What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Paul Krugman: Why Today's Grads are Better off than Abe Lincoln

July 9, 2012, 12:00 AM
Abrahamwood2

What's the Big Idea?

The 17th-most cited economist in the world, a Nobel laureate for his work examining global wealth concentration and international trade, and the inspiration behind a viral Youtube ode, Paul Krugman is known as much for his outspoken criticism of the political handling of the great recession as he is for economic analyses. "The corrosive effects of high unemployment will cast a shadow over the economy for many years to come," he wrote in a recent column for the New York Times -- especially for young Americans.

According to conventional wisdom, the US unemployment crisis is a structural issue that will run its course, as workers leave industries that got too big in the bubble years. This perspective is dead wrong, he says, and it's irresponsible. We're bleeding jobs not just in specific industries, but across the board, indicating that the problem is not untrained workers but lack of sufficient demand (as in the Great Depression).

Watch our interview with Paul Krugman:

Nowhere is this more evident than in the experience of recent college graduates, who Krugman told Big Think "should be in a better position than those with lower education," but are actually in many cases faring worse. "They've come out of college with a lot of debt and they're coming into a job market that offers few jobs."

Approximately 1 out of of every 2 grads is unemployed or working in a job that doesn't require a bachelor's degree. That's the highest share in over a decade. Recent graduates are now more likely to work as "waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined."

What's the Significance?

"It's definitely hard, and I can't give you easy advice," says Krugman. But even in the hardest times, effort makes a difference. Bartending or waiting tables may not have been the path you dreamed of, but for many young people it may have to be a stepping stone to any future career. It's not personal. 

"Working even in a job that isn’t the job that you ought to have is better than not working," says Krugman bluntly. "And also, by the way, you're not just someone seeking a job. You're also a citizen, so vote for politicians who promise to do something about it instead of just using the usual empty rhetoric." 

Even those doing repetitive or boring work can stay connected to the world around them by reading the news, going to lectures and events, volunteering for a cause. Thanks to the internet, it's never been easier to access powerful people and participate in the larger public debate: it's happening every day on the web. Immerse yourself in it.

Civic involvement isn't just about resume-padding, it's about growing as an individual and a community member even if you're not getting a paycheck. "The world will be more ready to make use of you when this crisis ends if you have been keeping up with the world," says Krugman. "The ability to continue educating yourself is now even better than it was when Abe Lincoln was chopping logs. This is the great age of the intelligent person who wants to keep abreast and can become highly educated, can become an expert even without those formal qualifications."  

 

Paul Krugman: Why Today's G...

Newsletter: Share: