BY STEVE BATES
I am honored to be the featured speaker at today’s graduation ceremony here at Whatsamatta U. I hope that every one of you in the audience today enjoys a successful and rewarding future. But let’s face it, the chances of that happening are close to zero.
Let’s start with perhaps the biggest challenge you face: climate change. How many of you are engineers or environmental scientists? I count maybe four hands. That’s sad. Someone has to fix this problem. Heck, now that we know that wind turbines cause cancer, there are few options left that might slow or reverse the disastrous impact that humans are having on the planet.
It will take leadership. But look at the political environment today. We see increased polarization between the left and right in Washington. And that divide reflects an equally strong split among Americans in general. It seems like half the country are godless, fire-breathing, radical, hippie socialists who eat unborn babies, while the other half are evangelical, ultra-conservative, keep-your-hands-off-my-millions cave dwellers who eat dinner at 4:30.
What little leadership we have might soon be preoccupied with sending more Americans off to fight wars with North Korea, Iran and Mexico. Mexico? Got to stop those godless, fire-breathing, radical, hippie, socialist immigrants from sneaking into the country and stealing all those low-paying jobs that no one else will take.
Maybe, you think, these problems have little to do with you. Perhaps you are more concerned about paying the rent and those massive student loans. Ah, I see that the words “student loans” have gotten your attention—even from a few of you who had been dozing in the back. Well, I am here to announce that I intend to pay off none of your loans. Your problem.
As you try to establish your careers, avoid fentanyl overdoses and unwanted pregnancies, and generally find your places in this messed-up world, I offer this perspective: As bad as things are now, they can only get worse.
You might become the top hedge fund manager or establish new records in arena football. You might discover new cancer treatments or sell more paintings than Picasso. But along the way your knees and back will begin to ache, and before you know it you’ll be discussing things like long-term-care insurance and do-not-resuscitate orders.
I suspect that there is one burning question before you right now. Why in God’s name am I here giving this non-inspirational address today? The answer is twofold: One, I came cheap. And two, the administrators here at Whatsamatta U. decided that it would be best to feature a speaker who embodies everything that went wrong in the past several decades. As a Baby Boomer, I and my generation are totally responsible for f-ing up your world.
So, get out there and do just the opposite of what us old farts have done. It’s your only chance.