Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On Recovering From Downgraded Expectations

We find ourselves at the point in our lives where thoughts of the future dominate the majority of our thinking. Some of us are in our mid 20's, some older and others younger. For the recent law graduates, life has hit us all hard in the face like a ton of bricks. Expectations have been shattered. Egos have been pulverized. Feelings of confidence and stability have been turned up side down to fear and anxiety. Welcome to 2011, the worst time to graduate law school at least in the last 100 years. Welcome the 2011, the worst time to be unemployed with no retirement savings and no safety net.

Times are difficult for millions of Americans, whether it be college graduates drowning in student loans or the car salesman who was making $70,000.00 who is going on his 3rd year of being jobless. I am using a real life example. The mortgage has gone unpaid, stress got to him and brought upon medical illness. With no insurance the medical bills piled up and bankruptcy looms. At the age of 60, what was supposed to be a future of decent retirement has turned into a nightmare. Auto dealers won’t hire him as he is sickly and frankly, doesn’t have the juice that a younger salesman has. In addition, his severe stress and depression doesn’t exactly light up the faces of potential employers. The house will soon be repossessed and him and his wife will be moving in to a 1 bedroom apartment. Gone is the beautiful home in the suburbs. Thankfully the wife works as a court reporter, but even she has her limits. With age wearing down on her hands it will be a matter of time until the carpal tunnel precludes her from doing her job. What will thee people do? Rely on social security? They can try and for the first few years they will get their tiny checks. But as the fiscal situation of the US continues to deteriorate, it remains to be seen what the real value of the social security checks will be in the future.

The reason I point to the financially distressed boomers is because they will suffer the worst in this crisis. Unlike the younger folk, their earning potential is for the most part over. Going into the “golden years” with little to no money is an absolute nightmare. Within the coming decade, I project that many soon to be elderly will be put in these special government operated facilities whereby nurses will care for them until they die. Hundreds of elderly will be stuffed into these buildings until they pass away. With no money to support themselves they would otherwise end up homeless. And don’t expect a seniors paradise in these soon to come buildings.

With regard to the recent law school graduates that find themselves heavily in debt, downgrading the near term future will be a difficult task, but a necessary task. Unless you get a good job that pays good money, don’t expect the next decade to be what you thought it would be. If you have come to this conclusion then you are already one step ahead. Downgrading my future was a painful process, one that I am still dealing with on a regular basis. Take it from me, as someone who grew up with incredible wealth. At one point my father was close to the top 2% of income earners. The credit bubble caught him completely off guard and assets that commanded offers for several millions now yield the occasional lowball offer that is 90% less than the prior offers. Dazed and confused he sits, still unable to accept how dramatically his lifestyle has changed.

I'll try my best to articulate this difficult concept. Everything in life is about expectations. There is a story about a woman who thought she won $1 million in the lotto but later found out that she had only won $150,000.00. Upon hearing the news that she would not be a millionaire she sank into a deep depression, divorced her husband and died a miserable lonely life. The fact remains that she was $150,000.00 wealthy after winning the lotto. However, her expectations were so altered by thinking she had won the million she just could not recover from the "loss" of that million dollar lifestyle. This is obviously a extreme example but I believe it's relevant to the situations of many of my fellow classmates and fellow college grads.

Take the law grad, who was led to believe that he would live a life of relative success, possibly becoming a wealthy person. For many recent graduates nothing can be further from the truth as unemployment, poverty and debt burdens reign supreme. Ever since the growth machine reversed itself and in 2008, law school graduates have had a very difficult time. As was stated many times before on this blog, the subsequent classes are simply lining right behind the classes that graduated before them. Expectations have truly been shattered. Instead of wealth, poverty. Instead of production, stagnation. Anger eventually takes over from depression as the borrower begins to question his current predicament. Eventually they begin to realize they have been misled by false statistics and many other accounting gimmicks.

The entire world is has been turned upside down right now, absent a few lucky bright spots. The middle east and north Africa are in disarray. Greece and Ireland continue to sink into a black hole of debt deflation, with incomes getting crushed, bills going unpaid and people becoming anxious as all hell. California and many other states continue to layoff employees and watch their economies fall into the abyss. Wall street is being kept alive by the use of digital fiat money and false accounting rules. Those that watched the markets die in March of 2009 understand what I'm talking about. So what do we do? Do we bury our heads in self doubt, stress, anger, anxiety and fear? No. There comes a time to mourn and then a time to take action. For some the mourning process takes a few months. For others, it lasts a lifetime, never being able to move past the regret, the pain, and the humiliation. I call for you all to let these feelings go.

