to applaud each other for a job well done.

[A round of applause wells up]

W&J_Commencement_1929Members of the Class of 2016, I don’t know if anyone has told you this yet, but if not, allow me to be the first. You are well and truly screwed. Unless you’re a trust fund baby, you have just signed on to a debt that could take you the rest of your life to repay. You took on this debt to leverage a gamble, to place a little wager.

The gamble is that the completion of your higher education will ensure that you land a job that will allow you to make enough money to repay the debt. And it’s a risky wager. You’ve got more balls than The Donald. He always plays with house money. You’re playing with money that should be buying your house!

You now owe your part of the nearly $1.2 trillion in student loan debt in these United States. That’s trillion, with a very large T. Now, if you were average, which I’m sure none of you are, that would be somewhere around $35, 000. The average is a little deceiving, because as you look at different types of graduates, then you see different levels of debt.

Masters and Doctoral graduates tend to skew that average up. Bachelor grads are usually somewhat below that average. But whether you are a Bachelor, Masters or Doctoral graduate, one thing still holds true. You have to pay this money back! No, really, it’s on your permanent record.

There is no escape, not bankruptcy, because student debt is difficult to discharge in bankruptcy, sometimes not even death, in the case of private student loan debt. If you die, we’ll forgive you that debt you owe the Government. But if you had to take out some private debt, well, then your survivors might well be paying that back. Your poor mom, down there in Boca Raton, or Sun City, suddenly saddled with your student debt.

And just in case that wasn’t enough bad news, get this! You’re coming into the job market after 30 to 40 years of “productivity increases.” Now, anyone who has been around business knows that a productivity increase is when a business with higher paid employees gets another business with lower paid employees to do what the higher paid employees used to do, thus instantly rendering the higher paid employees unproductive, and so, dispensable. This is usually followed by a further productivity increase, when the employees remaining after the layoffs are intimidated into doing more and more work for the same measly salary. This is Business School gold! That means there are fewer and fewer of those good paying jobs around that will let you pay back that leveraged gamble you made. How about them apples?

Even if you do manage to find some good paying job, one that lets you start paying back that mound of debt you owe, it could all be over faster than a bean counter’s spreadsheet calculates the bottom line on an acquisition! You could be out on the street faster than you can say “shareholder value.” Because if cutting your job increases shareholder value, then, guess what? Snip! Slash! Whack! You’re out!

So as you enter the next stage of your life, ask yourself what old rudyblues asked himself when he was in your shoes. “Why didn’t I pick richer parents?”

Alma Mater

Author: rudyblues57

A fellow traveler in our journey around the neighborhood thermonuclear explosion. Full of random thoughts and esoteric observations about the human condition, how we treat each other, and other detritus of life.

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