“Mal-employment” of “Adult Children”

Mark Zuckerberg is an 'adult child' who left college to avoid mal-employment.

New words such as “mal-employment” and terms such as “adult children” reflect the trends of a changing society. One trend I lament is extending childhood for a protracted period. For instance, I spoke recently to a man in his 60’s who insists that the CEO of Facebook, 27 year old Mark Zuckerberg, is a child. As Bob Dylan asked, how many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man? How many times can a man look up and pretend that he just doesn’t see?

Google has created the Ngram Viewer to track trends in language. Although treating adults as children had begun even before 1964 when Dylan wrote Blowin’ in the Wind, the steep slope illustrating the momentum towards the complete nanny state, transforming adults into children, started in 1973.

Usage of 'adult children' in books since 1800 as documented by Google Ngram Viewer.

The New York Times recently published a story about young college graduates who are working at multiple part-time jobs.

More college graduates are working in second jobs that don’t require college degrees, part of a phenomenon called “mal-employment.” In short, many baby-sitters, sales clerks, telemarketers and bartenders are overqualified for their jobs.

Last year, 1.9 million college graduates were mal-employed and had multiple jobs, up 17 percent from 2007, according to federal data. Almost half of all college graduates have a job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree.

Some people commented that those profiled should have researched the market before choosing a major in the humanities. Some older people said that the economy in the USA is so bad that many of them are working multiple part-time jobs, too, such as Richard Grayson of Arizona:

Like others who teach the majority of college classes in the U.S., I work multiple part-time jobs. I am now 60, and over the past five years I have taught 64 classes at seven different colleges or universities. So most of those who taught these recent college graduates know exactly what they are going through. I can add, though, that I love my work and am in a lot better financial situation than they are, so no one should feel sorry for me. Much, much sadder is the situation of people my age, between 50 and 70, who need income and cannot even get the multiple part-time jobs that these younger people manage.

President Obama has codified extended childhood into the new health care laws: insurance companies must cover the “children” of their customers until age 26.

Musician Alice Cooper in 1971 wrote of the transition from a child to an adult in his song, I’m Eighteen. Perhaps he should update it to I’m Twenty-Seven, but perhaps the pair of 13 year old musicians in the video below are on the right track.

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