mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Are we better off than our parents?

I found Jane Galt's lengthy post comparing her work experience to her parent's to be pretty interesting for two reasons. She followed up with this post discussing why we are better off today then we have been - ever.

The first thing that was interesting about her post was her experiences looking for a job post-9/11. I graduated college jobless in May of 2002 with a degree in Management Information Systems, so her story has some parallels to mine. When I picked MIS, it was mostly because I liked that it combined business and computers, two favorites of mine. But the thought of riches was in the back of my mind too.

After graduation, I spent the summer working for my college. They paid me student employee wages, but they gave one perk - free oncampus housing - that made it OK. This meant I basically had all the advantages of a college student without having homework. Needless to say, I spent much of the time while I wasn't at work drunk.

I then spent about 6 weeks working for the college as a contractor. I then got my first job offer - which I accepted, then decided to pass up because it was in DC and I realized there was no way I could work in DC and not be miserable. So I moved back to NJ and lived with the 'rents for a while, going to job interviews, working the occasional temp data-entry or filing job, and pondering law school. I kept in touch with the people in my college's IT group, and eventually found out that there was an opening. Applied, got it, and moved back to Baltimore.

So am I better off then my parents when they were 25? It's sort of an apples to oranges comparision, and it's made more complicated by the fact that they were already married at 25, while I'm single. That means they had two incomes to do things like buy a house. Still, I probably will be buying a house in the next couple months, although it probably won't be as nice as their first house. Then again, they have only owned two houses - ever, and I think the practice of trading up to a better house every couple years is a recent phenomnea.

But at the same time, I probably would have more money towards housing if I didn't have so many gadgets - a desktop with dual lcd monitors, a powerbook, an iPod Nano, two TV's, a RePlayTV, cell phone, ect. And these are gadgets that didn' exist 30 years ago.

And while telling someone to reboot their computer for the 80th time may drive me nuts, I have a job where I sit in a climate controlled room, can surf the web when things are slow (or blog!). I have sources of supplemental income, like eBay, that didn't exist 10 years ago, let alone 30.

And I think I probably have more chances for upward mobility. My guess is my parent's income hasn't increased a whole lot adjusted for income from years back. I have a college degree and am working on my MBA. My lack of upward mobility will be due more to my own laziness, lack of social skill, or desire not to have to wear a tie, not because of a lack of opportunity.

So in summary: Not having a job sucks more than it used to, but having a job sucks less than it used to. And I'd rather have periods of unemployment in my life if I can buy iPods and laptops with the money I make when I don't have a job.


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