PhD Baristas

I owe 50k in student loan debt. Paying any of it back is put on hold due to the virus. Now multiply my position by 20 or 30 million people. Do you kind of get the feeling of what I am talking about?

I have a Master’s degree and make minimum wage. I believe I should be highly employable. I have skills up the ying yang. I have worked for Goodwill for almost two years and have missed no time at all. When they re-open, I can start working again, but maybe not as many hours.

Here’s the societal issue. Millions of jobs are simply gone now. People may never really go back to eating out. As the virus mutates, restaurants and some retailers may never recover. Many of the jobs out there require technical skills or, at the very least, some education beyond high school. Even before the virus, universities were hurting.

Why were universities hurting? PhD baristas, such as myself. We are the minimum wage workers with advanced degrees. I and my ilk are anti-role-models. The younger generation looks at people such as myself and say, “Why would I be so stupid as to go to school and get up to my eyeballs in student loan debt, just to make minimum wage?” And these young people are correct. They have it figured out. They are not morons.

We are the only nation in the industrialized nation that seriously expects the student to foot the bill for their own education. And it has led to declining enrollments because there is, literally, no financial benefit to getting an education anymore. And this was pre-coronavirus.

I have been dealing with this in Michigan for more than a decade. For years, employers have been whining about a “skills gap” and that they cannot find qualified applicants. They are full of crap. There is no “skills gap.” It does not exist. However, there is a massive “compensation gap.” Many job postings are absolutely hysterically funny in their demands for upper-level technical skills and barely-above-minimum-wage compensation. This is what has led to Michigan’s plummeting educational standing. Our employers have been demanding Master’s level skills for peanuts wages for many years and the skilled people have left. Now employers really, truly can’t find qualified applicants anymore because anyone serious about paying off their student loans has been forced to move to states with higher wages. We have some of the best universities in the world and no decent jobs for their graduates.

Now add the coronavirus. People that can’t make their rent are not going to go into student loan debt for jobs that do not even exist yet. And here’s another news flash: student loan debt is going to be devastating to the economy as it opens up. People’s savings are gone. People that are already in debt cannot go out and purchase a house or car. This hurts manufacturing, construction, and real estate. Whitmer has allowed the automakers to go back to work. Big whoop. With no market, cars will stockpile and eventually manufacturing will have to be reduced.

To get the economy up and running, President Biden and congress will have to forgive student loan debt. It can’t happen with the greedy GOP in power. This needs to happen for everyone’s survival. Nobody is going to go back to school to gain the necessary skills if they will be in debt till the day they die. The skills are necessary; they are non-negotiable. But few young people are stupid enough to end up like me.

I am the anti-role-model.

About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

2 responses to “PhD Baristas”

  1. Ninasusan says :

    It’s a very sad mess that deserves much stronger language!!

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