Education Bubble and the Lies of the Baby Boomers
June 3, 2004
A decade ago when I was in the 10th grade, a recruiter from a
local vo-tech school came to speak to my class. He informed us
about the numerous trade courses and various job opportunities
associated with them. He told us about the low costs, the fast
completion times, and the flexible class hours. Attending trade
school would prove to be a smart move, he said, so we could possess
valuable skills to fall back on in case our other career plans
didn't work out.
Nevertheless, many of my classmates silently jeered at the vo-tech
recruiter. Some even wrote snide comments at the bottom of the
"Trade school is for losers and poor people," they
jotted condescendingly. "Only bums with no ambition would
go there." "Gee... I'd love to be a dumb cable repairman."
"My parents and peers would disown me if I thought about
attending some crumby low-life place like that."
As for me, I didn't say anything, and actually didn't give it
much consideration. My folks, along with most Baby Boomers, had
told me that college was the way to success. My head was full
of hopes and dreams, and I often times envisioned obtaining a
degree many years in the future, finding an enjoyable high-paying
job, and then getting a nice new car, a fancy house, and a "hot
chick." My parents would be paying for my college education,
and many of my peers would be taking advantage of the government
grants, cheap credit, and other kinds of available "easy
money" to fund their quest for a degree. Trade school was
simply out of the question.
BUT BY THE TIME I GRADUATED FROM OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY IN
DECEMBER 2001, THE WORLD HAD CHANGED.
To put it plainly, the economy is in horrible shape. The U.S.
debt-to-GDP ratio (all sectors combined) is at its highest level
in American history, and appears to be on the verge of collapse.
(See the graph here for an ominous illustration.)
The consumer savings rate is at an all-time low, real estate
and the stock market are *far* overvalued by all historical standards,
the U.S. exhibits record trade deficits and government budget
shortfalls, and Americans are as arrogant as ever. Another Great
Depression appears to be written in stone -- no matter how the
politicians and central bankers try to avoid it.
Meanwhile, the job market for recent college graduates has been
drying up while students are obtaining degrees in record numbers.
Approximately half of them today are either unemployed or underemployed.
Combine this with the fact that university education prices are
*skyrocketing* -- thanks to easily-available credit enticing
everyone to attend, and add to this the reality that less than
25 percent of what college students study today is actually relevant
to their career objectives, and you have the classic signs of
a gargantuan *bubble* just waiting to burst! University education
has become a ridiculously-overhyped institution with increasingly-flimsier
market fundamentals, and is due for a serious decline in the
My own experience since finishing college has been both depressing
and enlightening. I initially tried working on oilrigs as a well-logging
engineer trainee, but couldn't handle the insane 24-hour lifestyle
associated with that profession. So more than a year later, I
settled for a part-time cashier position at a local hardware
store while continuing my search for a technical job that required
a degree. I attended a few job fairs, searched the ads, and was
lucky enough to get interviews with several different companies.
One of them invited me to a 2nd interview. The interviewers from
all of the businesses seemed impressed with me, but only the
candidates with the absolute top-notch qualifications were hired,
due to the unfavorable job market.
During my spare time, I also began reading about the true state
of the economy at *excellent* websites such as ZealLLC.com, Gold-Eagle.com,
and others. It has been *very* interesting and sobering, to say
Finally this past March, when all of my job leads were exhausted,
a harsh reality set in on me with a vengeance: my college degree
was probably worth as much as the paper it was printed on. The
Baby Boomers had *lied* to me, and had filled my heart with false
hopes and dreams since I was a young child, only for it to come
crashing down at age 26.
Most of my age group's parents have told us, "Do your best
in school, finish college, and everything will be just fine.
You'll find a nice job like we did and will be able to live large
They were all dead wrong.
The world has changed, and the Baby Boomers are too afraid to
acknowledge it. They resemble Captain Smith on the Titanic: they
have decades of experience going against them, and everything
they know is wrong. It is unbelievable how much they've taken
for granted: that most Americans will always have well-paying
jobs (or a job, period), that a strong economic recovery will
always follow every recession, that our paper assets and real
estate will always increase in value, that the government and
central bank will always have the ability to bail us out when
the nation is in financial trouble, and oh... that university
degrees will always be a ticket to occupational success.
