The Angry Future Expat

Listen To Your Elders: Go West [East, South, or North], Young Man, And Grow Up With The World.

Posted in Lost Decades by angryfutureexpat on July 7, 2010

True then, true now.

The New York Times ran a piece today that won’t be much of a surprise to readers of this blog, but it’s worth looking at.  As the New York Times tends to do in all its douchey glory, it focuses on someone who’s not really “suffering” from the effects of the Great Recession.  The NY Times specialty being banksters who had to give up the summer home in the Hamptons and the like – and this piece is [almost] no different:

GRAFTON, Mass. — After breakfast, his parents left for their jobs, and Scott Nicholson, alone in the house in this comfortable suburb west of Boston, went to his laptop in the living room. He had placed it on a small table that his mother had used for a vase of flowers until her unemployed son found himself reluctantly stuck at home.

The daily routine seldom varied. Mr. Nicholson, 24, a graduate of Colgate University, winner of a dean’s award for academic excellence, spent his mornings searching corporate Web sites for suitable job openings. When he found one, he mailed off a résumé and cover letter — four or five a week, week after week.

And then we find out why the Times was so willing to feature this kid:

Many hard-pressed millennials are falling back on their parents, as Scott Nicholson has. While he has no college debt (his grandparents paid all his tuition and board) many others do, and that helps force them back home.

Of course, grandpa and grandma paid his way…too cute.  The story includes all those facts and figures that we’ve written about extensively here at AFEP, getting your first job in a recession leads to lower lifetime earnings, the Great Recession is making the millennials risk averse (who can take chances when there’s no right to fail!), etc. etc. etc.  But there were a couple things in the article that really stood out for me.  First, grandpa is a rock star!

Complicating the generational divide, Scott’s grandfather, William S. Nicholson, a World War II veteran and a retired stock broker, has watched what he described as America’s once mighty economic engine losing its pre-eminence in a global economy. The grandfather has encouraged his unemployed grandson to go abroad — to “Go West,” so to speak.

Good call William S. Nicholson!!!  Now, despite an obviously wealthy relative encouraging it, and despite this:

“As frustrated as I get now, and I never intended to live at home, I’m in a good situation in a lot of ways,” Scott said. “I have very little overhead and no debt, and it is because I have no debt that I have any sort of flexibility to look for work. Otherwise, I would have to have a job, some kind of full-time job.”

Scott, for some reason, is still in the U.S., living off his parents, doing odd jobs, and, well, basically wasting his time. Now, look, I’m not going to call this kid a whiny douchebag and a wimp because that would be unfair, since I don’t know anything about him.  Un and underemployment are soul-sapping experiences, and they can warp your perspective into something that merely seems douchey and wimpy.  But, really, man you have to listen to grandpa:

They said it was connections more than perseverance that got them started — the father in 1976 when a friend who had just opened a factory hired him, and the grandfather in 1946 through an Army buddy whose father-in-law owned a brokerage firm in nearby Worcester and needed another stock broker.

From these accidental starts, careers unfolded and lasted. David Nicholson, now the general manager of a company that makes tools, is still in manufacturing. William Nicholson spent the next 48 years, until his retirement, as a stock broker. “Scott has got to find somebody who knows someone,” the grandfather said, “someone who can get him to the head of the line.”

Grandpa’s right again.  Take some of grandpa’s money, and get your ass to South America, or Europe, or China, or India, or the Middle East.  The people that you meet will be the ones in your network that are the risk takers, the future entrepreneurs, the people that can move you to “the head of the line.” Hell, maybe some of their risk tolerance and adventurous spirit will rub off on you.

Get the fuck out of Dodge.  Do it now, seriously, right now! You have no excuse.

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20 Responses

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  1. Expat Law Grad Ducking the Feds said, on July 7, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    I’m in South America right now, and I can tell you that your job opportunities are going to be quite limited unless you’re coming here with a boatload of cash to invest.

    $5 hour for 20 hours/week teaching English is about where most people max out, unless you somehow have a great stream of income from online. If that were the case, you could live like all the other locals and share a roach-infested apartment with three other people, eat a lot of carbohydrates, and relish your one opportunity a month to get pissed drunk.

    • angryfutureexpat said, on July 7, 2010 at 4:42 pm

      Thanks for the insight. And I certainly agree that having money is better than not having money, but that is not particularly applicable to the kid featured in the NY Times article.

  2. Expat Law Grad Ducking the Feds said, on July 7, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    You’re telling me! Haha. I’d much rather be sitting at home on my laptop in my parents’ house and not worrying about my creditors because Gramps had paid all of my tuition. Effing NYT puff pieces!

    • angryfutureexpat said, on July 7, 2010 at 5:40 pm

      Perhaps, but if gramps would pay for a year or two of low-cost travel, wouldn’t that be even better? Agreed, however, that the Times seems unable to write about anything real.

  3. Anonymous said, on July 7, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    “Scott has got to find somebody who knows someone,” the grandfather said, “someone who can get him to the head of the line.”

    Someone like . . . hmm, I don’t know . . . the same parents and grandparents who have been floating him all his life?

    I understand why certain people choose to go abroad (such as to escape massive debt), but most countries are in worse economic condition than the U.S., and “the risk takers, the future entrepreneurs, the people that can move you to ‘the head of the line’” are going to hook up their own friends and family before wasting time on some random loser American, just like grandpa.

