Upon entering the job market

Spring break is over — marking the unofficial beginning of the end of the school year, which, for many at UVM, is the end of their college careers.For those who are about to graduate, it seems that their futures hold more uncertainty and doubt than previous generations. Two weeks ago, the government released numbers indicating that the unemployment rate in this country rose dramatically to 8.1 percent — a figure that does not count those who have given up searching for jobs.In other words, those of us who are about to graduate are soon to be thrust into a world that we are told is collapsing, but the realities of which haven’t materialized within our college bubble.At times like these, it seems hard to justify the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent sending us to school — If we can’t find a job when we graduate, what’s the point?But as markets collapse and it becomes more difficult to earn a buck, it becomes of increasing importance that we recognize that these things are not ends unto themselves. The value that these numbers and other indicators contain isn’t found within the numbers themselves, but within the effect they can have on people. Used properly, this money represents the potential for security, happiness and work.But for a long time now, society and government have acted as if this weren’t true. Wealth has instead inherited the status and worth of a religious icon — necessarily and self-evidently good.And this attitude manifests itself in the worst examples of behavior : CEOs of major companies destroying lives for an extra hundred million, people and banks taking granting impossible loans, no-bid contracting and rampant war profiteering.As we march forward into this uncertain future, these should be taken as precious lessons in the kind of behavior and ideas we need to struggle against. Any time we fall into the thinking that making a profit is the be-all end-all function of government and corporations, heartless policies are bound to follow.And this is the type of lesson our generation should heed perhaps most strongly as we begin taking the reins. We must work for policies that focus on human conditions — like happiness — which may be harder to measure, but which are, in fact, self-evidently valuable.We’re not suggesting, as one might interpret, that the economy be completely ignored, but that that goal must be held in mind with an eye toward our fellow humans.The market is big, but it cannot possibly be greater than the spirit, ambition and soul of our brothers and sisters.