Venerable windbag Andy Rooney took a break last Sunday from complaining about Hispanic ballplayers and the number of non-functioning typewriters he owns to address the problem of unemployment:
Rooney understands your problem, because he's been out of work too...though apparently not since 1949, when he first started working for CBS. Nonetheless, he's more than ready to offer a helping hand to those too
lazy snotty distraught to hoist their own bootstraps.
We'll leave aside Rooney's perplexing comment about CEOs being unwilling to take a job picking up trash by the side of the road, mostly because executives aren't the ones getting laid off. No, the most significant piece of advice he gives is to college graduates, who should stop reaching for the stars and, instead, look to the trades,
More college graduates ought to become plumbers or electricians, then go home at night and read Shakespeare.
Look, a college degree hasn't guaranteed employment since well before I got my Bachelors, and that was almost 20 years ago. And even then, a journeyman electrician might be able to pay off the loans for a four-year degree (which will run you approximately $100,000 at UT, as a Texas resident), provided he didn't marry...or have children...and lived in his van, it isn't like the blue-collar professions are on some sort of hiring spree right now. In fact, it's quite the opposite, with unemployment in production and construction jobs running at 14 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
It's hard to believe Rooney's keen insight has been so dulled after 30+ years in the same job (he's probably still having problems setting the clock on that darned VCR) but the man honestly seems to think people shirk at the prospect of honest labor. Maybe this isn't the Great Depression, when doughty menfolk sought gainful employment by riding the rails and wearing onions on their belts, but I know a lot of people who are currently unemployed, and the reason they're having such a hard time finding a job isn't because they won't demean themselves in unglamorous work, it's because the work simply isn't there.
People will call me jealous. They'll say I'm envious of Rooney's position, as if this was some sort of valid criticism of my opinions. To them I can only say: of course I'm fucking jealous. This is a guy who would've been writing dialogue for Henrietta Pussycat if Ernie Pyle hadn't caught a bullet in Okinawa, yet since 1978 he's had his vile homunculus ass perched in one of the cushiest TV jobs of all time. Rooney has to come up with five minutes of on-air material per weekly show, and was making $8,000 a week back in 1987, which went up to a reported $800,000 a year by 1990. So yeah, I feel quite comfortable saying I'd happily sell my soul -- or yours -- for that kind of gig.
But there is a way Rooney can help ease the unemployment rate: he can retire. His isn't the case of some 74-year-old forced to work as a greeter at Wal-Mart to pay for his cholesterol meds. Rooney easily makes over $1 million a year now, and his only usefulness is giving voice to aging Americans who still fondly recall a time when Benny Goodman was the raunchiest thing on the radio and young men didn't wear dungarees to social occasions.
Step down, Andy. Free up that seven-figure salary so CBS can hire a handful of actual reporters...or 20 key grips. Your elbow has been planted on the pulse of society long enough, so why not live out the rest of your days in the fashion you find most enjoyable; by raging at all the different kinds of mustard in your refrigerator until you die of a massive coronary?
Be sure to say 'hi' to Kurt Cobain for us.
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