"You Might Be Screwed": Excerpts from Jefferson Smith's U of O Commencement Speech

Portland Mercury:

Amanda CaffalI'm not going to post the whole thing, but we got a copy of the speech that mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith gave to the University of Oregon's class of 2012 yesterday morning. But some of it's definitely worth sharing. The message? Graduates should embrace the lousy economy, with its paucity of high-paying, ego-boosting jobs, as a chance to cast off the myth of the career ladder and follow in Smith's own footsteps: public service. I know I’m supposed to come and tell you about the many opportunities before you. And I’ll say something about that. But I want to tell you something else. You might be screwed. Not just you. Not just University of Oregon graduates. And no, not just OSU or UW[ashington] either. Your whole generation. In some important respects...your whole generation is getting screwed. • You’re projected to be the first generation to face lower lifetime earnings than your parents.• Many of you are looking for jobs in what economists say over the past 5 years has been the toughest job market since the great depression.• Your generation faces the greatest wealth disparities since before WWII There are real questions about whether the systems of democracy we have built are in the position to solve our biggest problems. Other generations have had it hard, and you’ve had advantages. You haven’t had to face a draft, and you got a cool phone. The point here isn’t to spark an argument about whether you have faced relatively more blessings or more challenges than others. The point here is that it’s up to you to deal with those challenges. I want to offer a few thoughts and questions about coming to grips with that. And that includes rethinking some of our fundamental assumptions. This commencement is not a pity party. I am here to call you to service. After the jump, read about a Satori-like experience Smith had at a New York City McDonald's. [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]

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