It’s the Economy, Stupid!

This month, I painted a red slash across my door frame in hopes that the Gas Gods would pass over me. Instead, they raised their prices in glee (to over $6 in some areas) as I raised my fists in anger.

Yesterday, I woke up to a strange smell in my house. It was the smell of cleaning products, and dog hair. Gone was the greasy smell of cooking pigs. Absent was the crackling sounds of fat in the pan. Apparently, the Bacon Gods went on strike too.

Our economy is definitely on the rise, and almost everyone is better off than they were four years ago (in general), but things still aren’t good — at least not “The American Dream” good. They’re more like, “I abandoned everyone I love to mine for gold in this shitty town in the mountains of California, and while I did just find a small speck of gold, I’m still living in a pile of dirt” good. Things are bad for everyone right now. Sure, inflation is lower than it was before Obama came into office, but that doesn’t change the fact that I had to sell a kidney for the little things in life like food to eat and an iPhone 5. What we need in this time of need is someone, or something, to blame.

People ages 20-24 have unemployment at twice the rate of 45-54 year-olds. Sure, student loans are at an all-time high, and financial aid is getting harder and harder to get, but is that really the issue here?
Is the fact that tuition is rising at more than twice the rate of annual inflation to blame? The average year of college costs more than most American families have saved up in their combined bank accounts (about $20,000 more, in fact). This stress creates a lasting problem of crippling student debt. That, combined with the recent surge of adults with work experience returning to school, means that the worth of a bachelor’s degree is drastically reduced (especially, as more people go into grad school).

This creates an environment where there are young 20-somethings with virtually no work experience. And, the longer they are unemployed, the less likely it is they will be employed later, further sabotaging their future as a modern cappuccino artist. Sure, there may be a direct correlation between cost of school and relative unemployment rate some years later, but does that really mean we can blame rising costs of school? Doubt it.

What we should really do is blame the utter failure of creative thinking in our government. It may cost millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours to create a single bridge, one that employed a couple dozen people, and goes to nowhere. Meanwhile, I can think of at least a dozen good ideas to create jobs tomorrow.

First, abandon our hospitals and schools for a couple years. All of those out-of-work doctors and teachers can now go get real jobs. Meanwhile, those buildings can be used for something important, like Instagram photo shoots.

Also, I hear the whole unmanned hospitals thing has worked wonders in Cuba.

Or maybe just take down Instagram altogether; make those hipsters get real jobs.

Obviously, the economy is not doing well right now. It’s like Captain America at the end of “Avengers v. X-Men, volume 12.” Oh. You don’t read comic books? You should probably quit your job and start.

Justin Huft is a fourth-year psychology and social behavior and social ecology double major. He can be reached at jhuft@uci.edu.