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  • Anna Brix Thomsen

A Political Awakening of the Young Generation or a Return to 1950’s Survival Strategies? DAY 6

A mother is planning the perfect future for her child. A mother wants her 9-year-old daughter to go to private school so that she can eventually marry a rich man and never have to work. Does this sound like a good idea to you?

On February 12. 2014 a British mother Rachel Ragg published an article about the subject in the Daily Mail. Ragg talks about how she is planning for her daughter to go to Oxford to increase her chances of meeting a wealthy man because that is what she would have wanted for her own life. She talks about how most of the women she know who are juggling both career and children often are left miserable, poor or both and how being a stay at home mom would have been her dream life, had she only married a wealthy man. At the same time there is an irony in Ragg’s appraisal of the life of a stay at home mom, because when she boasts about the £3,000-a-term private school her daughter currently attends, it is the professional merits of its female alums she highlights: ”Cheryl Taylor, controller of CBBC, Kate Bellingham, BBC technology presenter and engineer, and Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s first female president.” The irony is that while all of these women attended this prestigious school, yet none of them went on to become a stay at home mom. (Source:

Now – while it would be obvious to discuss gender roles and a regressive return to the 1950’s way of viewing women, I will instead look at Ragg’s perspective from a consideration of where young people currently stand in today’s education system and job market. Because while I disagree with Ragg’s approach of wanting to force her daughter into the kind of life she would have wanted for herself without taking her daughter’s perspective into account, I do see that there is a strategic logic about her approach. Let’s have a look at why that is:

Even with a higher education it has become increasingly difficult to get a job and it doesn’t matter where you live in the world. But especially for the generations under 30 does this ring truer than ever. According to statistics done for the British parliament 920,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed in Britain between September and November 2013. And a report by Richard Vedder, Christopher Denhart, and Jonathan Robe shows that “The proportion of overeducated workers in occupations appears to have grown substantially; in 1970, fewer than one percent of taxi drivers and two percent of firefighters had college degrees, while now more than 15 percent do in both jobs. (Source:

Another study done by researchers from Northeastern University, Drexel University, and the Economic Policy Institute, based on data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and the U.S. Department of Labor showed that “About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years. In 2000, the share was at a low of 41 percent, before the dot-com bust erased job gains for college graduates in the telecommunications and IT fields.

Out of the 1.5 million who languished in the job market, about half were underemployed, an increase from the previous year.“ (Source:

So while the youth of today not alone face great unemployment when they are uneducated, even those with higher education are at risk of not being able to enter the job market or having to take jobs for which they are (at least academically) overqualified for.

A little over ten years ago when I was a youngster coming into the job market we were coming out of the economic ‘golden era’ of the 1990’s where it seemed like all opportunities were open for us. We were therefore told to choose something that would make us happy and fulfilled, something that we were really passionate about. Little did we know that soon enough we would be unwilling participants in one of the greatest economic recessions in the history of the world and that our degrees in literature, journalism and sociology would become redundant. Little did we know that traveling around the world for a few years or island hopping around various fields of education would have the consequence that we would be too late to invest in property, making us eternal slaves to lease agreements on studio apartments. And the generations that came after us have only faced this even more extensively.

Is it therefore so odd that a mother’s biggest goal for her child is to ensure that she gets married rich?

Obviously it is not a very supportive perspective on one’s child’s future if their best opportunity is to marry rich because it is like telling them that any other skills they may have would be worthless. Sending them to demanding private schools without any expectation of academic achievement also isn’t very motivating for a child to do well at school. And thus the problem would come full circle. But at the same time there is also an element of realism in this mother’s approach whereas other parents might still tell their children to follow their dreams and passion in a world system with increasing competition where very few educational fields guarantees work after graduation.

We often talk about how a very small percentage of the world’s population is sitting on most of the monetary resources, but seldom do we consider that these people are all roughly speaking between 35 – 75 years of age. These are also the same people who are for example able to invest in the property market making it increasingly difficult for people under 30 to enter into the property market. And while it may be attractive for a few young women to strategically target a rich older man, it is also an indication of the severity of the situation we are finding ourselves in, if we have to regress to survival strategies deployed and archived more than 40 years ago (obviously only in wealthy countries). Young uneducated men are the most vulnerable group of unemployed and some statistics say that youth unemployment in Southern Europe have reached staggering heights of 50-60 percent.

So as is evident by now, returning to 1950’s gender roles might seem alluring and as an easy way out for some young women, it is certainly not a solution to the overall problem we are facing.

We are reaching a dangerously critical mass and with apathy and delusion accompanying the rocketing unemployment and student loan rates, it is of great importance that young people start coming together to develop a sustainable solution. Because we are currently supporting a small group of rich people in their efforts to maximize profits with the consequence that we are continuously at the brink of destroying the planet we live on just in the hopes that we might one day become them.

It is the first time in history that the young people coming into the world are facing a situation that is worse than their parents – and this can only mean one thing: that the older generations do not have our best interests at heart. Therefore it is up to us to ensure a change in paradigms. The good thing about all of this is that young people aren’t as stuck in their ways as the older generations. And this means that we’ve actually got a shot at establishing a new and improved way of living together on earth – if we pull our resources together and stand united in the aim of making sure that our children do not have to face a world that is worse off. It is up to us to be the example our parents so clearly never was.

Investigate the Proposal for a Guaranteed Living Income System – a proposal for a system that has the potential to fundamentally change the concept of ‘work’ from something that we do to survive to something that we do to support and expand ourselves to thrive and LIVE.

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