The first and most important step in the healing process is accepting the fact that you have been wronged. Many of my fellow classmates can be labeled as TTT superheros. For example, they relish in their status as an attorney, speak well of their alma mater, but when it comes to the topic of student loans the conversation immediately shifts to something else. Just like CONgress, the 8,000 pound debt monster is not to be seen or truly discussed. Cognitive dissonance reigns supreme. Well I say fuck that shit. Take off the shackles of Stockholm Syndrome and accept reality: that law schools are operating a scam operation and YOU have been suckered by said scam. So what are you going to do about it? Sit their and live in denial? That your loans do not exist? If you have accepted the fact that you have been scammed then you are one step ahead. Yeah, that's right. EVERYONE SINGLE ONE OF US GOT SCAMMED. SO LONG AS THE SCHOOLS POSTED FALSE EMPLOYMENT STATISTICS THEY HAVE ENGAGED IN FRAUD AND ARE DESERVING OF THEIR FATE. And what is their future fate? This is where we come in. Posting angry rants on the internet has done it's part. Now it is time to take it one step further.

Say a class action was going to be filed against your school. And let's assume your drowning in debt with no law job. Instead you are working in a non legal field, or as a "contract" attorney, or as a struggling solo trying to get by. Would you be willing to join in as a plaintiff? Let me just say that class actions are coming within the next few months. Just think about the humiliation that the law schools will face when these class actions finally come to fruition. You can be assured that my fellow bloggers will put these actions on blast and the major mainstream networks will report on the story. Regardless of the success of the class actions the credibility of the law schools will be further tarnished. Death by a thousand cuts to the law schools! In the event of a decent good faith class action that truly has merit behind it, I will certaintly join as a plaintiff. Regardless of the fact that I finally got a job 19 months after graduation, my 2010 tax returns state that I made $12,000.00. I wonder if this number was used to calculate the class of 2009's average salary? I think not. The time is coming for us to get our blood back. Law schools, prepare to be humiliated as your "graduates" come back to haunt you, bitches.

Taking action, any action, to better our positions in this short life is a must if we are to get out of this trap. We must empower ourselves, especially in these crucial times as things will only get more difficult as the ponzi financial edifice continues to crumble. Healing ourselves spiritually and emotionally is number one on the list. And what better way to jump start this process by taking some action. Go for a jog, run, swim, if you can afford it hit the gym. If you have a significant other go let them have it in bed like a machine. Just take action! Enough of standing still like docile and quiet indoctrinated sheep. And lets not forget that in the end their are more of us than them.

Here is a tiny example of how I took some action this week. I went to court in LA county and the Sheriff was making all the attorneys take off their belts and put them in the scanner. How fucking degrading and embarrassing. I hate having to do that shit as everyone gets to watch you put on your belt like a bumbling fool. I told the sheriff "this is retarded." He said "what you say" in his cocky sheriff tone. I responded "I SAID THIS IS RETARDED" in a louder voice. "You know how embarassing this is, for us to have to take off our belts in front of all these people?" He said, "I don't make the rules." I told him "maybe you should tell the one's who do make the rules that this belt rule is retarded." As small and insignificant my little rant was, I felt so good the entire day. I felt empowered, letting this punk sheriff have it with his fascist little "security" measure. And I don't want to hear any retort about how he "was just doing his job." That is a lousy excuse. I can provide tons of examples of how people were "simply" doing their jobs but ended up causing massive problems. Think Gadaffi's henchmen, the Goldman sachs directors, the mortgage brokers, the mainstream media liars, etc. The point here is standing up against something that is wrong.

That's all for now. It's been a while since I've posted but things have been super hectic lately. Silver is holding up at $37 while crude dances around $100. Greece is sinking into the abyss :( while the periphery of Europe watches with trepidation. The freak show continues.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Subprime,

    I was at a lame-ass "workshop" on Tuesday. The subject was intergenerational workforces. The presenter went off on how "millenials" have no patience and "do not want to put in the work."

    I pointedly told her, in front of the class:

    "YOU need to understand where these people are coming from. When YOU went to college, you could EXPECT to land a decent job - with a BA in art history from North Dakota State University. You had little to no student debt. Now, people are taking on mountains of non-dischargeable debt. They are now entering the workforce at 26 or 28. They have "paid their dues." In the end, we followed your generation's advice."

    You could hear a pin drop in that room.

  3. Very good essay. I agree, it's time for young people to politically assert themselves. The greatest crime perpetrated on young Americans has been committed by the industrial debt complex. But the scam extends far beyond the law schools, and the victims encompass many more than just unemployed JDs. I don't agree that class actions will work, because the justice system is controlled by those who benefit from the current paradigm, but it is certainly worth including in the conversation.

    What's coming is in fact an intergenerational (political) war, and this is an ugly thing, but it has become necessary as the power structure has chosen to ignore the rampant debt serfdom inflicted on our young people, and indeed has greatly profited from it. I write this as a 40-something white male who was fortunate enough to get a decent ROI on my JD.

  4. Great post.

    They may take our credit, but they will never take......

