Sunday, January 11, 2009

The insouciance of youth

When I graduated from Rutgers in 1974 there was a terrible job market. First there was the gas crisis, then the unemployment rate went up. But young people in my circle approached the crisis with the insouciance of youth. Unemployment was approached as a goal, not a predicament. You would find a crappy job, work a few months, get laid off, and then you would live within the comparitive nirvana of unemployment insurance. Making more money than you did in the job, you would be free spirits, travel, drink or eat sandwiches (thanks to How I met your mother) hang out, work on your guitar chords, and be happy as clams at high tide.

Two people I know bypassed unemployment insurance all together and applied for welfare the day after graduation. From the college rolls to the welfare rolls. Food stamps were the currency of the hip young unemployed.

Somehow when you get older, looming layoffs are not as much fun as they are when you are younger. From the insouciance of youth to the paranoia of middle age.

Editor's note: Music sung by Oscar Brand, who still does a radio show on WNYC - AM on Saturday nights.

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