Friday, December 28, 2012

NYT thinks young people working is a bad thing

This is how a clueless out of touch liberal thinks. The New York Times apparently thinks its better to go to college, run up a bunch of student loans, and remain unemployed instead of gasp, getting a job and making money:

SIDNEY, Mont. — For most high school seniors, a college degree is the surest path to a decent job and a stable future. But here in oil country, some teenagers are choosing the oil fields over universities, forgoing higher education for jobs with salaries that can start at $50,000 a year. (KF note: Oh really? What is the unemployment rate among college graduates right now? Starting salaries?)

It is a lucrative but risky decision for any 18-year-old to make, one that could foreclose on his future if the frenzied pace of oil and gas drilling from here to North Dakota to Texas falters and work dries up. But with unemployment at more than 12 percent nationwide for young adults and college tuition soaring, students here on the snow-glazed plains of eastern Montana said they were ready to take their chances.

“I just figured, the oil field is here and I’d make the money while I could,” said Tegan Sivertson, 19, who monitors pipelines for a gas company, sometimes working 15-hour days. “I didn’t want to waste the money and go to school when I could make just as much.”

Less than a year after proms and homecoming games, teenagers like Mr. Sivertson now wake at 4 a.m. to make the three-hour trek to remote oil rigs. They fish busted machinery out of two-mile-deep hydraulic fracturing wells and repair safety devices that keep the wells from rupturing, often working alongside men old enough to be their fathers. Some live at home; others drive back on weekends to eat their mothers’ food, do loads of laundry and go to high school basketball games, still straddling the blurred border between childhood and adulthood.

Just as gold rushes and silver booms once brought opera houses and armies of prospectors to rugged corners of the West, today’s headlong race for oil and gas is reshaping staid communities in the northern Plains, bringing once untold floods of cash and job prospects, but also deep anxieties about crime, growth and a future newly vulnerable to cycles of boom and bust. ....

But school officials in eastern Montana said more and more students were interested in working for at least a year after graduation and getting technical training instead of a four-year degree.

Last year, one-third of the graduating seniors at Sidney High School headed off to work instead of going to college or joining the military, a record percentage. Some found work making deliveries to oil rigs, doing construction and repairing machinery. Others decided to first seek training as welders or diesel mechanics, which pay more than entry-level jobs.

Meanwhile, enrollment at Dawson Community College in Glendive, about an hour from Sidney, has fallen to 225 students from 446 just a few years ago, as fewer local students pursue two-year degrees.

“It’s the allure of the money,” said Thom Barnhart, a guidance counselor at Sidney High.
(OH MY GOSH!!! They want to MAKE MONEY!!! We can't have that.)

Renee Rasmussen, the Bainville school superintendent, said she worried about young people like these if oil prices plunged or the government passed new regulations limiting the fracking techniques that have driven this energy rush. If they go back to school, they could be hurt by the delay. A 2005 federal Department of Education report showed that students who delayed college were more likely to drop out. (Sorry, my experience has been the older students are more serious and not going to earn vacations after they partied all semester.).

School officials said that few teenagers were working directly for energy companies. Instead, they are working with the wide range of support companies that excavate, build and maintain the wells, or, in a race with the dizzying pace of growth, construct the hotels, apartments and camps for employees. Starved for workers, many companies offer $20 an hour to start, plus benefits. Rest of article

Want to know why there is a widening gap between red and blue? This story provides a good reason for it. One culture thinks 18 year old kids making their own choices, working in the oil fields, and making good money for doing so is a good thing. The other culture thinks they should all go to college, run up the student loans, and then go jobless while living off of the dole is better. There is no way to reconcile the two.... nor should there be. Read the comments in the story:

Life is never wishing a clock to move faster. That's the difference between a career and a dirty, dangerous, back-breaking job that ages you before your time. Poor kids don't know that do they?

Yes, tough. Should I choose debt and education or menial labor and being an ignoramus for the rest of my life...yes, tough decision. Give me debt any time

People in general, and Americans in particular, have never been known to look at the long term. It's hard when instant gratification is accessible, promoted and approved...

I'm flabbergasted at the reporter's naivete. What colleges, pray tell, is he referring to that prepare their graduates for good paying jobs? Has the reporter not been reading the many New York Times articles that tell the tales of college graduates -- many from the Ivy League -- living with their parents and working in coffee shops? Is the reporter unaware that entry-level jobs have been replaced by unpaid internships, making it impossible for young people without parental support to begin repaying their loans? Would the reporter suggest, perhaps, that the manual laborers in Montana study journalism instead? There is a job crisis going on for young people, and the manual laborers in Montana have made exactly the right risk-benefit calculation.

One thing that I might point out though is this--if these kids are looking to eventually go to a college that students usually attend right after high school, they'll be older and might not fit in as well. It sounds like a minor thing, but it isn't. I knew several Singaporeans who were required to serve in the Singaporean army, and they were 20 while everyone else was 18. Of course they were more mature and better focused than everyone else, but they didn't fit in as well, and it affected how they socialized. So yes, there could be lots to gain by making money, but there's also something to lose.
(Yes, its all about partying and socializing, not learning skills that help you find a career.).


