DEAR GENERATION NOW
The year was 2000 AD. My son had just graduated from High School. He was an 18year old kid, heading off for his freshman year at the University of Southern California. Graduating as the class of 2000, He and his classmates were the quintessential “MILLENIALS”. Although Sean was our only child, I had spent the last 22 years of my career training kids just like Sean. There were two things all these kids had in common. Number one was they were all buried in Student Loan Debt.
Number two was that they all had jobs that paid less than $7 an hour. There was a third similarity. They all, at one time or another, had wanted to be actors. The same dream I had when I left for college in 1970.
When I started my professional career in 1979. I was making $6 an hour and trying to pay off my student loans that totaled the unbelievable amount of $6000. These poor kids had done everything that was asked of them. Now most of them had more debt than their parents had ever incurred. Unlike their parents though, these kids were being raised in a minimum wage economy with no way out. They were born in a time where THEIR dreams for the future, are TRUMPED by an obscene desire by a small group of Americans, to acquire all the money in our country. I use the word TRUMP on purpose. If that guy is running for President, you know there must be money in it. He is all about money and your generation is thought of as the proverbial “REVENUE STREAM”. Here is the really bad news; Although Trump by himself is the epitome of greed. There is a whole political party that supports the same goals and they think Trump would be just the guy to represent our country to the rest of the world. THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, the same political party that lied their way into the Iraq War. Then they used YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY to pay for it. Then just to make sure that they would bankrupt the country, they gave their donors a huge tax break while we were at war. Something that had never been done before in the history of our country and we have had a lot of wars. The costs of those wars are nothing compared to the financial damage that has been heaped upon the backs of the rest of us by the FINANCIAL SERVICES Sector of the REPUBLICAN business wing.
They consider money to be their “FREE SPEECH” and this Supreme Court agreed. But when their employees want to form a UNION, those voices are “Socialism”. When the poor broke workers try to use their Collective wealth to speak for themselves, their voices together are not allowed. You guys are screwed if you don’t change this.
After I graduated from college I had the good fortune to spend my whole working career in the Entertainment Business. In 32 years, I really only had TWO EMPLOYERS, MGM and THE OLD GLOBE THEATRE in SAN DIEGO. From 1979 until 2011 I worked professionally as a Props and Special Effects Technician and Stage supervisor. I had graduated from Lewis University in May 1979 with a B.A. in Theatre and a minor in Hazardous Materials. Four months later I started my first professional job which was working as a Stagehand for MGM at their brand new Casino in Reno Nevada. It was the biggest stage in the world (backstage was the size of a football field) and in typical MGM fashion, the largest production ever attempted on any stage. The show started with a motor driven airplane the size of an actual DC9 “flying” straight toward the audience with 12 showgirls on the wings. Then the show got bigger from there. I worked with 100 topless showgirls and my job was playing with fireworks. Tough job but somebody had to do it. Being a guy, I still found a way to bitch about work. EWWW! That girl has ugly nipples! Truly, the only way we could tell the dancers apart was by their boobs. So in the true spirit of theatre, we gave their boobs nicknames, there was “Dixie cups” and “Water Rockets” and the infamous “Rock Steady”, she rocked but they stayed steady. I hated that job so much I only stayed for 4493 performances.
Although I’d spent my whole life in theatres, this place was a different world. I was working with Union Stagehands and Actors from LA and New York and because they were running a Union “organizing” campaign I received my UNION CARD. I became a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or IATSE.
This was the biggest break of my life. It would be my “ticket to the dance.” Once I became a journeyman Stagehand, my Union card allowed me to live and work in some unbelievable places. Although my card allowed me to work in any city in which there was an IATSE local. I had to prove myself in each place I was able to get work. I lived in Reno and worked for MGM for 7 years, moved to Maui for 3 years and then finished my last 25 years in San Diego. I retired after having a heart attack at the age of 58. Being a “Production” Stagehand I had an averaged 60-80 hours a week for the last 25 years. We rehearsed one show during the day and then did performances of another show at night. My typical schedule was something like 8am and I would get out at midnight. By the end of my career I thought I could do a 40hour week standing on my head. But when you burn the candle at both ends, the flame out is spectacular. Ask my Cardiologist.
Like I said earlier, my last job entailed the training of new employees backstage at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. By the end I was meeting kids with student loan debt of $50-$100K. These kids were the same age as my SON and they basically had a mortgage payment. That mortgage payment goes directly to people who do not give a rodent’s rectum about your financial situation. They only think of theirs. To them, you kids are only their next “revenue stream.” I keep mentioning that term. These “FINANCIAL SERVICES” people have figured out a way to make money off every kid going to college. This is after you are told that in order to succeed you “HAVE” to go to college to “GET A GOOD JOB”. Do you see any “GOOD JOBS”? You have been thrown into a system that depends on you. From the day you graduate until the day you pay off your Student Loan, your time as an “indentured servant” is completely up to the generosity of whatever bank gave you that money.
Just like the peasants during the middle ages or the newly freed slaves after the Civil War who only had the skills to become “sharecroppers”. (They couldn’t own land but they sure could be “partners” and work the land for the same people who had been their Slave Masters)
Your Government actually makes sure that you will pay back your slave masters .If you haven’t paid them off by the time you retire that money comes right out of your Social Security check. Sounds like a sweet deal to me. Too bad we can’t get a deal like that from our Government.
The kids I met had actual college Degrees and they were filled with real dreams for their future, but they had also a mountain of debt. They had done everything that was asked of them and now they were thrust into a minimum wage economy with no real way out. Most of them had more debt their parents had ever incurred. It was common for me to hear kids talking about owing $50K to $100k.
When I first saw that Donald Trump had a real chance at becoming the Republican candidate for President I couldn’t handle it any more. Especially after I heard his rants about Mexicans, Muslims, Blacks and Students, basically anybody who isn’t white or in his case, orange.
While watching the recent Republican Presidential Debates I was appalled at the solutions to our problems that were being put forward by the Republican Candidates. I am not just talking about Trump, the rest of them are even scarier. They cavalierly propose wars on Sovereign countries like Iran, Syria, and North Korea. As well as wars on Unions, voting rights and Planned Parenthood.
Personally I do not care to be the world’s Police force anymore. I know we have the worlds greatest Military but why do we always use that option first? As for the domestic issues, most of their objections are rooted in their Religious views. When I hear Politicians quote the bible during a Presidential Debate or castigate another religion while praising their own, that also appalls me. That is something that I personally believe is crossing the line on keeping State and Religion “SEPARATE”.
I love to hear Republicans use the term “American Exceptionalism” to describe themselves. Since “Exceptionalism” is not a word I bet you see the problem. The only thing I can do about this problem for you is point it out. You are going to have to solve that problem yourselves. As scary as the other Republican Candidates are, Trump is dangerous. Something I want to point out to you with the following video: