By Measures of Degree

There’s a frequent melody sung of late that goes something like this – Ohhh, the brain drain, the dear brain drain, what of the BRAAAAAIN DRAIN, what are we going to do? 

It’s sort of catchy, it’s definitely got a groove. 

It’s too similar though to this newer hit – Where did all the Woooooorkers gooooo?

It just feels too familiar?

The idea in both is that there is some sort of need for a missing poster for ‘young people’ and ‘workers’, who seem to have disappeared. 

Where did they go?

Or did they go anywhere and they just realized that they’re as valuable as the places that seemed to minimize their necessity while then mourning their loss. 

Part of this problem, on both ends, is that neither are valued. We don’t value young people/inexperienced people because we don’t want to pay them. We want them to do the job of two people, take the salary of one, mostly, with dodgy benefits and want them to be happy. We want them to give everything to the company and to never rock the boat. We want them to only get sick in the allotted days they have off and to not need too many days for a break from work. We need them to be in early and stay late. We need them to do everything that the folks higher up don’t want to do. 

The ‘brain drain’ thing with young people is that many will DO that stuff if they have the hope of advancement and better benefits and salary eventually. They are willing to work long hours and hard work because they want to advance. The thing is though that there at least has to be a reason FOR them to do that. There has to be a clear path to advancement. Oh, and there should be some sort of LIFE to the place they live. Not JUST bars but things to do and places to go. They want to LIVE somewhere, not just have a place where they sleep, screw, and eat. Take Flint as a great example. There are restaurants, there are bars, and there’s a theater that is sorta utilized here, but what else? There aren’t many shops. There aren’t many places to go. There’s not a grocery store downtown (there’s a health store just outside of downtown), and there’s no drug store down here. You have to leave to go to most things. We have a smaller downtown but the emphasis for years has been in getting more offices and apartments down here but little effort to give people things to do. The stores are boutiques with dodgy hours and limited scope. I lived down here for over five years and it was great but…I sorta didn’t expect much, as witnessed with where I lived. Being in Flint brought me closer to friends I had at the time and to what I was doing. 

But what do young people NOW get out of living here?

There’s also this thing about degrees. 

As a culture we have made it so you need higher education degrees to get almost every good paying job. 

As someone WITH one, I get that it shows you have some skills and such but, what does my English B.A. have to do with me answering phones? Or sorting mail? What does any degree have to do with that?

Sure, again, a measurable education is great to have. 


But in our push to get kids educated we are also putting them deep into debt from what feels like an extortion scheme where they have to get those degrees or not get jobs. We are finally realizing that oh, gosh, we need people to work in the trades too. 

Imagine that!

There are a lot of people who have abilities that need to be assessed and not just sorted. There was once an art to human resources and hiring but now it’s all checking boxes on a website and if you don’t check the right one you get removed. 

You aren’t a person any longer, you’re a collection of what you can offer someone. 

Your past work history doesn’t matter unless it fills a box. 

Your skills don’t matter unless you can match with some narrow need. 

We wonder where the workers are, and where the young people are and hey, they’re going to where they can actually get a job that matters. 

They are going to where they’ll be compensated and appreciated. 

They are going to where they are a person and not a collection of data. 

It’s funny because I just got denied for a job the moment I put in an application because I don’t have an Associate’s degree. Yeah, I don’t. I have a Bachelor’s degree. I was in college and had WAY more credits than I needed but would still need to take one class and figured, why, when I am going for the Bachelor’s? So I transferred and got that. 

But there wasn’t a box for that. 

It’s crazy. 

We’re all just robots to fill roles and boxes and aren’t supposed to have varied skills, or backgrounds. 

Heck, they ALWAYS wanna know if you got fired but never want to really know why. As if it’s always your being a poor employee and not having had a poor employer. 

The way we do things is crazy. 

It’s the same way we treat authors and creatives. 

People are hired to go through resumes, submissions, and pitches, but because we won’t hire enough people to go through ALL of them then most get dumped out of hand because the person didn’t know how to sell themselves well enough. 

It’s stupid. 

It’s truly become a world where you HAVE to know someone in order to get ahead. For a nation that loves to tout the Bootstrapping It myth, it sure doesn’t much align to that. 

Where are the workers?

Where are the brains?

Trying to learn to swim in the ocean under rough waves. 

We have a nation of overqualified, overeducated people who can’t get jobs that are worth their time but here we are. 

We have let corporations sneak out of the country with no repercussions, we have let corporations underpay and underpromote their people. 

We have let boards and rich people control the system so they can stay wealthy and the rest of us can just watch their petty problems on reality programs. 

Degrees are great. 

Education is crucial. 

But more than both, experience is key. 

And we’re forgoing that so we don’t have to actually look at applicants as real people who need hope and work. 

Real people with real families who deserve better than a digital form letter the moment after they apply for a job. 

Real people who may deserve the break we got. 

Me, I got my job because I am friends with someone who was leaving a position and tipped me to it. I had to get hired on my own merits, but they took a chance on me because they liked me. I have been there almost ten years now. 

Because they took a chance. 

We’re are seeing a lot more than just a brain drain in the U.S., we are seeing a hope drain, and unless corporations, and human resources, and gatekeepers start doing their jobs, it’s going to get worse. 

We workers, we ‘brains’ will settle for a lot, but when you won’t pay us what we’re worth, or even give us a chance, and then expect us to live someplace that doesn’t excite us, well, it’s no wonder we start getting wanderlust and look at the map to see what else is out there. 


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