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.