Unemployment Porn: How To Get Your Kicks In A Recession

There’s a new genre of online journalism. Call it “unemployment porn.” It began with Occupy Wall Street’s “We Are The 99 Percent” tumblr, last fall, where people all over America shared their images–faces often hidden–and held up signs and leaflets of paper spelling out their woes.
“My SSDI and child support come to a monthly total of $2346.00 monthly.  Our rent – we can’t afford to buy – is $1150.00 a month.  We are currently $195.00 overdrawn, and the overdraft protection has been turned off by the bank.  We have no more gas in our car.  I will get the last half of child support next week; coincidentally that is exactly $195.00.  The next SSDI check won’t be here until June 1st. “

Recently, unemployment porn has entered the blogosphere.  Read more

The New Yorker: Paul Ryan, Al Smith, and Getting By In America

I’m kind of blown away by Amy Davidson’s blog post at The New Yorker, which compares the upbringings of the New York governor Al Smith and Romney’s VP pick, Paul Ryan. Davidson draws a link between the two by showing how they both pulled themselves up by their bootstraps to get ahead in life, but for Ryan–a discipline of Ayn Rand’s objectivism who advocates for stripping government of all its social safety nets–doing so would not have been possible without the Social Security benefits he received after his father’s early death.

“There are, of course, still plenty of desperately poor people in America today. Many of them ended up or have stayed that way, despite hard work and ambition, because, like Smith’s family, they were destroyed financially by uninsured medical costs. But even without the cushion of (presumably) health insurance and his family’s basic financial stability, Ryan and his mother would not have had to make the wrenching choices Smith and his mother did. Ryan received Social Security survivors’ benefits as a Read more

My essay: “What We Talk About When We Talk About ‘Girls'”

a.k.a. “what I learned from Lena Dunham and a few dates with a rich Manhattan lawyer.”

a.k.a. (the real title) “Girls of the Millennials.”

My essay in Construction Magazine:

“My dates with the lawyer got me thinking about my situation, and why I’m putting myself through years of scraping by to be, ultimately, a writer—someone who will most likely never earn as much as a lawyer. At first, going out with him and hearing about his high-end lifestyle made me self-conscious about our class differences. But then I remembered something I often think whenever Read more

Thought Catalog: How The Sharing Economy Creates Abundance

My latest dispatch from the sharing economy:

“On Thursday night at the Brooklyn Swappers meet-up, Rotindo’s garlic powder is dusted atop a salad of fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, which sits on a table alongside black bean burgers with a tofu cilantro mayo, various kinds of kimchi, soba noodles, quinoa salad, sausage with ‘straw-BQ’ sauce, yogurt-dill-pea salad, and much, much more. We might be in a dire recession, but at this food swap in Greenpoint, there is only abundance.”


Esquire: The War Against Young Americans

Oh, this one is good.

“Let’s say you just graduated from high school.

College, right? You have to go to college. That’s not just what your career counselor told you. That’s in the numbers. If you go to college, you’re significantly less likely to lose your job. The pay of college graduates has risen over the past twenty-five years and everybody else’s pay has declined. Which curve do you want to be on?

And yet, at the exact moment when an education has never been more necessary, education is increasingly out of reach. From 1980 on, the price of attending a four-year college has risen by 128 percent. While the price has spiked, the quality has tanked. Students at college in 2003 did two-thirds the homework that students in 1961 did.”

“Youth should be the only issue of the 2012 election, because all the subsidiary issues — inequality, the rising class system in America, the specter of decline, mass unemployment, the growing debt — are all fundamentally about the war against Read more

The Awl: Women Writing About Real Shit (take note, The Atlantic)

I love this

“My parents had the same struggles, maybe worse, as twenty-somethings starting a family and a business in the ’80s, facing a recession and a bleaker economy in the mining towns of northern Minnesota. What is new is the myth of the educated middle class as automatic recipients of middle class incomes. What’s new is the assumption that college is some great equalizer (was it ever?), that  family-of-origin, economic backgrounds, and old-fashioned connections are just extras. These seem to be the same general assumptions that sweep all young, urban, PBR-sipping kids like me into sitcom caricatures of “poor people,” or, with the right zip code and cocktail preferences, aspiring Carrie Bradshaws or Hannah Horvaths.”

and this

“Wool cheerleader skirt from Opening Ceremony, more than $100.  Because a wool cheerleader skirt is a totally appropriate thing for an adult to own.  ”Simple Basics for Winter: A Wool Cheerleader Skirt,” Lucky magazine does not ever say. I blame this one on going shopping with rich enablers, lovely but irresponsible people who also encouraged me, during the same shopping trip, to purchase a 3.1 Philip Lim cashmere sweater-blouse that was adorable and genuinely luxurious and which I left hanging in an inadequately defended closet, the result being that it was consumed almost 100% by moths.  The moths refused to eat this skirt. We can only assume that they held it in contempt.”

and this

“As the children age (and multiply), the moms are burdened by the responsibility—to work, hold onto their homes, watch over their kids’ social and academic lives. The boredom turns to terror. You can almost clock the moment it begins, past preschool but before kindergarten. The childbearing is over, the breastfeeding in the past, the sling donated to Housing Works. It’s the moment when a mom dresses as a Harajuku girl for Halloween, or there’s a full bar at a four-year-old’s birthday party, or two ladies step out of book group to smoke on the stoop. It’s blowjob gestures at cocktail parties followed by a-little-too hysterical laughter. It’s the mother who says, “Mommy needs an Advil because she stayed up too late last night.” It’s fortieth birthday parties at karaoke bars.”

Daily Kos: Millennials Didn’t Just Create Our Entitlement, We Inherited It

Ah… vindication.

“It has been said that our generation is lazy; that we’ve refused to grow up. That, the story goes, is why so many of us have returned home after college and given ourselves the moniker of the “boomerang generation.” The narrative is that we’re entitled: that a generation built on political correctness and praise without performance has made us expect things we don’t deserve to receive. We’re not content, then, to work hard like the generations that preceded us, and to work our way up the ladder of opportunity; and once we figure out how tough the world actually is, we turn tail and crawl back home to our parents, who knew the value of hard work.

It’s a pleasant fiction designed to absolve the previous generation of responsibility from the simple fact that we live in the economy and society they guided and shaped. Far from not knowing the value of hard work and competition, we’re a generation where law school graduates compete like mad for the opportunity to ply their trade for free in the face of six figures of unrelenting school debt. Read more