If you are in this situation, you can make it out, it won't be easy, but it isn't impossible.
That is an important message for people who in this kind of situation and need to keep persevering to get out. Thanks.
But I would want to caution others looking from the outside not to take the statement as "nothing to worry about, the good people will be OK, move along...".
If we think of the condition of young-adult homeless as stochastic process, it shouldn't surprise us that people get out of it. But the question and the potential problem is if more people are getting into it than get out it. Society as a system, has to consider this.
I think part of the problem is that it's hard to discuss the problem and solution in a way that is both descriptive and productive. I think these are a some of other issues:
1. I think too many people attend college (in the US at least). College is expensive, and the ease with which students can attain loans to attend has made it something that people probably take too lightly. There's still a perception that if you go to college and study "something," when you graduate you'll get a job from the magically place where jobs come from. This perception is being challenged, but it's a barrier.
2. The fields of study that tend to lead to higher paying roles also tend to be more challenging. The difficulty and popularity is somewhat "priced in" in the microeconomic sense. For instance, I think our society romanticized the humanities and arts, despite the harsh reality that these programs leave students with few concrete/marketable skills. And while I'm not saying that we should gut arts and humanities programs, I would argue that right now that skill-set is in low demand. Statistically speaking, the chances of success are low and the roles of distinction are scarce, leading to higher unemployment rate for certain fields of study. Add to that the general scarcity of good jobs, and an increasingly competitive economy as developing countries rise out of poverty and converge to the developed ones.
So what do we do?
1. I think our society should better educate it's citizens on these issues (what are the value propositions of certain fields of study, what can people do to be more successful, etc). I think we could also use some gov't coordination to ensure that the skills being learned match the desired skills of the market. Anecdotally I know of many firms that are hiring, but feel there's a mismatch between the skills available and those desired.
2. I think we should find some way to provide employment for at least some of these un/underemployed youths. The Civilian Conservation Corps from the Depression Era U.S. comes to mind. Basically, citizens were given the option to work on gov't infrastructure projects as an employment option. I like this because it both provides assistance to the unemployed and allows society to recover some of the cost of helping its citizens.
And congratulations, shanelja. The situation among some of my friends has been pretty bleak... It's always nice to hear an uplifting story...
Lets be frank here, 'Follow your dreams' isn't a very good advice for most people. Given the economic reality that poets, artists, philosophers alike aren't going to paid very well, its actually foolish to think otherwise.
Unless you are sure you have a good story to narrate, something that has best seller material- training to be novelist is an utter waste of your time. And taking big loans to do it is financial suicide. The net result is you ending up being a junior editor of sorts working for some portal trying to correct spelling mistake in news articles submitted, sincerely hoping automation doesn't take over your job.
'Making a living' is a very different thing, and frankly kids need to be taught its one thing to be passionate about something, and totally an another thing to monetize it. Your passion might not even be in demand to the common masses, you can't blame them for it. I for once never felt the need to listen to poetry. On the other hand I love listening to songs. Its not the worlds mistake to not want what you like doing. And moreover its not necessary your passion must always overlap with your day job. You can try towards doing that. But don't bet your whole life and financial security on it.
Next comes, a realization that needs to get into young people early on. Unless you are super lucky, big money will come only with big work. Studying history or philosophy is not very valuable to the world, or at least there isn't a pressing demand for it.
When you look at all this things at once. People need to make pragmatic choices in life. Choices which make sense. Again you can point out examples of people who have made it big doing something non-mainstream, but I promise they will be so few you can count such people on your fingers.
I agree with your observation. What I find interesting is that most people I know don't actually 'follow their dreams'. They do apply the principle on a surface level, but in actually just kind of stumble through life, often unhappy that they didn't quite 'realize' these vague non-specific dreams.
On the other hand, I have a number of friends who did follow their dreams. Their dreams often changed, were often crazy, but they had them, and worked relentlessly toward them. And they achieved a lot.
And finally I have friends who don't really have much of a dream that they want to follow, and they seem pretty happy too.
The problem is that many people apply a watered down version of 'follow your dream' that really is nothing more than 'do what you like'. Those are two different things.
I personally feel that it is possible to follow your dream, if you have one, but only if you realize that you might not make a living, you might be unhappy for long stretches of time, and it will cost. But I've seen so many people who went through hell following some crazy dream, but even in the process, and especially if their dream led them somewhere, they seemed somehow happier. Including the homeless broke ones.
If you look at the original article its clear that there are CPAs who are out of jobs.
Given just the collapse of the bubble along with the addition of new people into the market; there are now many people who aren't holding a job, while people are holding jobs they are overqualified for while crowding out others.
The article may focus on the homeless, but as has been mentioned its part of a larger problem in America, which consists of cold macroeconomic factors that care little if your dream was to do finance, be a lawyer or write a novel.
Why strawmen, exactly? I'm not disagreeing with you; it's true that following your passion is often difficult, or even impossible.
I was just interested in discussing the passion angle of this story, because passion, in the strongest sense of the word, is a fascinating variable in this context. Passion can make a person content (to a degree) despite being dirt-poor, and passion can even bring a person out of squalor. And for some, not everyone, taking that passion seriously can be quite beneficial.
You might disagree, or consider the topic irrelevant, but how are we discussing strawmen?
I tend to think that 'Follow your dreams' is a good advice, but at the same time I also realize that I have to work (a non-dream job) to be able to do so! Many probably don't take into account that following one's dreams doesn't come for free.
For example if my dream was to write novels, I wouldn't take a loan and just write with hope to hit the jackpot but I would have to do some regular work to support my dream: writing.
The deeper issue than the mere popularity of college majors is that their popularity already includes a certain level of weeding-out. Graduating classes in engineering and computer-science are not small because people are too foolish to go into engineering but but because, by and large, people lack the talent and capability for engineering.
And even worse! If we somehow made every college student into a competent software engineer, it would only glut the market for software engineers.
The notion that an economy will naturally come to an equilibrium of full employment at livable wages, and that poverty is thus a failure to adhere to the will of the market, has simply proven itself empirically false. It's a falsified hypothesis, and we have to throw it out and deal with the consequences of its falsity in a sane way.
There simply may not be good jobs for everyone, and any anti-poverty policies we want to make need to start from that as their basis.
This topic is always such a tiring minefield to navigate.
Expanding on point 2 -
It should be noted that several students and workers in hitherto "hard" areas, such as finance and law, are also struggling today. Finance is yet to, recover its pre collapse heights.
So these industries are dealing with a glut of candidates to pick from, AND at the same time, many of the routine low mindfulness tasks, are open to outsourcing.
So even in the non Liberal Arts world, the landscape is fundamentally changed.
As someone said on the NYT boards - there will be no more isolated islands of prosperity.
I live in Seattle and here the only island of prosperity seems to be software development. Almost everyone I know under the age of 40 who I would consider successful in their career and finances, or "upper-middle class," is in the software/IT field.
The troubles of the financial sector are well known. Law used to be a safe bet, but the current glut of law graduates now means it's no longer a sure-fire ticket to upper-middle class life. Medicine is still, but only because so few people are allowed into medical school. It's such a high barrier to entry. Since you don't need a specific degree or license to be a dev, software's barrier to entry is only in the difficulty of acquiring the knowledge and experience itself, not in acquiring certification.
Even though I personally dislike most of Microsoft's products, I shudder to think what would happen if the wheels came off that bus, and the region were suddenly flooded with experienced software developers seeking employment.