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Class Warfare: Grad Vs Grad

Monday, 6 Jul 2009 | 4:02 PM ET
Graduation
Graduation

Maybe it's just the Marxist in me, but I can't help feeling like every time I read about the economic travails of the under-30 set, the writers seem totally blind to even the slightest notion that "class," whether it be social or economic - or socioeconomic if you want to make yourself sound smart - matters.

I'll be reading about how college students are coming home to live with their parents for the summer because they can't get the jobs they were hoping to have, with family tensions rising because they can't help pay the bills, and then in the next paragraph, as though these two things are the same, it's all about how other kids have been forced to curtail their plans for backpacking in Europe over the summer. Somehow the idea that these two things are in no way equivalent just passes under the radar.

Your Job, Your Life | A CNBC Special Report
Your Job, Your Life | A CNBC Special Report

That's bizarre enough on its own, but if there's one thing that this recession should have hammered home to people, it's NOT that we're all in the same boat, but rather that people from wealthy backgrounds are hurting a whole lot less than than the poor and the middle class (the real middle class, not people making mid six-figure salaries who politely call themselves middle class).

Now in some sense, that kind of statement is so blindingly obvious that it can remain unsaid, but given how often I see this sentiment ignored, I think it's worth hammering the point home.

And hammer I will. Big New York City law-firms are paying people just out of law school $80,000 a year to NOT WORK, in exchange for a promise to come back in a year when hopefully there's more business to go around. Now, I'm sure that feels like the end of the world to some of the high-achieving young lawyers who were hoping to make double that amount and get their careers on track early on, but that's a great deal.

It is nothing like recent college grads from non-elite schools being totally unable to find jobs. There is no comparison, none, so please don't try to make one.

Like I said, we're not all in the same boat. Young people with elite credentials may be sailing against the wind, but that's a very different situation from their peers who are taking on water and praying they don't have to go down with the ship.

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