It’s a new year, and that means we’re incrementally closer to a terrifying future only imaginable to our grandchildren, whose brains will have much more highly-evolved nightmare centers. Or not—it depends on how the economy shakes out. In Europe, where the economy has been shaking out into a fine dust since the Marshall Plan, things are not looking so good. A few weeks ago, we discussed student riots in Britain over proposed hikes in university tuition. Yesterday, the New York Times ran this story containing the quote in our headline, in which Italy’s Francesca Esposito—who totally knows where to get ecstasy, by the way, but does not want to meet you at your hostel—laments her position as a 29 year-old penta-ligual with master’s and law degrees who can’t find a paying job. Instead, she works as an unpaid “legal trainee” for the Italian government—in their social security administration, no less. Like a lot of young people in southern Europe, Esposito gets paid in irony, and she’s pissed.
We’re coming to this a little late, but Bill O’Reilly has completed the synthesis of Christianity and arch-conservatism that has been vaguely coalescing for the last sixty years—and just in time for Christmas! Ten days ago, he published a column entitled Keep Christ In Unemployment, which is a somewhat misleading title given that it’s A) anti-unemployment benefits and B) as near as I can tell, from a strictly exegetical perspective, anti-Christ. Bill O’Reilly is one hard son of a bitch. As a devout and public Christian, he is apparently obliged to argue that Jesus was one hard sumbitch, too.
As the chick who does it with Dracula in Dracula once said,* sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. Today is Friday, and that’s good. The American economy collapsed like two years ago and now the only people with jobs are professional assholes arguing about whom to blame for said economy and each other, plus terrorism, and that’s bad. It’s a continuum, see, and we’re all just swept up in it, bobbing up and down like boats, albeit not both up and down simultaneously as would better fit my point. Maybe let’s go back to the pill metaphor. For this week’s link roundup, we have some important stuff that’s so horribly depressing I can barely stand to think about it. We also have Kanye and a fail video, by way of sugar. Won’t you have a swallow with me?
MSNBC political and financial commentator Dylan Ratigan went all me-after-four-drinks on Representative Kevin Brady (R–TX) Monday, delivering a long rant while the latter clung to GOP talking points and smiled like a man invited over for a big slice of crap cobbler. Props to Pete for the link. Let me first say that I do not usually have truck with MSNBC, for reasons exemplified in Ratigan’s interview style. He begins his segment by pointing out that Wall Street and high finance is one of the few sectors of the economy that is hiring again, which seems kind of ironic given that they were, to borrow a phrase from Shakespeare, the dildo of our original clusterfucktion. Ratigan then advances the thesis that the stock market, originally conceived as a means of encouraging investment capital to flow to new ventures, has become a “giant sucking machine” that draws money from real industry and into a realm of computerized abstraction. Cue Kevin Brady.
The New York Times managed to make me feel both sad and angry—my two basic emotions!—with this article about the career prospects of recent college graduates as compared to their counterparts in previous generations. That’s the sad part. The angry part comes with Louis Uchitelle’s framing device, which wisely presents the article’s many surprising/dry economic statistics in the context of one particular Millennial, Scott Nicholson. If he still hasn’t found work, I suggest Nicholson hire himself out as the world’s least sympathetic protagonist. He graduated from Colgate in 2008 and has lived with his parents since, unable to find work. He also just turned down a job with Hanover Insurance Group that would have paid him $40,000 a year.