The article, by Keith Bradsher, started on the front page of today’s New York Times and continued onto a full page layout. A9. It was a common tale. College graduates refusing to take blue-collar jobs that they thought were beneath them in turn for continued dependence on their parents and other relatives. Here’s the twist, though. These are not American students. This story comes from Guangzhou, China.
I get the point, which boils down to the Chinese economy producing a more educated populous without keeping in step by producing more white-collar jobs. What set off the questioning parts of my American brain was the tone of the story.
Were this an account of U.S. 20-somethings in search of suitable employ, the message would have been more in concert with the unfortunate nature of our economy. Yet, put a Chinese flag on that mortar board and the message is, what uppity ungrateful mooches. One of the sections was even subtitled Picky College Graduates. Really, Mr. Bradsher?
These Chinese graduates, according to the article, sometimes take service jobs, much like their American counterparts who find post-grad work in coffee shops and shoe stores. I have yet to hear it be the general opinion that these young U.S. citizens should get off their rumps and head down to the cannery, or take that job in the meat processing plant.
The insinuation that the Chinese graduates who do not rush out to work in unsafe, sometimes filthy, and low-paying factories (although these wages are increasingly higher than entry-level office work) are snobby laze-abouts sets a precarious double-standard.
It almost reads as though the article was edited to pass through Chinese censorship, painting the citizen as a dangerous provocateur who could dethrone economic progress and pose a, “potential long-term challenge to social stability.”
Whatever the motivation behind the tone of the article, the many facets that are barely dusted throughout the paragraphs highlight the global economic shift that is emerging, whether we’re ready or not. The Chinese economy, whose sectors are evolving at unequal rates in many ways resembles our own stunted economy that struggles to put the pieces back together.
So, to those who would throw stones at the character of those educated into wanting more for themselves, make sure first that you are willing to work in the factory that makes the glass.