    The simple point that we need to repeat:

    If we are all so full of ourselves and cognitive dissonance that publishing the "real" stats wouldn't make any difference, then why not publish them?

    Fraud 101: One lie usually covers up a bigger one.

    I cant wait till it comes out that the majority of the schools have essentially 70% unemployment. I think even we could make a good argument for no social utility at that point.

  5. I disagree with this message strongly. It's always a bad idea to readjust your mindset to a defeatist attitude. I agree that it's important to be realistic about the economy and future employment prospects, but, it's always a risk to fall into this doom and gloom mindset.The important thing to remember is that over the course of a 30-40 year career that there is certainly going to be economic and financial ebbs and flow. This isn't unique to the current economic malaise even though it might feel that way to young people just starting on their career journeys. The economy is actually picking up and there's a lot of financial opportunities created by the recession.

  6. anon @ 2:16pm

    By no means am I proposing that people should have defeatist attitudes. To the contrary, I want people to "adjust" their near term expectations and how they specifically deal with those adjustments. If people keep thinking to themselves "im a loser im a loser" there is the possibility that this mentality will stay for the duration of their lives.

    This blog is all about opportunity, if you can read between the lines. And I agree with the 30-40 year time line and how a career can change. It's just the first few years out of law school with no employment and heavy debt can psychologically damage someone for life. The purpose of the above message is to help avoid such a situation. For example, I stop thinking about how differently my life would have been if I had ONLY not gone to law school. I stop thinking about the negatives, about the current situation. I've done my mourning and now am moving on, thinking about opportunity, about the chance to succeed.

  7. Thanks for the clarifcation. It's a valid point and I agree that negative psychology can permamently damage career prospects and life in general. Dwelling on "what ifs" constantly whether related to school/marriage/career is never healthy. I can't relate to law school regret-since I never attended- but it seems that the basis of most of these scamblogs is reliving the same regret over and over. People try to conflate their own horrible personal situations with anyone who wants to attempt to go to law school or business school or anything of that matter. It comes off a lot of the time exposing that most of the people who preach the scamblog message probably had a lot more severe flaws that prohibited them from gainful legal employment than just general miscalculated employment statistics. The problem of a surplus of degrees and excessively expensive tuition isn't related to anyone professional realm. I also don't believe this "baby boomer utopia" that all these blogger like to write about ever existed. I know plenty of educated baby boomers who had to work for 10-20 years to move up the ladder and finally start earning a decent salary. High paying jobs for a young thirty year old never really existed abundantly in any era. I'm young myself, but, the mantra that boomer employees are all materialistic and massively wealthy is an urban myth. Most boomers have very little retirement saving and work for middle class wages. I think you have a point that people need to readjust their economic realities but I don't think this is because they were scammed but more likely that they had delusions of being wealthy and living an upper middle class lifestyle already by the relatively young age of 30.

  8. Have you seen JDog's latest post? Maybe you and (s)he could work together with your current plaintiffs' firm and file class-action lawsuits against dishonest law schools!

  9. You need to be flexible, not defeatist. Those who evolve survive.

    I represented an Ivy educated big law lawyer some years back who lost his job, had a breakdown and was arrested at his own home on a warrant of apprehension signed by his wife seeking to have him involuntarily committed. It is far better to address reality than to crack.
    I had the fortune of knowing many of my parents' and grandparents' generation who survived the Great Depression. A great lesson from the school of hard knocks.

    One last aside: In NH one of those security officers actually shot himself in his foot in court when he screwed up. Quel jerk.

  10. I think the point is not to downgrade expectations, just to change them. Our value system has been totally warped by marketing and the consumer "growth" mentality. Consider: food is so abundant that obesity is a bigger problem than hunger; housing is so abundant that you could live in a large home with a pool in Vegas, Phoenix, Florida and elsewhere for a pittance; clean water is free and easily accessable everywhere; virtually unlimited knowlege can be obtained for free online (or if you are creative, in the real world); unlimited entertainment can be obtained for free online (or if you are creative, in the real world); Most health problems that would have killed a person 100 years ago can now be cured cheaply.

    So, you may not be able to afford a McMansion in a popular neighborhood; so, private schools are overpriced, so luxury vehicles cost bank, so international flights arent cheap, so Prada or Louis Vuitton will set you back some cash. WHO CARES!!??

    We have gotten to the point in history where we have more capable people than work to be done. If only we would realize that we dont need so many people working so hard we would all be better off. People should be spending more time with their families, more time engaging with nature, more time thinking about The Big Questions. They should be spending less time trying to "produce" and adding to "growth" that is only polluting the environment, depleting our natural resources, and leading to economic strife between nations.

    Of course, we still need people to do jobs. Doctors to heal, Police to keep order, Pilots to fly planes, and even lawyers to argue. But, the supply of all labor currently vastly outpaces demand. We need to learn how to take advantage of this historical blessing instead of allowing it to become our curse.

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