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Neoliberalism Deliberately Wastes the Best Years of a Person’s Life

April 2, 2021 14 comments

While trying to write a post about why generation categories such as Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z is utter bullshit clickbait invented by MSM hacks, I noticed an interesting trend. People born before the early-1970s in West had access to things such as long-term careers and jobs in addition to reasonably priced higher education, houses and cars. But people just born a few years afterwards (late 1970s-and afterwards) did not get to experience many of these things as adults or just had a fleeting acquaintances with them. So what caused this massive shift in quality of life between those born at beginning at 1970s and towards end of that decade.

Here is a clue- add 20 to their birth years. Those born before early-1970s reached adulthood before 1992. Those born in late-1970s and afterwards reached that point in late-1990s and beyond. But why does this matter? Well.. unrestrained neoliberalism (including “free trade”, “outsourcing”, “privatization” and large-scale financialization became the dominant ideology of western countries. And yes.. it has something to do with end of the cold war in 1991. But what does any of this have to neoliberalism deliberately wasting the best years of a person’s life. Surely such an impact cannot be deliberate.. or can it?

Let me start by telling you a story about changes in the likelihood of academics having children over the years. See.. as late as the mid-1990s, most newly minted PhDs from even supposedly ‘average’ universities used to get decent jobs in universities, institutes and corporations without too much effort. They also ended up marrying and having kids before they got too old to have them without medical intervention. The same used to be true for doctors, other medical professionals and professionals in general. I distinctly remember that those about 5-7 years older than myself somehow ended up in at least semi-stable jobs and careers which turned out to be OK. However very few of my age, or even a couple of years older, have been able to achieve that and this gulf is very obvious.

But how does this have any connection with neoliberalism? Well.. let me ask you a simple question- what is the defining characteristic of neoliberalism as far as education, jobs and lifestyle is concerned? What about intense meaningless “competition” based on bullshit proxy measures of performance for a few extra crumbs. And here is how this translates into real life. Until the early 1990s, it was normal for somebody with 2-3 publications during their science PhD to get a decent and stable job in a large corporation immediately after graduation. Even somebody with 3-4 publications could get a single decent postdoc which would lead to a tenure-track in a university or otherwise stable position in some institute. Let me repeat that this was the norm, not the exception.

Or consider the type of people who ended up in medical school, dentistry, law school etc. Until the early-1900s having a decent GPA, OK scores in entrance exams and a genuine interest in the subject was enough to get into those programs. Sure.. the top 10 or top 20 schools might be more “competitive” but that was it. Since then, people who who even apply for such programs require ever more curated resumes showing tons of “volunteer” and other self-promotion bullshit, exceptional GPAs obtained via grade inflation and other degrees. Today it is not uncommon for people to have masters and PhD degrees before they are admitted in medical school. But does this improve their ability to practice medicine? I don’t think so.

But all of this metric-driven bullshit fake “competition” does do a lot of harm to people who participate in these games. Today it is almost unheard of even “ambitious” young academics to have a semi-stable job and career before they are 40. Most tenured female academics are childless. The same is true for many younger female doctors because they too don’t have anything approaching a stable career well into their late-30s. Those who go into industry do no better since the jobs which are available are quite unstable and everybody knows it. And it isn’t the case that men are doing any better.

The median age for getting your first independent government research grant as an academic is now in the mid-40s. And all of this only applies if you are lucky enough to get a tenure track position. It is also no secret that those who go into industry understand that their jobs are very unstable and rearrange their life accordingly. Even doctors making a decent amount of money are frequently paying their student loans almost a decade after graduating medical school. The same is true for most people who went to law school or obtained other supposedly professional degrees. This problem crosses many fields and areas of economy.

Now let me ask another question- has any of this fake neoliberalism-inspired “competition” resulted in the production of more competent scientists, academics, doctors, dentists, lawyers or other professionals? On the contrary, most peer-reviewed research is not reproducible because it is either fake or based on cherry-picking results. We also haven’t seen a single large fundamental technological breakthrough with positive real-world impact in past twenty years. The lesser we talk about the quality of contemporary universities and academia, the better. The quality of medicine, as measured by effects on lifespan or health-life expectancy, has stagnated or become worse in past two decades.

The same is true of fields such as law where all the extra work has not made things better- even for those who charge all those billable hours. In other words, all of this talk about “competition”, “meritocracy”. “hard work” etc making things better or more efficient is smoke and mirrors. What this neoliberal bullshit has achieved is a large reduction in rates of stable couple formation, fewer or no kids and people working hard on stuff that is useless or worse. My point is that by deliberately Wasting the best years of a person’s life, they have created entire generation of deeply unhappy and mentally-fucked up people. On the bright side, they won’t have enough children to sustain this charade for much longer.

What do you think? Comments?