First Matt Yglesias and then Kevin Drum nail the current source of my occasional spasms of liberal guilt, namely the unequal distribution of the current economic troubles. They both note that the unemployment rate for college graduates is less than half that for folks without college degrees (Matt looks at total unemployment, Kevin at long-term unemployment), and Matt notes:
Virtually every single member of congress, every senator, every Capitol Hill staffer, every White House advisor, every Fed governor, and every major political reporter is a college graduate. What’s more, we have a large amount of social segregation in the United States–college graduates tend to socialize with each other. And among college graduates, there simply isn’t an economic crisis in the United States.
This is very true. While I’m aware that the global economic situation isn’t good, locally, we’re doing all right. Kate and I both have good jobs with good job security, we’ve got health insurance, and we’re not looking to retire any time soon, so the dismal performance of my retirement accounts isn’t an immediate cause for concern. And nearly everyone I talk to regularly is in more or less the same position. Even if you restrict the sample set to academics, we’re doing better than a lot of people, as Union is private and has a large enough endowment to smooth out the shock a bit.
Of course, there really isn’t anything I can do about it, other than feel vaguely guilty when the subject of the economy comes up, and try to do our bit to put money into the local economy. But it’s a much bigger issue than that, and ought to get more attention than it does.