    • angryfutureexpat said, on July 7, 2010 at 6:31 pm

      Tsk tsk…so untrue. Some of my closest friends and best business contacts are people I met while living/traveling overseas in the 90s. I suspect it is even more true today with social networking making it possible to keep in better contact.

  4. Manatee Joe said, on July 7, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    Tell that kid to join the army. Worked wonders for grandpa. Hey, there is even a war going on. A tour through Afghanistan should square that kid away.

    Does anyone else find it rather disturbing that grandpa had to pay for the kid’s college experience.

    • angryfutureexpat said, on July 8, 2010 at 8:29 am

      I agree that the military would be good option. According to the article, he did try for an officer program but got booted because of childhood asthma.

  5. W.C. Varones said, on July 8, 2010 at 12:04 am

    Don’t make gramps pay for the trip. Take out credit cards from the usual suspect banks and then default.

    • angryfutureexpat said, on July 8, 2010 at 7:43 am

      Heh, that works too. But if grandpa is willing to finance part of the trip – which I bet he would be – why not take him up on it?

  6. Bukko Canukko said, on July 8, 2010 at 2:53 am

    My current favourite from the many sneering comments on that story, by someone calling himself “Farnsworth”:

    “Over the years, at a comparable liberal arts college, I’ve taught hundreds of clueless, inert mediocrities like this kid. After graduation, their parents had them advanced them to the front of the line and subsidized their lifestyles while they got promotions just for showing up.

    Sad to see our nation decline, but nice consolation to know that privileged snots who used to spend their lives protected from realizing that they are not so special after all have had some of their privileges pulled too.

    Thanks NY Times — you may have given up on hard news, investigative journalism, and insightful analysis, but keep the schadenfreude coming.”

    He says it better than I can. I wonder how much screaming invective at this sorry-ass spoiled brat was NOT printed because the NYT heavily restricts comments (especially from angry, sarcastic people like me.)

    My daughter’s not too far behind that punk age-wise, majoring in anthropology instead of something practical. (No student loans, thanks to me and my ex-wife’s decision to buy a pre-paid tuition deal to any Florida state university while she was still only one year old — it’s cheap when you put up the money that far in advance — with an additional state government scholarship given to high schoolers with high GPAs.) I’ve been trying to impress a sense of doom-readiness on her, not pretentious entitlement. She ain’t gettin’ no free ride from this old Bukko when she graduates, that’s for sure.

    • angryfutureexpat said, on July 8, 2010 at 8:34 am

      The comments to that article were pretty good. The kid really was asking for it though – some of his comments were truly pathetic. A year or two traveling the world on a shoestring budget would do him a hell of a lot good.

      I’m pretty sure the seeming entitlement attitude is not unique to the millennials – the young have always slackers, and always will be!

  7. unperson said, on July 8, 2010 at 6:15 am

    I am surprised you did not run a piece on this article:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/07/rent-a-white-guy/8119

    but the article does sound a bit overblown to me. But I have no doubt there is some opportunity there. The Houston Chronicle laid off a bunch of writers a few months ago, and one of them was a sports writer. Where is he now? Teaching English in China.

  8. dupednontraditional said, on July 8, 2010 at 10:01 am

    I love the bemoaning by the establishement that young people won’t take risks, as if it had nothing to do with the current economic situation via making b.s. financial products, lobbying Congress for consumer-unfriendly laws, and the like.

    I’m a Gen-Xer who took a risk, all right…I went to law school! Now, with crushing student loan debt for the next few decades, the establishement will have forgive me for not trotting out there and opening a lemonade stand or fungible equivalent in order to help drive the economy.

    Not that I wouldn’t love to create real, living-wage jobs for myself ande others…I’m just a bit preoccupied at the moment. Call me back when I’m, oh, 65 or so.

    • angryfutureexpat said, on July 8, 2010 at 10:58 am

      This really sums up the tragedy of this “recession,” which is the culmination of a secular trend stretching back decades. If you want to kill entrepreneurship, the way to do it is by overlevering individuals and making the debt either nondischargable or difficult, expensive, and time consuming to discharge in bankruptcy.

      Heckuva job U.S.A.! Mission Accomplished!

      • dupednontraditional said, on July 8, 2010 at 3:03 pm

        Woooo!!! Hello, Costa Rica!

  9. DancingOpossum said, on July 8, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    I wonder why nobody suggested professional firefighting to the kid. It’s an outstanding career if you can handle it — and he obviously can if he’s doing it as a volunteer.

    I would not counsel anyone to join the military. Why feed the beast? Why risk life and limb in the service of Empire? It’s not like the pay is so f’ing great. And these days you’re immediately shipped off to the desert to kill people. Terrible idea.

  10. kick in the door said, on July 10, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Bankster! Bankster! That’s what they’re yellin’. It’s not about a salary, it’s all about reality.

    Fuck the old people. They built this mess. Let them wallow in it. I’m out.

    You want respect? You give respect. And the US hasn’t given me jack or shit.

  11. [...] off the teet rather than man up and get a life…looking at you Nicholson…bag of shit.  I can understand the panic amongst some of you other Zero Lemmings.  Well, I need to [...]


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