Employed with a bent for change


Laura Tyson

Laura Tyson, Image by World Economic Forum via Flickr


While reading last week, I stumbled across this:  “…. a decade of high unemployment, poverty, low profits, deflation, plunging farm incomes, and lost opportunities for economic growth and personal advancement. … a sudden and general loss of confidence in the economic future. … numerous factors, especially high consumer debt, ill-regulated markets that permitted overoptimistic loans by banks and investors, the lack of high-growth new industries, and growing wealth inequality, all interacting to create a downward economic spiral of reduced spending, falling confidence, and lowered production.”*

Can you  guess what it’s talking about?  I’ll tell you in a minute, but first I’ve got a question:  What are you doing in response to the current economic downtown? I’ve done a lot of complaining, frankly, and trashed more than a few politicians and economic “experts.” Things need to change.  Last Friday’s unemployment figures were dismal — 9.6 percent.

There is, however, one significant and very bright spot in the unemployment statistics. According to Laura Tyson, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and the National Economic Council under President Bill Clinton, while the unemployment rate hovers close to 10 percent for the entire population, when the pool is reduced to include only college grads, unemployment drops dramatically to 4.5 percent.  That means that for college grads, the employment situation is twice as good.  That made me think about the power of education. Not only does it significantly boost your chance of finding a job, it positions you to make a huge difference. For many Madison grads that means offering a creative, inventive and helpful hand to others.  It means that as JMU’s graduates move out into the real world, they have an even greater potential to produce real change. With the economic power, stability and flexibility that comes with a job, these Madison alumni have an enhanced ability to look beyond their own circumstance.  Madison grads enter the work force believing in their own personal ability to forge change.

You have to pay the rent.  Everybody knows that.  But you can also make a difference.  Madison grads know this. When I look through the list of Be the Changers, I see how many use their jobs as platforms for change.  Dan Irwin, Louise Wilkins-Haug, Tom Carr, Tyler Moyer, Margaret Moore and Marlon Foster come to mind. So while changing the world doesn’t require a job, it makes it easier and offers a vehicle many use to improve the world.  In a universal sense, JMU’s ability to “reduce” that unemployment rate for it’s grads, means they are even better positioned to change the future.  It’s a significant point and a rich opportunity.

Every Madison alumni who has been raised in JMU’s incubator of hope has the potential — bent is perhaps a better word — to take into the real world a mindset to change lives.  In that sense, JMU is preparing students to change the future.  What problems will they solve?  Whose lives will they enrich? Whose lives will they save? The thought is not theoretical. It is not fluff. It is not just a nice dream.  It’s the kind of hands-on, feet-on-the-ground change that JMU teaches. Madison students are shaped in a crucible of education that unquestionably will impact the future.

So as we all tighten our belts and hang on for the ride, tell us:  Are you working? Looking? And what are you doing to change the world?

Oh, the above description from Wikipedia is about the Great Depression. Sound familiar?  Yes, it does.  It’s scary — and bolsters the truth that the world needs more and more Madison Be the Changers.  How about YOU?

Read more about Laura Tyson’s economic assessment: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/aug/17/laura-tyson/laura-tyson-says-college-grads-have-just-45-percen/


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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