The trigger event for these thoughts was a statement Tony Dungy made about the low graduation rates of black males in Indianapolis. Even if the stat he cited was off a bit, the reality of growing numbers of males not graduating from high school is a fact. The net result will be increasing numbers of men either in prisons or or imprisoned in low paying jobs, with still more broken homes and more problems.
Meanwhile, I continue to read magazines that talk about how bright the future will be with robots serving us. "Everyone will have a personal robot," I once read. I say, "Bunko." Dumpster divers will not. Families living out of their 1992 Chevy will not. Those guys sleeping in doorways out in San Francisco will not. The forty million Americans living on food stamps will not.
The erosion of hope in getting their piece of the American Dream is part of the problem. The American Dream is, in part, built on the concept of deferred gratification. If I do my homework, if I keep on task in school, if I work hard, if I keep my nose to the grindstone, there will be a payoff somewhere down the road. The alternative is much, much easier.
Life is hard, but it is especially hard without hope.
I mention the robot article only because it seems that there are so many magazine articles that are written as if this growing population of marginalized people did not exist.
Last month I had purchased airline tickets to bring my daughter home for the upcoming holidays. Having questions I asked the computer voice to let me talk with customer service, whereupon I was connected to someone in India who could barely speak English. I finally asked where he was located and he indicated that he was not permitted to say. In other words, the airline wanted to give the impression that they were not exporting jobs overseas. So, a few minutes later, when asking if my daughter will be checking her luggage, he said, "That will be 25 rupees a bag. I mean, dollars." Hilarious and sad at the same time.
The need for computer programmers and people with technical skills is still great in this country. And the salaries being doled out for talent in that area can be quite significant. But you can be sure these open positions are not going to be filled by dropouts. And these are the ones that concern me, and their children.... and their children's children.