Baby Boomers were born immediately after the first Great Depression,
they've never experienced one and have no personal memory of
one, and now, they're older and are extremely set in their ways.
Even my generation's grandparents can only remember the last
Great Depression as children, and entered the work force at the
very end of it.
So if today's young people want to be successful professionally,
financially, and personally, we must purge the false hopes and
dreams, and blatantly disregard some of the bad advice our parents
and grandparents are giving us. My generation's members must
plot their own course to survive and prosper in a Brave New World
of economic chaos -- a world that our parents could never have
Even in the face of economic gloom, doom, and darkness, there
is opportunity. Even when the world's near future appears ominous
and ugly, there is a chance for happiness and fulfillment. One
can be pessimistic about the financial world and still be *optimistic*
about the prospects of his own life.
The first route to success for members of my generation is to
forget about college and attend trade school instead (unless
you're seeking to become a medical doctor or something similar).
You should pursue an enjoyable career that will always be in
demand, such as repairing things, cutting hair, farming, food
processing, etc. *Big bubble* industries such as financial services,
real estate, construction, auto manufacturing, travel, the military-industrial
complex, most government positions, and anything related to universities
should all be avoided like the Black Death Plague!
After that, the next way to success is to live considerably below
your means, and stay out of debt as much as possible. Shake off
the need to keep up with the Jones'. Enjoy inexpensive hobbies,
such as listening to music, dancing, viewing movies, watching
sports, reading, hanging out with friends and family, and other
fun activities. Rent an apartment or small house, and avoid buying
into the housing market bubble. Keep your old car, get it fixed
when necessary, and drive it until it dies! If you must purchase
a vehicle, get a reliable make & model that's at least a
few years old.
Next, the money you save should be invested in 1 oz. gold bullion
coins. Buy from a local coin shop and keep them locked away in
a safe place. The U.S. dollar is in deep trouble, and most other
investments will perform horribly during the next decade or so,
due to the economic depression.
Also, if possible, refrain from having children, or at least
postpone this until the late 2010s decade when the depression
will most likely end. Get a vasectomy or tubal ligation, and
adopt kids later if you still desire them.
Finally, don't fall for the incessant lies of the politicians,
the mainstream media, or other so-called "experts"
who tell you what *they* want you to hear. Do your own research
-- especially using the Internet as a great source.
I personally have embarked upon all of these ventures. In April,
for example, I enrolled at Metro Tech in Oklahoma City to learn
a trade in computer repair, and began the course in May. I've
always enjoyed computers, problem-solving, and troubleshooting,
so this seems to be a good fit. Information technology definitely
will *not* go away during the depression, while older equipment
continues to be used due to fiscal constraints. These computers
will need fixing periodically.
The past three months have been the most pivotal time of my entire
life: purging myself of long-held hopes and dreams, replacing
them with new ones, and setting out on a new path to success.
In this Brave New World, financial triumph will *not* entail
a high-paying job (relative to inflation), a nice new car, or
a fancy house as did the previous era. Success will mean having
a job, period, and if it's something you enjoy, then that's a
luxurious bonus. Fiscal feat will also imply that you have a
vehicle you can actually drive, and if you can drive it on a
regular basis, that's also a big plus. Residing in a clean, decent
living space will be another sign of success, and it's exceptionally
good if you can afford to live alone or share it with your lover.
And as for finding a "hot chick"... if you can enjoy the above items, along
with the ability to go cruising, dance-clubbing, and dining out
often -- while most other people are eating humble pie, then
acquiring a friendly, good-looking gal should be no trouble at
To sum it up, financial triumph will involve enjoying your present
frugal lifestyle while many others have fallen into poverty.
Nonetheless, the time to live lavishly will come again someday
-- possibly beginning around the year 2020. But now is not the
Personally, this past couple of years hasn't been easy for me.
I would wish to inspire others who may be struggling like I've
been, who are searching for a career while hanging onto the promises
of yesterday with anguish. I would encourage them to learn the
truth about the world, to discard their wishful thinking, and
to develop *new* dreams and success strategies in ways that their
parents and the mainstream "experts" could never understand.
And to those still in high school, I'd hope to persuade them
to listen attentively to any vo-tech recruiters who may visit
their class, and not ignore them like I did. The world has changed,
and it's time to change with it. A plethora of opportunity awaits
us, and the time to chase it is now.
Jun 3, 2004