Advice to graduation class of 2013

  • Article by: Stephen L. Carter , Bloomberg News
  • Updated: May 13, 2013 - 9:30 PM

My generation clambered for independent thought, but gave in to group-think and easy answers.

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unionbossmanMay. 14, 13 6:18 AM

Started reading this with skepticism. As I read further it started to resonate. I dislike being associated with groups due to the expectation that you must agree with all tenants of the group. Gut reaction is we need a third party with a libertarian bent. But, that would be a group. How bout we let others lead their lives (and accept the consequences for doing so) rather than attempting to control each other...triangulate yourself from the loudmouths in society whose sole purpose is to be on a stage.

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pumiceMay. 14, 13 7:25 AM

Nothing about student debt, Mr. Carter? Nothing about 43% of 25-year-olds now owing an average of $20,326 in student debt? Nothing about the fact that today's $1.1 trillion in student debt is exceeded only by home mortgage debt? Nothing about ripping out rungs on the upward mobility ladder? Nothing about lowered expectations for higher earnings in the future? Nothing about the New York Fed report which says "younger workers with student debt are less likely than their unburdened peers to have home mortgages or auto loans" because they lack confidence about assuming further debt and/or can't qualify for consumer loans? Nothing about the effect on society when debt-burdened 25-year-old job-seekers postpone marriage?

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frommychairMay. 14, 13 8:35 AM

Excellent editorial. What amazes me is the polarity of the two previous comments on the article. Life is complicated, people are complicated, even what I'm typing is far too simplistic to be taken as a singular position. Rather than throw arrows at each other, we need to listen to each other and acknowledge the plethora of ideas from which we have to work. Also, let's all lighten up, life is too short to throw rocks all the time.

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gandalf48May. 14, 13 9:12 AM

unionbossman - [Started reading this with skepticism. As I read further it started to resonate. I dislike being associated with groups due to the expectation that you must agree with all tenants of the group. Gut reaction is we need a third party with a libertarian bent. But, that would be a group. How bout we let others lead their lives (and accept the consequences for doing so) rather than attempting to control each other...triangulate yourself from the loudmouths in society whose sole purpose is to be on a stage.] *** I completely agree with your sentiment, it seems like any new idea meets a ton of resistance today. There are so many established groups invested in the current system that even suggesting common sense changes to these systems is met with animosity. Look at how much flack Obama is getting for his common sense idea to use a chained CPI with Social Security! Pumice, those are all big issues but if you offer no NEW ideas on how to fix them (giving students more loans and more debt and more subsidy just keeps the system going down the same path) it's called complaining rather than problem solving. I believe that's where this article is really going, it's about offering up new ideas...being able to be open about discussing new ideas rather than immediately rejecting them like so many people do. Hopefully, the youth growing up today can be more open than the older generations are when it comes to innovative ideas and being open to a real discussion with them.

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boomerdudeMay. 14, 1311:10 AM

I like the article even as the old Quaker hymn,"tis a gift to be simple ,tis a gift to be free, tis a gift to come down where we ought to be" resonated through my old brain. I would say strive for balance, even a balance between complexity and simplicity, if you will. One aspect that turned me off was the cliched tendency to lump all boomers together as if we were simply of one mind/group/whatever. Not true, boomers are and were a very diverse group, a very large group, misunderstood by the generations that came before and after us. A flaw of this nice piece is that it perpetuates that type of "simple thought" about the "baby boomer generation".

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gandalf48May. 14, 1311:30 AM

boomerdude - [One aspect that turned me off was the cliched tendency to lump all boomers together as if we were simply of one mind/group/whatever. Not true, boomers are and were a very diverse group, a very large group, misunderstood by the generations that came before and after us. A flaw of this nice piece is that it perpetuates that type of "simple thought" about the "baby boomer generation".] *** Yes, but the vast majority of boomers are responsible for the current situation we are in with politics and the economy. The 10% that can think freely are not the ones that caused these problems but the 90% that can't think outside the box are the problem. The exception to the rule is nice to talk about but the reality is that boomers caused this situation where we only have bias news sources (FOX, CNN, MSNBC) we don't even have a 24 hour news channel we can rely on to be honest. Then that brings us to SS and Medicare, most boomers resist the changes to save the programs for younger generations...every single suggested change to those programs wouldn't have but a minor affect on boomers but boomers resist every step of the way. Then there's the problem of those programs throughout recent history, why did the boomers vote in people who squandered chances to save the programs years before they would go bankrupt. Oh then there's the debt, why did the boomers let the debt get so high! My advice to boomers, get out of the way, let the younger generations take over and don't bother voting unless you take into consideration all generations not just your own. I'm just tired of boomers trying to defend the state that they left our economy, debt and social programs in after how many decades of being in charge...all because they wanted simple, easy solutions instead of having a real conversation about sacrifices, cutbacks and living within our means.

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davehougMay. 14, 1312:14 PM

So much of politics is devoted to the silly proposition that enormously complex questions can be reduced to the size of a bumper sticker.- - - - AMEN and please notice how the motives and intelligence of the other side is quickly questioned, but their arguments are rarely disproved.

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endothermMay. 14, 13 3:39 PM

It is easy to agree with this. We need people to think for themselves, and we need to be able to have honest debates and disagreements without fragmenting into separate clans that can't even agree on basic facts. This should be obvious. That said, it will be difficult to get there from here. We have billion dollar political parties reducing every issue a grudge match, and we have multi-billion dollar media companies that thrive on spectacle and conflict. Meanwhile most people are working long and longer hours and spending their limited free time in media bubble echo chambers. In other words, our current dysfunctional system has been caused by some deep economic and social trends rather than just by the mistakes misguided baby boomers. We need to understand the depths of the problem before we can ever begin to fix it.

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