Anonymous said...

I am reminded of the "Occupy Wall Street" refuse like the dude who turned down an entry level job as demeaning or the guy with 200k of student debt for his degree in Jazz Saxophone but who can't find a job "in his field". They want us to pay their student loans and send them a check every month.

I have one answer: "Hunger is an excellent movtivator."

Anonymous said...

These school officials are also clueless. So what if they go work in a booming industry for awhile, maybe even years, make a boatload of money? They can always decide to go back and obtain some formal education at a later date, hell, might even get some of them interested in such mundane things like, oh, say, ENGINEERING AND SCIENCE! What a bunch of dolts, the NYT writers and the Montana school bureaucrats, out of touch dolts.

Anonymous said...

Golly. What if they worked at a high-paying job, saved some money, and THEN went to college?! Just crazy talk, I know.

Anonymous said...

With my college degree I would have probably taken one of those $50k jobs. I was happy to get a $20k job with degree in hand. Fortunately I worked my way through school and had no debt.

PittPanther said...

I'm surprised at the vitriolic comments being made against the school officials. And I certainly don't see this as a Red vs Blue issue.

The main concern is that these jobs are so dependent on oil and gas prices - oil goes up, the jobs remain. Oil prices decrease, these kids will be the first ones laid off. So if a kid works this job for a few years but then loses it, sure he can go to college at that point. But what if he started a family already, and now has a wife and kids to feed? No way is he going to full-time college, but what job can he get that will give him the time and energy to attend school part time?

Sure $50k (before tax) sounds like a lot of money when compared to going to college, but most 18yo kids would spend it on a nice car, TV and audio equipment, bars/nightclubs and restaurants. Will most have the discipline to save for the day when oil prices fall and they are laid off? Or fracking is made illegal?

Kingfish said...

What you said applies to almost any industry or trade, with or without a degree.

I bet if he was going to work for a union crew at a GM plant you would be singing a different tune.

Anonymous said...

KF you forgot to add how many college grads are making $50k out of the gate. Small, small percentage.

Anonymous said...

yawn! OLD news around the "Bold New City"... just what do you think JSU is? in case you are puzzled, JSU is a "Center for Hand Outs". A place to hang out, not work, run up HUGE debts, obtain large cash hand outs and maybe be given a worthless diploma that is only good when working for the city of jackson.

PittPanther said...

Kingfish said "I bet if he was going to work for a union crew at a GM plant you would be singing a different tune."

Actually I wouldn't. I also fear for a thousand workers at a single auto plant in the middle of nowhere, because I know how "fickle" the auto industry can be. Close that plant, and thousands of workers with a limited skill set and no degree are thrown out of work in a rural area with few options.

I don't have the same fear for a technology company with degreeed employees. If Bomgar or SmartSynch closes up, their degreed workers will have a much easier time finding subsequent employment.

Anonymous said...

If Bomgar or SmartSynch closes up, their degreed workers will have a much easier time finding subsequent employment.

Maybe so, in general, but the Jackson metro based employees will SOL.

Your assumptions regarding the value of a degree and the number of jobs open locally, and nationwide, for people with degrees are dramatically out of whack with reality.

High tech is as "fickle" as any industry. Maybe more so.

Anonymous said...

Going to college isn't just about getting a job. It can actually be about learning more about the world around you and expanding your opportunities. It can be about networking. It can be about improving social skills. You learn that not everyone in this country thinks alike or does things the same way.
My college years were priceless. And there's consistent research that over a lifetime, college graduates make a helluva alot more money if money is what you value more than the other riches of life.

Anonymous said...

If an18 year old begins aretirement program from day one - it doesn't need to be a lot of money either 4 - 5 hundred a month - he will never look back - reinvest and add when they can - millionaire at 45 - food luck

Anonymous said...

I am stunned with the remarks.
First of all, education has value other than in the marketplace but in life.
But, good grief, we are becoming internationally disadvantage particularly against the Asians and Chinese because they do understand the value of knowledge.
Statistically, someone still earns more over a lifetime with a college education.
But, even if that weren't the case, there is more than a little life value in better understanding one's options, being exposed to rewarding opportunities,people and experiences you might not know existed.
You won't know, for example, if you have a talent for foreign languages if you never get to take one.
There's nothing commendable about ignorance!

meople said...

It's a "twin lakes conspiracy"

Anonymous said...


Since everyone who lives on Twin Lakes went to college instead of working on an oil rig and since that explains why they live on Twin Lakes instead of in a trailer park, it probably is a conspiracy.

It's better to learn how to own shares in an oil company than to work on a well.

GEEZ...thanks Spiro Agnew for starting the national delusion that uneducated people know just as much about everything as those who've spent their lives gaining knowledge and that somehow, it is " sissy" to make good grades and gain knowledge.

There's a reason dictators kill the " intelligensia" in a society first!

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